SpinJoy | Caitlyn Woods
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Her mission is to use hula hoop dance as the catalyst to empower women to connect with their bodies in a joyful and positive way. She’s super passionate about creating space for women to feel empowered, sexy, silly and free with their bodies, with the goal of taking the focus of movement and exercise away from feelings of lacking or not good enough, and moving towards joyful body connection and self expression. Caitlyn also works with kids and teenagers and is inspired to help educate kids from a young age to have a positive relationship with exercise and their bodies. She’s a mental health awareness advocate and cat lover.
When did you begin your journey into the flow arts, and how were you inspired to start?
I began hula hooping back in 2014 after seeing hoop dance for the first time online. I was looking for a new hobby and a way to meet new people. After several months of practising in my backyard, I started a local hoop jam with a couple of friends, which then connected with the wider Sydney flow community. I began teaching after about 6 months and by the 8 month mark, I quit my office job to pursue hoop dance full-time.
I have been working as a professional hoop dance performer, instructor and hoop maker since.
What do you love about the experience of performing?
Performing hoop dance is one of my greatest joys. The corporate and professional side of hula hooping is exhilarating, always varied and fun. Getting to entertain and inspire people with my passion is such a blessing.
What I really enjoy, however, is making my daily hoop dance practice a “performance”. I seriously enjoy taking my hoops out in public spaces and doing my thing, without inhibition, without shame. Leading by the example of being someone who isn’t afraid to do what they love, for the world to see. To break down social barriers, let people know it’s OK to be excited, it’s OK to feel joy or sadness or whatever the day may bring. That creative self-expression shouldn’t be kept behind doors, or on screens or in galleries. That we can inspire each other daily to get up and dance and enjoy our lives and each other.
So…while I practice for myself, I also know that people are always watching and I’m totally cool with that. If it inspires someone to smile, or maybe pick up a hula hoop one day themselves then that’s freakin’ awesome.
How has being a part of the flow community touched your life? How can the flow community make an impact and how do you see yourself being a part of it?
Before I started hula hooping, I was seriously lonely. I wanted to be involved and inspired and feel connected to people but found that it was so difficult to find “my tribe”.
Becoming a part of the flow community has enriched my life in so many ways, I couldn’t begin to articulate adequately. The feeling of belonging to something bigger than myself, having people to turn to. Daily inspiration, love and support from people here in my local city and Australia to the furthest reaches of the planet. The flow community has provided me with some of the most enriching relationships and friendships of my life and I am eternally grateful for the amazing people that I get to call friends. And excited for all the friends that I have yet to meet.
What advice would you give to someone just starting their flow journey? Which tutorials or guiding principles helped you along the way?
For someone just starting out, I’d say WELCOME! So awesome to have you here with us 🙂
-Pick a prop that inspires you
-Get some advice from a professional or business that can help you get the right size/style for your level and body type. There’s nothing more demotivating than not having the right tool for what you’re trying to achieve
-Just begin. Don’t overthink it. Give it a go. See what happens
-Be patient with yourself. Don’t let frustration or comparison get you down. We were all beginners once. (I stood in my backyard for FOUR HOURS the first day I got my hoop and achieved 5 rotations on the first day – I was stoked)
– If you need help, ask for it. Reach out to the communtiy. Find someone you’re inspired by or would like to learn from and get some tips. The flow community are one of the loveliest, most warm and sharing bunch of people on the planet. We’re excited to help you and we’re excited to see you succeed.
-Participate in the community. Record videos of your progress (post them if you feel like you want to) and get involved
– HAVE FUN
Where do you aim to hone your skills in 2018? Have you taken on any new props or specialties recently?
In 2018 I’m looking to really hone my staged performance skills and choreography. I love to freestyle and I love to just have a great time, but I’d really like to challenge myself to have some structured discipline with my training and focus on body maintenance and preventative care.
I don’t have any tricks that I’m necessarily chasing at the moment, just generally continuing to make sure I’m enjoying my hula hoop, feeling connected with the community and continuing to be inspired by those around me.
I’ll be experimenting with poi flags very soon!
The HooperCast is a project we are investing a lot of love and time into that has been gaining good traction and amazing feedback for us since it was first released in October 2017. Any support around sharing this and encouraging people to listen and interact with this would be greatly appreciated. We try not to “date” any episodes so it will be constantly relevant.
The SpinJoy HooperCast podcast is hosted on my website via this page: https://spinjoy.com.au/category/hoopercast/
It’s available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/spinjoy-hoopercast/id1296721665?mt=2
and any other android podcatching service
Summary of topics to date:
Episode 1: An introduction – Caitlyn & Phoebe say hello, as well as some broad discussion of what hoop styles do exist and some factors that may influence your hooping. Listen here.
Episode 2: In this episode, Phoebe and Caitlyn go into some detailed info on hula hoop specifications, hoop dance apparel, and how we connect as a community. Listen here.
