Meet the monsters
Abby Albaum, Founder
“My passion for hooping began when a friend introduced me to the beautiful world of hoop dance in the summer of 2007. I was immediately captivated by the beauty, grace and style of it. It was a breath of fresh air, an outlet, and my chosen form of stress relief. I soon noticed my arms getting stronger, my mood changing, and I was suddenly full of positive energy. It was refreshing to learn that my new fascination was genuinely improving my body and spirit.”
Abby is a movement arts specialist with a strong passion for inspiring people to live happier, healthier lives. She is a Certified Group Fitness Instructor through the American Council on Exercise and has been teaching hoop dance for 7 years. She co-created the Hoola-Fit program along with Casandra Tannenbaum and trains hoop dance instructors nationwide. Abby also travels the country as a featured instructor at national hooping retreats such as Hoop Camp, Return to Roots Gathering and Wanderlust Yoga Festival, to name a few. In addition to hoop dance, Abby is proud to be a certified Les Mills Body Combat instructor. Les Mills is considered to be the the most prestigious group fitness company in the world, with 100,000+ instructors in more than 80 countries.
Abby is also very passionate about working with children and recently introduced her first kids’ fitness DVD, “Molly and the Hoola Monsters.” Abby teaches a variety of after school programs and summer camps throughout the Tampa Bay area. Her hoop dance troupe has also performed at music festivals, fashion shows and events, nationwide, and the troupe’s impressive resume includes the Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball Team and NBC’s America’s Got Talent. The troupe has also been nominated for “Performance Troupe of the Year” four times by hooping.org (the online hub for all things hoop dance).
Niki’s dance journey began at the age of four with ballet. From there, she took jazz, tap, clogging, lyrical and point. Her movement background also features six years of soccer, including collegiate level competition. Her passion for exercise and dance led her to the hoop. Niki began taking classes with Abby in 2012, and hooping quickly became her passion. She especially loves fire hooping (and she’s great at it!). Niki is excited to begin her journey as a hoop dance teacher and looks forward to completing her Hoola-Fit training this June. She also runs the St. Pete Hoopers jam every Thursday evening at North Straub Park.
Hooping came into Nina’s life in 2010 and since has been a wonderful mind, body, and spirit practice for her. It all started when she witnessed a graceful dancer moving the hula hoop from her ankles to her neck, all while performing tricks that Nina had never seen before. Immediately she bought her first hula hoop and proceeded to dance in the living room, alone and only around the waist. With time and dedicated practice, Nina transformed into a beautiful hoop dancer and performer. She became physically, mentally and spiritually stronger as a result. In her own words, “Hoop dancing brings me such bliss! As a musician has a natural talent of producing beautiful vibrations, a dancer moves his or her body to every note witnessed. Hoop dancing aided me in finding balance, becoming centered, and it helped me mold a positive outlook on life.”
Salenna caught the hooping bug after helping Abby sell hoops one day for a class assignment. Abby gifted her a hoop that day and a few months later, she was a Hoola Monster. That summer, Salenna picked up her first fire hoop and has grown into a breath taking performance artist! To say she’s a quick learner would be an understatement. This girl is a natural! Her overall confidence has continued to grow since hooping entered her life. In Salenna’s own words, “I’ve made many wonderful friends through the troupe as well as the hoop community at large. I never thought hula hooping would be such a big part of my life. What I love most about hooping is that I get to push and challenge my body to move in new ways. Ever since I’ve become a member of the troupe, I have been performing at children’s birthday parties, workshops, markets, music festivals, and more – and loving every minute of it!”
Heather started hooping 6 years ago after seeing a beautiful young woman dancing at Ultra Music festival. After being completely enthralled by this hooper’s movements, she had to try it for herself. Heather had no idea that hooping would soon become such an important part of her life. She also quickly realized that there was a welcoming and loving hoop community out there, waiting for her. In her own words… “Hooping elminated my anger and anxiety. It brings such peace, and I don’t go a day without it. Nothing brings me more freedom than hoop dancing my heart out.”
Jeanne got her first hoop at Bonnaroo in 2007 and was mostly self taught until she started taking Abby’s class in Carrollwood in 2010. She’s most passionate about hoop dancing to live music and does so at music festivals nationwide. Jeanne has also trained with hoop dance gurus such as Jonathan Baxter, Brecken Rivara and Valentina Martin. She is an avid yogi, skydiver and dancer whose colorful movement background plays into her hoop dance performances. Jeanne’s style is full of grace.