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.

3 essential potty training tools

Fara thought that having an older son would make potty training easier for her little boy. But she quickly learned that it’s not always easier the second time around.

Her first son was very cooperative through potty training and caught on fairly quickly, but her younger son, even though he wants to be just like his big brother in every other way, wasn’t as eager to use the big boy bathroom.

“My younger son plays the games his brother likes, he wants do to karate like his brother, everything, but he hasn’t been working with us to potty train like I thought he would,” Fara said. “We know he has to go, and he knows he has to go, but he’s so playful and energetic that it’s been a challenge to get him to stop playing and go to the restroom. We’ve learned a lot this time around.”

1. Rely on family and friends for help and ideas.

Fara said her mom has provided a lot of help this time around, especially because Fara works full time. Her mom takes her son to the bathroom every half hour or every hour, and Fara said she was so grateful for that suggestion and those she’s received from other moms.

“It’s also useful when you talk to other moms who can share tips about what worked for them,” she said. “Somebody might have a different idea than you do and if yours gets old, you might try something new.”

2. Invent games that make going to the bathroom fun.

Fara gets her son excited to potty by telling him to “put the fire out, you’re the fire engine.”

She also add flushable things to the toilet, like leaves or flushable toys, and lets her son practice target shooting. “He tries to point at them and that makes it a little more interesting for him to go,” she said.

3. Reward your child’s successes

When her son first started using the potty to pee, Fara would buy him little gifts, but when he went poo, she said it was a huge deal.

“We would either take him to Chuck E. Cheese or get a bigger gift so that he would feel like this was a big achievement for him,” she said. “We made sure he knew why he was getting this gift – because he went to the potty – and we would tell him that he was growing up, and if he kept doing well, he could do more of the things his brother does, like taking different classes.”

Fara admits she was hesitant at first about using rewards. She said she didn’t want to have to bribe him to do what was expected of him, but now she thinks of it more as encouragement than a prize.

“It’s more like telling him, ‘You did something very important and you’re being appreciated for it,'” she said.

Fara expects that in the next few months, her younger son will be an old pro at using the potty. In the meantime, she’s continuing to push, encourage and keep it as fun as possible.

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

The Potty Place
At Let’s Talk Potty Training, the experts at Pampers offer advice, videos from other potty training mommies and even printable toilet-time activities to share with your toddler.

Toddler Terror
About.com’s resident pediatrician teaches you the best ways to deal with your formerly-sweet bundle of joy.

Productive Parenting
From infants to young adults and everything tween, Parenting.org offers tips and advice to help your child be all you wish you could have been and all she is capable of.

The Twos and Threes
Parenting Toddlers gives you useful tips on everything from maximizing your baby’s safety to avoiding mommy burnout.