Friday, January 7, 2011


Before you jump to any conclusions, let me explain how I came up with this term...

There is something I hear about in the sport/athletic world called "overtraining". Because my husband is addicted to triathlon and the like, I hear about "overtraining" here and there. It happens frequently to endurance athletes. What does it really mean? How can someone "overtrain"? Kind of sounds ridiculous, right? If you're tired, you stop, how hard is that? Well, here is the actual definition of "overtrain" from
"Overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual's exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness. Overtraining is a common problem in weight training, but it can also be experienced by runners and other athletes."

To further clarify how this can happen, it goes on to explain physical activity in terms of an addiction:
"Physical exercise may be addictive. One theory is that this addiction is due to natural endorphins generated by the exercise.[2] Whether strictly due to this chemical by-product or not, some people can be said to become addicted to or fixated on psychological/physical effects of physical exercise and fitness. This may lead to overexercise, resulting in the "overtraining" syndrome."

Now to address the subject of this blog entry, "overhooping". It's a term I just coined. I am definitely guilty of it and I'm recently recooperating from it. Huh? You might be saying. Is there such a thing? Oh yes. Yes, there is, I am certain of it now. However, "Hooping" is it's own, separate, inclusive activity. It is unlike anything else I have ever done. When I am hooping, I am not "training" for anything - there is no goal with hooping except to be in the moment with it - to let myself go - move my body within it's circle without any regard for what's outside of it. Sounds blissful, doesn't it? You might be wondering how someone can possibly get tired doing that? It's not like when you run too hard and you pull your knee out, right? ... have you SEEN me hoop???

This past fall, I taught 13 hoop classes a week. I was hooping in every one of them right along with all of my students. I was also hooping outside of class to keep up with my own individual hoop-practice. When I could, I would go to class early or stay late, and do my own hooping. It's really a strange thing ... the more I do it, the more I do it. I can honestly say I love it. However, I realized that there were times when I was actually pretty tired and I had a voice in my head telling me to stop hooping, but it's like my body got into over-drive. I can never just stand around before class waiting for people to show up, I HAVE to hoop - I have to practice something new or work on something that I thought looked good in my head while I was driving to class. I can't stand still and talk to someone with a hoop in my hand. If it's in my hand, it's twirling.

When I wasn't hooping or teaching class, I was making hoops. This is another thing I think about. New designs for my hoops ... new ways to make them work better for those students who struggle. I was actually taping hoops and teaching classes in my sleep. Not dreaming about it. These were not dreams. This was me sleeping and my brain just kept doing the same thing over and over again all night long.

Want to hear something really wierd? I gained weight! I was confused; my husband said maybe I gained muscle. I didn't gain much, about 3-4 lbs. But, still, it was wierd considering that I was hooping 13-15 hours a week. I did feel like I was stronger physically in a way, but something wasn't adding up. Not having much time to think about it, I got sick over Thanksgiving ... a flu-like virus and then a sinus infection. I still hooped through all of it.

Mid-December rolls around and my hoop class sessions start ending. I start hooping a little less. Then, school lets out. My young children are home all day for a week and a half. Christmas break is upon us and I started listening to my body more. It was telling me to just stop. I decided I was on vacation, from everything (including the food shopping and the laundry, which is something my husband might discuss if he had blog ...). I didn't hoop for 10 days! I lost 3 lbs. What happened? How is that possible? I wasn't even trying to watch what I ate. But, my body was recovering because simply put, I overtrained with the hoop ... I "overhooped".

Science has discovered amazing things about the body and the ability to try to heal itself. If you just keep doing without enough resting, your body can't recover; meaning, your muscles can't rest. If your muscles can't rest, they can't get stronger - they won't benefit from the exercise you're giving them. So, my muscles didn't grow with all of that hooping, they got fatigued. And because I kept pushing them without adequate rest, my immunity suffered and I couldn't fight off illness. Then, there's the caloric intake. I wasn't taking enough in to adequately support my metabolism with all of the physical activity I was doing. The body's first priority is survival and it was storing fat for me. It's nice like that.

So, yadda, yadda, yadda. What have I learned? I learned that just because I'm not running marathons, I can still overtrain. I learned that even though my job is doing something I love, I still need a vacation. I learned that I still have a lot to learn ...

The other day, like a dummy, I asked my husband if it looked like I had gained some weight. He's not an idiot, of course he said no. Honestly, I looked in the mirror and didn't look any different to myself either and I'm my toughest critic. All of my clothes fit the same too. But, I started feeling like I weighed 500 pounds. Out of curiosity, I got on the scale and that's when I discovered I lost those 3 lbs. Did I lose muscle, I wondered? I took out my hoop to see how it felt. I must admit, I was a little scared at first. It had been so long since I hooped! I would probably be dropping it all over the place!

