New LED Hoops from Cosmic Hooper

I ordered new, custom LED hoops from Cosmic Hooper. I’m in love with them. I got a pair of twins, meaning they’re the same size and weight so I can use both at once easier. One is a 36″ diameter, 3/4″ polypro with 24 white strobing LED lights. The other is a 36″ diameter, 3/4″ polypro with 24 rainbow strobing LED lights. They’re downright beautiful and I love them. Here’s a video of my first afternoon with them.

I’m pretty sore today. I spent about two hours hooping on Saturday, much of it for my niece’s birthday party. She loves hooping as much as I do. I made her a set of mini hoops for her birthday, she had a hula hoop birthday cake and we did a hooping party. It was a lot of fun, though it was the first time I wore my hooping performance wear since last summer and I felt silly in all my bright colors. It was a great opportunity to start working with my BodyHoops FitKids knowledge! I’m feeling much more comfortable with kids, and I had a lot of fun.

On Sunday I taught hoop class then hooped at the park with Kendal and Christy (along with Christy’s husband and baby) for a couple hours. We had a blast. It was beautiful out. Mid-80s with a breeze, in a little bit of shade with some good tunes next to the skaters and the volleyball players. I worked on some moves I hadn’t done in a long time, which is where the soreness is coming from. Mainly the Hoopnotica version of the duckout (you waist hoop and duck your entire torso out of the hoop) and pizza tosses. I finally got the toss down! Woo!

Thought I’d add something new to my blogs. Here’s what I’m hooping to! I’ll try to include a few songs that are on my jam playlist every couple posts.

Here’s What I’m Hooping To:
• Feel So Close (Radio Edit) – Calvin Harris
• Ray Charles – Chiddy Bang
• Tongue Tied – GroupLove
• Everybody Talks – Neon Trees
• Rack City (clean version) – Tyga

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Yay! Signed up for MailChimp so I can do newsletters. Best of all, it’s free. Want to know when and where my next classes are or other updates on hooping in the Herndon/Reston area? Sign up! I promise not to overuse it. I will keep it to one email per week maximum. But it’ll probably be more like one every month or two.

Subscribe to the Tilly Whirls newsletter!

JOIN HIPS – Hoop Injury Population Survey

Hoopers! Take part in the Hoop Injury Population Survey!

Hoopers everywhere! This is important for us all!

I’m helping out with a big study, known as Hoop Injury Population Survey, that Hooping Ted has undertaken to figure out how we can keep hoopers healthier longer. Since hooping is sort of an obscure hobby/activity, there isn’t a lot known about the types of injuries we get, or how to treat them. For example, hoopers may develop hoopers hip. But how much do we understand about that injury and how to treat it? Better yet, do we know how to prevent it? Questions like these are what the study aims to find out.

To get an overview of the study, read the welcome letter from Hooping Ted below. Then join our group on Facebook to take part in the discussion and find ways to contribute to the study.


Dear hoopers,

I’m conducting the first, large scale, independent study on hooping injuries. The purpose of this group is to build support and community around the study.

The hoop community is rapidly growing, but it’s still pretty new. As we keep pushing the boundaries of hoop dance, and more people decide to perform and teach hooping as a career, we’re seeing more chronic pain and injury. So many hoopers I’ve met have had pain or injuries, but don’t talk about them or hope they’ll magically go away. I believe most of these are preventable.

In order to keep ourselves safe so we can hoop for many more years, we need to understand the nature of our injuries more deeply. What injuries are most common? Why are they happening? When are they happening? Who are they happening to? Only when we fully understand the problem can we create positive, lasting solutions.

The study will be in the form of an online survey, launching May 1, 2012, and run through the end of August. The aim of the research is to explore pain and injuries in hoopers, and provide a better understanding of its causes, symptoms, and treatments. This study is not for profit. It is not directly affiliated with Return to Roots Hoop Gathering, and any R2R questions should be posted on that page.

The data used in the study will come directly from the survey, not from this group. Please feel free to share your experiences though, it’s possible others have had a similar story and can offer some guidance.

Do feel free to tell all your hooping friends to join this group! Please don’t add them without asking first. I think it’s always better to have members of a community who genuinely are interested in being there and participating. 🙂

I’ll be posting updates on the study’s progress regularly on the group’s Facebook group. 

The Group Docs have a lot of the essential info about the study:
With Love,
Ted Brancu

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Anniversaries Abound – Hoops, Dogs, Love and Accidents

So February and March have become pretty big months in my life. Here’s why. 🙂

• Feb. 19 was the day I started hooping. Here’s my hoopiversary compilation video:

I spent the evening of my hoopiversary by myself spinning in my living room with some LEDs. It was wonderful to just bliss out and be thankful for all the hoop has given me. (Could I sound any more like a hippie?) For the full video of me playing on my hoopiversary clickie over here: I hated the song in that video until I saw it used in a hoop video. When applied to the right subject, turns out I love that song. Haha.

