Boston-based Laura Orcutt discovered a passion for hooping while in college. Today, she incorporates it into a fitness-oriented career.
As told to Hannah Cohen
I first discovered my interest in hooping at UMass Amherst in 2009. I met a girl at a party who was hooping with an LED hoop. I was immediately mesmerized. So, I asked her what she was doing and she directed me online. The rest is history. I taught myself everything through youtube. I fell in love with the way it makes me feel, learning new routines, and getting in shape along the way.
Hooping has become a hobby that I can do whenever I want, on my own time, and work toward completely on my own. It has increased my self esteem and mindfulness, and I just enjoy it. I’ve been hooping for over 6 years and every time I think I’ve seen or done it all, I realize there’s always a new way to approach it. I’m always learning and continuously inspired.
I try to be as involved in the general hooping community as I can be. I was also the president of the UMASS Hoop collective. We’d hold open time slots at the gym for anyone to get involved and join in with us. I taught classes with others as well, and I’m always trying to teach myself new moves from youtube. When I moved away from Western Mass to Boston, I’d look for any opportunity to perform or teach. I just joined the Boston Hoop Troop two years ago and they’ve really brought me into their inner circle.
I’ve never had a hobby that’s completely consumed me to the point where I can’t wait to be at home every day to practice it. I would love to do it full time, but it’s not currently sustainable. Most performers who aren’t teaching their art form supplement their passion with a day job. When I moved to Boston, I didn’t want just any old job, so I found a job at a gym where I can merge my hooping with fitness work. I love that my daytime job mixes in with my hooping career.
I currently teach a lunchtime hooping class at a gym in Brookline. Many adults love it, and go out to buy and create their own hoops. Some of those women come out to the community jams as well. It’s not just for younger kids, but for 50 and 60-year-old women as well. I had a client who is 75 asking me questions about hooping… six months later she came back to Boston and is absolutely rocking it, she’s a pro.
Grownups like hooping because it reintroduces play into their lives. I think as we get older, we forget how important it is to play. I tell my class, even if you drop the hoop, you’re still doing a squat—and you’re probably laughing. It’s stress relief and you’re bringing yourself back to the feeling you all had as children.
I also teach a group called Brio Integrated Theater, which brings the arts to those with physical and mental challenges. I did a few workshops for hooping and hoop making. A lot of people are in wheelchairs and have significant impairments, but they’re doing it too. Anyone with the right amount of effort and attitude can enjoy hooping.
Next up: I’m working on redoing my website and creating a professional video. The Boston Hoop Troop is also currently working on choreography for a performance. That will be new for me to practice as a group ensemble performance. Long term – I’d love to own my own studio with hooping, yoga, movement, flow arts, and poi. A space where people can go to discover hooping. I hope to get more visibility in the hoop community and become so busy with it that I’ll have to quit my day job. I would love to, at some point, travel and hoop around the world teaching workshops. It was life changing for me, and I’d love to offer classes to others.
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Hannah Cohen is a storyteller, adventurer,
and image maker based in New York City. You can see
more of her work at hannahcohenphotography.com