Recs and Reads
By Anne McKay Garris
Swimming is back for a few week-ends at the Clearwater Beach Recreation Center pool. With back up financing by the Friends of the Clearwater Beach Recreation Center and Library, the pool will be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Come and bring your family for a refreshing time at the end of our still hot days.
"The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings," said my Grandmother Peabody, more than once.
Certainly one of those things is Hula Hooping, or in today's lexicon, Hoola Hooping, or just plain Hooping. Take your pick, it's now available at the Clearwater Beach Recreation Center, with instruction, to music, along with others who will laugh with you and sometimes at you, when you drop the hoop.
Curious about this phenomena of my early years, revived in the 21st century with a vengeance, I looked it up. Hooping as a sport and exercise, it seems, started in ancient Greece, with grapevine hoops, the thought of which makes my hips hurt already. Hoops were used in a variety of ways over the years but the current Hoop craze started as a toy for children in Australia in 1957. The early hoops were made of bamboo, which, last I heard, was very straight and not curved at all. At any rate, they were so popular that supply couldn't meet demand so a company called Toltoys produced and sold 400,000 plastic hoops in 1957 alone.
Once the U.S. got hold of it, of course, a company called Wham-0 produced, and sold, 25 million of the flimsy things in the first four months and 100 million the first year. Not able to patent such a basic thing as a hoop to twirl around the waist (or whatever part of the human body that would cooperate), Wham-O settled for patenting their name for the thing, calling it the Hula Hoop.
Although general use of the hoops has ebbed and flowed in the years since, it never went entirely out of style, kept alive by devotees, some of whom participated in competitions throughout the world. Thus we have records of a team of 11-year-olds who set a record of hooping for a straight 11 hours and 34 minutes; a 1987 record of 90 hours racked up by someone named Roxann Rose and, in 2007, an astounding record of a devotee who kept 105 of the things moving at one time.
Today the really remarkable athletes who hoola hoop for the edification of the paying public can be found at circuses and night clubs.
And, not only are modern hoops seldom made of bamboo, they are also frequently not simple plastic. Some are sequined, some painted by artists, some glow in the dark and a few brave, or foolish souls actually put spokes on the inside of the hoop and set it afire. The latest thing is collapsible hoops so you can carry them with you wherever you go. Hoola hoops are important, don't leave home without yours.
And, as one enthusiast reports, "they are a workout for your whole body," especially done to music. "Unlike my treadmill," she adds, "I never have to talk myself into hooping. It's a real treat."
Which, by the way, is waiting for you at our own Clearwater Beach Recreation Center where Angelique Renauv rents you a hoop for $1, shows you how to use it, encourages you and urges you on to do better than you thought you could. This is on Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to Noon.
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