Growing up in rhythmic gymnastics, mastery of skills was critical. If you’ve never seen Rhythmic gymnastics (look for it in the summer 2016 Olympic Games), it involves dance movements with the rope, ribbon, ball, clubs, and yes, hoop! Ironically the hoop was one of my least favorite and most difficult events as a child. Mainly because a standard size of hoop was required per age group and I was so tiny that the hoop came up to my collarbone. I’ll never forget one of the mastery skills had me jumping OVER the hoop while it was rolling on the floor. NOT easy. To this day, my parents giggle that the piece of equipment that I came back to as an adult was the hoop.
During my years of training, I came up with a simple formula that landed me a spot at the Olympic Training Center and worked well for me to know if a particular trick was ready to perform in the routine It’s one you can use in your hooping practice. I explained it to my husband the other day, who immediately looked at me like I had lost my mind. He said, “yeah, but most people won’t do that”. Maybe, I said, but some will and it takes the focus away from “how much time do I have to spend doing this” and puts it back on “what results am I getting”.
Here’s the formula. Practice a skill until you can perform the skill ten times in a row without making a mistake. Then, and only then, can you consider this a mastered skill. Might sound easy, but let me give you an example.
If you’re starting out in hooping, this might mean “I’m going to practice waist hooping until I can get this to spin around my waist smoothly ten times before it drops”. If the skill you are practicing is new OR difficult, the time spent can add up which equates to more calories burned, increased cardio, and increased health and fitness. Often times, the time spent will escape you because you are focused on mastery of a skill, not on the time spent doing it. I can tell you that if I’m running on a treadmill I look at my watch every 5 seconds, but give me a skill to master and the time equation fades away.
For those of you beginning hooping, take heart! You won’t master new skills on the first try, or maybe even the tenth. And it’s ok, because part of the beauty of hooping is to find your OWN JOURNEY, your OWN path. When I reflect on my own journey, it’s not the tricks I’ve mastered that leave me smiling. It’s my hoop rolling down the street at 5 am, its setting off a car alarm so many times I’m surprised neighbors still wave at me. It’s thinking of how I must have looked like an epileptic penguin learning shoulder hooping. It’s the moment I stood on my front lawn and honestly thought “WHAT am I doing out here? This is crazy. I’m 39 learning to hoop dance”. But I listened to my inner voice that said “No, this is important.”
I recently worked on a new trick that involves twin hoops. I practiced the trick over 100 times before I got it ONCE. Now, keep in mind I didn’t track all the other days and the number of times I practiced that led to ONE successful completion of the trick. Now imagine how many times I will have practiced the trick by the time I can do this ten times in a row. THAT’S how you make something look effortless. Little by little, consistency, heart, and laughter. A lot of laughter.
Use this during commercials. The average commercial break is about 3 minutes. Work on mastering one skill during commercials. A good one is waist hooping to chest hooping. Small breaks are necessary when learning this skill.
What happens after you master a trick ten times? Add the trick into your warm up routine a few times in a row to make sure “muscle memory” is still tracking. Think “riding a bike”. Once you have it, you generally have it.
Here’s a sequence to try. Once you have it mastered in one direction, or current, practice until you can do this ten times with your less dominant current. That way you will prevent muscle imbalances and challenge yourself even more. Or try it with a lighter, smaller hoop. There are endless ways to challenge yourself.
Waist hooping (10 rotations before the hoop drops)
Walk forward while waist hooping (10 steps)
Turn with hoop (one full rotation)
Walk backward while waist hooping (10)
Waist hoop to overhead lasso and back to waist hoop again (10 times)
When you can do each of these ten times successfully, put them together in a combo. When you successfully master the combo one time, try doing the combination successfully ten times.
Try it out and let us know how you do!
Leigh Little is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. She co-created the Hoop Fitness DVD with Canyon Hoops. When she’s not chasing after her four and six year old, she’s working on ways to help families and women in particular, find balance, health, and happiness through nutrition and fitness.
Follow me on Instagram: @leighdavislittle