Come Hoop With Us
by Denise Milanese Photography by Christian Lee
Come Hoop With Us
The sun shines brightly, sparkling the waves with a cloak of rhinestones. It’s another glorious day on the island! The wind blows steadily, making for tricky Frisbee flights, but the dogs still romp and the exercisers jog and stride along the foamy waterline. Sun worshippers work on their first-of-the-year tans and boys toss footballs, attempting fearless, sand-splashing catches, all the while looking over their shoulders to see if their prowess has attracted the notice of any bikini clad objects of their desires.
Amidst this celebration of all that’s cherished in the Lowcountry, a woman stands silhouetted against the dunes with a neon orange hula-hoop. First she is twirling it around her slim hips, and then it is magically transformed into a dance accessory, which she rotates with her wrist, then back into her hand to swirl gracefully around in a fluid rotating flash of the glowing color. She is clearly in the zone and doesn’t notice my approach until I speak to her. She blinks and smiles, flipping her long brown ponytail over her shoulder. I notice a stack of a dozen or so hoops lying on the sand. They are beautiful, each a unique combination of color and spiraling holographic tape. Jody smiles and says that she always wants to bring enough to have ready for the crowds, who she knows will be as charmed as she is by the joy of hooping.
Jody Evans believes that joy draws joy. Her search for joy began five years ago when the stress of family caretaking brought her to the breaking point. Happy memories of simpler times hula-hooping with friends led her to head for her garage where, using found materials and lots of duct tape, she made her first rudimentary hula hoop. She started practicing and sharing her new passion with others in the public spaces near her home in Boulder. Jody exclaimed, “Hooping has changed my life!” Her enthusiasm is contagious. The pink glitter bedazzled visor proclaiming “Hilton Head Hula Hoops” expresses the happiness she has found sharing her passion. Her exuberant “I LOVE glitter!” backs up her sentiment. “If it’s too cold or rainy for hooping on the beach I get out my glitter glue and start creating.”
A newcomer to Hilton Head – October 2015 – Jody was determined to hoop her way to a happy, healthy, stress free lifestyle in her new home. She can frequently be found at Coligny Beach or at the Bluffton Farmers Market or anywhere she can gather new hooping friends. Check her Facebook page (Hilton Head Hula Hoops) for scheduled times and locations. “It’s organic,” she says. Everyone is supporting each other, sharing new tricks, encouraging all to join in. Inclusivity is the guiding philosophy of her hooping community. Everyone can play from age 5 to 85. A retirement-aged couple stopped by Sunday afternoon while Jody and I were chatting on the beach. The gentleman tapped his side and regretfully exclaimed, “Sorry I can’t hoop today but I’ll be back in the swing as soon as my surgery heals.” Jody explained that she met the couple when they were drawn to her and took a break from their beach walk to (re)learn how to hoop. Now they stop by for a few minutes of fun every time they see her at the beach. I can attest to Jody’s skills as a teacher. When I stated that I couldn’t do it, her immediate response was: “Of course you can! I can show you how in two minutes. Part of the secret,” she says, “is to start with a bigger hoop.”
“Bigger?” True to her word I was happily hula hooping in minutes. “Anyone can,” she assures passersby, who stop to watch and chat.
Jody’s loyal group of Facebook followers joins her at hula-hoop gatherings and Jody says that their mutual love of hooping has fostered close friendships, as they have talked about life’s highs and lows across their twirling hoops of plastic tubing. Her dream is to start a free hula hooping class, with the goal of building a cooperative community, spreading the joy she has found inside the whirling plastic circle.
It’s free, it’s fun, it’s great exercise and Jody invites everyone to “Come hoop with us! Who knows, you may hoop your way into a bikini.”
Married: to a free-lance writer
Family: One son working as an engineer in Colorado
Follow on Facebook: Hilton Head Hula Hoops
Lives: on the island and makes classic, custom and even collapsible hoops
Rescues: dogs and cats. One of her current pet family members is a former street dog from Mexico.