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INTERVIEW by BR!NK STAFF | BR!NK PHOTOGRAPHY by IAN ELSTON

 

If, just like some our staff members, you sometimes venture toward the “Health and Diet” section at Barnes & Nobles or watch shows like The Biggest Loser, you know that losing weight is not about fun. Well, artist-turned-entrepreneur Gabriella Redding, a mother with a fierce passion for connecting people and helping them celebrate their bodies, might have discovered the exception to the rule: more push-ups hula hooping! Founded a little over five years ago in Los Angeles, Hoopnotica provides an intense, yet fun, full-body workout that eliminates around 600 calories per hour. Now a growing trend taught in over thirteen nations, it has also helped Gabriella lose over 60 lbs and become a stronger mother.

 

Hula hooping seems fun, and it’s certainly a nostalgic thing for a lot of people, but how effective is it as exercise? What muscles does it work?

 

A recent ACE (American Council on Exercise) study compared one hour of Hoopnotica to one hour of Cardio Boot Camp. But we all know that the reason it is so effective as a “workout” is because it is FUN. Hoopnotica is effective for adults because it keeps you in a state of “flow.” Flow can be defined as the state of being when you are working towards a goal that you typically cannot master immediately, but is not so challenging that it is unattainable. Video games are an example of flow mastery. Hoopnotica primarily focuses in on the core muscles — abs, lower back, and postural muscles in your back. Strengthening your core creates immediate results in your body that will stay with you throughout the day — great posture can make some people appear as though they have immediately lost 20 pounds. In the more advanced levels of Hoopnotica, every muscle in the body gets used as you learn to manipulate the hoop around your body from head to toe, making it a true “total body workout.”

 

Everyone knows that this country is experiencing an obesity epidemic. Can hula hoops save the world?

 

I don’t think hoops can save the world, but I know we can play a role in changing it. There are so many challenges we face as a global population that it’s overwhelming to take in the enormity of it all. Like anything else, problems get solved when people have clear and conscious states of mind. Practicing Hoopnotica every day is a meditative practice for me. In setting aside this time for myself, I become a stronger, healthier, and more centered person. This allows me to be a stronger mother; a more understanding partner and friend; and a grounded businesswoman. If I can teach this practice to everyone in the world, I believe we can begin to affect the world in a very positive way.

 

Early childhood obesity problems stem from parents who do not know how to take care of their own bodies. I’ve lost over 60 lbs. since I began hooping, and I understand what a helpless position I was in. I am now a completely different person; one who seeks to empower other mothers to do the same. I attribute my weight loss 100% to hooping — the daily cardio benefits combined with regular meditation gave me the inspiration to change my daily patterns, including my diet. I have learned that we must make the switch between “needing to workout” and create ways of incorporating overall wellness into our lives. Combating obesity is a battle that begins deep inside; and challenges us as both intellectual and emotional beings. It is so much more than “diet and exercise.” Once we are able to deal with our country’s adult obesity problem, we can support our children, and the generations to come, in “saving” our world.

 

So, does hula hooping have anything at all to do with the Hawaiian dance? If not, does that mean I can’t wear a grass skirt to one of your classes?

 

You are welcome to wear a grass skirt but it might get caught in the hoop! Wham-O trademarked the word “hula hoop” for the toy that was inspired by the hula dance. But Hoopnotica is inspired by many types of dance; hip-hop; ballet; and belly dance. Unique to Hoopnotica, the hoop is a tool that provides biofeedback. If you’re not moving correctly, the hoop will fall. Once you understand the fundamentals, it is easy to bring other inspirations into your “dance,” creating a Hoopnotica style that is uniquely your own.

 

Can you run us through what one of your classes is like?

 

There’s a basic warm up, then we go through all the fundamentals: waist hooping; hip hooping; moving around in a circle; spinning; walking; and what to do with your arms. Then we move on to “corkscrews”: moving the hoop up and down your body with your arms in long, graceful spirals. At the end of the class we’ll be sweating, laughing, and feeling pretty awesome. Then we’ll cool down as we giggle ourselves back to normal, feeling centered and refreshed.

 

How popular is hula-hooping as exercise? Are we going to see hulayogalates (hula-hooping-yoga-Pilates) classes sprouting up at gyms across America?

 

Hoopnotica is growing as a fitness trend and is finally being taken seriously by the fitness world. You can find Hoopnotica classes anywhere in the United States, trained over 500 teachers. Yoga followed the same path with this mind-body program.

 

Who makes up most of your clientele? Any NFL players using hula hoops to up their game?

 

Hoopers who come to our classes vary in age but are usually 26-45 and are people who love yoga and like to dance, are looking for a fun new workout with a cardiovascular edge, or are just simply fascinated because they’ve seen someone practice Hoopnotica. We are experiencing a new market of fitness professionals taking an interest in our programs, and expect to see more hooping incorporated into gym workouts in the near future. Most of our clients are women, and the only pro-athlete who hoops that I know of is Shaquille O’Neil (although I didn’t teach him personally).

 

What tips do you have for new hula-hoopers, or ones who might have humiliated themselves in front of their third-grade P.E. class and are a little gun-shy?

 

Anyone can do our basic classes with success. Because Hoopnotica Hoops are larger and heavier than what people are used to, participants are often surprised how easily they get the basics down. Being nervous or intimidated is a concern for many beginning hoopers; it’s one of the reasons our DVD series is so popular. We took all of the Hoopnotica curriculum and put it into a format that is easy to learn at home. Many of our clients start with the DVD and then matriculate into our classes. But if you would prefer to try without instruction, we would be happy to send the hoop of your choice straight to your door, so you can practice alone. If you’re having trouble, close your eyes and try to feel the hoop move with your body. Once you find the rhythm, it’s just a matter of keeping your body moving. Don’t let it fool you — this is a serious workout, and you will need to move your body fast.

 

In regards to your personal career, did you ever imagine starting such a business? What has this entire experience been like for you?

 

I’m a classically-trained fine artist — I graduated in 2005 from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Creating beautiful ideas that I can share with the world has long been my passion. Hoopnotica is something that everyone can relate to and have a story around. “I was the best hula-hooper in my high school,” “I won the hula hoop contest at my church!” or, “I can’t hula hop to save my life” (my personal favorite). When I found hooping, it appealed to my natural, artistic tendency to gravitate towards nostalgic storytelling. I see myself as a supporter of a much greater movement: connecting people with a fun way to love and enjoy their physical form. I bring all of that passion into my business. Everyday is a creative opportunity to solve problems.  As a fine artist I can’t think of a better way to make a contribution to the world and be profitable at the same time.

 

How can Daily BR!NK readers contribute to your success?

 

I encourage Daily BR!NK readers to pick up a hoop and give Hoopnotica a whirl! Come and bring friends to one of our classes (find an instructor in your area at Hoopnotica.com). We would love to entice your readers with a 20% off code at checkout — use the code DAILY at checkout, and start your Hoopnotica practice today. It’ll be fun — I promise!

 

 

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