Monday, August 29, 2011

Seven Steps to Starting a Hoop Group

There is a great article on today about how to begin your own hoop group! Lara Eastburn lists some great tips on how to get started, and what's important to keep the group growing and running smoothly.
I added a few more tips from my experience with hoop jams below the article. Organizing can be lots of work - but if you are hoping to meet, and make a few hoopers, there is no better way than getting a hoop group started.
Here is an excerpt from the list: 
Step 1: Get a Lay of the Land. Search through the regional forums here on for hoopers in your area, just as new members do on every single day. There may or may not be a group that is close to you, but this is the place to start. If you come up empty-handed, then there is no better person to fill the need for a local hoop-group than you!
Step 2: Pick a Place and a Time, Bring Extra Hoops, and Be Consistent. Starting your own local hooping meetups can be as easy as showing up to your local park at the same time and day every week. Take a friend with you if you can, and let people know in your social networks where you’ll be. You may be alone the first time, and maybe even the second or third, but you WILL see the hooping magic happen. Don’t get discouraged. Many, if not most, established hoop jams started out in exactly this way. Your persistence will prevail.
Step 3: Embrace Your New Role as a Hooping Ambassador. Starting a hooping group will require a bit of bravery on your part. It can be hard to hoop alone in the middle of a public place. But tough it out, and you won’t be a solitary hooper for long. Remember that you’re doing what makes you happy and that your enthusiasm is infectious! Greet the curious with a smile, hand ‘em a hoop, and answer any questions they have as best you can. When you see that gleam in a newcomer’s eye that is the telltale sign they’ve caught the hoop-bug, ask for an email address or invite them to join you online for updates and reminders about your weekly hoop-gathering. Before you know it, that person tells their friends, who bring their friends, and you’ve got a full-fledged weekly hoop jam.
Step 4: Crank It Up. There’s no denying it – besides having extra hoops on-hand, MUSIC will be the second most important component of bringing the energy that will grow your hoop group and keep folks coming back for more. In the beginning, perhaps you huddle around a small battery-powered boombox. But as your group grows, you’ll feel the need for bigger sound and booty-shaking playlists. Luckily for you, Philo has some suggestions for HoopJam Sound Solutions right here.
Step 5: Don’t Drop the Ball. As your hoop group grows and evolves, so too will your responsibilities. You started this thing, and you will be the glue that holds it together. But don’t be afraid to ask for help in keeping it going. Make sure there is always someone there at the appointed time and place to get things started. Before weather becomes an issue, seek out alternative venues for rainy and cold days. Get creative. Churches, schools, community centers, music venues, dance and yoga studios are all places to look for indoor hooping space. Put out the call and see who answers. Read the rest of the list on >>

All of these are excellent considerations to starting and running a hoop group, but there are a few more I would add. First, it's important to also consider what you want your role to be in the hoop group before you get started. 

If you are showing up as the head hooper each week and have some flight time under your belt, it's likely that folks seeing new moves will ask for some instruction. If one person tries, another is going to join in. Soon it will be just like a class! 

Teaching people new hoop moves is a blast, but, if you were hoping to get a place to jam with other hoopers, it can be tough to be in teacher mode the whole time - especially if the group is a free get together. Have a plan in place if you don't want to teach the whole time; as in, the first half hour is "free teach" for Q&A and instruction, but the last half hour is for free spin time. 

If it is in a park or school, it's also important to keep an eye on the kiddies. Some times they may not understand that the hoops are only to be borrowed, and I'v had hoops walk away from me more than once during larger jams. 

Anyone attending the group who is meaning rude, disrespectful or disruptive - don't hesitate to ask them to leave. In my experience, the only rude folks were the ones who were doing so out of embarrassment or anxiety - but that is no excuse to make the group feel uncomfortable.  It can be rough to ask someone to leave, especially when the event is so casual, but just asking them to please let the group operate in a friendly environment, as intended, can help. 

Asking for help keeping a look out for hoops from any regular hoopers and taking a minute at the start of the jam to go over basic ground rules can make jams run much more smoothly. If new folks walk up, introduce yourself and let them know what's up. 

Hoop jams can be a great time and a wonderful way to build a new community. With hard work, a great attitude, and dedication you never know how it will grow. If you start one up, remember have fun, be consistent, be you and happy hooping!

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