Hoop Dreams

first_imgMy mom was right. After age 40, things begin to shift. My waistbands feel a bit tighter, and my c-section scar seems to bulge out a little more than usual. I don’t feel quite as comfortable running in just a jog bra and shorts—a conservative singlet seems more appropriate. Although running is great for maintaining overall fitness, the fact is, it doesn’t do much for the belly area.I guess I could cut down on my daily ice cream intake, but that doesn’t feel like a great option. Of course there are the various attempts I have made at core strengthening exercises—doing yoga at sunrise, practicing Pilates in front of the TV at night, even squeezing in two minutes of push-ups and crunches in between meetings at work. My husband is a dedicated practitioner of core work: every evening he comes home from work and heads straight down to the basement to knock it out. Me, I’m not so disciplined. If I’m going to do core exercises, I want immediate results. If that’s not possible, it had better at least be fun.Given my resistance to any sort of formal core work, imagine my excitement when my friend Barbara invited me to a beginner’s hula hoop class. I checked out the website, which promised that hooping would “tone and strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and develop core strength.” One of the testimonials described hooping as “a fun way to lose weight, get in shape and feel good about yourself, all while you are having fun!” Okay, I thought, I’m not the most coordinated kid on the block, but I’ll give it a try.When we arrived at the studio, we were immediately greeted by dozens of beautiful, brightly colored hoops. It was obvious that these weren’t the hoops of our childhood. There were weighted hoops, glow-in-the-dark hoops with LED lights, and hoops filled with water. Before getting to take any for a test spin, however, we learned a bit about the history and culture of hooping. That’s right—it’s not called hula hooping any more. The activity—part sport, part dance—that has been around for thousands of years (Egyptians made hoops out of grapevines 3,000 years ago) and became a pop craze in the United States in the late 50s has evolved into much more. It is now a culture, brought back in the mid-90s by The String Cheese Incident. Hoping to get more people dancing at their shows, members of the jam band threw dozens of hoops into the crowd at the Telluride Music Festival, igniting a movement that is now present at festivals and shows across the country.From the looks of our teacher, professional hooper Melanie MacNeil, Barb and I were in for more than an exercise class. Decked out in bright shimmering clothing that revealed elaborate tattoos underneath, she moved with a dancer’s grace. Melanie began by teaching us beginner’s moves, the spinning hoops and swaying hips that we remembered from childhood. Nothing to it, I thought, especially using Mel’s custom-made, adult-sized hoops. Just when I was thinking I had conquered the hoop, however, she upped the ante and added more complex movements. Hooping with our eyes closed. Hooping while walking. Hooping on one leg. Putting our arms inside the hoop and easing the hoop up to our necks. How was it that she made it all look so easy, so fluid? We were supposed to holler or make a silly noise every time our hoop hit the ground, and soon yelling and laughter overshadowed the funky music accompanying our dance.After an hour of hooping, we were all sweaty, tired, and exhilarated. It was easy to understand how this child’s toy could also be a workout tool. The circular motion of hooping gets all of your core muscles working, including muscles in your abdomen, back, pelvis, and hips. Even my arms were burning. Still, the feeling was different than that you get from a typical gym workout. Maybe it was the music, maybe the moves, the likes of which one NPR commentator described as, “sexy, gymnastic, and mystical”—whatever it was, I felt relaxed and young again.Professional hoopers like Melanie know full well about the emotional and spiritual aspects of hooping. For her, viewing hooping as a fitness routine would be like Tiger Woods describing golf as his hobby. Melanie’s passion for hooping has been a journey that has allowed her to follow her heart’s work of promoting movement as a mode to physical, emotional, and spiritual health. In addition to the physical benefits, she talks about how hooping “creates a mind-body awareness, increases personal empowerment and inward focus, breaks down the ego, and opens channels of energy.” How many exercise programs do all this?Now, armed with my custom-made glittery pink and black hoop, I can be seen practicing my moves in the yard nearly every afternoon. My abs are sore, my hips and legs are bruised from the hoop banging against them (yes, it’s possible to spin the hoop on your legs; no, that’s not what I was trying to do). My daughter says I’m embarrassing myself in front of the entire neighborhood, but I don’t care—it’s fun. Will I develop abs of steel? Maybe. Will I develop into a hooping goddess like Melanie, with flowing, mystical moves? Probably not. But I will have fun as I try. •Melanie MacNeil teaches hoop classes in Asheville and performs across the Southeast: www.ashevillehoops.com.last_img read more

