July's Hooper of the Month
July has been quite the month already... We are all melting here!
Hmm... Wasn't I just writing about how I was SO DONE WITH THE COLD, like, 2 minutes ago?? Anyway... Classic Ontarian over here. Hates the cold and hates the hot.
Now that I'm done with the "weather" portion of my blog, let's get to why we're all here... HOOPER OF THE MONTH! YAAAAAAAY!!
This month I went with a personal friend of mine. As you know, I've been keeping an eye on my Instagram for bad asses slaying the hoop and I definitely have some future HOTM picks lined up, but this person has been on my radar for a while. Even before beginning this monthly blog that features amazing hoopers, she was an inspiration to me. I've had the pleasure of hooping alongside her for about 4 years now. She is not only fun to watch as she hoops around, but she is also SUPER fun to just hang out with. She has encouraged me when I needed it. (In and out of the hoop) She has listened to me bitch. (About hoops and not about hoops) She has hugged me for ..... well... longer than your typical "hug comfort level". (Yes... while holding a hoop and also while not...)
Watching her progress and growth over the last few years has been special and her hoop story was really inspiring. She is always helping people at hoop workshops, sending encouraging words and smiling her incredibly infectious smile..... This month's Hooper of the Month is
JACKIE NIXON! (aka: HULACAT)
Here is her interview!
What is your name?
My name is Jackie Nixon, but my hooper name is Hulacat. My friend gave me the nickname over a decade ago when we met late night in a Cabaret Hall at a festival. Hulacat is a fairly obvious name when you realize I love hoops and like cats. I just found out a couple years ago another layer to my nickname....It is also the name of the band that was playing when we met – The Hulacats.
How long have you been hooping and tell the story of how you got into it?
I have been hooping for over 15 years. I first picked up a hoop when I was 19 at the Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg, NY. Zydeco was playing and a bunch of large hoops were laying on the ground and I got up the nerve to try to take one for a spin and I loved it. I never could hoop as a kid so with this huge hoop I could finally do it. The owner lent me her hoop so I could practice and come back the next day and be a part of the Happiness Parade. I still have my original hoop from 15 years ago.
Where do you live and what is the hoop scene like there?
Hammondsport, NY. Hammondsport is a small town in the Finger Lakes of New York State. It’s a quiet little tourist town in wine country that won America’s Coolest Small Town in 2012! I’ve been teaching Hooping Happy Hour at Heron Hill Winery since last year. There is plenty of free live music during the summer which gives me the opportunity to hoop. When anyone comes up to me wishing they could do it, I tell them that I teach classes and that a glass of wine is included with the class. Sometimes that little extra promise of wine will bring some people out that wouldn’t otherwise come and it also helps convince their friends to come along too!
Who is your hoop crush? Do they have any social media channels so we can crush too?
This is going to be totally cheesy, but my hoop crush is my boyfriend Ian Faigh. We met at a HoopPath Retreat 3 years ago and just started dating in January. I totally "fan girl" hooping with him and watching him head hoop.
but Jonathan Livingston Baxter will always be my sensei. Training for HoopPath helped me start a daily practice and hooping blindfolded helps me move authentically without feeling worried about what I look like. Go to a HoopPath retreat if you get a chance! You’ll be pushed physically, emotionally and possibly even spiritually. It will change your life in ways you never expected. You can check out his Instagram page here or search for @hooppatherbaxter
What else inspires your hoop dance flow?
My environment greatly inspires my flow. I love hooping to the sounds of mother nature in the woods or by a stream. Nature isn’t as quiet as people think. You can find a beats in the sounds of wind, bugs and birds chirping, water running and waves crashing on shore. I love getting to dance with other hoopers and feed off of each other’s energy and style. Since I’ve spent so many years hooping alone, it’s a real treat to get to spin with others. A lot of times I forget that I know certain moves and hooping with others reminds me "Oh yeah! I can to do that too!" And spinning with others gives a great chance to skill share and teach each other.
What move or technique was the most challenging to learn? Do you remember how you felt after you finally unlocked it?
