Tag Archive for Hoop Size

Size Does Matter

4823sm by Philo Hagen

Remember the day when you first discovered the magical world of hooping? Someone probably handed you one a large polyethylene home-made hoop covered in sparkle tape at some music festival. They said, “This ain’t your grandma’s hula hoop”, and they were right. The music was playing, the hoop started spinning, and not only were you surprised after awhile that you were actually hooping successfully, you loved how it moved so deliciously slowly around your body.

In no time you had to have one of those hoops for your very own, and it had some weight to it, some momentum when you gave it a spin, a little girth in your palm. You discovered there was enough room inside your own personal circle that you could dance inside it too – and you not only had a new dance partner, it felt like the hoop was literally responding to and dancing with you. Muscles became sore you didn’t even previously know existed. You dropped a few pounds without even trying, yet it was also so much more than all that. You couldn’t even put it into words. How did you ever live without this big plastic ring in your life?

It’s a story I’ve heard told thousands of times in our community, only these days when a hoopers finds the hooping community online, they usually discover a few things. The girl in that video, well, her hoop sure looked a lot smaller. People sure seemed to like her a lot too. At a later hoop jam or gathering someone may have looked at your hoop and said, “That sure is big” or something to that effect. They may not have intended it sound negative, but it’s hard not to hear it that way, particularly for those of us with body issues who’ve been hearing similar things about size throughout our lives. Over time, if we weren’t careful, we may have even developed a little hoop shame.

Maybe, if you’re like me, you even ended up abandoning that magic circle of plastic that had changed your life forever for something smaller and lighter made from newfangled plastic. After all, they said you could do more tricks with it, right? It might have taken awhile, but you probably got used to your new smaller hoop too, but were you really aware of everything that make that decision fully entailed?

A couple years ago I went to my ye olde pile of hoops and I noticed an old hoop I never used anymore. 1″ polyethylene pipe, 46″ diameter, 125 psi I think, who can remember? But we’re talkin pretty big and kind of heavy. Given that I was once again looking to spin off some unexpected weight again too, I thought why not give the old hoop a spin for half an hour – and I did. Those who are quick to preach the gospel of the ever shrinking hoop often say you get just as much of a workout because you have to move your body faster to keep it going. Well, after a thirty minute session with my old hoop I can safely say with all the love in the world, that sure seems like a load of crap.

Ten minutes in I was sweaty and getting tired. Twenty minutes in I had forgotten muscles screaming at me that were definitely feeling it, and I was feeling like calling it a wrap. Thirty minutes in and with my goal accomplished I concluded my session feeling like I’d not only had a serious workout, I felt like I’d been smacked around a little – and I mean that in a good way. For someone who would quite often crank the tunes and hoop for an hour or two in my studio apartment, I was a little shocked at how out of shape I was. I mean this was a hoop I used to rock hard for two or three hours at a jam, a hoop I would totally throw it freakin down with, and I found myself barely able keep up with the beats per minute of a song that wasn’t even all that fast to begin with.

With the music cranked and hooping away I did come to a number of realizations though, as I so often do while hooping. I remembered the exact moment that caused me to put that hoop down and go smaller. I’d thrown it high into the air at Dolores Park one afternoon and was planning on going straight into a continuous vertical step through. When it came down, however, my hand was just a little out of place and when it hit my thumb, I not only heard the crack, the instant pain that arrived and lasted for four weeks told me that perhaps I wasn’t being all that smart sporting this hoop of wonder and size. Maybe using a larger heavier hoop wasn’t so good after all – and in this particular case that was really a given.

I also realized that night that the timeline related to letting go of that hoop and going smaller directly correlated to the return of my battle with weight loss. How could I have been gaining weight again when I’d been hooping so much? Something I’d previously attributed simply to getting a little older and my metabolism slowing down with age, sure looked to have a previously unrecognized co-factor – down sizing to a smaller and lighter hoop.

It got me thinking about my almost cellular aversion to the term “beginner hoop” that started being tossed for the first time only a few years ago. The idea that the hoop you fall in love with should be tossed aside for something else is an idea and mentality that has been increasingly perpetuated in our community, but by who exactly? Those who are making and selling increasingly smaller hoops? Those who teach off body moves for which having a smaller hoop actually really helps? Skinny bitches who’ve never needed to give hoop fitness a second thought? I’m not sure exactly. I have, however, increasingly seen hoopers saying things on TV news reports and elsewhere like, “Your ideal hoop size will come up to your navel” like it’s some sort of established fact. It’s not. One size hoop will not fit all and if that were the case a great number of hoopers in our community would have never had been able to give it a spin.

At Burning Man a few years ago I ran into someone who had been hooping about as long as I had, too, and when they saw my hoop they said, and I quote, “Are you seriously still using that big ole clunker?” Hmmmm, I realized the probable fracture in my thumb wasn’t the only reason I ultimately down-sized. Peer pressure had something to do with it as well, and as someone who likes to think that he does a pretty good job of thinking for himself, I was a little surprised when I came to that realization and had to acknowledge it.

