I remember my first blue hula hoop when I was ten-years-old. Then, on Saturday, February 1, 2014, I took a Windup (Hula Hoop) class at the New York Health & Racket Club (60 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010). The class is taught by Ms. Leislene Hendrickson.
And what fun, fabulous fun and you too, can join in the fun at NYHRC.
After my workout, I asked the elegant, Ms. Hendrickson if I could interview her about the style and structure of her class. Here is our conversation:
WM: What is Windup (Hula Hoop)?
LH: Windup is a concept from a big movement that is already out: “Hoop Dancing,” which is big in Los Angeles and also in New York. People learn how to dance with their hula hoops. They do on the body hooping with the hoop; but they also learn to transition off the body into Halo and other tricks in hooping. Windup is a concept of moving from the core as its center and then using the arms and the legs later with the rhythm of the music to help keep you going.
WM: What should one know before they take the class?
LH: Absolutely nothing. There are a lot of people who ask me, “If I don’t know how to hula hoop…can still come?” And I say, “Sure, because there is a foundation where you learn how to hula hoop, and I will show you how to use the hula hoop.” My hula hoops are adult sized hoops. They are called BodyHoops which are larger and weighted compared to a traditional hula hoop (small and light). Usually, the heavier the weight of the hoop is, the easier it will be to keep the hoop up around the waist. And so, when you have the right size hoop, it’s almost guaranteed to stay up.
WM: What does one find out after they take the class?
LH: Okay, so the first thought that came to my mind is: “They find their sexy.” I say that because most of the women in my class that come on a regular basis are in their mid-forties and fifties. I have 20-year-olds who attend the class; however, my main members are females who are older. And it’s funny how I can see them transition from being shy; or little uncomfortable, wondering if they can keep the hula hoop up; and then suddenly, they are hooping; they are looking at themselves in the mirror; their hands are going up in the air—and they find their sexy.
WM: How did you become an instructor of Windup (Hula Hoop) at NYHRC?
LH: That’s funny, because it happened just by accident. I was studying to become a yoga instructor, and at the same time, I was watching video clips of a lady hoop dancing. I thought, “Oh, I would really like to do that.” I kept that video clip and I would play it from time to time.
Sometime later, I was reading am New York newspaper, and saw a small article about this guy teaching hula hooping classes in Central Park. I went on a Saturday— started going every Saturday—and I fell in love.
The class was from between 12:00 and 1:00 PM, and just when I learned a difficult trick the class was over. And I always thought, once you get it, you want to keep doing it. I would take my hula hoop to NYHRC at the 56th location; and practice on the 6th Floor…on my own.
One day, Roland Brown, who at the time worked at NYHRC and I were talking about hula hooping. I suggested to Roland that I teach him to teach a hula hoop class. But he said, “No, I think you should do it.” He told Maryann Donner, the Group Fitness Director that I was doing something new, and perhaps we should meet. Mr. Brown said, “Leislene, why not give Maryann a call.” I did, and subsequently, she said, “You’re hired.”
WM: How long have you been teaching the class?
LH: It’s been a little more than two years.
WM: What advice would you give a member who would like to dance with a hula hoop at home?
LH: Turn on music that you like. When you dance to a song that you like, you are more relaxed. And then you start to add your natural foot work. Before the end of my classes, I tell everyone to dance naturally, free style. I don’t want people to hoop like me. I want people to have their own rhythm, their own feel. It’s all about your own style, and getting you to open your body and expand your knowledge. So hooping should be about fun and movement.
WM: What is romantic about Windup?
LH: Everything. Hula hooping allows you to get your sexy back. I like that it is a mind body connection. It allows you to have a free spirit. And Valentine’s Day is about being sexy and free.
WM: Thank you Leislene Hendrickson.