The setting is peaceful.
The Rose Garden at Elizabeth Park in Hartford.
It was one of the stops on Alexandra Dilling’s journey out of depression.
Her story is framed in a circle.
“They say you can find yourself in the hoop,” Dilling said. “It made me laugh; it made me feel good about myself.”
And this 25-year old needed something to feel good about. An unhealthy relationship, an acute maniac episode, hospital stays, mood stabilizers, weight gain.
All of it shattered Dilling’s confidence.
“It was a really dark time,” she said.
Out of the darkness came a light of opportunity. Hula hooping–something she had never done–became theraputic.
“There is something beautiful about hula hooping because you are moving your hips…it’s graceful, feminine, that’s what I was able to gain back after I lost that,” she said.
But that’s not all. Every week at Fun and Fit in Glastonbury, her restored confidence and fun-loving nature is on display.
What started as a small group hula hooping in the Rose Garden has bloomed into a business. Dilling is a certified hula instructor, and the owner of Beat City Hoops. She even makes her own hoops.
“Hula hooping gave me a purpose,” she said. “I was able to start a business and meet people, and the exercise aspect,” she said.
Yeah, it’s a work out. It helped the 25-year old shed the extra 50 pounds she didn’t want. Now, three years after hitting bottom, she is sharing her enthusiasm with others.
“Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, we’ve taken something so fun that you don’t realize it,” she said. “I tell my class you just burned 600 calories, they don’t even realize it because they’ve been laughing all the time.”
An hour class is 8 bucks, and they supply the hoop. If you want one, they’re $20.
“Because it’s so new, we want people to try it out, we don’t want money to deter you, because i know i’m struggling to stay afloat and pay my bills,” Dilling said. “Kind of relating to those in my situation.”
“It has empowered a lot of women,” she said. “We have women of all shapes and sizes who never thought they could hoop and we’ve made it possible for them.”
IF you’re looking for Dilling, she has found herself in the middle of the circle.