When walking into the narrow half-gym on the upper level of UCSB’s Robertson Gym, the first thing that catches your eye is glitter. Sparkly stripes swirl around people as they mix jazzercise and a favorite childhood pastime-hula hooping-to create a whole new level of aerobics.
Instructor Sara Munro and her all-female class gather each Thursday to hoop away their stress and to strengthen their core, arms, and legs. In addition to being an extremely toning form of exercise, hula hooping serves as a way of finding your center, much like yoga. “The hoop is a vehicle for me to offer an opportunity to find one’s center, to ground physical energy while turning down the chatter of the mind,” said Munro.
The hooping class is recreational, meaning that there are no grades or tests during the eight weeks students are there. Members of the community and UCSB staff are also welcome to participate in hooping. “It’s a place where students can come and not be evaluated, where they can come together and relax,” said Munro.
Though the hooping class has a laid-back atmosphere, Munro still expects students to achieve set goals. “My goal would be to help facilitate and experience a joyful, grounded movement and that [the students] would leave having achieved more than what they thought they could,” said Munro.
A licensed hoopdance instructor certified through HoopGirl founded in San Francisco by Christabel Zamor, Munro started teaching hooping in 2004 in the Mohave Desert, but moved to Santa Barbara because of the community. Munro also makes hoops and does fire performances.
“I like the hoop community; they’re just really nice people,” confirmed Maria Carbonell, a Thursday-night hooper. Carbonell heard about the hoop class through emails Munro had sent out.
UCSB student Corie Radka found out about hooping a different way. “My suitemate freshman year hooped and she has this LED hoop that lit up when it was around her,” said Radka. When disappointed about not being able to find the class in the course catalogue, she didn’t give up. She eventually tracked down Munro’s class and took the class during spring quarter.
Munro will also be offering a four-week hula hooping class at UCSB on Thursdays from July 2-23 held from 5:45-7 p.m. For more info, visit flamefatale.net. Munro also teaches a Hoopdance class through S.B. Parks & Rec. on Tuesdays from June 23-July 28, from 5:30-6:30 p.m., at the stage area in Oak Park. Call 564-5418 or visit santabarbaraca.gov/erecreation/activities.