They are now throwing them into the air and twirling them around the body. Some use bright, flashing hoops. Others use multiple hoops at the same time.
Angela Presnell, who lives in Kansas City, Missouri, was mesmerized by all the Hula-Hoop activity on Instagram, so she bought a big hoop five years ago and began with the classic move: moving the hoop around her waist.
“I was instantly hooked. It was a movement mediation that I needed during that time in my life,” Presnell, 24, said. “Then over time it just followed me everywhere I went. I was going to different cities, and I was bringing my hoops. My hoops were getting smaller. I was getting better.”
Hula-Hoop video goes viral
“I make TikToks just for fun. I just put my phone up and dance to a goofy popular song. I didn’t expect anything to happen,” she said.
A surge in demand
“TikTok introduced many to this art and exercise activity,” Rider said.
There are three types of hooping trending right now.
The version you’re used to doing as a child is called on-body. With this style, the hoop spins around the waist, chest, shoulders, arms, knees and really any body part. Through a series of moves, these hoopers transition the hoop from one body part to another in one seemingly effortless motion.
Presnell specializes in off-body hooping, which has become more popular during the pandemic. It involves tossing, flipping and catching the hoop. Picture dancing but with the added complexity of a hoop being flung and caught while grooving. “It’s a lot of fun, fast moves that, when you’re watching, you’re like, ‘what just happened?'” Presnell explained.
Finally, there is weighted hooping. These hoops are large and can weigh up to 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms). Weighted hoops are used as a fitness routine to strengthen abdominal muscles. These hoops are designed to stay around your waist.
Benefits of flowing with a Hula-Hoop
Santas uses it as part of her interval training and warm-up routines.
“I’m more of a proponent for hula hooping than crunches,” Santas said. Crunches only move your body in one direction — forward and backward — while hooping is a 360-degree movement.
“Hula hooping around your waist is going to be working your obliques big time and working your lower lats in your back, which is great because you’re making them stronger and more mobile at the same time,” Santas said.
If you’re waist hooping as an exercise, Santas recommends alternating between clockwise and counterclockwise rotations around your body. That engages all the muscles around your core. It’s also a neurological workout — challenging your brain to move in your nondominant direction.
Just like writing with your left or right hand, most people have a dominant direction for hooping.
“We have seen miraculous weight loss stories, women who have lost 90 pounds and trimmed their waistline from the simple act of hooping 30 minutes a day,” said Hoopologie founder Rider.
Presnell said she’s in the best health of her life — physically and mentally — since she started hooping regularly. Hooping provides her with a mind-body connection.
“Hooping was a way for me to get out of my head,” said Presnell, who calls hooping a movement meditation.
For Presnell, the biggest benefit has been self-expression. As a queer woman, hooping is a way to freely express herself through meaningful movements.
“I didn’t even know I was queer when I picked up my first Hula-Hoop,” she said. She now laughs looking back at her old videos and seeing how much she has grown. She now proudly rocks a mullet — her signature look — and takes pride in hooping as she challenges social norms.
Presnell also loves the growing community. She describes it as welcoming, loving and embracing of diversity.
“It’s a community where you show up as you are. You don’t have to look a certain way. Be a certain somebody. You don’t have to like festivals or EDM. You don’t have to be super-advanced,” Presnell said. “If you are going into it with good intentions and a desire to learn, the community will love you.”
The circle of learning
After falling in love with hooping, Presnell now hopes others will join the movement. Her message is: Hooping isn’t just for hippies or children, it’s for everyone. It is fun and affordable — and can be done anywhere (except a tiny apartment).
She recommends hooping five to 10 minutes a day to build up your muscle memory. The key thing is to be persistent and patient as you start your journey.
“Take that first step. The first step is always the hardest,” Presnell said. “It’s going to be harder than it looks. It going to take more than a few days to get down. It’s going to take months.”
5 tips for beginners
Before you dust off your old Hula-Hoop, read Presnell’s top tips:
1. Dress for success: When you are using a hoop, wear close-fitting athleisure attire. You’ll want to get skin contact with the hoop, so tank tops and shorts are ideal. Remember, hooping is an art form, so wear something that makes you feel confident and comfortable.
2. Choose the right hoop for your style: No, you cannot just grab the one you used as a child — those typically have water or sand for weight, so the hoop is wobbly and off-centered.
There are specific hoops designed for specific purposes. As a beginner, you’ll need to start with a bigger hoop to master the basic moves. The bigger your hoop, the slower it rotates. That makes it easier to learn. The right hoop size for you should hit your belly button when you stand the hoop upright from the floor.
For on-body moves, Presnell recommends starting with a 36- to 40-inch (91.4- to 107-centimeter) hoop that’s weighted and taped. It might sound counterintuitive, but heavier hoops are easier to keep up. If you plan to try off-body moves, get a lighter and smaller hoop. She recommends a 29- to 30-inch (74- to 76.2-centimeter) polypropylene hoop that is about 0.75 inch (1.9 centimeters) in width.
3. Get the body ready before picking up the hoop: Before you start hooping, Santas recommends warming up. Put your hands on your hips and slowly move your hips in a circle, in both directions. “Warm up your hips and your core first, before trying this dynamic movement,” Santas said.
Make sure you stand up straight and tall. Your weight should be centered with your feet shoulder width apart, and your hoop should be parallel to the ground before releasing.
4. Master the waist spin first: As you spin the hoop around your waist, keep your legs as still as you can and pulse your waist forward to backward in a rhythmic fashion. When the hoop starts to drop (and it will), move faster and harder to push it back up. Focus on your four contact points: left hip, right hip, back and front.