Fat Women and the Big Girls of Hooping

This weekend I commuted 2 days in a row north  for 2 Hooping Instructor Training and Certification workshops. One for “Minis”, which are two small hoops used, one for each hand, and the other for “Hoopfit”, which is basically Hoopdance  with a formal structured fitness build up for unfit and beginning hoopers.

The first workshop turned out to be attended by only one woman, a veteran hoop teacher who was tall and big, as in not skinny. She was charming, colorful, a terrific hooper and a bit  overweight. There were two master teachers of note, and I had to wonder why they didn’t cancel the workshop.  I signed up, registered and paid the day before, so they must have had some reason whey they were doing it which had little to do with the two of us attending. We had us an affectionate,  kinda  girly girl club energy going on, which did not obscure a steely focus on professionalism  with language and control issues underneath it.

I got way more of an education about the hooping racket listening to shop talk between the three instructors and  lunch.  At one point I got a  too social/gabby and was firmly cut off by one of the instructors with the excuse that she had interrupted the other instructor, though chatty  asides/digressions  were fair game for them.

There were the  usual  2 poles women have to work from in this society  which are never   admitted to : 1) Our need to compete against other women and WIN our share of money, status, love attention, success  and  2) the need to manipulate by  working  from a SUPER inhumanly NICE  place to prove we fit the  cultural model for women. We don’t want to touch on the massive collective rage and pain we carry from colluding with the system of  social oppression that we  inflict on ourselves and other women. The saint/madonna mask is still viable social tender.  After all, don’t we all still wanna get along? And if we don’t, what then? Because women are NEVER supposed to get angry or express anything negative.

I now have that wrinkled, somewhat overweight and worn at the edges 50 something look, despite my newly cut and frosted hair, and more vibrant earrings which I’ve been buying lately for myself. I don’t do nail polish, pedicures and manicures, but I am finding out looks and grooming can certainly count in one’s favor, even for me, which I thought was never going to happen in my life ever. People I have assumed just don’t know I exist are continuing to surprise me with positive comments about my hair.

I’m fine with looking and feeling better to myself,  but I’m finding it shocking how much people let the idea of attractiveness color their perception, mainly, of me.

It’s clear to me a lot of overweight and unfit women attend hoop classes, so our master teachers showed no sign of looking down on us.  I had no trouble getting the point that Hooping as a living has to include catering to masses of Those Who Would Otherwise Not Try It or Quit. The hotshots will come and do it regardless, but they are an elite minority.

Our master trainers skillfully managed to downplay their fitness and attractiveness to make us feel more equal to them and keep  jealousy from building. I don’t blame them, it’s what I did when I was a fitness instructor, and it works.  I call it professional humility.

One the women attending Sunday arrived with her throttle stuck in aggressive/complaint mode. She was all over the trainer because she registered early and was not sent the packet or a manual, hadn’t been sure if she was charged twice, etc.  This went on for more than a few minutes. The trainer kept her poise, rolled with the punches, reassured her, didn’t blow her top at the provacative and blaming statements coming out of this woman’s mouth.

I finally offered her my manual, showing my disgust with her tone, which she turned down. Then she calmed down and was fine for the rest of the workshop. The comeuppance for several of us amateurs came when the trainer had us doing slow squats, lunges and the ever favorite and overused “plies” while waist hooping. Ms in your face couldn’t do them very well  and neither could I.

About Shirley

I started this blog to expand and explore my rhythm horizons as a hand drummer. That exploration includes touching on the rest of my life and inner world as authentically and truthfully as possible.
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