By Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor
Melissa Campbell has a couple of confessions to make.
The creator of this weekend’s first Queen City of Buffalo Hoopathon wasn’t very good at jiggling a hoop around her midsection when a friend asked her to try one out four years ago.
She also admits she tries to eat vegetarian but sometimes gives in to bacon cheesecake, so you know she has her bad eating days.
But she’s eaten better – and managed to throw in some more exercise – since she took hold of the growing Hula Hoop phenomenon, which has become a new fitness niche.
“I couldn’t Hula Hoop at first and I felt bad, because I dance,” said Campbell, 33, owner of Filigrees Gallery & Boutique at Elmwood and Forest avenues.
“Once I figured it out, it was like defying gravity. I immediately got tuned into it and I wanted to get better. There’s a lot of room to improve and be successful.”
Her friend also showed her how to make one. “Now,” Campbell said, “I’ve made a couple thousand of them.”
She sells Hula Hoops in her store, along with clothing, fine art, novelties and “dharma goods.” She also sells them on her website, ultrahoops.com.
“It’s been a growing business,” she said. “There’s a bit of a comeback with the Hula Hoop in subcultures as more of an adult form of exercise rather than a kids toy. Bringing it into the health and fitness area, there are opportunities to use it for stretching, muscle building, instead of just occupying the kids out in the backyard.”
It also brings adults back to childhood.
Campbell uses irrigation tubing and connectors from Lowe’s to make her Hula Hoops, adorning them with reflective tape.
“Now I’m looking to add a technology element inside of the hoop so it will communicate with a smartphone and it will give feedback about calories and losing weight.”
Campbell made the Hula Hoops used at Larkin Square and on the BlueCross BlueShield Healthy Cruiser.
The insurer, along with the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo, are among the sponsors of the first Buffalo Hoopathon, which will roll into the SUNY Buffalo State Campbell Student Union from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 each for groups of five, $10 for kids 17 and under, and $20 for adults. Proceeds will support the Wellness Institute as well as Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and put dozens free of Hula Hoops into the hands of Buffalo school children. To order tickets, visit hoopathonbuffalo.com. They'll also be available at the door.
Amy’s Food Truck will sell hummus and healthy snacks, and Ashker’s Juice Bar also will offer refreshment. Grace Turner and the Western New York Drummers will provide entertainment, as will several accomplished Hula Hoop dancers.
“The Hoopathon is sort of like my big give,” Campbell said. “I want to raise awareness of Hula Hooping and the benefits of it.”
For those who want to learn even more about the resurrected craze, Campbell also gave a shout out to the Buffalo Hula Hoop Group, formed in 2008 by Kristin Damstetter. The group meets from 7 to 9 p.m. every Monday from Memorial Day through Labor Day in front of the the Delaware Park Rose Garden along Lincoln Parkway.
“You can see us and the Buffalo jugglers group from the street,” Damstetter said.
For more info on the group, click here.
Campbell is among the regulars, and said Hula Hooping is a fun family activity and a welcome one for moms looking to burn off some of those extra pounds.
“This is a good fit,” she said. “It’s about feeling sexy and looking good. The Hula Hoop does that.
“I just went through a really dark winter and went back to it and I’ve lost 10 pounds” from eating better and Hula Hooping for 10 minutes four times a week.
“It’s working on the belly fat,” she said. You have to have your arms up, working on balance and endurance, “and you have direct contact around the area everyone wants to eliminate. Whittle your middle with a Hula Hoop.”