Think hula hoops and little girls in pig tails trying to keep brightly coloured hoops circling around their torsos come to mind. Or its the Cirque du Soleil and lithe ladies in sparkly tights defying gravity and the bounds of human anatomy.
It’s not what a regular joe or jane would do for real, right? That’s what Supriya Srivastav thought a couple of years ago after a fun weekend in Goa where she hooped effortlessly for the first time ever.
“I had so much fun with it, I ordered one for myself on the way back, but to my surprise I seemed unable to hoop again,” laughs the Bengaluru-based founder of a marketing agency.
A little bit of research later, Supriya realised there were different sized hoops and she took it up as a hobby. “I soon realised hooping had a lot of benefits — in terms of weight loss as well as a stress buster for the business I was starting. I soon began working out to different songs and adding to my routine.”
Supriya says she eventually morphed from “enthusiast to addict” — a progression she’s now come to recognise in the lives of most hoopers.
Despite its many merits, Supriya noticed there wasn’t much of awareness about hooping; it also carried the stigma of being a circus event. “During the lockdown I started making tutorials on social media as I felt like I had learnt enough to share with others and soon quite a lot of people were taking up hooping. Around the same time Eshna Kutty, the sari hooper, went viral for her videos which boosted the popularity of this activity.”
Supriya says before she realised it, hoopers had become a community and she was a part of it. “I wasn’t part of any community before this and its a wonderful feeling to belong. It’s now been seven years and the Hoop Jam Party is my way of giving back to the community,” adds the flow artist who has introduced concepts such as zula (zumba + hula) and hoop yoga to the exercise form.
Popularly known as the sari hooper Eshna Kutty, who is also a part of the upcoming Hoop Jam celebrations, says she too began hooping as a teenager — way before it became a social media fad. “I learnt from YouTube videos and back then, it was just a hobby. There was all the enjoyment of doing something fun without the pressure of posting whatever you did on social media or trying to constantly prove yourself. Over time, I began sharing my know how at workshops and interactive sessions,” says the psychologist-in-training.
Asked how her novel sari hooping idea came about and Eshna says it gradually happened during the course of her sessions. “It wasn’t a planned move. I would get a lot of older women students who didn’t feel very confident in their bodies. Added to that was their misconception that they didn’t have ‘workout attire’. It was a recurring doubt at sessions — the correlation of movement and body positivity.”
“Often there is a hindrance to move due to a lack confidence in your body and not in your ability. Hooping in a sari was simply a way of showing my students they could literally do anything they wanted to,” says Eshna, adding that a positive outcome of this idea was a debunking of the idea that hooping was a Western art form.
“Today, I am glad to see more women embrace this activity and enjoy a new-found self confidence. A large portion of my student base now includes more women over the age of 50, with a new measure of joy in their lives. After being in this space for so long, sari hooping has also become a way of expressing her love for my roots,” she admits.
What started as an enthusiastic approach to a simple past time has slowly become a revolution of sorts, believes Supriya. “We are right now the first generation of flow artists in India,” she says, adding the community as a whole,”is trying to bring flow and the concept of play into the corporate space.”
At The Hoop Jam Party, which will see performances and interactive sessions by hoop artistes as well as the audience, there will also be an open floor for beginners as well as prizes and giveaways to be won. “Perhaps a never-done-before session will be a hoop cypher or a dance off of sorts where artistes gather in a circle and engage in a one-on-one dance battle, complete with accompanying sass and attitude,” she says.
The Hoop Jam Party will take place on July 19 at Hard Rock Cafe, St Mark’s Road from 7-10pm. Cost ₹1000 (₹500 cover + ₹500 entry) to be paid at entry. For details call 080 6122 4722.