Episode 3: It got deep quick, y’all. Why do we start hooping? Why do we keep hooping? Caitie and Pho talk anxiety & depression.
Episode 4: New segment alert: TRICKY SHIT. Coin flips. Continuous 1-handed helicopter spin. Sustained spinning. Listen here.
Episode 5: Practise, Practise, Practise! How do you train? Krystal writes in and starts a discussion.
Episode 6: Talking about travelling with hoops and hoop care. .
Episode 7: We’re talking about filming your hoop practice! Is videoing your hoop practice something everyone should be doing?
Episode 8: Caitie and Pho’s first foray into the topic of flow, prompted by a submission from Kara, who wants dat GOOD HOOP THEORY.
Episode 9: Are you up for the CHALLENGE? Caitlyn and Phoebe talk about hoop challenges. You wanna know what’s up with them?
Episode 10: TRANSFORMATION Confidence, body positivity, encouragement, empowerment, learning, community & inspiration in the hula hoop.
Episode 11: we’re talking hula hoop performance. Caitlyn and Phoebe open up a big bag o’ knowledge for those wanting to get into performance as a hula hooper.
Do you teach, mentor or create tutorials?
I teach weekly classes in Sydney
Offer private face to face and video lessons
Offer free live tutorials on Instagram (people just need to shoot me a message with what they need help with)
and i’m currently working on a format for putting tutorials on YouTube.
Are you a part of a troupe or performance group?
I perform with my ‘SpinJoy Squad’ who consist of Phoebe Linguini, Amanda McKenna and Mel Wheeler.
Are you a part of a flow community or flow meet-up? Are there any local flow gatherings near you?
Hoop Force Australia is the hoop community we use to connect all hoopers in Australia. We have a map of local hoop meet-ups and instructors for people looking to learn and connect.
Are you one of the community members that helps to organize any of these events? Do you want to share details of how you take a leading or participatory role?
I stepped down from the role of ‘President’ of the Hoop Force community last year due to time commitments. I’m still a very active member and admin for the group, adding new people and helping to coordinate large hoop gatherings, host local and international instructors and just generally encourage participation and sharing.
What are your main props/specialties?
Hula hoops are my flow prop. I specialise in on-body hoop dance (body rocking) with larger weighted dance hoops. My style incorporates high energy dance and movement with sustained spinning.
Is there a particular aspect about the hooping or flow community that you’re passionate about? How do you envision your influence?
I’m passionate about encouraging people to get out of their own heads and do ‘the thing’ whatever ‘the thing’ might be for them. I talk openly through my channels about my personal mental health struggles with depression and anxiety and how I use hoop dance as a tool to prioritise joy and self-care in my life. I want to inspire other people to feel comfortable to share their authentic selves. To know that we as a community are providing a safe and inclusive space that is supportive and truly cares.
I’m also passionate about the fact that hula hoop dance and joyful movement in general is for EVERYBODY. Making hula hooping and exercise accessible and enjoyable for people is so important to me. We were not put on this planet to suffer. By experiencing joy, sharing ourselves, our creativity and love, we are a community are making the world better.
In a nutshell, how would you describe your unique style of flow? Are there artists or dance styles that you take inspiration from?
While I’m constantly inspired by my peers, the amazing local and global hoopers and wider hoop community, too many people to count that impress me with their dedication, skill and talent every single day, I like to keep my personal hula hoop practice pretty internal.
I’m inspired by music, my hula hooping style is full body – how can you dance with your WHOLE body? Feet, arms, hair, your energy. Being in the moment and doing what feels good, despite how goofy or wild it might look is what I’m into.
Where do you like to practice the most?
I live near a beach here in Sydney and take my hoops in sunrise to a concrete pier by the water. That’s my favourite hoop spot and I’ve definitely had to modify my dance style to accommodate (to avoid needing to go for a swim in winter time to fetch stray hoops).
At which festivals/events/retreats can you be found in 2018?
After spending most of 2017 travelling for hoop conventions and work, I’ll be focusing on doing some local teaching tours around Australia this year. However, if any international hoop communities have some cool stuff going on, I’d love to hear about it! Always keen to jump on a plane and connect with hoopers!
Are you an active performer?
I am a full time hoop performer/instructor and hoop maker. While I do perform for festivals and at concerts, most of my professional paid work is corporate entertainment and Sydney based events that I’m not sure would be relevant to your wider audience. Let me know if you need some specific “music festival” type stuff and I’ll see what might work best.
Come learn to hula hoop dance with me 😊 it’s fun, I promise.
Wanna learn to #hoopdance?
If You Know What I Mean – Hoop Jam
Hula Hooping at Mardi Gras 2018
Hoop dance this morning at sunrise. Feels good to be in the circle
SpinJoy Mountain Hoop Dance
Jack Gilchrist Photography
Luke Davids Photography
Jason Gaffey Photography
Bas van Est