• Feb. 26 was the day we adopted our Gordie dog. This is a recent photo of him. He’s pretty much my (our) child. We adopted him from Lucky Dog Animal Rescue when he was about 10 weeks old. His sweet face just captured my heart immediately. We’re the lucky ones, for all the joy, humor and love he brings to our lives.

Gordie dog, 14 months old and already a Facebook addict.

• March 10
was Steve and I’s anniversary of when we began dating. Eight year’s later we’re planning our wedding. Things are getting hectic and busy but we’ve called in reinforcements and are trucking along in planning.

Photo by our lovely friend Danielle.

• And today
marks the one-year anniversary of my car accident. I was hit by a drunk driver. I was the designated driver for my friends. Dude ran a red light. Smashed into me and fled. The police caught him later. My friend Lauren listened to the police scanner traffic from the night before to listen to my accident. I never could bring myself to do it. They called out the helicopter for me though! Haha. Luckily I walked away mostly unscaled, save for my right shoulder. I still have lingering pain and issues with it sometimes.

I use my accident as a reminder to tell people not to drink and drive. Have a designated driver. Have a plan. Call a cab. Watch out for your friends and loved ones. Take care of each other. If my words don’t emphasize the importance of not drinking and driving enough, perhaps a picture of my car will.

Don't drink and drive, folks! Fer serious! This was my car. WAS.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Infinite Joyful Loops

One year ago today I was reading Post Secret and through it found a new music group. That music group led me to a video that showed me what could be done with a simple hoop. A week later my very own hoop came in the mail and my life began spinning in infinite loops. This is that video:

I’m one week away from my one-year hoopiversary. When I think about how much my life has changed in the last year,  how much joy, wonder, movement, learning and simple creative expression has been brought to my life all because of a website, a band’s music video and a plastic hoop… it’s so overwhelming it brings me to tears.

Tagged , ,

Training to Teach Hooping to Children

Ever since I began teaching hooping people have been requesting children’s classes. My current classes are 13+ only for a few reasons, but I kept saying that perhaps in a year I could do a teacher training to be able to teach children’s hooping classes.

I got that request tonight that finally pushed me to commit to doing it! Tonight I signed up for BodyHoops’ Fit Kids Distance Teacher Training. And I’m really excited to be able to confidently add children’s classes to my repertoire.

Part of me thought, “Hey, you have a lot of skills to share. You can probably do kids’ classes without training.” However, I’m not that great with kids. I’m getting better, and hooping helps tremendously, but I was one of the youngest in my family, didn’t babysit and wasn’t around other small children much growing up. I’ve always been uncomfortable around children.

I’m hoping the BodyHoops program can give the confidence, skills, games, ideas, tricks and tips needed to make me more comfortable in the hoop with kids. It’ll also be greatly helpful for doing children’s hoop parties.

A few weeks ago we went to a brunch at my in-laws’ house and they have a nice big yard. One of the only questions I asked about going was, “Will all the kids be there?” Upon receiving a positive answer I responded, “Great! I’m bringing my hoops!”

I think if I’m getting to the point where I’m excited to be around kids because it gives me an excuse to be in the hoop, then I’m definitely ready to do the teacher training and take on kids’ classes.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hoopdancing to Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’

So I promise that I’ll write more and then I disappear again. Sorry about that. I have something I want to share that I’m really proud of though. It’s a video of my practice tonight. I’m really pleased with where I’m going in my personal hooping practice.

I’m about halfway into my second session of hoopdance lessons at the Herndon Community Center and absolutely love it. My class is small this time, but it gives me more time with everyone individually and everyone is doing so well. It makes me so happy when I see them progress. The smile on their face when they realize they just got a trick for the first time is priceless.

I’ve signed up to go to Hoop Convergence in May. I’m thrilled! So far Caroleena, Spiral, Brecken, Nick G and many other hoopers I love are on the list of instructors coming to present. It’s going to be an amazing five days in the hoop.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tilly Whirls Featured on

I got to be in the photo-of-the-day on! It was awesome. The day after Thanksgiving I took part in the Reston Holiday Parade with Steve’s niece, Sarah, and another local hooper, James. The three of us twirled our way down Market Street for a fairly short parade but it was an absolute blast. Better yet, there was a crowd of 15,000. We exposed 15,000 people to the fact that you can do a lot more with a hula hoop than spin it around your waist.

While we were in line and waiting to march photographer Jessica Wallach came over to say hello (she takes photos for my site and Reston’s) and snapped a couple photos of me warming up. This is the photo that she took that was picked up by

Leslie Perales, also known as Tilly Whirls, does a shoulder duckout (one-shoulder hooping) while warming up for the Reston Holiday Parade. Photo taken by Jessica Wallach

I was also on on Halloween for doing some sustained spinning to the theme from the Halloween movies, and I was honored to be included on the home page for that as well, but for some reason this just felt special.

