Hula hoop teacher Donna Sparx reveals the benefits of children hula hooping
Updated: May 1, 2022
By Melina Byrne.
Donna Sparx, a hula hoop teacher from Hoop Sparx and a children’s book author, explains the benefits of hula hooping for children. She also reveals her favourite hula hooping toys, and shares tips for adults who have never been able to hula hoop. Richmond Toy Library: You teach hula hooping to children in private lessons and at children’s parties. What are some of the
benefits of hula hooping for children?
Donna Sparx from Hoop Sparx: “Hula hooping provides a fun way to be active. It is non-competitive and can be as skills-based or creative as you like. Some kids love to dive into their imagination and create all kinds of scenarios and dance moves with the hoop, and others get really focused on learning tricks and skills.” “It is a great activity for individual focus and learning as well as group and team building and interaction. Hooping is excellent for developing motor skills and left/right brain activity as well as supporting neuroplasticity, mindfulness and connection with self and others in a playful, non-threatening environment. It supports both cardio and strength-based fitness too.”
Want to start your child hula hooping? The toy library has child-sized hula hoops that you can borrow. Click here to see these hula hoops that come in a set of four.
Donna also offers a free 'Hoop Dance Tutorial for Kids' on YouTube.
Richmond Toy Library: Congratulations on your children’s book ‘Loopy Luna And The Hula Hoop.’ Tell us more about it.
Hoop Sparx: “Loopy Luna is a book about hula hoops, friendship, wild imagination, magical adventures, and a little girl who creates, problem-solves and builds. It is written from a feminist perspective and focuses on creativity, self-expression, community connection and inclusion.”
“When I started writing 'Loopy Luna,' I knew I wanted to write about a kid and a hula hoop. The deeper I got into the story, the more I realised it wasn’t just about that. It was about inspiring children on their journey from a focus on self to being part of a community, it was about young women problem-solving and inventing things, and it was about sharing.”
“When Loopy Luna spins her hula hoop she can go anywhere… Loopy Luna is the playful story of a quirky, adventurous little girl with a magic hula hoop and a can-do attitude that sees her stay up all night creating something to bring her community together.”
How it evolved: “Loopy Luna began a few years ago when I was studying Writing for Children as part of a Masters in Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing. The story was birthed in that class, edited by the tutor and the group and then dreamed about for months! Around the same time, I went to a hula hoop retreat in Turkey where I met Nazli Tarcan who, when not hooping, would often be found drawing us while we were hooping. Her illustrations were stunning, and I knew then that she had to be part of this project.” “Loopy Luna was co-created by hoopers from opposite sides of the world: a visual artist/circus performer from Turkey (Nazli Tarcan) and a writer/hula hooper from Melbourne (me, Donna Sparx).” “The book was published thanks to a crowd-funding campaign so there are only a limited number of books left.”
Richmond Toy Library: Many adults have never been able to spin a hula hoop around their waist. Do you have any tips for beginners?
Hoop Sparx: “My 3 top tips are:
1. Use an adult sized hoop - try at least a metre in diameter.
2. Don't make circles with your hips! Try pushing your hips side to side or forward and back. Linear movements work!
Richmond Toy Library: Tell us about some of your biggest achievements teaching hula hooping.
Hoop Sparx: “I have taught humans of all ages, backgrounds and abilities around the world both online and in-person. My biggest achievement is always witnessing and sharing in the moment when someone does something they thought they couldn't do. The absolute joy on their face and the shift in their attitude to self and what's possible blows my mind every time.” “Another huge achievement has been teaching 80-100 total beginners a hoop dance routine in under an hour. Teaching at Moomba has been a highlight for sure. Teaching is my absolute passion and, to be honest, every class feels like a big achievement.”
Richmond Toy Library: We love the hula hoop designs in your online store. What are your 3 favourite designs?
Hoop Sparx: “Oooh - that's a hard question! My 3 favourite designs are Mermaid Heartbeat (pictured left), Indigo Sunrise and Punk Leopard.” Richmond Toy Library: What are your favourite toys for performing?
Hoop Sparx: “I love my spinning plates, hula hoops and dragon staff. I also love my roller skates, juggling balls, giant bubbles and bike.”
Richmond Toy Library: What are the biggest benefits of a toy library?
Hoop Sparx: “Opportunities for diversity in play, trying new things, sharing and being part of the community.”
About Donna Sparx: Based in Melbourne, Donna is a hula hoop dancer, teacher and performer with a background in Creative Arts and 15 years experience. She performs hula hooping at kids' parties and provides private lessons for both children and adults. She has performed with the Women’s Circus and trained under hula hoopers from Europe, the UK, Canada and the USA. Donna offers 100 free tutorials for adult beginners and intermediate hula hoopers on her website.