Paul “Dizzy Hips” Blair is not your average street performer.
Most spectators who witness his random Friday and Saturday shows at Heritage Square — where he performs outlandish tricks like hula-hooping a tractor tire — would not be surprised about the impact Blair has had on the hooping world.
Currently, Blair holds Guinness World Records for the most hula-hoops spun simultaneously, longest time balancing a hula-hoop on his head while swimming and longest time swinging on rings while hula-hooping.
Blair now resides in Flagstaff and teaches all aspects of his trade.
“Nothing is extreme until you start getting into circus level. It’s the most low-impact type of class other than maybe water aerobics,” Blair said when describing his lessons. “[Participants] not only can be in any kind of shape when they join; they can know nothing about it.”
Blair’s one hour classes range from hooping for basic fitness to hooping circus tricks. These include hooping with every part of the body, hooping while covered in hula-hoops, weaving hoops, balancing hoops and doing aerial hoop tricks.
“Last count I had 304 distinct tricks,” Blair said. “[The possibilities] are infinite for such a simple toy.”
Blair honed his hooping style from grade school enthusiast to record holder while attending Washington’s Evergreen State College to attain a degree in anthropology.
Like several students in higher-education, Blair got a job working for the college as an equipment checkout clerk. One day he found two hula-hoops while cleaning out the gym’s supply room.
“I got one out and dusted it off and started hula-hooping. It was a boring job, so I needed something to do,” Blair said. “I’d be taking people’s cards, giving them a basketball or giving them a towel, and hula-hooping the whole time. Right then I was the hula-hoop man.”
After earning his degree — in anthropology mind you — Blair eventually found a job working for several circuses in the San Francisco area. It was here that he further perfected his hooping tricks and other carnival related abilities like miming.
World records aside, Blair identified his greatest accomplishment as using his hooping talents to impact the music world.
While hooping at small venues in Seattle he came across the jam band The String Cheese Incident, who has been credited with the hooping craze of the late ’90s and early 2000s by handing out hula-hoops during concerts, and gave the band their first five hula-hoops.
“By being in the right place at the right time I got to be a catalyst for [the jam band hooping craze].”
Information on Blair’s classes and other services can be found at dizzyhips.com