Going for a smaller hoop may (or may not) cost us some of the fitness benefits, but it may have another not so hot effect as well. Trading in a larger hoop in order to do hand moves like isolations, which are indeed done so much more easily with a smaller hoop, also downsizes the amount of space in our hoop that we previously had to move and dance. As someone who has been watching countless hooping videos daily for years there are hoopers out there that rock a smaller hoop brilliantly. Size matters and their hoop is totally the right size for them. And then there are a number of hoopers out there that I honestly believe were so much more fun and beautiful to watch when their hoop was larger and had more momentum to play with. Sometimes a very small hoop can look proportionately out of tune with a person’s body, and the expression and dance and movement I’ve seen some previously spin to perfection may (or may not) have been sacrificed along the way. Truth be told, I think there are hoopers who were much more impressive two or three years ago and I wonder if they miss their former hooping selves from time to time.

While the hoop may trace back in time hundreds, if not thousands of years, our current world of hooping is still oh so very new. Very few of us who have even been at it for anything close to a decade. In fact, some who may even be identified as leaders in our movement at present have only been in the spin for two or three. The point is that people may say things like they are absolute truths when we really barely even know a few honest to goodness solid facts. Hooping has had one research study and the findings didn’t exactly match what we all were saying at the time. 210 calories burned per half hour of hooping was still great, but it didn’t exactly add up to the 600 or 800 some were saying. There are so many variables to consider as well – like the weight and size of the hoop, skill factor, speed of the hooper, bodyrockin’ vs off body moves, the beats per minute of the music being hooped to. Even getting one set of facts was like watching an episode of Lost where we were finally given a big answer – only to find five more questions pop up as a result.

As someone who is often contacted as “the hooping expert” having been at the helm of hooping.org since 2003, I rarely say things as if they are the 100% gospel truth because we honestly don’t know. When it comes to matters of hoop size though I’d strongly encourage everyone to let go of the idea that smaller is better, that what works for one will not work for all and to love the hoop that is the right size for you and what you want to get out of the experience.

Size does matter. How exactly? We’re not exactly sure. But y’know what? Your old hoop, the one that inspired you on your path in the beginning and has been feeling neglected lately called me to say that it misses you. And whether the two of you get back together full-time or not, there may be certain pleasures and lessons to be learned from that relationship that can only come from spending some quality time together again. Why not give that old favorite hoop a spin and see how it feels for you today, how it feels in terms of a workout, see how it feels in terms of movement and dance. Ultimately, when it comes to the Goldilocks hoop that is just the right size for all of us it’s a matter we all need to decide for ourselves, and do so as the beautiful sparkling individually unique and beautiful hooper that you truly are, and whatever conclusions you come to have a blast rocking’ that hoop.

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Philo Hagen Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003. Co-Founder of the Bay Area Hoopers and LA Hoopers hoop groups, Philo has performed internationally and has won Hoopie Awards for Male Hooper of the Year and Video of the Year. He lives in Los Angeles, California, USA.

It’s Not You, It’s Your Hula Hoop

Jessica Wagstrom Jess Wagstrom of Jess Hoops explains, “So you think you can’t hula hoop anymore? Chances are, it’s not you, it’s your hula hoop!” Those incredibly wise words kick things off and from there she proceeds to break it all down for us brilliantly in this, her latest vlog. Brilliant, hilarious, it really is one of the smartest things we’ve seen on the topic of hooping and hoop size for adults in quite awhile. Check it out! She lives in Arlington, Texas, USA.

Gifting Hoops For Hoopy Holidays

Hooping Santas

Julie Taylor, Rob Botsford and Leo Hanson hoop up some holiday spirit in the UK.

[Hooping.org columnist Shea Brock wants you to play Santa with hoops this season.]

by Shea Brock

Hoopy Holidays all you gorgeous hoopers out there. It’s that time of year again already. Trees are going up, stockings are being hung and people all over the world are going all “Griswold” on their houses. I know times are hard with the economy being in the toilet and more of us are struggling to get to everyone on our shopping lists, but you know what? Out of all the presents I have received over the years, some of the best gifts have been those of the handmade variety. I have given my fair share of hoops as gifts as well, just ask my friends and family if you don’t believe me. If you’re pinching pennies this holiday season consider making some hoops and spreading the hoop love on a budget. What goes into gifting a hoop? How do you design a hoop for someone else? Whether you’re an old hand at hoop making or giving it a try for the very first time here, here are some helpful hints at giving hoops this holiday season.

