Josephine Stoddard Encourages Play for All
This hoop dance instructor stresses that when it comes to fun, there is no age limit.
IF YOU’VE VISITED San Anselmo’s MH Bread and Butter, chances are you’ve seen Josephine Stoddard. As the bakery’s front of house manager Stoddard tends to be at the center of the action, but her life is filled with more than just fine carbs.
How did you get into Hula-Hooping? During my last year of high school, I began fire dancing lessons with my mother as a way [she picked] for us to bond in my late teens. I thought it was totally lame at the time. Shortly after that, I decided to take the funds that I had put away for college tuition and join my fire spinning instructor in a group of volunteer circus performers to do free fire performance while traveling in India for six months. I joined the circus team as a fire poi spinner, but my attention was immediately caught by our star hooper. When I returned to the States a couple months later, the hoop had become my favorite dancing prop.
What are some of the most common misconceptions you hear about the activity? That it is meant for children. Hula-Hooping is a flow dance form for people of all ages, benefiting mostly adults. Though it can be used as a workout technique, hooping is best used to find body awareness and bring the idea of play back into the lives of adults. Every time I hoop in public or begin a class, I find someone who was “school champion of Hula-Hooping” back in the day. My job is to show those people that their age is not what holds them back from keeping that title, but the idea that as adults we can no longer simply play for the joy of it.
What do you enjoy the most about it? Hooping brings me back to my happy space. It’s too easy in this fastpaced world to lose yourself and find yourself exhausted. Hooping raises my body and mind awareness and helps my creative flow, as well as my appreciation and excitement for life. Seriously, what’s better than turning up your favorite jam and hooping your heart out?
Why should people give Hula-Hooping a try? My students are constantly surprised by their newfound abilities in my class and the fact that they break a sweat. Tricks and dance movement take over their bodies and minds in a way they haven’t experienced before. With hooping, we mix geometry and dance, creating a ton of brainpower you’re not activating on a daily basis.
ON THE JOB
Josephine Stoddard, instructor,
Marin Power Yoga, 141 Tunstead Avenue, San Anselmo,
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Play On”.