Hula hooping is a feel-good activity and a popular class for those who find conventional cardio exercises too serious or high impact. Incorporating basic aerobic moves while spinning the hoop provides an excellent cardio workout while working on core strength.
Hooping is also a good way to build stamina; starting with simple aerobic moves and hoop spins, then slowly progressing to more complex moves. Hooping can be easily adapted for conditioning. While the main focus is spinning the hoop around the waist and toning the abs, other moves, such as spinning the hoop in your hands above the head, will condition the arm muscles, especially the biceps.
With proper fitness hoops, anybody can master the art of hooping – even those who weren’t able to do it as children. The key is to select the correct hoop size and weight: most adults should be able to spin a 40-inch hoop, weighing around 600g. To judge the size correctly, stand the hoop on its circumference in front of you – the upper rim should reach your belly button. Selecting the right-sized hoop will allow it to rotate at a slow, even pace, which gives you enough time to control it as it travels around the core.
How to hoop
1. Correct starting position: one leg in front of the other, push the hips forward, keep the back straight, push shoulders back and hold your chin up.
2. Rest the hoop against your lower back, hold it parallel to the floor and give it a strong sideways push.
3. Rock forwards and backwards, shifting your weight from lead to trail leg, rather than moving the hips in a circular motion. Keep the shoulders still.
4. Keep your breathing controlled and relaxed.
Around the body pass
This is a good way to familiarise yourself with the hoop while toning your arms and chest.
Movement: Grip the hoop in front of the body, and pass it to the other arm behind your back, keeping the hoop parallel to the floor.
Leap into the hoop
This is a bridging movement to allow you to step into the hoop.
Basic waist spinning
This move is great for developing core muscles.
Movement: Start in a basic hooping posture with hips facing forwards, straight back, shoulders slightly back, chin up and one leg in front of the other. Hooping action: shifting weight from front leg to back leg, shoulders still, relax and breathe.
Spinning with the hoop
For adding an element of fun while working on core strength.
Movement: Have a look at which way your hoop is spinning, turn your body around the same way – you can walk around allowing the hoop to rotate around your body or spin at the same speed as the hoop.
Hooping squat/hoop recovery
You can use this move to recover the hoop if it starts to slip down the body; it also makes a standard squat more fun.
Movement: Slow down the hoop by reducing the extent of hip movement, allow it to go under your hip bones and squat down with a straight back as you scoop the hoop up with your hands and bring it back to your waist.
This engages the abdominal muscles.
Movement: Start with basic waist hooping. As the hoop rolls around on the front of your tummy, lift your heels off the ground and push into the hoop with your belly. The aim is to push the hoop into an upward facing vertical plane and keep it spinning in this position.
This feature was first printed in the October/November 2011 issue of Fitpro magazine.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Fitness Professionals Ltd or Virtual Magazine. Consult a qualified health or fitness professional before making changes to your diet or exercise.