Saturday, July 24, 2021

Passionate hula hooper creates hooping club

Hula hooping has been growing in popularity since the ’50s with a recent increase of interest. The sport has officially reached Plattsburgh State thanks to the efforts of PSU Hula Crew President Emily Gandolfo.

Festival hooping and hula hoop troop competitions have become popular across the states. Large camps and art festivals such as Burning Man, All Good and Electric Forest all serve as place where hula hoopers showcase their work.

Hula hooping goes as far back as the Native Americans. Proving that the sport is growing in popularity, an annual hooping competition held in Phoenix recently drew in over 10,000 spectators.

A large contribution to the popularity of hula hooping is credited to the “String Cheese Incident,” in which jam band String Cheese tossed hula hoops into the crowd at a concert in the mid ’90s and told them to spread the fun and dance.

Modern hoopers usually make their own hula hoops, which tend to be larger and heavier than the hoops from the ’50s. There are also smaller and lighter ones that are typically used for hand tricks.

The hoops are often decorated with sparkly tape, fabric or glow in the dark paint. Some are clear and filled with plastic beads, glitter or water to produce visual or audio effects when used.

LED lights have become popular recently as well, making ‘smart hoops’ that can be programmed to feature extra effects.

The most recent trend in the sport has been fire hooping, in which spokes with Kevlar tips are set into the outer side of the hoop, soaked in fuel and set on fire while they perform.

Gandolfo started hula hooping four years ago. She said it was because of an accident that gave her a bad back, and she was told by doctors to stay active, and hula hooping is exceptionally good for your back and stomach muscles, as well as being therapeutic.

Hooping quickly developed into a hobby for Gandolfo. She has performed at festivals where she showcased her hula hoop dancing. When Gandolfo came to college, she wanted to create the hula hooping club to offer opportunities for other students to get involved in something new.

“I wanted to do it freshman year, but I was too scared,” Gandolfo said. “And then finally sophomore year I had enough people interested, so I decided to make it a real thing.”

Hula Crew Vice President Brianna Phillips became interested in hula hooping when a friend brought her to a hooping event. She has been hula hooping for nearly two years, and it has helped her with her back problems as well.

“You practice so much,” Gandolfo said. “When you finally got to show people, it’s a lot of fun.”

The club has a hula hooping video on YouTube titled “PSU Hula Hoop Crew,” which features hula hooping and its advantages it offers for people and the body.

To learn more about the club, visit the Facebook group, “PSU Hula Hoop Crew.”

Email Amanda Little at

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