Hoopswhirled began in 2007, the brainchild of artist, dancer and movement enthusiast, Diana Defries.
Interested in movement as a means of self expression, Diana began dancing almost as soon as she could walk. That energy was channelled into ballet, after which she explored various styles of dance. In her teens she began ice skating, then a few years later she tried martial arts. After that she immersed herself in the world of competitive bodybuilding for 16 years, as a competitor and as a judge, before walking away from the sport in 1996, for personal reasons. She continued her bodybuilding training and enjoyed good health until 2002. Everything changed abruptly after a 10kg weight fell on her foot during a workout. She went from fit and flexible to barely able to walk; long-forgotten training injuries came back to haunt her. Depressed and in constant pain, she gained a lot of weight and began to believe that she would never recover.
In May 2006, she saw an ad for a hula hoop which piqued her curiosity. Clicking that link opened up a whole new world! Realising that she may be able start exercising again (as basic hooping creates no impact to aggravate those foot, knee and back problems) and hoping this was the answer she’d been searching for, she ordered a hoop from the US. It took three weeks to arrive. She was so excited when it turned up that she had a go immediately. That was when she realised she had no clue about hooping! In fact, after just five minutes of trying (and failing) to keep that hoop spinning, she had to lie down – she’d lost so much fitness!
It took three weeks of daily practice before she could spin that hoop consistently. Practice sessions were just ten minutes (followed by a rest). There weren’t any hoop videos online back then, so it was a process of trial and error, which was slow and often exasperating!
All the while, she kept doing one of the things she does best – research. It was during one of those searches for help and answers that Diana found Hoopgirl (aka Christabel Zamor) and discovered that Christabel would be holding a teacher training in LA, in November 2006. She had no idea how she was going to get there! Nevertheless, in spite of her injuries and slow recovery, and fully aware that she was far from ready to teach, Diana made the decision that she’d attend the teacher training with Christabel. Somehow. Meanwhile in the background, Diana’s husband had noticed the changes hooping was making to Diana; not only in terms of physical fitness, but to her frame of mind. He also noticed how she kept returning to the Hoopgirl website… So, he arranged for her to take the training – for which Diana will always be grateful. In November 2006, they both travelled to LA and Diana took part in one of the early Hoopgirl teacher training courses.
Those three intense and challenging days kickstarted the journey that continues today.
That Hoopgirl training experience led Diana to explore her own beliefs and attitudes and the way they affect performance and achievement. Christabel shared so much during that course and her wise words carried Diana through the early days of Hoopswhirled… while she was still “figuring things out”!
Over the next decade, Diana learned a great deal about hooping, teaching and each persons perception of personal possibilities… Hooping offers some great metaphors for how to live a better, happier life, and helped her heal, move, and progress towards the path she is now following. Even though it isn’t the be-all and end-all for Diana, she will always be grateful for being able to share the magic of hooping with so many people.
Fast forward to today:
After acquiring various fitness qualifications, Diana’s focus has shifted away from hooping (with love and gratitude for all she learned) in order to explore movement in a broader way.
With more qualifications gained this year, and more to follow, classes will take on a different format, with movement and awareness remaining central to encouraging people to be their true selves and do the things that make them smile.
She believes we must each find our own path and follow our bliss.
…Oh, and she’s still figuring things out!