What’s All the Hoopla?

In November 2017 I wrote about trying to work more exercise into my routine. At the time, I was enamored with the jump rope, which was fine and fun, until I realized I had to stop drinking anything after 2 pm, and I don’t mean just alcohol. If I didn’t, my after work jumping was, well, let’s just say maybe Muhammad Ali floated like a butterfly, but I come down more like a wildebeest pounding the ground as if a cheetah wants me for lunch. All that gravity is a little too much on my system, if you know what I mean. And I am not wearing Depends unless I’m traveling cross-country to punch out a bitch who’s getting it on with my man. Neither scenario — without or with Depends — has any dignity, but the second version makes a better story and comes with three square meals a day, and we all know that’s what really counts.

When I bought the jump rope, I also got a hula hoop at a toy store. I had done a little research online, but you know how fitness crazes are — people claiming to be an authority on hula hooping insist you must have fancy, expensive equipment. First of all, how do you even fact check that? Is there an official American Association of Hula Hoop Instructors? And what if there were? What self-respecting person would even believe that? Kids, don’t believe everything on the internet.

I tried my hula hoop a few times and then brought it to a friend’s house. I kept forgetting about it, until I finally remembered after about a year. By this time I had stopped jumping and was pretending to try other types of exercise, which was mostly just walking 4 to 5 miles a day. That sounds good on paper, but I walk leisurely and I can still lose my breath walking up two flights of stairs. The hard, cold, brutal fact is that as you get older, you have to work harder for less results. And doing nothing gets you in one of those Wal-Mart scooters and seeing 6 specialists for things called “comorbidities” in about 6 months. Yes, it’s as bad as it sounds.

I got the hoop back and decided to give the internet a chance to show me how to use it — maybe that’s why I was having trouble getting the thing to glide around my waist like it did when I was 8 years old.  It was my technique that was lacking. I watched one video that talked about making sure you move either forward and back or side to side, and not an actual hula movement. So confusing. Still, though a part of me thought, I used to do this effortlessly as a kid. How hard can it be? Turns out as hard as anything you haven’t done in 45 years in a completely different body.  Also, muscle memory could very well be a lie.

Undaunted, I started on Monday after work, spun the hoop, and started rocking. Within minutes, I was out of breath, mostly from having to bend over and pick up the hoop from the floor every 2 seconds. After about 5 minutes, I put it away and decided to try again tomorrow. The next night I did try it again. Yay me! #lowbar. This time I was able to keep it up for about 5 seconds. I was buoyed by my success, only to immediately go back to my 2 seconds and retrieving the hoop from the floor. The third day I noticed my stomach muscles were sore — that’s got to be a good thing, right? Maybe I didnb’t do enough research. I decided to find a video of someone who looked like they were actually hula hooping. No trick camera angles. Intellectually I understood I needed to get a back-and-forth rhythm going, but I wasn’t understanding it in my body. The woman talked about pushing out with your belly. I really pushed my belly out and scrunched up my face like I was in pain, which was some clever foreshadowing on my part. I could keep the hoop up for 7 seven seconds, but then it would mysteriously slow down and drop unceremoniously to the floor. I wanted to quit, but that seemed lame. It’s a kid’s toy for crying out loud. I gave it one more whirl, really pushing my stomach out. Suddenly, my muscle yelled, and then I yelled, and it all came crashing down.

Yes, I pulled a muscle in my belly hula hooping, as if I haven’t suffered enough indignities of being middle-aged. An unhelpful friend asked, “How could that happen? My 5-year-old niece can do it on her arms and her legs. It’s so easy!” Little bitch.

So back to the internet, and apparently size does matter. The smaller the hoop the harder it is for an adult to make it go—seemed like there was enough physics to make it sound true for a layperson, so I sucked it up, measured, and ordered a grown-ass hoola hoop. I’m going with this: I’m an adult and am entitled to custom hoola hoops, fine red wine, and ice cream any damn time I feel like it. Take that, little hoop bitches!

If I can’t make the bigger hoop work, I figure there must be reciprocity. Small hoops are harder for adults, ergo. big hoops harder for kids? I could give it to a kid and hula hoop hope.

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