Hula hooping my way to fitness

Six years ago you might not have recognized Christabel, the now famous ‘Hoop Girl.’

If you had bumped into her on her campus, you would have seen a young woman well on her way to a career as a university professor, a serious student who had received her master’s degree in cultural anthropology. You would have also seen that Christabel was wearing baggy unflattering clothes, uncomfortable with her body, and tipping the scales at 180 lbs.

According to her, she was the product of living in a college culture that considered eating and partying a popular pastime.

All this changed when Christabel attended a conference on sustainability in Los Angeles. “They had this icebreaker exercise involving hula hooping, so everyone went out into the streets and had hula hoops. I was one of the few people in the group who couldn’t keep the hoop up at all. It was intimidating, but fascinating to me, so I decided to buy a hula hoop and take it home so I could practice.”

Christabel found renewed health and well-being through hula hoping, virtually by default. “It wasn’t like I told myself, oh I am going to work out now with my hoop. I was more like, now I have some time to go hoop in the park. That’s literally why I did it, because it felt good and I wanted to have fun with my friends, turn on the boombox and have an excuse to hang out together, but also stay active and be inspired by the different dances we were each doing.”

“I think it’s about creating a lifestyle, it’s about creating a way of living your life that feels good. It feels good learning to re-educate yourself about what’s really good for you.”

The self made ‘Hoop Girl’ soon began performing for movie openings, galas, concerts and guest starring in commercials. She was satisfied with her love of hooping, but was concerned that it wasn’t fulfilling a higher purpose in the world. “I was becoming aware of the obesity epidemic, and people needing ways to be physically active, and I realized I had to take something that I love doing for artistic reasons and find a way to tie it to a larger purpose—wellness.

Christabel created a company called Hoop Girl and began providing teacher training certifications, classes, hoops and instructional DVD’s to men and women all over the world. “What makes hoop dance today different from what people look at as hula hoping of the 50’s era is that it is a true dance form. It’s almost like crumping or breakdance, but it’s more fluid and less intimidating. It’s sexier, but also more accessible.”

Christabel is a proponent of what she calls body-mind fitness, a state of being that combines the physical body and the emotional body, the spirit. “Hooping gives people a way to bring wholeness and well-being to every part of their lives. It can be a spiritual experience for those who are able to make space in their mind and connect with a larger sense of the universe, than they might otherwise allow themselves to do. And it’s all through this very unassuming plastic ring that is accessible to anybody.”

Check out her website and get hooping!

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

Hoop It Up
Find hoops, DVDs, classes, clothes, performances and everything else you need to wrap your mind around the Christabel Hoop Girl phenomenon.

Spin Me Right Round
Get more Christabel – in dramatic performances, how-to videos and playing around – at her personal video page on YouTube.

Get Physical
Featuring personalized programs and support, Women Fitness shares healthy recipes and gives you access to the weight loss experts.

Diet Right
To better understand Christabel’s diet shift, check out Vegan Action, a website that shows you how to – and what to – eat if you’re thinking of making the change too.

Laugh It Off
Does the dumbbell phone sound as ridiculous to you as it does to us? Really? Because someone actually made it and tried to sell it. For money. See it and other silly gadgets at First Page Fitness.

Why I left my successful career to dig wells in Africa

Kristen had been a television executive in Hollywood for 10 years when she realized she wanted to change her life. She loved the creative aspect of her job, going onto the set and mixing with the actors and the producers. She found it very fun and social. However, she never felt like she was doing anything meaningful.

“The job just wasn’t in line with my spirit. I’d always had this dream of going to Africa. My last day of work, I packed up my office, went to my goodbye lunch and that afternoon I was on a plane to Kenya.”

Kenya was definitely one of the most challenging experiences of Kristen’s whole life. She had the opportunity to travel with a female tribal leader and went through out the bush and talked with other women. Day after day she heard the same story. “These women spend their entire lives looking for water.”

Women look for water all day, so it does not leave them anything thing else to do during the day, such as have a job, or care for their children. The women don’t have the ability to make money or to have freedom. They are oppressed and live under the rein of the men in their society.

“They don’t have the ability to make choices, such as saying yes to having sex with their husbands who are infected with HIV. Because they don’t have water the kids don’t go to school. The list just goes on!”

After spending many weeks with these women and learning about their issue with water and not having it, Kristen decided she wanted to do something to help these women change their lives. “What I decided was that if I was going to do anything I was going to help them get water. So I came back to L.A. and started The Samburu Project which is a non-profit organization that helps bring these people water.”

Since starting this project, every aspect of her life has changed. Kristen used to make money, and now she doesn’t. She has had to scale back, in order to run a non-profit organization and hold four other odd jobs all at the same time.

“I realize now I wasn’t unhappy with my life in Los Angeles, I just didn’t feel like I was doing what I was supposed to do, what my spirit was called to do. Now, I feel like I am doing what I was supposed to do. In [America] we have the luxury of following our dreams…and that is what I am doing, my dream.”

If you would like to get involved, check out the following resources.

The Great Project
Kristen came up with the Samburu Project after traveling through Kenya. The project aims to build 25 wells in parched Samburu, Kenya.

Give Til It Feels Good
You’ve got that giving gene in you, and Just Give helps you feel even better about your generosity with inspiring stories of change and challenges to do more.

Find Your Purpose
Volunteer Match can pair you with causes that are close to your heart and close to your home.

One Child At a Time
The Children’s Hunger Relief Fund works to provide safe drinking water and meals to impoverished children all over the world.