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High priestess of the hoops

What’s all the hula hoopla about? Carlee Kuhn works out with hula hoops for health and happiness. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham1 / 3
Carlee Kuhn decoratively tapes a hula hoop in the Detroit Lakes Armory. She started a weekly class teaching attendees how to hula hoop. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham2 / 3
Hula hooping isn’t a thing of the past anymore; it is gaining popularity throughout the U.S. and now in Detroit Lakes as well. SUBMITTED PHOTO3 / 3

Just as February hits and the New Years Resolutions to get in shape are beginning to go from resolve to dissolve, one out-of-the-ordinary fitness class in Detroit Lakes is just getting started. Detroit Lakes resident Carlee Kuhn is turning her love of hula hooping into both a business and a way for the adventurous souls of Becker County to exercise in a unique, ear-to-ear grin kind of a way. “I’ve never seen anybody hula hoop and frown at the same time,” said Kuhn, who named her business the Happy Hippy Hoop Company. 

The inception

She remembers the exact date her business was born.  “It was April 20, 2013,” said Kuhn. “I woke up that morning and thought … I’m going to make hula hoops today.” Kuhn, who had been tossing around different ideas to bring in extra income, didn’t even know how to make hula hoops when it came to her.  Kuhn looked online to see what she’d need and how to make them. “That day I started making them and booked my first gig at the Niijii Radio Music and Art Gala at the Holmes Theatre,” she said, adding that she spent a lot of timing practicing the art of making creative, colorful hoops.

She began experimenting with different tapes and fabrics, letting herself “get crazy” with glitters and glow-in-the dark hoops of different sizes and weights. Kuhn began selling them at different festivals and events she traveled to throughout the state, and soon discovered that although her product may be considered a tad quirky, the response she was getting from people was what she calls “amazing”. “At my first show I sold out of the 20 hoops I made,” said Kuhn, “And I’ve made over 150 happy hoops that I’ve mailed out all over the country.” But at the Happy Hippy Hoop Company, the party doesn’t stop with the hoop. Kuhn is also busy making apparel to accompany the hooping hupla, including tutus and different kinds of tails that spice up the hula hooping events at festivals.

The workout

“A lot of people don’t realize this, but you can burn 400 to 500 calories an hour by hooping because it’s working every part of the body,” said Kuhn, who says singer Pink and celebrity Joan Osbourne have both shaped their bodies through hooping. “And it helps with the digestive track while acting as a form of meditation … it really centers people.”  Kuhn, who only learned how to hula hoop while making them, is now sharing her hooping knowledge at health expos and is hoping to soon become a certified hoop nautical trainer who can then certify other trainers.  And she is now taking this enthusiasm to the community, as she is now beginning a hooping class at the Armory on Sundays. She says the 15 people she has signed up so far are at various skill levels. “Some people can’t even get the hoop to go around their waist and others are doing some difficult tricks,” she said, adding that regardless of talent, it will still be a fun, low-impact workout.

The love

The Happy Hippy Hoop Company began as a way for Kuhn to make some extra cash.  One thing is getting in the way of that - the love she has developed for the activity and the desire to spread that same love to others.  “I end up donating a lot of hoops,” she said, saying she has a hard time passing up a kid who genuinely seems interested in the hula hoops while at different events.

She has also been donating them to different benefits and fundraisers for individuals and organizations around the area. Kuhn says the resurgence of an activity that was popular long ago has already been happening in different parts of the country, and believes it is starting to grow in this region as well.  “In the summertime you’ll see people at Tuesdays in the Park doing hoop dancing - it’s becoming more and more popular,” Kuhn said, adding that her goal is start up a Lakes-area hoop troop. “Kind of like a community where we can have a fun, safe place to get together and learn and grow. There are so many health benefits - it’s mind, body and spirit.”

To find out more on upcoming hooping classes or the products, find the Happy Hippy Hoop Company on facebook or call Carlee Kuhn at 218-234-9161

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