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'Round and 'round she goes: Raceland woman dedicated hooper

Mar. 31—RACELAND — As a symbol, the circle represents wholeness, health and harmony with one's self, family, community, nation and universe.

All the more reason it works within the practice of yoga.

Rebecca Fairchild, 52, of Raceland, calls herself The Happy Hooper.

"I personally love how hooping and yoga work really well together," Fairchild said. "It's always nice to warm the body up with gentle yoga postures before and after hoop play. Also for me, hooping has been a great way to stay present. When inside my circle, I am connected to my body and fully embracing the moment."

She stressed that yoga and hooping aren't combined, just used together.

"Yoga is such a sacred practice for me and for many, out of respect for the yoga tradition, I don't like to change it at all. I teach yoga," she said. "Yoga is more of a lifestyle for me. I do yoga daily, deep breathing, meditation and movement. I hoop a couple of times a week, sometimes more."

Hooping burns about 300 calories per hour while improving stamina, as you're constantly moving to keep the hoop going. Experts recommend hooping for exercise be done for 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

To get started, stand up straight and keep your head directly over your center of gravity. Now, lift the hula hoop slightly above your hips and pull it forward so it's against your back. Rotate the hoop away from you in either direction, then quickly throw it forward while turning it.

Fairchild offers private lessons and workshops, and sometimes she invites friends, neighbors and students into her yard for what she calls Hooping in the Yard Days.

"I'll teach them something new or we just flow together, which is so much fun," she said. "You will often see me in my front yard dancing and playing with my hoop."

Fairchild isn't just a participant in hooping: She also creates her own hoops.

"I started Hooping at the Playthink Festival in Kentucky about five years ago and haven't stopped hooping since," she said. "I started sharing the fun with my family, friends and neighbors. That led me to making my own hoops that I could use or give to my friends."

There are various sizes of hoops, but also different weights for different purposes.

"I make the hoops out of different types of PVC, as in PE pipe that makes them a little heavier for 'on body' hooping, which is a great foundational start for a beginner," she explained. "Or Polypro, which is lighter and great for 'off body' or cool tricks. and in between is the HDPE pipe, which is most commonly used for a combination of both on and off body. It's lighter than PE and heavier than Polypro."

Those into hooping often have a variety of hoops, collecting them as they change their style of hooping and grow as hoopers, Fairchild said. Hoops can be personalized with hoop tape.

"After making the hoops, (users) can have hoop tape added, which makes them pretty, shiny and colorful, but also has grip or gaffer tape, which can be nice to help keep the hoop on the clothes or skin," she said. "It's nice when you are learning to have some grip and can make a huge difference."

Another difference, she noted, is between manufactured hoops and craft hoops. Fairchild said variety is important so hoopers can find the right fit.

"There is not one size fits all. I make them in different sizes, different tubings and the quality is long lasting for all the changes and growth in your journey," she said. "Hooping is for kids and especially for adults. We dance, play, learn tricks or use hoops for an exercise tool. If you want to break a sweat then grab a hoop."