Tomorrow is our last night of class for my first session teaching hoopdance at the Herndon Community Center. I’m not planning to teach any new moves, but I’ll help students with any moves they’re struggling on and other than that blast the music and jam out. The next session starts on Jan. 5 (Thursday nights at 6:45 p.m., one hour) and goes until Feb. 23.

To sign up for my next classes visit the Town of Herndon’s website, go to Parks and Rec and call the number or sign up online. In-town residents started registering Dec. 7—out-of-town registration starts Dec. 13. Last time the class filled up (and had a wait list) within a couple weeks of registration opening so if your heart is set on it, sign up ASAP. We’re looking at adding a second class in the spring.

I’ve been trying to get some weekly hoop jams going at the HCC on Sundays and, while they’re disjointed this month, I hope to keep them going through Jan./Feb. We’ve been gathering at 2 p.m. on Sundays (hoopers just pay the daily rate for the CC). Maybe by March we can move them outdoors—once the weather is above 60 degrees we’ll head outside for sure. I just need a louder portable sound system…

One last exciting thing I wanted to mention! I signed up to go to Hoop Convergence in Carrboro, N.C. in May!!! Five days and four nights of hoop classes and workshops and yoga and organic food and hoop jams and networking with hoopers and making new friends from around the world and I’m REALLY excited. Enough to use CAPS and multiple exclamation points. Yup. If you’re a hooper interested in meeting up in beautiful N.C. for an extended hoop weekend, click here for more info.

Now I leave you with a recent video and some links to click! (I was feeling super girlie when I put the video together and did the title in hot pink swirly-ish font and now I’m like, “Whoa… Too much.”)

Links! Links! Links!

I was feeling Christmassy last week—pulled out some Alvin & the Chipmunks for a video. Mostly because of Alvin’s mutual love of hula hoops. It’s cheesy and fun and, yes, I am wearing bustle bum pants.
•  “The day I learned the three-beat weave” video—this took weeks to learn. Then when it happens it’s like, “Jeez. That’s it?! That’s all I was missing? Sweet!”
Enough of me, check out Matthias right this minute—seriously freaking sweet hooper. I MUST learn how to break, reverse and paddle like that. Steve thought the video was edited and sped up. Totally not. He’s just moving THAT. FAST. I told Steve that as a hooper, you hear a song and you want to move to the beat of it and you feel driven to do so. When a song comes on that’s fast and you feel compelled to move but don’t have the skill to move that fast yet the longing to move at the speed of the music is almost painful. And look at the smile on Matthias’ face. That’s flow. That’s pure joy. That’s why I love to hoop.
•  And lastly, a fantastic article by Shannon “Hoop Love” on what it means to be a community of hoopers. Check out her site while you’re at it, and definitely watch her encouraging video that shows big hoops are awesome and big girls can most definitely rock out with a hoop. Hoops for all!

P.S. If I updated more often I wouldn’t have such long posts, huh? New goal. Post at least once a week.

Aaaand I Disappeared for a While

Happy Veterans Day and happy World Hoop Day! YES! There IS such a thing as World Hoop Day.

October was an insanely busy month. We had out of town visitors several weekends in a row and spent one weekend out of town visiting friends in Philly. My friend Megan and I carried around our hoops and did some hooping in fun neighborhoods.

My first hoop class has been going fantastic. I’m having a blast sharing it with others and we’re starting to really get into the groove. I’m so happy to be creating some more hoopers for the Herndon area.

I thought today I’d share a video of my hoop progression, going month-by-month.

And here’s another of my newest LED hoop:

For anyone who’s considering it, my next set of classes begins in January with the Town of Herndon’s Parks and Recreation Department. I believe it’ll be an eight week class (of beginner hooping) and will be between $60-$80 depending on if you live in-town or out-of-town. Registration for in-town begins sometime around Dec. 7-9 and for out-of-town registration begins somewhere around Dec. 14. Sign up early because my current class filled up quickly and had a wait list. In the space we have I can take about 13-15 hoopers.

Need more info? Want to try it out before committing? Contact me at or find me on Facebook at

Hope you all pick up your hoops for World Hoop Day!

Hooping Into Fall

Fall is coming. The weather has been so much cooler the past few days.

The first HCC hoop class went great (I hope!). I had fun and I’m excited to help teach others how to hoop. I hope they fall as in love with it as I have.

I’ve signed up to hoop through the holiday parade in RTC the day after Thanksgiving. I told some of my students, so I hope some of them want to join in.

Friday night I hooped at JamBrew and a couple local hoopers I hadn’t met joined in. Even though it was a little chilly it was pretty great.

I’m looking for ways to offer more hooping time or classes. I found that a local arts community allows sort of “residency” programs at their facility for arts businesses who are just starting out (like me!). I’m definitely going to contact them to see about offering more classes or something.

Today I made new hoops for students. I’ve got a couple hundred feet of tubing that I found at Lowes for half the price as usual. I’m also excited about new tapes on the way. It’s always nice to spend time making something with your hands.

In the meantime, a new video: