Betty Shurin picked up a hoop in 1998 and became addicted to it.
"I was horrible," the 35-year-old woman said, "but I started to hoop. I felt sexy. I felt happy, youthful, invigorated. It was like doing a shot of coffee. It was a really good workout. I didn't feel tired from it, I felt invigorated."
Shurin, who goes by the name Betty Hoops now, makes and sells hoops on her Web site. She moved to Aspen, Colo., to cook for a restaurant in 1991. While living in Colorado, she became an avid outdoors woman. She began rock climbing and kayaking. After an injury from her outdoor adventures, she began using yoga for therapy.
It was at an outdoor music festival that she tried hooping and discovered how peaceful it made her feel. It also gave her a great workout.
"It actually found me," Shurin said about her first experience with hooping, a term used by many hoopers. "I was an estranged chef. I started to teach yoga. I thought I would rock climb and teach yoga for my income, but the hoop completely transformed my life. I blossomed in the hoop."
Shurin made her first hoop out of PVC pipe she found at an Aspen hardware store and began making hoops to sell at music festivals.
Not only did Shurin see people having fun, but she also began seeing their bodies transform in front of her.
"People would come back after a month of hooping," she said. "I would be amazed at the way people's bodies were responding."
People she spoke to and taught began to become "hooked on hoops," she said.
"It helps people with balance, coordination, rhythm, core strength," Shurin said. "Balance and coordination are so good for helping people build confidence in their bodies."
Shurin discovered that larger, weighted hoops are great for aerobic exercise, too. She began filling the hoops she made with sand, crystals and other items. Now she sells them on her Web site along with different DVD and VHS programs.
"You can burn about 100 calories every 10 minutes," she claims.
Anah Reichenbach, a 30-year-old Los Angeles resident, also makes her living with hoops. Reichenbach, who goes by Hoopalicious on stage, has appeared on the television show "America's Got Talent" and in commercials.
Like Shurin, Reichenbach rediscovered hooping at a music festival 11 years ago. She began making hoops and selling them at music festivals, too.
"I was totally hooked," she said. "I kept doing it for five hours. The hoop was the second thing in a long time that really took hold of me. I was swept up in the feeling of it."
Reichenbach also has a Web site where people can purchase her hoops.
Wendy Iverson has been featured in several magazines and newspapers across the country as the founder of Heavy Hoops, foam-covered hoops that come in 3- or 5-pound models. Iverson discovered hooping as a great way to shed pounds and inches many years ago after the birth of her son.
These women are using hoops to get healthy and wealthy, but Amber Long, coordinator of fitness and wellness for recreational services at Kansas State University, said even child-size hoops can add creativity to a workout.
Long said she's never worked with a weighted hoop, but said as long as it's comfortable for the user, it should be OK. If it causes the body to go out of alignment or causes stress on joints, hips, ankles or spines, "I'd be a little leery," she said.