Most of us need more movement in our lives, and even the most dedicated exerciser gets tired, bored or worn out doing the same type of workout over time. I've found that even though I love running, I love to break it up and do something completely different sometimes. It makes my running more fun, and my running makes me stronger in other activities. 


So I was only a bit nervous to try hooping for the first time ever at the recent Wanderlust Festival in Stratton, Vt. Sponsored by Hoopnotica, my first class was so fun that I now have a hoop so I can play (I mean practice!) in my backyard at home. 


What was it like? Well, hooping and hoopdancing are way more than keeping the hula hoop aloft around your waist; I remember doing that as a kid and then becoming bored with the hula hoop after figuring out how to make it work.


The Hoopnotica class was so much more. Our awesome instructor, Jocelyn Gordon, took us through basic hooping moves, from spinning the hoop around the body with the hands, to keeping it aloft using only one arm and the tops of our hands. We made figure eights with the hoop, and then learned how to combine that with jumping through the hoop. 


Once you start turning in a circle, getting your feet into the action and adding music and a bit of body movement, you find yourself combining moves and dancing away. I learned a tremendous amount in just an hour and a half, and could duplicate about 70 percent of what I'd learned the next day. I'm looking forward to learning more tricks so I can do a whole repertoire — but learning is half the fun. 


The best part? Your hoop regularly flies off your hand or leg and ends up on the ground, or rolling away — and that's just fine, and shows that you're learning, which is always a great feeling. 


And the second best part was definitely how sore my upper body was the next couple of days. Since most of my workouts are leg- and core-focused, it was awesome to find a fun activity that would really get my arms, chest and shoulders working hard. And yes, there was a guy in the class, who was really into it, and it seemed to appeal to people of all ages, weights and activity levels, so try it out! 


Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

Why hooping is the fun new exercise of the summer
Combining the hula hoop and dance moves, this fun new activity can be a good time for women and men of all ages.