Lately more and more hoop stores and hooping individuals have been using the adjective “collapsible” to describe a feature of their product. Unfortunately most of these hoops are clearly not collapsible.
What is a collapsible hoop? How is collapsible best defined in relation to a hula hoop? It is clear that meaning of “foldable” is the closest synonym for “collapsible”. Foregoing the definition of collapsible in terms of a building collapsing, the dictionary defines the term collapsible as “being able to fold into a smaller space”. This definition becomes clear when we examine a number of different types of hoops.
The first hoop is made of a single piece of tubing or pipe that is extruded and connected in a manner that it cannot be taken apart, folded or collapsed. this is typical of the hoops purchased in retail stores especially those sold to kids. Then there is the single piece of tubing or pipe that when connected at the ends forms a circle that through various methods can be taken apart. While the method of connection does not matter, the fact that the ends can be disconnected and the hoop bent or pulled into a smaller circle does not make the hoop collapse by folding into a smaller space. The one exception to the one piece hoop might be the lighter polypro or hdpe tubing that can be folded and the ends reconnected to form a double circle. However, even this does not fully compare with what is truly a collapsible hoop which will be discussed later on.
There are also a large group of hoops that come in pieces or segments that can be attached together to form a complete circle. There are typically six or more segments in most of these hoops and almost all claim that these hoops are collapsible. Using the word collapsible to describe this type of hoop is like comparing a “foldable bike” and a regular assembled bike. The fact that you can take apart the standard bike and by doing so reduce its size does not make it collapsible or foldable in the way a “foldable bike” operates. In the same way a hoop that requires the user to put it together to use and take it apart to travel, or conform to a smaller space, does not make it collapsible. Even though it has the advantage of a small size for travel there is still the disadvantage of putting all those pieces together, or taking them apart every time you wish to do one or the other.
In my early years of making hula hoops I experimented with using tubing segments and running a flexible bungee cord material through the pieces to hold the pieces together for hooping and then by pulling them apart I could “fold” the pieces together with a much smaller footprint keeping all the pieces together. I still see some hoops made this way and sold as collapsible hoops. I would suggest that the use of collapsible to describe this type of manufacture would be ok as the pieces are never disconnected from the hoop. Even these hoops have a distinct disadvantage over a collapsible hoop that folds using an infinity or figure eight shape through the process of unfolding the hoop for use or folding for travel.
This brings us to a better description of collapsible when used to define a hula hoop. As I said in the last sentence to be truly collapsible the hoop should be able to be folded (collapsed) to form a small footprint for travel and then unfolded (or un-collapsed) to form a full circle ready to use. This is a big advantage over hoops that claim to be collapsible but which require somewhat tedious connecting of several segments as they are taken apart for travel or put together for use.
As a test for this foldability the process of folding and unfolding should result in a middle stage that is defined as a figure eight or infinity shape. All true “collapsible” hoops are folded in this manner. In addition to being foldable these hoops require two connectors an equal distance apart that allow the hoop to twist and fold without breaking. It would be possible to produce a very loose, floppy hoop material that could be folded without the connectors but would not be suitable for hooping for either exercise or dance.
Why do I care you ask? Well in the first place we, Canyon Hoops, Inc., make and sell a lot of “Collapsible” hoops. We feel our customers are receiving something that not all hoops are capable of providing. This type of hoop requires a little more sophisticated manufacturing method and at a somewhat increased cost of assembly. So we are protective of the claim that our hoop is different from and has significant advantages over other types of travel hoops because of its portability and foldability. In addition, while the method of using two connectors to allow the hoop to collapse is not uncommon, we alone have acquired a US Patent on our “Infinity Collapsible Travel Hoop.” This patent was acquired when Canyon Hoops purchased the assets of Body Hoops in May of 2014. The unique swiveling connectors allow us to make heavier weighted collapsible exercise hoops as well as lighter collapsible dance and performance hoops.
In conclusion we feel strongly that when someone claims their hoop is collapsible that it has all of the attributes of a collapsible hoop. The fact that you can take a hoop apart or put numerous pieces together does not make the hoop collapsible. To use the adjective collapsible to describe a feature of your hoop the hoop should meet the minimum conditions as described above.