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Making exercise fun: How Inner Circle Hooping used This Girl Can – Victoria

12/02/2019

For women, there are many judgement barriers when it comes to physical activity. From concerns about age and level of ability to worry about body image and coordination, Inner Circle Hooping had a lot to overcome when designing fun hula hooping classes for Victorian women.

Owner and Hoop Dance Instructor, Lucy, created Inner Circle Hooping classes to address the negative feelings that women experience when exercising. She acknowledges that adults generally don’t allow themselves freedom to be a beginner, to make ‘mistakes’ and to play freely without judgement. For her, hula hooping is the solution.

This Girl Can hula hoop

Lucy often hears a lot of negative self-talk from newcomers to her classes. Phrases like: ‘I can’t’, ‘I’m too uncoordinated’, ‘I’m too old’, ‘I’m not going to be as good as the person next to me’, or ‘I’m not feminine enough’.

Which is why she said, “To witness the delight when someone turns these negative preconceptions around with a personal ‘win’ – and has a smile and a laugh with her peers in the process – is absolutely priceless.”

For Lucy, hula hooping is meant to be fun, lighthearted and non-judgmental. The novelty of a different kind of exercise that’s generally thought of as children’s play, is a great way for women to loosen up and have a good time.

To directly dispel women’s barriers when it comes to fitness, Inner Circle Hooping uses intentional language and strengths-based communication through positive reinforcement and celebrating personal progress. Lucy has also set up her classes to promote social connection and interaction by incorporating hooping games that involve working as a team. Because of this approach, being a hooper means being a part of a community. She works to make fitness fun by using humour and encouraging people to ‘dance it out’ at the end of a class.

Inspiring women to have fun with fitness

This Girl Can – Victoria was a key motivator for Inner Circle Hooping to continue encouraging women’s and girls’ participation in sports and recreation. Lucy used campaign resources and messaging to review and validate her direction, and circulated the #ThisGirlCanVIC hashtag on Inner Circle Hooping’s social channels to help showcase everyday women getting active and having fun.

Of the This Girl Can –Victoria campaign, Lucy said, “It’s contagious and so refreshing!”

This Girl Can – Victoria strongly inspired Inner Circle Hooping’s approach. Lucy was able to build a supportive and collaborative hoop community, while instilling a love of exercise and play in the lives of women.

“We hope to make even greater progress in future by challenging barriers and norms,” she said. “We’re working in particular towards better supporting women and girls living with a disability, and those experiencing financial hardship and exclusion.”

The result of confronting barriers

One member of Inner Circle Hooping shared an unfortunate story about her previous experience with exercise:

“I experienced sexism in my karate class, which is why I left,” she explained. “The sensei called all the men by their first name but called me a ‘little girl’ every time he referred to me. I was 22! It was so patronising and belittling. I think this sort of thing happens all the time and makes it difficult for women to get involved in male-dominated sports. The way sport makes you feel is sometimes ruined by the fact that some men (often ones in power) don’t take us seriously.”

A safe and encouraging space where women feel empowered to be physically active – and have fun – can make all the difference. This woman said, “It’s all about being coordinated, moving to music and being in sync with the hoop. I think it’s actually quite meditative because you have to be so connected to what your body is doing and then match that to music. Hooping is also super fun and a great way to make friends.”

Exercise can seem like a chore to many people, but Inner Circle Hooping makes it fun, social and uplifting. They encourage more women to get active by:

  • Sharing the #ThisGirlCanVIC hashtag along with pictures of diverse women engaging in physical activity
  • Creating a safe, inclusive space in which to have fun and join a community
  • Lightening the mood with humour, music and genuine celebration of personal progress.

Want more inspiration on how to support your community of women get active? See our other supporter case studies for tips, tricks and a whole lot of good feels.

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