1. Don’t Underestimate the Gift of a Hoop. Are you worried about giving a hoop to a particular person? Not sure they’d be into it? Take it from me, never judge a book by its cover. The type of people who love to hoop but keep it under wraps will blow your mind. Afraid Aunt Edna won’t like her hoop? It might be just what she was waiting for. Here in the northern hemisphere the days are getting colder and people want to get outdoors and exercise less and less. That’s precisely why a hoop is such a great investment and Christmas gift. Just tell Aunt Edna to DVR some Dr Phil episodes and get her hoop on while she watches in the safety of her living room.

Sizing Up the Issue of Hoop Size

Different Sizes [Hooping.org columnist Abby Schwartz may be new to hooping, but as a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and fitness, we think you’re going to enjoy following her hoop journey. This week she sizes things up.]

by Abby Schwartz

Last summer, when hooping first caught my attention, I had never seen an adult perform with a hoop, and had never heard of adult-sized hoops. I was reading an article in a women’s fitness magazine about a celebrity who got into shape for a recent role by hula hooping. At the time, I was always on the lookout for a fun new way to work out, and I was surprised to read that this activity that I had loved as a kid could be a legitimate form of exercise. It was kind of like when we learned that dark chocolate is actually healthy. Anyway, I had a toy hoop in the back part of my basement from when my daughter was a little girl and I dug it out and started hooping right away. Though it was smaller than an adult hoop and ridiculously light, I was able to hoop with it if I kept up a fast pace. I may not be much of a housekeeper, but at least I could out-hoop Martha Stewart.

I knew from the magazine that there were better hoops out there so I did some online research and ordered an adult-sized hoop. In the meantime, I continued to practice with my plastic hoop, its obnoxious little bead racing around furiously inside. A week later, my very first grownup hoop was waiting on my front porch. It was about 39 inches in diameter, made with ¾-inch tubing and wrapped with teal gaffer’s tape with a thin decorative ribbon of purple vinyl. After a few days of using this new hoop, I picked up the toy hoop for comparison and found I could no longer use it. The transition was that quick.

Back then I was blissfully unaware of hoop envy and enjoyed the size and feel of my hoop without ever thinking about hoop size as a downward progression that correlated with my development as a hooper. Inevitably, though, I became aware that the more skilled and experienced hoopers whose videos I watched online were spinning with thinner, smaller hoops. Words like polypro flew onto my radar and I started questioning what I should be using. As I have begun exploring issues of size and weight in my hoop practice, I have come to several realizations.

Size Does Matter

Matters by Philo Hagen

Remember that day when you first discovered the magical world of hooping? Someone handed you one of those large polyethylene home-made hoops with electrical tape at some gathering. They told you, “This isn’t anything like the hoops of the 1950’s”, and they were right. The music was playing, the hoop started spinning, and not only were you surprised after awhile that you were actually hooping successfully, you loved how it moved rather slowly around your body. In no time you had one of those hoops for your very own, and it had some weight to it, some momentum when you gave it a spin. Soon you discovered there was enough room inside your own personal circle that you could dance if you wanted to – and you not only had a new dance partner, it felt like your partner was literally responding to and dancing with you. Muscles became sore you didn’t even previously know existed. You dropped a few pounds almost without even trying, yet it was also so much more than that. You couldn’t even put it into words! How did you ever live without this big plastic ring in your life?

When you found the hoop community online though, you discovered a few things. While hoopers were reporting burning as much as 800 hundred calories an hour doing this thing that you loved so much anyway, that girl in that video, well, her hoop was actually a whole lot smaller than yours. People sure seemed to like her too. And at that first hoop gathering someone looked at your hoop and said, “That sure is big and heavy!” Over time, if you weren’t careful, you may have even developed a little hoop shame. Maybe you even ended up abandoning that magic circle of plastic that had changed your life forever, tossing it aside for something smaller and lighter or made from newfangled plastic. After all, they said you could do more tricks with it, right? It took awhile, but you probably got used to your new smaller hoop, but were you really aware of everything that decision actually entailed?

Hoop Size Demystified

Hoops [This week Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn gets into the Hooposophy of hoop size and demystifies it for us.]

by Lara Eastburn

I estimate that I’ve received over 1000 emails and phone calls that focus on questions about hoop sizing. And now that there are more tubing options than ever, hoop size confusion is understandably a bigger issue than ever! How do I know when I’m ready for a smaller hoop? What size hoop should I start with? What about LED and fire hoops? How are hoops measured, anyway? Before we dig into the nitty gritty and roll around in the mud a bit, let’s start by strapping our boots on and taking some of the pressure off. Let’s be clear from the start: There is NO guiding rule for what size hoop will be best for you. While the hoop itself behaves according to the unvarying laws of physics, how that hoop interacts with your individual body, mind, and style is a special kind of alchemy. And your ideal hoop size will most likely change over time. If you continue to hoop regularly, it’s nearly an inevitability. But it ain’t rocket science. Don’t fret … let’s break down some of those variables for you.