From Burnout to Thriving: Special Educator turned Hula Hooping Entrepreneur

Using my creativity to do what I love and turn my dreams into reality

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Hooping in Studio City, California - April 2017

When I tell people I’m a hula hoop instructor they typically laugh or snicker, “You’re joking right?” they say. Although “hooping” as we call it, is somewhat new in the modern sense, hula hooping has been around since ancient times. Ancient greeks used to make hula hoops with dried grapevines and use them to exercise! We think of it as a children’s toy, but really the infinite circle is so much more.

I’m a former Special Education teacher now entering the wild world of entrepreneurship with a business that is a little wacky and out of the norm, some might even call it crazy, but hey, isn’t it the crazy people that end up making a difference and changing the world?

I’m on a mission to make the world a kinder and happier place – through the use of an ancient old object – the hula hoop!

Burnout – School Days

As a former Special Education teacher, I experienced a severe burnout. Many educators and leaders in the education field had warned me of the extremely high Special Ed. burnout rate while I was in graduate school and I researched countless articles on the topic. Of course, I thought that would never happen to me because I am so positive and love helping children reach their fullest potential. Well, it did.

I am a lifelong learner and I loved working as an educator. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching academic subjects, getting creative with learning methods, promoting independence, fighting for equality and inclusion. My role as a Special Educator mostly consisted of providing students with the tools necessary to help improve their executive functioning skills, concentration and how to better deal with anxiety, stress and life!

I was teaching the kids to be mindful, take relaxation breaks, and how to be less stressed, but I wasn’t doing it for myself and I forgot to take care of my greatest asset, me. So naturally, I burnt out.

I deeply admire all educators that are making a difference for our youth, it is the most important job in my eyes and they should be treated like kings and queens! It just wasn’t the right fit for me and I knew I wasn’t living to my fullest potential. I felt a burning desire to do something else. I knew I had to find a way to use my strengths, along with my experience, education, skills, and talents to create a business that I loved and that would allow me to express myself, connect with people, and help others.

I reached a low point where both my mental and physical health were rapidly declining and I drove myself to sickness. I knew it was time to leave the classroom. So I moved from cold Burlington, Vermont to sunny California to discover my purpose and create my hula hooping business, Melly Jean Hoops.

Thriving – Starting the hoop business

When I was a Special Educator I worked with various types of students, kids with autism, learning disabilities, and ADHD. Because of their unique needs, we took many “movement and brain breaks” these were built into their schedules and also used in our reward systems. During these “brain breaks” I used the hula hoop and incorporated stretching, yoga for classrooms, meditations, and mindfulness activities. These times allowed students to take deep breaths, reset their brains, and mix up the long and demanding day. It was a great success. As an advocate for health and wellness, I truly believe in the power and importance of exercise for the brain. And I am especially interested in using the hoop to switch up people’s routines and get their creative juices flowing.

I started this business to promote happiness, health, wellness for everybody because it helped me so much. Regular exercise and stretching is beneficial to all children and adults, especially those with ADHD. I experienced so many physical and mental changes once I made a commitment to sticking with a daily hoop practice, I knew I had to share this “hoop love.”

The molecular changes in my brain that came from consist hooping, yoga, hiking, and meditation, gave me the moxie I needed to start this very niche business.

Benefits of Hooping

Below is a brief list of some of the endless benefits of hooping. Hula hooping needs to be practiced consistently in order for you to fully experience the incredible benefits. But I will say that once I started a daily practice of hula hooping along with yoga and meditation, I felt a serious shift in my brain, mindset, and productivity. But as with anything, it is a process, and you must keep up with the practice.

Hooping is a fabulous way to get in all that little dose of goodness– peace, calm, endorphins, smile, laugh, whatever it may be for you. Moving your body and grooving to your favorite jams, being outdoors, getting in your “flow” can even help you enter a meditative state. No matter what, getting into a hoop flow will relax your mind and help you let things go!

Stay Hoopy!

The purpose of this article is to share an offbeat, eccentric alternative for a daily practice that will have you smiling, feeling more relaxed, looking good and feeling good!

I am all about taking micro steps and chunking up learning goals so I’d like to suggest starting slow, pick one or two of your favorite songs to start the day in a “hoopy way.” Ease into it and don’t get overwhelmed if it is not clicking right away, as with anything, it takes time, practice, and patience. Twenty minutes of daily hooping will provide endless benefits for the mind and soul, not to mention how great your body will feel and look.

My hope is that the next time you see a hula hoop, pick up it up and give it a big positive spin! If you want to explore more, find a local hoop group near you. The hooping community is rapidly growing– and for good reason– it provides mental clarity, promotes joy, positivity, and uplifts our spirits!


You can stay in touch by following me @mellyjeanhoops or check out my website:

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