GOLD BAR — She found happiness in a plastic circle.
Now she spreads the joy of handmade hoops at farmers markets and festivals.
Look for the pink tent with a 40-year-old woman spinning around with full centrifugal force.
What’s up with that?
Shannon Dey Zuanich makes hoops to fit your fancy and get you out of your shell.
It’s hard to take yourself too seriously while twirling inside a colorful ring.
”When I am inside a hula hoop I am in my own bubble,” Zuanich said. “The rest of the world just melts away and I feel cradled. It’s like being hugged by a rainbow.”
(And, yes, she sometimes calls them hula hoops, even though they are not licensed by the Wham-O toy company.)
Zuanich, owner of Pixie Dance Hoops, creates the hoops by hand with plastic tubing she festoons with glittery tape and bling. The Everett native has a studio at her home in Gold Bar, where she moved in 2005 with her two kids for the country life.
She also makes a line of butterfly and fairy “ear wings” that clip on lobes for a pixie look, hence the name Pixie Dance Hoops. The wings are for cosplay (games involving costumes), dress-up or to look flashy while hooping.
The hoops, starting at $20, are not one-size-fits-all.
“Beginners need a bigger hula hoop because the longer it takes to do a rotation around your body so it gives you more time to react and find your own balance,” Zuanich said. “It’s like creating a 3-dimensional vortex of sacred geometry around your physical body by using your natural rhythm, balance and focused energy.”
At Friday’s Mill Creek Farmers Market, she invited shoppers to join in the hoopla at the pink tent.
She fitted Abby Rollings with a hoop, and the 7-year-old Everett girl rocked the ring.
“I’ve never done it that long, actually,” Abby said.
“You’ve had the wrong size hula hoop,” Zuanich explained.
Abby’s parents bought her a sparkly hoop that matched her sparkly shoes.
Zuanich also makes hoops for fitness and dance. “Some coil down half the size so you can take them on an airplane.”
So you can take it to the beach to show you off your toned abs.
This is legit exercise.
Remember first lady Michelle Obama hooping it up for health with an impressive 142 swivels before her hoop hit the ground?
The Mayo Clinic weighed in, saying hooping “can provide similar results to other types of aerobic activities … On average, women can burn about 165 calories in 30 minutes of hula hooping, and men can burn about 200 calories in 30 minutes of hooping.”
Hear that, fellas?
Zuanich can make you a hoop in Seahawks colors.
Hula hoops have come a long way since the 1950s, when the craze swept the country, thanks to Wham-O toy company. The hoop was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1999.
Hoops are used by gymnasts, circus performers, jugglers and fire-spinners.
For Zuanich, a bartender for 17 years, hoops led to new career.
As she tells it: “In 2010 my heart was broken. I was at work in a nightclub one night and I found a dusty old hula hoop hanging from some rafters. It was a slow night and I brought it out to the dance floor. I’m pretty shy and have terrible stage fright so I usually use humor as a shield. I goofed around with the hula hoop and acted like a clown to entertain my coworkers and make them laugh. They soon got bored and I was left on the dance floor by myself, but I didn’t care.
“Something was happening. I was having fun, I hadn’t had fun or smiled in months. I closed my eyes and I danced for hours. I hadn’t noticed the bar filling up with customers. I was dancing and waving my arms around and somehow the hoop flew up over my head and I caught it. I spun in a circle and brought it back down onto my body and continued to hula hoop.
“And that was it. Everyone clapped and whistled. It became the new love of my life. I started hoopdancing every day. I was addicted to the euphoria it created.”
It replaced an old habit. “I’d become a black-out binge drinker. I quit drinking completely in June of 2014 and have been sober since,” she said.
After five years of making hoops for herself and friends, she started Pixie Dance Hoops. “On a whim with no money but what I had in my pocket and no clear idea of how I was going to make it work,” she said.
That was three years and hundreds of hoops ago. Her son, Tycen, 24, and daughter Shea, 21, help when needed.
Zuanich gives free classes at Sultan gazebo on Main Street on Wednesdays. She also does hoop birthday parties. Look for her pink tent at events or find her on facebook at www.facebook.com/pixiedancehoops.
Andrea Brown: email@example.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.