What’s the easiest way to figure out which size hoop is best for your body structure? I have a really broad chest/shoulders, and it seems like no matter what I do, I can’t get my flow going; especially whenever I attempt doing shoulder/chest hooping moves like vertical chest hooping. I’m not sure if I’m just not working my upper body fast enough for the hoop, or if the hoop is simply too small for me (if that’s even possible, because I’ve seen people do some crazy body-moves with small hoops). Currently I’m switching back and forth between 30in. and 32in. hoops (based on the inner-diameter), using both polypro and HDPE. I’ve also been switching back and forth between 5/8 and 3/4 tubing (personally love the lightness of 5/8). My shoulder width is about 18in. I’ve been hooping for about 2 1/2 years now and this has been one of my biggest issues.
This is an excellent question! Unfortunately there is no easy answer as there is more to hooping than just the ratio of body size to your hoop, though that is for sure a factor. First off, you have only been hooping for a couple of years and it can take time for your body to develop the dexterity and flexibility to be able to hoop with ease and flow. It sounds to me like you are just in the process of learning. No harm there! So, to start with, give yourself all the time you need and don’t push past the “fun zone”. That would be the place where you are happily challenged and playing with new things, but just shy of steam coming out of your ears and your face screwing up with frustration. Now that you are in your happy place, you can begin!
On the technical side, the smaller your hoop is the more precise your movements have to be. Because you need an element of bounce in angled shoulders, your movements have to be even more precise to account for the added up and down motion. To make things more enjoyable I would start with a larger hoop to get your horizontal and angled shoulders smooth. No sense in beating your head against a wall!
There is no magic size hoop to have you start with, just keep sizing up till you find the flow in what you are doing and start there. Once it becomes easy with one size hoop you can size down, but no more than an inch at a time (especially when it comes to shoulders)! What you are going for is the ability to stand still (without circling) and have a conversation while shoulder hooping in the horizontal. THEN you will be able to more easily learn angled shoulders, with or without a turn.
For reference, my shoulders are 20 inches across and I use s 35 – 36 inch hoop (outside to outside) AND I have been hooping for 15 years! No way would I have been able to do the shoulder movements I do now with this hoop after only hooping 2 ½ years. I am not saying it will take you 15, because people do learn quicker these days, but I am saying don’t be afraid to use a larger hoop until you really get your core hooping flowy and smooth. You will get there, you just may have to accept bouncing around between hoop sizes for a while! Hooping is most joyfully learned with time, a sense of humor and a forgiving hoop. Here is a tutorial I did on shoulder hooping that may be of some help!
Good luck and happy hooping!
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Anah “Hoopalicious” Reichenbach has traveled the world teaching and performing. Highly regarded as the founder of the modern hoop dance movement, her Hoop Revolution™ curriculum is the foundation for most well-known hoop dance curriculums out there today. Anah appears in The Hooping Life documentary and was our first inductee into the Hooper Hall of Fame. She lives in Los Angeles, California, USA.