5 July 2023

The Wollongong university students reigniting the hula hoop craze

| Kellie O'Brien
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Bianca and Lauren with hula hoops

Happy Body Collective owners Bianca Pentecost (left) and Lauren Greer (right) at the Lazy Mountain Music and Arts Festival in Berry. Photo: Supplied.

Bianca Pentecost never believed she could hula hoop, but now she’s leading the charge to reignite the hula hoop craze from the late ’50s through her hooping dance routines and spectacular tricks.

Bianca and business partner Lauren Greer started hula hooping three years ago when they moved from Sydney to Wollongong for university.

“Once we really started getting into it, I started having fun with it,” Bianca said.

“I also realised, as someone who didn’t think they could hula hoop or think it was going to be that fun, ‘Oh, maybe anyone could enjoy this’.

“Then I started thinking, ‘How can I share this with other people that might not have realised that this might be something they’d be interested in?'”

Together, they launched the business Happy Body Collective, a name chosen because of their desire to spread joy through the community.

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They see hula hooping as a means for people to feel good about themselves, and want to celebrate all bodies and what they can do.

“In our classes, we want to foster a space for people to meet other people, make friends and create a community,” Bianca said.

“It’s not a focus on fitness or how you look; it is just really about being happy.”

Bianca and Lauren started the business during COVID two years ago as an online shop selling hula hoops, but are now building a “fun-based movement revolution” through their hula hoop dance classes, workshops, and performing at events as the Hoop Babes.

Bianca and Lauren dancing with rainbow hula hoops

Calling themselves the Hoop Babes, Bianca and Lauren perform their circus-based show at public and private events. Photo: Supplied.

Their hula hoop classes encourage people of all abilities who might be intimidated by the gym to be part of a class focused on dancing and learning hoop-based circus tricks.

While they no longer sell hoops, they do stock a line of circus wear and apparel handmade in Bulli by Flying Banana Skirt.

Hula hooping gained popularity internationally in the late 1950s and continued as a craze through the ’60s and ’70s, before dying out in the ’80s.

“It’s definitely still a big thing in the circus community,” Bianca pointed out.

“I think more people know about it these days, but then people are still quite shocked by it and see it as a nostalgic thing.

“So I’m not sure that it’s quite back.”

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Bianca said while roller skating made a real comeback during COVID, hula hooping hasn’t quite reached the same popularity yet.

“I think it’s still got a way to go,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fully made its resurgence, which is what we’re trying to do.”

They tailor their classes and workshops to appeal to adults and children, but it is the adult classes they are most passionate about.

“When people see us performing or initially hear of the classes, they think it seems really fun,” she said.

“They’re quite surprised by it, because maybe they haven’t seen it around or they’ve got this idea of hula hooping around your waist as a child.

“They haven’t thought of it in a different context before, doing it as an adult.

“One of our students has been taking a hula hoop to work with her and does it on her lunch break.

“So other people are falling in love with it as well.”

Bianca and Lauren dancing with hula hoops

Bianca Pentecost never believed she could hula hoop, but is now helping reignite the hula hoop craze with business partner Lauren Greer. Photo: Supplied.

This year the pair are working on developing a longer show they can tour around and take to festivals, including the Yours and Owls Festival in Wollongong in October.

Bianca admitted that balancing the business while being full-time university students could be challenging.

“There are times when uni ramps up that we really don’t have as much time to put into it,” she said.

“But it’s also a nice thing to have as a project that you’re really passionate about as a break from uni.”

Happy Body Collective is also now part of their uni life, with free Wednesday lunchtime classes on the University of Wollongong grounds.

To find out more, visit the Happy Body Collective website.

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