This was when it all came together. 3 days ago when I picked up my hoop again. It felt amazing. Like coming home to a "Welcome Back" sign or something. I was stronger! I was more fluid in my movements. I was flipping it around and doing new things with it that I was struggling with before. Guess what? I'm a better hooper!! I'm doing a lot of the same stuff, but it's better. I'm more in-tune to it ... I could listen to my hoop better. We were one. It's apparent that I definitely need to learn things the hard way. Just another service I provide so you can learn from MY mistakes. :)

Although I don't recommend it, I'm glad I over-hooped. I learned something and now, I'm re-energized for another season of smarter hooping. I've got some new tricks up my sleeve and I can't wait to share. My hoop and I definitely missed each other. In this case, distance made my body stronger.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Unplug and get real

I am generally a very positive person and it's a rule in our house to never use the word "hate". So, while I sometimes feel the need to use this word out of societal habit when we dislike something, it's a rule we've created to keep ourselves in check as parents as well. So, as I write this next post, I will be stating my "strong dislike" of a few things. But, I promise to end it on a positive note! :)

Since I have grown to love the mobility of my body and all it can do, thanks to my hoop, I have grown a strong dislike of any type of virtual exercise. I'm sure it serves a purpose for those who are really unwilling to get off the couch, that to make it a sort of video game makes it more appealing, but doesn't it just encourage people to be "near" the couch? Especially our children, who should be outside breathing fresh air into their lungs? Why does physical activity have to go virtual?

We have a Wii. It's almost a year old. We've played a game on it a total of 3 times, all of those times within the first month we had it. I must admit, it felt weird. We are used to moving around more, propelling our bodies forward, paying attention to our body and our surroundings instead of intently focusing on a TV screen. Our children never ask to play the Wii. Perhaps it's because when they say they're bored, we tell them to go outside.

So, having said that, it brings me to my whole point of this post ... hooping on the Wii. First and foremost, Hooping on the Wii is NOT hooping. I refuse to hoop on the Wii. To me, it's like "fake" hooping. It's like driving a racecar for real, and then driving an arcade version. Once you experience the open road, there is no substitute. Students who have "Wii hooped" and then take my class, are amazed how dis-similar they really are. I think because of this, I have a superior strong-dislike for any type of virtual exercise. I have hooped in the rain, the cold and in a small room and I plan to hoop in our first snowstorm. I don't think there is any sense of liberation in front of a TV screen.

For example, ask any true-runner if they prefer to run on the treadmill or run on the open road. They will all tell you the open road without a single thought about it. We see them running in the rain and freezing cold. Why? Because they didn't find their soul on the treadmill, they found it on the open road with it's unexpected bumps and potholes and hills to climb. They run harder, better, and faster than they ever do on the "fake" road. And when a runner hurts themselves, is it on the treadmill? Heck no, it's on the road, it's on the trail or it's in a race - because that's when they're putting it all out there.

So, the same with hooping. A hooper does not "Wii Hoop" because we can't learn, we can't spin, we can't toss, we can't get hoop bruises and learn from them. We can't be "one with our hoop". Simply put, hooping is about unplugging and getting real. No batteries or wireless connection required. And with that, I will end this post with a positively strong dislike for living a day without a bit of real, unplugged hooping!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pigs Are Flying (or in my case, hooping ...)

I really thought it would be a cold day in hell when I started a blog. That it would happen when pigs flew ... and here I am, determined to share my hooping insights with the world through a blog.

I know many people who blog. They blog about this and that. Many blog well, many do not, but I still read them. So, from many requests to do so, I created my blog page months ago, and it sat there empty. But, now I am finding that even if one or two people read this, it's worth it. I am a firm believer in world peace from the center of a hula hoop and perhaps from blogging about it, I can transfer that peace around a bit.

It's been a really busy hooping season. I found no time to Hoop outside of class instruction - and I found that my mood has suffered for it. I also found that when I don't hoop outside of teaching class, I don't teach as well. So, even though I hoop 12 - 13 hours a week from teaching hoop class, I have vowed to hoop at least an hour every week on my own; even if it is in bits and pieces. It's necessary for many reasons - mostly for the people who live with me!

I made a list of 10 things I feel when I hoop today. It felt good to do that - it reinforced how much I love it. Hooping allows me to be "self-centered" without guilt. I feel "me" and it allows me to let go and be free. It's meditative. I may not be able to get the world to revolve around me, but darn it all, my hoop does and it likes it!

See, the hoop is a funny thing. It comes alive when it is on my body - it listens to me and more importantly, I listen to it. Where in life can you find such a perfect relationship? Such agreed upon give and take? Nowhere. Only within the hoop.

So, yes, pigs are not only flying; in my world, they're hooping too. I'm sharing my hoopjoy in written form for you to view, ridicule and even comment on. Or, to make fun of at a party. I'm out there now. My hoop told me to do it ... and it wants me to tell you all the things I do with it. So, I'll be back. Thanks for reading my first post.