Surprise! Hula-hooping is therapeutic!


Hoopers Cody and Kate Selanders explain

Hoopin’ like champs…and what is in that guy’s mouth? / Laura Billett

Hoopin’ like champs…and what is in that guy’s mouth? / Laura Billett

Cody Selanders is a contact juggler, Kate Selanders is a hula-hooper, and the pair is behind Solstice Hoop Play. The company is based in Moose Jaw, but Cody and Kate travel and work in Saskatoon and Regina, offering classes and teacher-training in hula-hooping.

“For me, hula-hooping has been personally therapeutic and transformative,” said Kate. “I think one of the biggest things is when I am hula-hooping, that connection with my core is so powerful. All of the energy has to come from my core, and so it makes me more aware of my stomach and what is going on inside of me.”

Kate first began hula-hooping while she was going through physical rehabilitation after being in a car accident. While exercises were helpful, Kate said hula-hooping gave her more than just physical strength.

“It was inspiring, it was motivating for me, and it made me feel so good about my body in a way that I had never experienced before,” Kate explained. “I feel pretty, I can do impressive things, [and] I am blowing my own mind with the things that I am learning how to do.”

This idea of building self-confidence and ability is a message that the couple bring into all of the fitness classes and workshops that they do. They are working to inspire ability and confidence while having fun — something we all need more of.

Kate was first a fitness trainer, and then launched Solstice Hoop Play with her husband, Cory. Academically, Kate has degrees in psychology and social work. Though hula-hooping and social work seem like an odd pair, Kate hopes to bring both passions together to empower people.

“I was already really interested in therapy, and I discovered that there were a lot of connections between the hula-hoop and expressive arts therapy, play therapy, [and] body-oriented psychotherapies. So, my long-term goal is to develop a therapeutic program with the hula-hoop,” Kate told me when I asked her about her blog, the Hula-Hooping Social Worker.

At this point, the Hula-Hooping Social Worker is just beginning. Kate is blogging about her own therapeutic experiences with hula-hooping and reaching out to healthcare professionals with whom she would like to collaborate.

Currently, Kate is beginning collaborative work with a youth worker who has a patient who was sexually abused. They plan to get together and build a hula-hoop as part of the patient’s therapy.

“[We] talk about creating that boundary, creating that safe space, and then connecting with that core energy and seeing how it feels,” Kate explained.

“And not forgetting how to play,” added Cody. “[It’s about] trying to teach these people who have been through really heavy stuff. These kids lose their innocence and don’t want to play anymore.”

The pair is also using circus arts to teach kids about self-care.

“We’re working on a program to take into schools. Cirque du Solstice is what we’re calling it. It’s going to be using circus arts to promote active lifestyle and promote self-care in young kids, promote stretching, promote those things because not all kids are into competitive sport,” Cody explained. He has already successfully run similar circus day camps in Saskatoon.

The pair highly values self-care. Kate said she saw the detrimental effects of high pressure and a lack of emphasis of taking care of yourself while in school for social work, and she really wants to see that change.

“Burn-out rates are getting younger and younger, and I think a lot of it is people get too busy to self-care, when really self-care should be your number one thing because once you are looking after yourself, the work gets a lot easier,” said Cody. “I think in our culture, we tell ourselves ‘We’re too busy; we’ve got to go.’”

The couple encourages people to give themselves permission to do something just because they have fun doing it — not because they are going to make money, develop new skills, or gain experience to help them in future endeavors. Hula-hooping, the couple says, is one way to explore movement within your body and have hoops of fun!

Solstice Hoop Play will be offering hula-hooping classes in Regina, and even better, they are offering a teacher training program open to all. Cody and Kate promise that it is a great way to express yourself, take care of yourself, and earn an extra dollar.

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