An accountant-turned-hula-hoopist, who uses her talents to help others get in shape and feel good about themselves, has shared her story and the ways she'd like to add a touch of biodegradable sparkle to the island.
After having left Jersey 30 years ago, Helen Bartholomew moved back to her family home in Jersey in January 2019.
From that point, she immediately began setting up a 'Jersey Hoop Community' with regular workshops and classes.
Since then, she has also become a familiar face at local fetes and festivals - when she doesn't have a hoop-in-hand or on-hips, sequin-bedecked Helen will be found helping others shine by applying biodegradable glitter.
Helen got into hooping over a decade ago after undergoing two back operations and using it as a form of low-impact exercise.
She fell in love with it so much that she learnt to teach it with 'Live Love Hoop' in Brighton. Still an accountant at the time, she then began to teach in her lunchbreaks in the office. However, following her struggles with stress-related anxiety and depression and encouragement from her husband, she took her lunchtime well-being activity and created into her own hooping business with classes and parties all over Surrey.
Pictured: After 20 years as an accountant, Helen decided to follow her passion for hooping.
Now having set up 'Hoops and Glitter' in Jersey, Helen is hoping to share the benefits of hooping - which she says include improvements to mental health, fitnesss, coordination, flexibility and spine strength - with many more islanders. Despite the health benefits, at the core of Helen's hooping sessions is having fun and sparking joy.
Here, she shares talks about other ways she thinks the island could become a more joyful place...
I would like to see schools offer alternative activities during the year for students on a regular basis.
I was lucky enough to spend four days at Jersey College for Girls at the end of their term this year. In place of the usual activity week, they arranged various activities every day for the students, all of which were able to follow covid-19 guidelines. These ranged from putting on a short panto to yoga and, of course, hula-hooping.
Pictured: "The girls thoroughly enjoyed the chance to try something new," said Helen.
The girls thoroughly enjoyed the chance to try something new and discover what joy and benefits these activities could bring. It was wonderful that the school looked to bring in small local businesses to assist with this.
I believe it would be a great way to encourage the younger generation to step outside their comfort zone or at least have the chance to try something different they wouldn’t necessarily come across normally if it were on offer more regularly throughout the term. It would also be a great opportunity for lots of different small businesses in the health and fitness industry to diversify.
I would like to see Jersey's Government offer more encouragement and financial support to allow people to make career changes and improve their work-life balance.
I have met so many people over the years struggling with their mental and physical wellbeing due to being stuck in a career that has become stressful and is having a detrimental effect on their health. They feel they are trapped as they can’t afford to reduce their income with expensive rents and high cost of living.
Many end up being signed off on sickness benefits but want to work but just not in the same stressful environment.
Pictured: Islanders should be better supported in following their passions for their mental health's sake, according to Helen.
When I realised I wanted to teach hooping and share the joy and benefits it had given me, my first classes were part-time whilst working full-time as an Accountant. I worked long hours and it was very stressful and I began to suffer with anxiety and depression.
I decided to leave and run my hoop teaching and entertainment business full-time. I was fortunate I was supported in all ways by my husband and lucky we could live off his salary for a few years until I was established with regular income.
There are so many people who have so much to offer - be it in fitness, entertainment or the arts - but do not have that support to give them the chance to follow their passion.
Growing up in Jersey, in particular during my late teens, the night life was fantastic.
There were different events or live music somewhere different virtually every night of the week. Pubs and hotels all over the island offered a variety of event nights catering for all age groups.
Since then, many of the venues across the island have closed and the options for young adults now are mostly in pubs and clubs in St Helier.
Pictured: Helen would love to see buses serving all corners of the island running later into the evenings to encourage nightlife.
I would love to see bus routes all over the island be made available until late and pubs and restaurants encouraged to put on more live music or club night events catering to all age groups all through the week.
I’m sure this would be great income for local establishments and bring in more tourists who would have places they can go to without having to drive.
The Citizens Assembly on Climate change has finished and their recommendations have been agreed and published. The recommendations aim to help Jersey become carbon neutral by 2030, with a focus on transport and heating.
I wonder how many islanders know this and have read the recommendations?
Pictured: Helen believes we should "make Jersey greener."
I would love Jersey to become greener in any way possible. As an island, surely the use of water and wind power could be invested in, continued investment in creating safer cycle paths and increased incentives to use electric cars?
Finally, this is a bit of a funny one, but having lived away from the Island for so long, one thing my husband and I have noticed is how many people will not do something or go somewhere because, "It’s too far - it’s on the other side of the island!"
We wouldn’t think twice about driving a couple of hours, or sometimes more, to visit friends in the UK, so we find it hilarious when we hear this.
Pictured: "It's too far, it's on the other side of the island!" - many islanders' view of a long journey.
Given that we also get told a lot how crazy we are for moving back to Jersey as it must have been wonderful to be able to get in a car and go anywhere which you can’t do in Jersey, it doesn’t make sense.
I do think lockdown has changed this a bit already, as islanders have been forced to explore their island more, so I hope this continues and locals remember that everywhere is just a short while away and always worth the effort.
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