Concertgoers may have seen them on warm nights at the Levitt Shell, elaborately twirling to the music, or perhaps attendees at the Cooper-Young Festival have spotted them walking with hula-hoops draped over their bodies.
Some of Memphis' "hoopers," as they call themselves, have expanded the activity into the city's first brick-and-mortar hula-hooping studio called Co-Motion Studio. The name pulls from the idea of "community in motion," a concept the two behind the venture hope to invoke through fitness classes, recreational events, and shopping.
The studio is the sixth project of the MEMshop initiative from the Mayor's Innovation Delivery Team, where groups are given the opportunity to test-drive their ideas for six months at an unoccupied storefront in a neighborhood being revitalized. Co-Motion Studio is located in Crosstown.
Adriene Holland and Chloe O'Hearn, the co-owners of Co-Motion, have been involved with hooping since 2008 and 2010, respectively. The pair is involved with community outreach, particularly with youth and survivors of domestic and sexual assault, by incorporating therapeutic dance and movement.
"I started hooping in a time in my life where it was really stressful, and I was kind of going through a lot personally. Hooping really helped me with that," O'Hearn said. "I wanted to be able to share that with other people who might have had similar experiences in their life or were dealing with stressful situations."
Both have experience with Youth Villages — promoting positive body image, stress management, and physical fitness through hooping classes with girls there. Next year, the studio will be partnering with the Rape Crisis Center and the Family Safety Center of Memphis to work with women utilizing those services.
"Ultimately, we'd like to be more of a community center beyond just movement classes but other kinds of wellness: encouraging healthy living, entrepreneurship, education, community development, and programs for youth," O'Hearn said.
Their outreach efforts also include "hoop bombing," where they drop off homemade hula-hoops at local parks and basketball courts.
"What's even better is if we actually see kids playing in these areas," Holland said. "We'll literally hand the kids a hoop and say, 'We're giving out hoops today, do you want one?' Their faces really light up."
Classes will consist of hula-hooping, juggling, and belly dancing, among other activities, as well as all-ages programming where parents can hoop along with their children. The individual price for one class is $15, but bundled class packages can lower the cost — the 10-class package decreases the cost to $11 per class. There will also be pay-what-you-can opportunities, as well as student and senior discounts.
Aspiring and seasoned hoopers can purchase hula-hoops at the studio, which will also be the only place to buy LED hoops in the Mid-South area, according to Holland. On top of classes and events, Co-Motion Studio will also hold private parties, private lessons, and allow rental of rehearsal space at its location, which is now open to the public at 416 N. Cleveland.
"Community-building is really what we're all about, from building a community of dance and movement artists to building the community around us," O'Hearn said. "We really want this to be a space that's welcoming to everyone in the neighborhood."