After visiting her granddaughter Yumi in Egypt three years ago, Martine Star knew she had to become a hooper.
“My granddaughter wanted to teach me but, I couldn’t do it,” Star said. “I promised I would teach myself without telling her.”
When Star returned, Yumi wasn’t the only one surprised.
“I brought hula hoops back to Egpyt and everyone started hooping.”
Star is just one of the East Yorkers who swings her hips and grooves along the studio floors of HooperSonic.
Amy MacCutchan, owner and operator, started the hula-hooping dance and fitness club after “walking into” the idea at Withrow Park.
“A friend of mine was in the park and she was carrying a hula hoop. She told me she was going to a class and I said, ‘that sounds dumb,'” MacCutchan says. “I always thought it was so hard, but when I got there I had the right teacher who gave me the right hoop and I was hooked.”
Seven years ago, when she started, MacCutchan was admittedly “uncoordinated and dizzy.”
Four years later, she was leading her own group and HooperSonic was born.
On March 25, the club celebrated its third year anniversary with hoopla.
Marilyn Scott, an East York resident who has been hooping for eight years, says she feels “higher than a kite” when she leaves the club.
“Friends are surprised when they hear I’m a hooper,” she said. “It makes you think about when you were younger.”
MacCutchan says hula hoops seen in stores are kid-sized and much harder to use. Hoopers use giant, adult-sized hoops and flex their core to swing the ring.
They also incorporate dance moves and cardio exercise into routines.
One student, Amanda Stephens, highlights the key difference.
“It’s about learning how to hoop versus trying to keep it up,” she said.
Though most of MacCutchan’s classes focus on experienced students, she also hosts a six-week beginner series for newer students like Caroline Vanderghem, who has been a member for a few months.
“Everyone helps everyone,” Vanderghem said. “When you’re here you forget everything else,”
HooperSonic’s classes take place in the Redwood Theatre near the corner of Gerrard Street East and Greenwood Avenue and at St. David’s Anglican Church on Donlands Avenue.
In the summer, the club aims to host weekly events in The Beach area.