A couple of years ago, I decided to take up hula hooping for exercise. I had very little experience but said: “Hey, if little kids can do this, how hard can it possibly be?”.
Excited, I bought a sparkly, plastic hula hoop at WalMart and eagerly rushed home. Slipping it over my head, I gave it a spin and started gyrating vigorously, only to feel it fall to the floor almost instantly. Again and again I tried. What was I doing wrong? Did all hula hoop beginners have this much trouble?
Soon my sister visited and eyed the purple hoop in the corner of my living room. “I used to do this as a kid”, she said as she tossed it around her waist. But like me, she watched it fall over and over. “I swear I can do this!” she said. Finally, she did, but she scowled as it started to seem more like work than play.
Here’s the problem: adults attempt to use standard, off-the-shelf hula hoops, which are small, light-weight toys designed for child-sized bodies.
I could have avoided many frustrating weeks as a novice hooper had I known these important tips:
TIP # 1: MOST ADULTS NEED TO START WITH A HULA HOOP THAT’S ABOUT 40 INCHES IN DIAMETER. The light, plastic hoops for children are about 34 inches in diameter. Perfectly designed to revolve around small bodies, they will frustrate most adult beginners as well as adults who haven’t used one for a while.
In contrast, adult hoops are designed especially for larger bodies and extended workouts. Their greater size and weight allow them to spin more steadily and with more momentum, keeping them in motion for a longer period for greater aerobic benefits. The added weight also tones and strengthens core muscles as you move.
So start with a hoop made especially for adults. About 40 inches in diameter and 1.5 to 2 lbs is ideal. I use the Amzdeal weighted hula hoop sold by Amazon. Once assembled, it’s 41 inches in diameter, 2.17 lbs., and has nice foam cushioning that feels great around your waist as you move. (Note: The Amzdeal hula hoop is currently unavailable. The Cusfull weighted hula hoop is a very good substitute.)
Later, if you want more variety, add a smaller, lighter hoop to your routine once you’ve developed – or rediscovered – your basic hooping skills.
(Keep in mind that a larger adult hoop will require a larger workout space than the standard 34″ variety.)
TIP# 2: INCREASE YOUR WORKOUT GRADUALLY. Because a larger, heavier hoop will let you master the basic technique fairly quickly, you may be tempted to jump into extended workouts right away. However, the weight of the adult hoop can cause soreness or bruising around the waist if approached too vigorously in the beginning. Limit your workouts to a few minutes a day for the first week or so, then gradually build up to 15 or 30 minutes or more several times per week for great toning and aerobic benefits.
TIP# 3: DON’T MOVE YOUR HIPS IN CIRCLES AS YOU HOOP. Of course, the hoop will revolve in circles around your waist, but your hips themselves should move either from side to side or from front to back. Learn both for variety. They work the body in different ways and each feels great! (Circular hip movements actually slow the hoop down. )
TIP# 4: PRACTICE MOVING THE HOOP IN BOTH DIRECTIONS FROM THE START. Most of us naturally favor one direction or the other in hula hooping and will find that direction easier in the beginning. However, it’s important to practice both clockwise and counter-clockwise movements to develop your muscles and technique equally. It will also increase your balance and coordination and make it easier to transition to more creative movements in the future if you so choose.
TIP# 5: APPRECIATE THE MANY BENEFITS OF HOOPING. Steadily gaining popularity among adults, hula hooping provides a fun, yet comprehensive workout you can take seriously. Here are some of the great benefits:
- provides a whole-body, low-impact workout that tones the waist, back, hips, arms, and legs
- improves cardiovascular fitness while burning 400-600 calories per hour (similar to boot camp according to the American College on Exercise)
- works 30 core muscles, increasing overall strength, flexibility, and coordination
- reduces stress; improves energy, mood, and libido; and encourages creative expression