My name is Kayla Watson, and I go by Kayla FlowJam in the Flow Arts Community! I’ve been hooping for about 5 years and I’ve loved (almost) every second of it!!! These, seemingly silly, plastic circles changed my life. I used to weigh 225 pounds, and I was unhappy in my skin. I was a very active kid and played softball for most of my life. In high school, I got hurt and had to stop playing – I did finish my senior year with some physical therapy! In college, I tried to go to the gym, and just never ended up making it a habit… The freshman fifteen kicked in and so did the sophomore seventeen… and then I fell in love with my (now) husband. And we gained happy weight together – Austin food was delicious! All the way up to 225 pounds.
Left: On my better-late-than-never honeymoon in Denver, July '15
Right: Celebrating graduating college, Austin TX, May '11
Upon graduation, we moved to Columbus, Ohio where I got a job as an operations supervisor in a warehouse. I started to walk a lot – I mean a lot – about 30,000 steps (12-13 miles) a shift. I started to lose a little weight with work and being active outside, then it got cold. I needed a new activity, and I had a spare, empty bedroom.I saw this YouTube video of Lisa Lottie and thought ‘I wish I could do that’. I did a little research and decided I would like to just try and keep one around my waist. Google told me that kids hoops at the store were not good for someone who was 215 pounds to learn how to waist hoop with, so I decided to make my own. I purchased my supplies and came home, so excited to start the process. I knew I needed a big hoop – I made a 40″ hoop to start – and I couldn’t hoop with it. I made a 42″ hoop, and with some determination and perseverance, I did it! I could hula hoop!! I was so proud of myself! I continued to practice on my days off, when I was alone in the house. One day I decided to show my boyfriend (husband now) my new skills! He was encouraging and I continued to practice and learn basic tricks.
About 9 months into hooping, I purchased 2 36″ polypro hoops. I thought it was silly to have 2 of the same size, so I cut one down to 33″ – which I still have today!! I learned by watching YouTube tutorials by Deanne Love and Babz Robinson and so many others! I also learned by trial and error – some things clicked and others didn’t. About a year and a half into my hooping adventure, I found out there was a group called the Columbus Hooping Collective, and I started attending regularly. This group still meets weekly at a local recreation center (led by me)! Once I started to hoop with others, my hooping skills expanded quickly! And one day, I picked up two hoops.
I couldn’t stop! I love playing with two hoops – its like patting your head and rubbing your stomach. The challenge is exhilarating! I’ve started to play with two hoops on my body, which is so hard! It is so awe inspiring that Lisa Lottie can do so many on her and make it look so effortless. My friend who ran the hoopjam was moving away for a new job, and handed the reins over to me! I now run the weekly Wednesday jam – I look forward to it each and every week. I love to teach others how to hoop and see the excitement on their face when they finally nail that trick they’ve been after.
This passion for sharing the hoop love and joy to others inspired me to start my own flow arts company. My husband, Wyatt Watson (aka DubDub Photos), is a digital arts man, so we founded our flow arts and media company, Flow Jam Studios. We recently vended our first festival and are excited for the next one. I’ve held a workshop and have a couple more planned. I plan to have regular classes soon. Wyatt takes beautiful pictures and awesome footage of all of our fun and dancing! He also creates digital images used in prints and pin making. We want to spread the flow arts love and make a larger community in the central Ohio area.
I really enjoyed the camaraderie with my local hoop community and the extended virtual hooping world in my personal transformation. I want to provide a place for others to have a similar experience with more support and structured environment to learn. I believe that everyone has their own flow art out there for them – hooping, spinning poi, painting, making music, doing yoga, and so many more. I want to inspire others to pick up a hoop or whichever flow prop fits their fancy and just move! It feels so good to play everyday and have a place to ‘escape’. I put on some funky music and just start spinning and feel the stresses of the day just fade away.
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