Hula Hoop Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions about hula hoops
New to Hooping?
Here are a few questions and answers to help you figure out what is going on :)
For about four years now, I have made my own hula hoops for recreation, fitness, and dancing (the cool kids just call it ‘hooping’). You might be surprised to learn that this childhood favorite is a healthy workout and so much more. Anyone, of any age and fitness level can enjoy it. The simplest moves include just keeping the hoop around your waist. Watching someone perform dance with their hoop is what first inspired me to try out this art form. I’ve heard hula hooping burns about 200 calories in just thirty minutes, which is easy to do if you put on some tunes and boogie. Beyond that, hooping is a meditation, a way to connect with your body and remember what it’s like to play again.
If You want to build your own hula hoop, I highly recommend this DIY tutorial.
Can adults just use those kids’ plastic hoops? (NO!)
What size of hoop do I need?
What materials are hoops made from?
Should I get a taped hoop?
Should I get a weighted hoop?
Should I buy a pre-made hoop or make one myself?
Collapsing Hoops/How will my hoop arrive if I purchase it online?
Getting Started with your new hoop
What tricks should I know?
Can adults just use those kids’ plastic hoops? (NO!) First of all, the cheap toy hoops that are easily bent are not going to cut it. I cringe when I see magazine articles touting the joys of hooping (yay!) and yet the women in the pictures are shown using inappropriate, tiny little children’s hoops! Adults and most older kids will need a hula hoop made of poly tubing found at a hardware store. On this page I offer options for purchasing or making one yourself. top
What size of hoop do I need? Stand behind an upright hoop. The top of the hoop should be at or above your belly button. This measurement is the diameter of the inside hoop. If you don’t have a hoop nearby, just measure straight up from your toes to your belly button. This is the MINIMUM diameter you will need for beginners. For easier hooping, get a couple inches above your belly button. Bigger=slower. I would recommend a hoop below your ribcage for your first hoop, around 40” diameter hoop for adults 5’5” or higher. You will grow into whichever hoop you purchase, with practice, and if you are seriously into hooping, expect to own more than one size for different purposes.
What materials are hoops made from? Professionally made hula hoops are usually made of poly tubing found at a hardware store. Below I have listed the common components of hoops sold online. The list is also handy if you plan to build your own hoops. 1. Tubing. The best tubing for beginners is made from 3/4” inner diameter HDPE or PE at 160 psi. (#58017 at usplastics.com) This black tube made from polyethylene is soft, somewhat flexible, and easy to work with. I have tried making hoops with other tubes, but this is usually what most hoopmakers start out with and then move down to smaller sizes. (Comes in white/translucent, too, called LLDPE.) More advanced hoopers may prefer a 5/8” outer diameter tubing for more lightweight or mini twin hoops. The term I hear often used is Polypro, and it denotes the lighter, stiffer tubing that can come in various colors. (#58023 at usplastics.com I recommend this site if you need to see more examples of the tube I’ve mentioned here. 2. Connectors. Sometimes, children’s hoops are fashioned with a piece of a broomstick handle wedged inside of a tube to keep the whole thing together. Luckily, most of the tube you need is standardized to fit together with only one plastic piece called the coupling. Polyethylene: If you use 3/4 inner diameter poly tube, use 3/4 diameter coupling, etc. For Polypro, the measurements are slightly off: 3/4” OD tube needs a 5/8” coupling, 5/8” OD tube needs a 1/2” OD coupling. If you are in doubt, don’t worry, the couplings are under a dollar each and can be found at any Lowe’s, Home Depot, or hardware store. 3. Tape. Colorful electrical tape, shiny reflective tape or sparkle tape, or grip-like Gaffer’s tape are sometimes wrapped around hoops. The design can be unique patterns or very deliberate stripes. Recently I’ve seen some interesting fabric-wrapped hoops. Read below about why you might want tape on your hoop.
Should I get a taped hoop? All of my handmade hoops are lined inside with “gaffer tape,” which gives grip to the inside of the hoop so it won’t slip. Most hoops have a pattern of electrical tape or reflective mirror tape, and are custom-designed by hoop artists. It can be expensive to buy several rolls of tape if you’re building your own, but I highly recommend plain silver reflective tape with solid electrical colors to catch your eye as it whirls around. A plain untaped hoop will work, but might slip against your clothing. Another alternative is to sand the inside of the hoop where it is supposed to grip your body. More friction = easier to position the hoop just where you want it.
Should I get a weighted hoop? Sometimes you might see “exercise” hoops or “weighted” hoops advertised. Typically these have water inside or some extra plastic to weight it down and cause more resistance, supposedly causing you to burn more calories while using it. I do not recommend a weighted hoop for anyone, for any reason. You can get a great workout just by hooping faster or on a more challenging zone of your body. You can’t use a weighted hoop for more than a couple of hours. You might get bruises, and 2-3 pounds of weight smacking your belly is not going to make you lose weight: it will just hurt. Most hoops assembled are under 2 pounds, which is perfect for fitness or recreational use.
Should I buy a pre-made hoop or make one myself? Store-Bought or Self-Made? It’s your call. Since the materials to get a hoop can be easily found close to you and purchased for about $40 (with enough tubing to make four or more hoops), I really recommend DIY. I’ve always followed this great tutorial from JasonUnbound when making my own. If you can arrange to meet me in Topeka for delivery, I’d also gladly build you a custom hoop. Someone just turned me on to hoopsupplies.com a few days ago which has AWESOME deals on supplies for hoopmaking including tubing, tape, and ribbon, and they also offer smaller kits for your precise hoopmaking needs.
Collapsing Hoops/How will my hoop arrive if I purchase it online? Recently the USPS has changed regulations for shipping these awkwardly-shaped parcels, but I ship hula hoops all over the world. Most online vendors might ask $20-$50 to cover costs of hardware and shipping your hoop. I insist that you try handmade, because it will be made with love and to your specifications.
As a hoopmaker, I have devised a way to collapse your hoop so that it can be shipped securely. Sometimes, the post office leaves us no choice but to send the package inside of an oversized box, which costs more for the consumer and seller. To avoid this, check hooping.org and see if you can buy a hoop from a local vendor first.