HooperPower offers an alternative exercise

Eunice Lee

The “hoop jam.” The “limbo.”

The “booty bump.”

As music thumped in the background, instructor Heather Crosby called out hula hoop dance moves for students in her Sunday morning class at the Joel Hall Dance Center, 1511 W. Berwyn Ave.

“Close your eyes,” Crosby said. “Find that mood you want to be in.”

Crosby, the owner and creator of HooperPower Hoopdance, teaches fitness classes in studios throughout Chicago structured around the childhood pastime of hula hooping. She started hoop dancing four years ago after she saw dancers perform with flaming hula hoops.

She created HooperPower about a year ago after noticing it didn’t have a huge following in the Chicago area, she said. The company now hosts performances and hoop dance classes for people in the area, including Evanston.

“I think there are a lot of Chicagoans who need more fun in their life and who need to look at fitness as something that’s fun so they stick with it,” she said.

At the start of the hour-long fitness routine, Crosby brought all her students in a circle to choose a color that they would focus on during that class.

“I thought it would be fun for everybody to pick a power color for themselves to help them visualize as they’re spinning or lifting the hoop,” she said.

The students were taught moves such as the “booty bump” and the “limbo,” where they bent their torsos and spun the hoops vertically.

“It’s a huge cardio workout, great for stretching and toning,” said Elizabeth Parenteau, one of Crosby’s students.

Parenteau, who has been taking HooperPower lessons for eight months, said her favorite part of the workout was spinning the hoop in the reverse direction.

Throughout the class, more advanced students helped others who struggled with certain moves. The room buzzed with laughter about successfully executed tricks.

Although this was her first class, Elizabeth Nachtwey said she has been hoop dancing on her own for about two years. Her favorite move was the “booty bump.”

“It gives you an opportunity to loosen up and free yourself,” she said.

Toward the end of class, the students formed a circle for a “hoop jam,” in which each person stepped in and did a short freestyle routine.

“It’s a fun way to get all that energy out and share with everybody and kind of bond at the end of class,” Crosby said. “I enjoy bringing moves out of people.”

As the class wound down, the students stayed in a circle for cool down exercises, which included meditating and stretching.

“You’re having fun,” Crosby said. “You get to play, and by the time class is over you realize you’ve gotten a workout.”

The next class will be held on Friday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Joel Hall Dance Center for free.

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