When Joshua Williams and Melissa Fisher wake up in the morning, they have a pretty normal routine. Rise, pick out some clothes, brush and floss, maybe watch a little TV. Oh, but they’re hula hooping the whole time, sometimes for hours on end.
Hula hooping isn’t just a part of Williams and Fisher’s daily schedule, it’s also their career and passion. They are the duo behind Hoopadilly, an organization that promotes hula hooping for health.
“The root of our organization is based in hula hooping as a health and wellness tool and meditative art,” Williams says. “We teach hula hooping, and particularly hoop dance, as a meditative and rhythmic art form.”
Williams says “hooping,” as the cool kids call it, brings a dual advantage for body and spirit.
“You can burn up to 600-900 calories per hour. It’s equivalent to a medium jog or light run, so it definitely has the cardiovascular benefits,” Williams says. “It’s also got the rhythmic component to it. That gives you benefits like spinal elongation and core strength. Plus, the motion focuses you.”
Hoopadilly brings the art and exercise of hooping to everyone from kids to grandmoms and from birthday parties to classes for kids with cancer. Fisher focuses on kids’ and school events while Williams runs most of the Hoopadilly’s hula-hoop classes at gyms or yoga studios. They do both one-day events and multi-week classes. While their business is based in Haddon Township, they take their hooping all over New Jersey.
“We’ve taught everybody. I’ve literally taught a priest, hand to God,” Fisher says. “I’ve taught grandmoms too. They say, ‘Oh, I never thought I could do this.’”
But they can, in part because Hoopadilly uses larger, weighted hoops that help novices get the momentum going while enjoying the exercise benefits of the activity.
With only one piece of equipment needed, hooping is accessible to all ages and body types, Fisher says. But, more importantly, it’s fun.
“It basically keeps you active, and kids don’t even notice that they’re getting exercise because they’re just having so much fun,” she says. “You can put a hula-hoop in a kid’s hands and it won’t get put down for two hours. They’re having fun and being physical about it, not sitting down playing a video game, not moving.”
Practice what they preach and teach
Fisher and Williams, both in their late 20s, stumbled upon hula hooping by accident several years ago.
“I don’t think I even noticed it as a kid,” Fisher says. It was music, of all things, that introduced the pair to hooping. “A lot of the shows we go to have hula hoopers. So it starts out with a love of music, and you get to the show and see the hula hooping. It all just came together.”
Williams finds himself hooping for hours on end, both while he’s hanging around the house and practicing tricks outside. Williams’ record is 14 straight hours of hula hooping, while Fisher says she “only” has hooped for six hours at a time.
Think that sounds crazy? It turns out hooping aficionados are everywhere. There’s the woman who ran a 10-kilometer race a few years ago, hooping the whole time. And an 87-year-old Korean man who hoops in public every day for his health.
“I’m just not a gym girl but when I started hula hooping, I noticed that I felt better. I had more energy and I felt better about myself,” Fisher explains.
Williams also goes for hooping thrills.
“A fire hoop for me is the peak experience of hula hooping. It has five wicks and it’s used for dance and performance,” he explains. “The flames come about 5 ½ inches from your face.”
The thrill of fire hula hooping isn’t without worry or risk, though. Williams used to sport a handlebar moustache but a few close calls later and he cut back on his facial hair.
The pair hopes to convert the rest of South Jersey to the benefits and thrill of hooping, one event at a time.
“A hula-hoop is much more than a toy. It’s a powerful physical conditioning device,” Williams says. “And it’s a lot of fun for all ages.”
Click on the video above to watch Joshua Williams and Melissa Fisher show off their hooping skills, including Williams’ favorite trick, the shoulder isolation. Visit Hoopadilly.com to learn more about the duo’s custom-made hula-hoops, classes and appearances at local events.