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Buffalo’s hula hoops star rolls out new business model

Melissa Campbell has split her time during the last few years making hula hoops and selling consignment art at Filigrees Gallery & Boutique at Elmwood and Forest avenues.

This year, she went all in on the hoops, and plans to expand her circle of influence beyond places you already can find her handiwork: Terrapin Station, Larkin Square and the BlueCross BlueShield Healthy Cruiser.

Campbell, 34, leads fitness classes in her business, which she has renamed Ultra Hoops, looks to do more corporate wellness programs and is starting to throw kids hooping, face-painting and game-playing birthday parties.

“I’ve also applied for a patent,” she said, “so I have an engineer working on a hoop with a technology element, a Bluetooth inside of it, so it will measure your workout – how fast you were going, how even you kept the hoop and how long you kept it going.”

She looks to have a prototype available for the Buffalo Mini Maker Faire at the Buffalo Museum of Science.

Campbell also is at work on her second annual Buffalo Hoopathon, set to roll from noon to 4 p.m. next Saturday at the Buffalo History Museum as part of the second annual Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival. For $10, competitors in three age groups will see how long they can keep hooping to win prizes. Sign up at

Q. You’ve been at this now for four years. How has your health and fitness changed?

After that tough winter, I put on a couple of pounds. As soon as I started my classes, I lost it right away. It’s a lot in the waist, but it also gets the arms and shoulders big time. It works your shoulders more than you think, because you have your arms up the whole time.

Q. The hooping contest next weekend rewards whoever can hoop the longest?

Right. We’re going to go 3½ hours, and if there are still people leftover after that, we’ll have a face-off.

All proceeds are going for the Friends of the Japanese Garden. They’re repairing some stuff in the garden in Delaware Park that was vandalized, and replacing the gate.

Q. What does the summer hold?

I’m going to be at Larkin Square a few times on Wednesday nights. I’m also going to be out at the Holland Speedway June 20 for their kids night. I’m mostly going to do the classes and, hopefully, corporate wellness during the 9-to-5 hours.

– Scott Scanlon

On the Web: See a schedule for the Cherry Blossom Festival at buffalocherryblossom