The sensuality of the modern Australian woman is undoubtedly anchored by her strength. We can open our own jam jars and look good while we do it. Even if we haven’t built up the minimal muscle to do so yet, we will smash it against the counter until that seal pops. The nineties and naughties saw an incredible peak of interest in yoga, clinical pilates, aerobics and really all forms of exercise which strengthen the core and encourages relaxation. The appeal has also been in the freedom to laugh at yourself if you fall over midway through one of a multitude of fauna-inspired poses and not have to feel like you’re letting down a team if you make mistakes.
The rise of alternative fitness has given many girls a level of self confidence which can be difficult to cultivate from a demanding group sport or body imagery propagated by popular media. The most recent craze in abdominal workouts is one with an injection of childhood joviality, the hula hoop.
“It is obviously great exercise, you feel it in all your muscles but its also good for flexibility in your spine. You don’t just get a workout in your waist but all over when you start to move it down to your thighs, arms it’s pretty much an all over work out,” says hooping instructor Coral Peek.
Coral has turned a healthy hobby into a career by busking with hoops, performing in burlesque-style shows and teaching tricks to fellow hoop lovers.
“I was always into hooping as a kid,” says Coral, in her crisp kiwi accent. “One day I decided to play with it and do some tricks. I got frustrated with it and then it turned into an obsession.”
During summer, when warm restrictive clothing is not required, hooping lessons can be taken outside. Kicking off your shoes, stepping onto the grass and picking up one of Coral’s many pink hula hoops takes you back to a time when you compartmentalised people by which Spice Girl they most resembled. Coral encourages you to do off-the-body hoop work and develop the skills to keep it moving on your wrists, ankles, knees and neck.
Hooping isn’t necessarily just for women, but hips help. Coral’s opinion is simply that it is more about confidence, “you just need a healthy body image, they are for all shapes and sizes”.
Coral has studied graphic design, did competitive roller derby, worked as a body piercer and later an apprentice for a tattoo parlour. Performed burlesque at different venues, clubs, and next month at the tattoo expo. She is currently working on hooping and roller blading, trying to put together a hula hoop/skating routine “I just go and hope for the best…I’ve fallen over a lot” (without any padding because it restricts the hoops). Coral is one representative of the gusto and free spirit of the next generation of fit, flexible, unfettered women.
If you are also looking for different ways to strengthen yourself head-to-toe and learn some tricks you can practice on your own whilst listening to Beyonce, Coral runs lessons at 9:30am on Monday mornings at the Abbotsford Convent in Collingwood, on the grass in front of the Sophia Mundi school. The class is only $20 for 2 hours, but if you work on Mondays, she’s planning to soon expand to Tuesday classes in the city and Wednesday classes on the beach in St Kilda.
Updates and class times will soon be added to the facebook page.
Today is international world hoop day, to celebrate Hooplovers are hosting a free event at Quarries Park in Clifton Hill and Hoop O’Clock Collective are having a hoop jam and free hooping class at the Playspace on Albert St, Brunswick.
Images by Sabine Legrand