Leg hooping took me forever to figure out, especially single leg hooping. I kept getting bad bruises and sore joints and realized I had to make a hoop that was smaller and the right size for my body. I drilled single leg hooping using the wall to steady myself until I was stable. I can now hoop on either leg, walk and run and keep the hoop going. Balance is also one that took me a while to click. It’s work to balance a hoop even if you aren’t moving. Right now point isolations are what I’m trying to unlock. When I get a move I have no problem doing a happy dance. One of the biggest compliments I think you can give someone is saying, "I saw that!" when you see that look of YES! when they unlocked a move.
What do you do to get yourself out of a hoop dance “rut”?
Take classes.... Spin another prop.... Put on music you’d never listen to and give yourself the freedom to move and react. It doesn’t have to look pretty to feel good. And accept that it’s okay to feel stuck. I started taking circus classes last fall, my daily hoop practice waned but I’ve felt so inspired to see how I could add a hoop to everything circus. Always be a forever student and keep taking classes (hooping, yoga, or otherwise). That can help get you out of a rut. You never know where your next spark is coming from and you might find a new way of thinking to inspire you and have you fall back in love with your hoop.
What do you love most about the hoop community as a whole?
I love how much the community has grown. When I started there were almost no videos on youtube and social media was in its infancy. You had to sit there and figure out the physics of the circle and where you had to be in space to do certain moves, which could be challenging with a 55" hoop. There weren't tutorials. If you saw someone do something you never saw before, you ran up to them as asked for a quick lesson. The communities were in pockets and now it's much more widespread. You can be in an isolated area in the world and still have tutorials and take lessons from your favorite hoopers. You can learn from so many people's style and really create your own unique form of movement. Everyone's body is different. Your frame, your fitness ability and your hoop will all make moves look different person to person. So embrace yourself and move what way is best fits for you!
I’ve been traveling to Toronto to take workshops from the rotating cast of amazing hoopers on tour for over 5 years. It’s always been worth the 6 hour drive. My closest hoop family is there and I love getting to see them at least a few times a year! They’ve visited me at my home in Hammondsport and we’ve even road tripped down to North Carolina!
If you can, make sure to take a class with HooperSonic. Amy is passionate about hooping and puts her heart and soul into her classes. When I come up to Toronto I try to make sure to get to one of her weekly classes.
Do you consider yourself more of a “body rocker” or an “off body wizard”?
I would definitely say I’m a body rocker. I love the feeling of the hoop going around and round my body. The rhythm is very calming to the nervous system. I will always love my ‘bigger’ hoops because I want to be able to have the freedom to dance and move in my hoops. There is some amazing tech going on in the community with smaller hoops and off body wizardy but I haven’t fallen in love with off body the way I have with on body. I love feeling the hoop around me. Breaks and paddles also are my go to if I have anxiety. I create a beat and rhythm with the hoop and see how much I can vary it. The rhythm of the beat can be very soothing.
What is your hoop of choice?
38” Silver Warrior Hoop from Trinity Starr Hoops. (Check them out here) It’s my goldilocks hoop. 38” is actually a large downsize for me from the hoops I was using when I started. I used a 1” thick, 55” diameter hoop for 10 years before I realized I had to have different size hoops to be able to learn different skills easier.
How has hooping changed your life?
Hooping has moved me to be the healthiest and strongest I’ve been in my life. I have anxiety and when I was going through a rough patch a few years ago hooping is what was my constant. Every day I would go hoop until I was so exhausted I could sleep. If I was angry I’d beat the shit out of my hoop doing breaks and paddles. Inevitably the hoop would pop me back, and that moment of ‘OW’ is a good moment of clarity to breathe and realize you don’t have to hold all those emotions. It’s okay to let it out. To quote Baxter, “Emotion needs motion.”
What would you say to a hooping skeptic to try and convince them to start hooping?
You’ll never learn if you don’t pick up the hoop. Your narrative is important. I always am mentioning in my classes if someone says they can’t do, I always add the word “yet.” You might not have the skills yet, but with practice almost anything is possible. I lost 75 lbs from hooping and it didn’t feel like work because I was listening to music and having fun. You can do it, you just have to start. Even if hooping doesn't wind up being your thing, make sure to have play in your day. Don't stop playing just because you 'grow up.'
Anything else you want to say about hooping?
Don’t forget to play. Try to sweat every day. Embrace your weird. And make sure to smile.
Thank you so much Jackie for taking the time to answer my nosey questions! :P
If you want to check out Jackie's professional page, just click HERE!
Until next time!