“The Great Weight Debate” was published at hooping.org, an online magazine, January 30, 2007.
“Can you make me a five pound hula hoop?” “Do you have any seven pound hula hoops for sale?” “How much weight is right for me?” These common questions are asked over and over again. “I need to lose a lot of weight so I need a heavy hoop”.
In an effort to answer this question I have relied on my own experience hooping, and working with thousands of people who have purchased my hoops and the comments I have received over the years. I read articles on hooping and constantly scan “hooping.org” and the web for articles or stories related to the “size” question. In addition I’ve asked health professionals their opinion of hooping in general and size and weight in particular. How many times have we heard from people who have bruises running around their mid-section from “ribs” or too heavy a hoop? I don’t think the term “No Pain, No Gain” was meant to include hooping. Hooping should be looked at as a fun, effective way to lose weight, or just groove on the great feeling that hooping provides. If you are experiencing bruising from hooping you should stop and examine your hoop and your hooping routine.
Hoop makers and sellers have done the general public a disservice by telling everyone that they should get a “weighted” hula hoop. I don’t feel qualified to speak for everyone, but when I have used the term “weighted hula hoop” it has been to simply differentiate the so called adult hoops from the plastic toy hoops found at many brand name toy stores.
It is no secret that a larger, and yes heavier hoop is easier to use than the lightweight toy hoops. This has led many people to believe that the heavier the hoop the more weight they will lose. I don’t think there is a health or physical fitness professional who could make this claim. Like any other exercise you lose weight by utilizing oxygen and burning fat. You need to get your heart rate up to at least 65-85% of it’s maximum or you are not working in the fat burning zone. It is the act of hooping, the movement and exertion involved in maintaining hoop rotation that ultimately results in weight and inches lost. The more time you spend hooping the more oxygen you’ve utilized and the more fat is burned and the more weight is lost.
This would lead me to believe that the ideal weight loss hoop would be one in which a person can maintain the hooping rotation for the longest period of time while burning the maximum number of calories. The individual can choose between a smaller lighter hoop which will require more energy per rotation, which would provide a better aerobic workout, or a larger heavier hoop that, while requiring less energy per rotation, would allow the individual to hoop for a longer period of time to reach their fat burning zone. I equate this choice to the difference between running and walking for exercise.
We also know that “weight” in almost any exercise adds “resistance”. The added resistance should make the muscles work harder, leading to weight loss benefit and muscle strength and toning. However, we also know that the larger heavier hoops rotate more slowly thus reducing the aerobic benefits of hooping. Where is the point of diminishing returns related to resistance and aerobic benefits?
Unfortunately this still doesn’t answer the original question about size and weight for any particular person. Hooping.org, in a simple “How To Hula Hoop” instruction sheet, recommends that the hoop, when standing in front of you, reaches between the your belly button and the middle of your chest. My experience selling hoops to people at fairs and festivals tells me this is a good start for selecting the right hoop. I look at their body type and suggest a hoop for them. Almost always this is intuitive based on the size of the individual. After trying the hoop and seeing the level of hooping expertise we often come to the conclusion that a smaller or larger hoop might be a better fit. You must also ask yourself why you are buying a hoop in the first place. If the person is planning to use the hoop for exercise they almost always choose the smaller and lighter hoop because they know they will be getting a better workout.
If purchased for family or party fun I recommend a larger hoop as it is important for first timers to be successful hooping. I also never recommend adult hoops for smaller children as I am concerned with possible damage to their smaller bodies and body organs being so close to the surface. Kids have a ton of energy and seem to like the energy output required to maintain hooping with a smaller lighter weight hoop. It makes me tired just watching them.
My experience has led me to believe that a hoop of between 32 and 45 inches in diameter and weighing between one and two pounds is ideal for all types of hooping. Not too large or too heavy to cause damage, but big enough to make hooping easier for the beginner and expert alike. It is also easier to do tricks with a lighter hoop moving the hoop up and down the body.
If anyone knows of a study on the effects of hooping related to size and weight I would very much like to see it. It would be great if the many claims made about hooping could be substantiated with some empirical testing by professionals. Your comments would be appreciated. Thanks and Happy Hooping!
Footnote added: We don’t recommend any hoop over 3 lbs. Although the natural weight of Canyon Weighted Exercise Hoops is 2 lbs or less weight can be increased by adding water following simple no leak instructions. You can read some of the comments this article raised by going to hooping.org magazine’s archives.