A passion for hula hoops

By Linda Salisbury, Correspondent

When Jocelyn McClung feels stressed she reaches for one of her hula hoops. “I call it moving meditation,” she said.

When she travels, she has to demonstrate to TSA and airline personnel that her collapsible fluorescent hoops will fit in an overhead compartment or under a seat.

She calls hula hooping “magical.”

When she hasn’t had a chance to hoop in a few days, the yearning is great to get back into the swing of it, so to speak. It’s her passion.

This Louisa resident has taken her hoop to music festivals and beaches and usually attracts folks with questions. “You want to watch. It’s hard not to watch,” she said.

The hula hooping craze six decades ago was not appreciated everywhere. The Soviet Union banned the toy as a symbol of the “emptiness of American culture.”

McClung’s love of hula hooping came four years ago, long past the short-term fad phase of 1958, when millions of plastic hoops were sold and probably soon discarded because of the difficulty for most people of keeping the swivel motion going long enough to have the hoop stay around the hips. The idea of the hoop was not new. Early hoopers were depicted in art going back to 500 BCE all around the world. Like baton-twirling, there’s a fascination with what can be accomplished by people with talent and practice.

McClung is one of them. It is a portable hobby that she takes to the beach, among other venues.

“Hooping on sand is hands-down my favorite,” she said.

She became interested in hula hooping when a friend showed her how to do it. Inspired, McClung made her first hoop by buying a very inexpensive one at a dollar store, taking it apart to see what made the noises inside (water or beads), and then reassembling it. She taped it up with silver duct tape and applied sparkles. “I’m a sparkle girl,” she said.

Early hoops were made by civilizations around the world out of grapevines, rattan and willow. Today’s hoops vary in thickness of the material, the weight, and the diameter. Although less-expensive options are still available at dollar stores, the most expensive ones (“mood hoops”), are about $70 and up and have LED lights inside so that they create a colorful show when in motion.

Hooping is “flow art,” McClung said. “It’s the constant movement of your body with your hoop.”

Her hoops are three-quarters of an inch for tubing size and 30” in diameter, five-eighths of an inch for thicker tubing size, and 26 inches in diameter, which is the smallest size she has. Beginners usually do best with the larger size hoops, McClung added.
After introduction to the sport by a friend, she mostly learned by watching people, especially on YouTube and Instagram.

She demonstrated what she has learned by having a hoop roll down her back, or doing the “escalator,” when it seems to spiral up or down her body, or she can spin it around her knees. In addition to the escalator, common moves are “isolation” and “weaves.”

When her bun is positioned just right, McClung said she “can do a hoop on my hair.”

McClung’s family moved to Louisa County from Fredericksburg when she was 14, where she had studied ballet since she was about three. Although her mother, Donna McClung, has not gotten into the sport, McClung said her four younger brothers have tried it, at least on the beach. And although one grandmother “first thought I was crazy,” she became more interested when she saw Olympic gymnastics performing rhythmic hula hooping.

Then, to her surprise, her paternal grandmother confessed that she had won a hula hooping contest back when the sport was in full spin.

With the hula hooping relieving stress, providing exercise and a way to meet people, McClung has a new daily job. In July she began working at Dockside Realty and said she’s enjoying getting a foundation there for her new career in real estate.

It fits with her love of sales and selling, which she began five years ago at Victoria’s Secret, rising to the level of selling manager for several stores in the region.

If customers are expecting someone to jump through hoops for them, McClung might just be that person.

For more information, visit her Instagram page at Jocelyn.ellise or email her at vspink155@gmail.com.

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