Andy Cole: I’m pleased with Ighalo

first_imgRelatedPosts Ighalo: My best moment as ‘Red Devil’ EPL: Crystal Palace stun sloppy Man U EPL: Red Devils attack Palace Andy Cole believes Manchester United could not have asked more of Odion Ighalo in his short time with the club. The on-loan striker, who United signed from Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua on January deadline day, has scored four goals already for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. He slotted straight in and there is already talk that United could seek to extend Ighalo’s stay. And speaking to the Nigerian striker on a video call that was shown on United’s official pages, former Old Trafford frontman Cole admitted how impressed he’s been. “I am really pleased with him,” said Cole. “When you come to a club like Manchester United as a centre forward, everyone expects you to score straight away, but it takes a little bit of time. “And like Odion said himself, he wasn’t fit and was just coming in from pre-season in China. “I think he has done pretty well when he has been given the opportunity, he has applied himself really well in the club and has scored four good goals, four centre forward goals, you can’t ask for much more.” The words will be music to the ears of both Solskjaer and Ighalo, the 30-year-old who has previously admitted Cole and former United strike partner Dwight Yorke were his footballing idols growing up. “Well, I had a lot of football heroes,” said the striker. “When I started supporting Man United, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole were my heroes growing up. “It is a great privilege for me to play at Man United, where great players like Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole have played. “They were great strikers and scored a lot of goals. “So I would watch their movements, the way they played, the way they created space for themselves, watching the way they met crosses behind defenders. I learned all of that and it has helped me a lot in my football career.”Tags: Andy ColeManchester UnitedOdion Ighalolast_img read more

3 things Dino Babers said at his weekly press conference ahead of Syracuse’s matchup with Louisville

first_img Related Stories Syracuse football depth chart: Week 2 vs. No. 19 LouisvilleSyracuse football visual breakdown: How SU recovered from Colgate’s 1st touchdown with one of its ownStock up/stock down: A look back at Syracuse’s season-opening win over ColgateGallery: Syracuse football rolls to 33-7 win over ColgateSyracuse football rolls to 33-7 win over Colgate in Dino Babers’ SU debut Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 5, 2016 at 1:20 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidmancenter_img Dino Babers’ first meeting with a ranked opponent as Syracuse head coach comes this Friday when the Orange (1-0) takes on No. 19 Louisville (1-0) in each teams’ conference opener. Babers held his weekly press conference on Monday morning in the Iocolano-Petty Football Wing auditorium. Here are three things he said leading up to Friday’s date with the Cardinals.Kind of loudEven with free tickets for students, only 31,336 fans witnessed Syracuse trounce Colgate in last Friday’s season opener. Granted, the New York State Fair and a Florida Georgia Line concert were both taking place and it’s a season opener against an FCS team, but the crowd was hardly one that electrified Babers’ SU coaching debut.Last season, Syracuse experienced the steepest decline in attendance among any Power 5 school. Babers is hoping to see a change in fortune when Louisville visits on Friday night.“I thought it was kind of loud, kind of loud,” Babers said of Friday’s crowd. “And if we’ve got room for another 18, 19,000 people to get in there, I think it can get really loud.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textLethal LamarLouisville quarterback Lamar Jackson was named the Walter Camp national offensive player of the week after accounting for eight touchdowns and slapping 70 points on Charlotte Thursday night.The dual-threat sophomore signal-caller threw for 286 yards and six touchdowns while running for 119 yards and two more scores. Syracuse’s front seven will have its hands full with Jackson, who Babers singled out multiple times in his press conference and said he’s like a dangerous running back or wide receiver in space.“It’s going to be a challenging task to say the least,” Babers said.Up close and personalThree of Louisville’s front seven were named to the preseason All-Atlantic Coast Conference team. Senior defensive tackle DeAngelo Brown and linebackers Keith Kelsey and Devonte Fields all received first-team honors.Syracuse struggled to crack Colgate’s stout front line, which boasts several all-Patriot League players itself. But the Cardinals first two lines of defense are a whole other animal and one that the Orange has its work cut out against.“Their front seven is definitely the strength of that defense,” Babers said. Commentslast_img read more