This is a fantastic, thorough article on getting started in hooping! I started hooping last February and it's changed my life. Now I teach it at my local community center and perform. To me, it's the best form of exercise out there because I find it simply addictive. I love to dance and move, but I hate the gym. This works for me. I've lost 25+ pounds since I started and haven't changed my diet much. Today I hooped for about an hour and a half and was sad when I knew I had to stop because A) I have to work and B) I was tired and dripping with sweat. I'd encourage anyone to try it!
Exercise is good for us emotionally and physically, but it’s hard to get motivated when it’s not exciting—or glamorous. So, instead of plodding along on the treadmill at the gym every day, why not spice up your fitness routine with something so fun it doesn’t feel like exercise?
Enter hula hooping, and not the kind you did when you were a kid. Forget standing in place with your arms outstretched like an airplane—modern-day hula hooping, also known as hooping or hoop dance, involves your entire body, from your elbows to your knees, and incorporates dance elements from belly dancing to hip hop. It’s a low-impact form of exercise that counts as cardio time and will tone your arms and legs, build your core strength, and get you some killer ab muscles you never knew you had.
Hooping isn’t just about fitness, though—most hoopers will tell you it’s a way of life. So, if you’re looking to kick off the new year with fitness, fun, and a new hobby, give it a try!
Here’s how to get started.
Pick a Hoop
The first thing you need is the right hoop. For a beginner, a standard hoop is about sternum height and ¾ inches thick (larger and thicker than the pink one in your parents’ garage, which slows the rotation so that keeping the hoop up is easy). As you become more comfortable with the movements, you can switch to a smaller hoop, or even a thinner one—I’m most comfortable with a ½ inch.
You can purchase a hoop online, via sites like Etsy and the Hoop City marketplace, or if you’re crafty, and don’t mind spending a little extra time, you can make your own. There are plenty of tutorials to help you with hoop construction and taping, as well as lists of places that sell hoop tape.
Move Your Body
If you were a master hula hooper as a kid, basic waist hooping will come naturally. But if you need a nudge in the right direction or if you’re eager to start learning hoop tricks, there are plenty of fantastic resources available.
YouTube is a great place to start. Search for hooping tutorials, and you’ll find as many as you can digest. Or, if you’re serious about building your trick repertoire and you’d like to learn from a professional instructor, check out Sandra Sommerville’s (aka SaFire) online classes on Hoop City—they’re reasonably priced, thorough, and fun.
One of the best parts about hooping is the community and camaraderie among hoopers. We’re a diverse group, but on a whole, we tend to be free-spirited, passionate, and welcoming. If you join an online hooping community like Hoop City, you’ll find people who are willing to help you progress in your hoop dance through tutorials, tips, and even constructive feedback (if you’re brave enough to make your own videos).
Online communities can also connect you with hoopers in your area, including teachers and hoop groups. There’s nothing better than getting a group of people together, going to the park, and enjoying the fresh air.
Hoop dancing is so much fun, it doesn’t feel like exercise. It’s still a form of physical activity, though, so your approach should be safe and smart.
When you start hooping, there’s a temptation to go until you’re exhausted, but it’s better to increase your duration and intensity gradually. If you’re new to exercise, find gentle stretches and strength-building exercises to add to your daily routine, which will reduce your risk of most injuries.
As you start out, you might notice some bruising (especially on your hands, knees, and calves). Don’t be alarmed—it’s natural, and as you build up your resistance, you’ll toughen up. You shouldn’t hoop on bruises, though, so if you notice them on your hands and knees, give those areas a break and focus on waist hooping. Ice will reduce the swelling, and many hoopers swear by arnica lotion.
And finally, just like any form of exercise, even with the best precautions it’s possible to injure yourself. If you do, it isn’t the end of your hooping career. Just be patient with yourself and take care of your body, physically and emotionally.
More than anything, hooping is a way to express yourself, care for your body, and have fun. Add music, and even costumes, and it becomes less about exercise and more about personal expression, or even performance art. Plus, dancing around your living room with a sparkly hoop puts a goofy grin on your face and teaches you to play. And who doesn’t need more of that in life?