[Hooping.org's Editor Philo Hagen gets warmed up.]
by Philo Hagen
When we first start hooping and we’re focusing on just keeping the hoop moving around our core and tend to only hoop for short periods of time, we don’t really need to warm up for hooping all that much. We can generally do some simple stretches and give it a spin. But the more we hoop and the longer we hoop and the better we get at it, the more we are able to bring our whole body into the experience and for longer periods of time. And the more body we bring the whole body to hooping, the more important it becomes for us to warm up first. After all, many of us are hooping to shed some pounds and get slim and trim. We want to firm our bodies up and while putting a smile on our face and it’s pretty hard to maintain that smile when you pull a muscle.
Picture all of the muscles in our bodies being like rubber bands and if you spend your day in front of a computer, sitting in a desk chair that may or may not even be ergonomically right for you, most of our rubber band are actually spending the day relatively if not completely unused. When you put that lack of overall body movement for long periods together with some stress too, things tend to get tight and constricted. Autumn is nearly upon us and things only get worse in this department as the temperatures get cooler. So when we head home after a long day of physical inactivity and crank the tunes and grab our hoop, sometimes the cold, unstretched rubber bands in our bodies can get pulled apart very quickly and if it happens too quickly they can snap. Ouch!
While those who may already have a yoga or stretching practice that they’re into can certainly bring that to their hooping experience, when it comes to hoop dance dynamic warm-ups are really the smart way to go. When you jump around and loosen up your muscles and wake your body up and get it active before you hoop, you’re letting it know to get ready for action – and your body gets on game with the plan to help you avoid injury. A dynamic warm up can also help us activate our central nervous system, priming the rubber bands for a session they’re really going to enjoy. Throw in improved blood circulation to really help you perform well and you’re good to go.
Warming up before we hoop can also help us become better hoopers. How? When your muscles and joints are ready for maximum flexibility you’ll be able to stretch them farther and with greater extension. You can transform those quick short vortexes into taller and higher moves than you would ordinarily be able to. When we warm up we are creating a body with more agility and movement for your hoop dance and in doing so we’re really adding some additional colors and textures and techniques to our art.
How much time will it take? Doing a proper warm up need only take up five to ten minutes. So are you ready for a dynamic warm up? Keep in mind to only do what you can and adjust the exercises in the warm up so that you can do them and go from there.
1: 30 Seconds of jumping rope. Jumping rope for 30 seconds will really wake our whole body up.
2: 20 jumping jacks. Pull your shoulder blades back, extend your arms and really focus on the movement. You’re getting all of your limbs ready to hoop.
3: 5 body weight squats. Get your legs ready for action.
4: 5 lunges for each leg.
5: 5 hip extensions.
6: 5 hip rotations for each leg.
7: 5 standing forward leg swings and 5 standing side leg swings (each leg)
8: 5 to 10 push ups (again, scale entirely based on your level of fitness).
9: 5 arm swings. Hold your arms straight out to the side, and then swing them and cross them in front of your chest.
10: 10 Shoulder rotations. Holding your arms straight out to the side, move your arms in a circular motion, making bigger circles each time.
As you can see, even though we are warming up our whole body for hooping, we are putting extra emphasis on warming up our hips, butt, legs and core. Why? Because these are the muscles that tend to be the least active during the day – and these are the muscles we often use the most hooping even if the movements are sometimes subtle.
If this warm up is really easy for you, or as you get better at it over time, feel free to increase the numbers for an even better kick off. You can also check out The Hooping Body Workout. While warming up may not be as fun as hooping, ultimately it will help us to enjoy our hooping even more, keeping our bodies in the best shape for our hoop dance so we can remain injury free, hooping it up for years to come.
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003.