Math and French double major sophomore Benjamin Spaid is known on campus for performing hula-hoop at various events. Spaid began practicing in eighth grade at his middle school’s talent show. He explained that his passion stems from when he decided to borrow hula-hoops to perform. “I asked if I could borrow them and they said I could borrow as many as I wanted,” Spaid said. “I just never returned them.” Now an impressive performer, Spaid noted that when he first started, he watched a lot of YouTube videos on hula-hoop tutorials and became self-taught.
Spaid said that while he is at home on breaks in Naples, New York, he practices hula-hoop for at least an hour every day. He said he views hula-hooping as an expressive art form that he practices as a hobby. “It’s like meditation in its own way, you can retreat into it,” Spaid said. “It helps you express yourself and it’s also really good for you.”
Although hula-hoop is oftentimes mocked for being a children’s activity, Spaid said it’s not only for kids. “People think it’s just a kid’s toy,” he said. “Even if it is, I’ve never seen someone try it and not have fun with it.”
According to Spaid, there are many different forms of hula-hooping, including circus hula-hoop, dance hula-hoop and regular hula-hoop. Spaid explained that he participates most frequently in circus hula-hoop, as he views it as more of a “performance art.”
“I think I’m more of a circus hula-hooper, which is more of a spectacular thing,” Spaid said. He added that hula hoop is an art form that “is all about flows and transitions; being the hula-hoop.”
In pursuit of a profession that practices hula-hooping, Spaid said how he originally wished to join a circus. “My junior and senior year of high school, I wanted to join a circus and that was the debate for me. Clearly, college won out,” he said. “Now, I can do it at talent shows or maybe start a hula-hoop club. I would like to perform for the rest of my life, but I don’t know if it’ll ever be a main thing.”
Spaid said that he now aspires to becoming an optometrist and is on a pre-med track. “I remember my senior year, my mom would randomly throw an occupation at me,” he said. “One day, we were driving home and she was like, ‘Ben you should be an eye doctor,’ and as I thought about it, it sounded like something I could do.”
In his free time, Spaid enjoys speaking and reading in French and also works as a lifeguard at the Myrtle A. Merritt Athletic Center.
Aside from practicing French and lifeguarding, Spaid is also a diver on the Geneseo swim team. His first encounter with diving was in eighth grade as well. “I’ve had some pretty bad smacks like belly flops,” he said. “You hit the water and as soon as you get out you have bruises and welts.” Spaid will be competing at the SUNYAC meet at Erie Community College in Buffalo from Wed. Feb 18––Saturday Feb. 21. Spaid noted that his favorite dive is the reverse dive pike, where two major flips are performed.
Hula-hoop plays a large part of Spaid’s life; he encouraged people looking for a new hobby to pursue it. “If you’re having a bad day, you can just go out and hula-hoop and feel so much better,” he said.