Will hula hooping tone my stomach?

Sure! Hula hooping is a sure-fire way to strengthen your tummy muscles, back muscles, and abs. Just 10 minutes of hula hooping on your waist burns 70 calories and is a super fun cardiovascular exercise. Hula hooping is a whole body workout and a way to connect and engage a whole range of muscle groups throughout your body – from your feet, to your legs, and all the way up to your stomach and arms.

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Where is hula hooping from?

Great question. Hula hooping has been around for a loooong time. Native American Hoop Dance has been a form of storytelling for thousands of years, and incorporates multiple hoops. It’s thought that early “hooping” was introduced to England around the 1300s, with some reports that there was an early craze of the activity around then. Prior to that, it’s thought that the Greeks were also hooping it up.

Early hoops were made of various materials, including willow, stiff grasses, metal, bamboo, wood, and even vines. The term “hula” came around the 1800s, when sailors saw hula dancing in the Hawaiian islands and equated a similar hip movement, correlating the two dances (which are actually pretty different!) and thus, Hula Hooping was born as a term.

Around the 1950s a toy company based in California called Wham-O began manufacturing of a $1.98 plastic hula hoop – which is about $18 today adjusted for inflation. It was a mega 42 inch or 106cm hoop and together with a huge round of marketing and manufacturing, the company sold 100 million in two years. Craze, indeed! Since then it’s emerged that a woman named Joan Anderson played a key role in Whamo-O’s modern hula hoop – and was written out of hula hoop history and excluded from financial gain. The modern naming of the company’s product was actually created by Joan at a dinner party, when she presented her bamboo hoop – shipped from Australia (!) – to guests. Soon after, she and her husband met with a company employee to present the idea of hula hooping and the product. With only a verbal agreement that she should enjoy some of the profit of the toy she both named and brought to America, she and her husband were eventually cut out of any and all profits made. We pay tribute to Joan and write her back into history here. Watch a short doco of Joan’s story here.

What happened next?

Since then the various forms of plastic tubing has been worked on, developed and refined to create a range of different hula hoop styles and sizes. You’ll hear the words “dance hoop” (a heavier HDPE tubing hoop), “polypro hoop” (a polypropylene, lighter hoop) and “practice hoop” (either tubing but with less tape on it for grip) thrown around. Yes, hula hooping has come a long way. From many different cultural and historical origins, different styles of hoop dance are developing all over the globe. Now, you can buy a hula hoop from pretty much anywhere.

For a fun read, Australian Judith Lanigan authored a fictional book called a True History of the Hula Hoop. Check it out if you want to dive into a fun fictional story weaving together some information about the hula hoop.

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When was hula hooping invented?

It’s not actually known exactly where hula hooping was invented, as it emerged independently across multiple different cultures, continents and time zones for several millennia.

Enter Wham-O, a company who recreated the hula hoop into a plastic toy in the 1960s. Most modern hula hooping harks back to this loop in history, which spurred the craze throughout the 70s and 80s around the globe – onward and beyond. A lot of people’s parents enjoyed hula hooping as little kids, and since then it’s made a comeback that is bigger and better than ever. So, most people attribute the invention of the hula hoop to Wham-O which is, in fact, incorrect! 94-year-old Joan Anderson named the modern hula hoop – after receiving a bamboo hoop from her mother back in Australia. While few have ever heard of her, it’s worth watching her story as she was not only written out of modern hula hooping history, but she never saw any of the profits generated from the toy she introduced to the world. You can find out more about Joan and her story here.

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Can hula hooping give you abs?

Hell yes! Well, let’s be square, you already have abs. And hula hooping can WORK them out! Your abdominal muscles are a muscle group specifically targeted by waist hula hooping. It’s a great workout that can be done anywhere, and it doesn’t take long to burn calories quickly. Depending on your body type, women can expect to burn 160-170 calories per half an hour, or 3-7 calories per minute depending on how hard you’re grooving it up. The other benefit is that hula hooping can turn into an all-body workout if you really get grooving and learn moves that extend beyond waist hooping. It’s just as beneficial as salsa dancing or other forms of exercise (Mayo Clinic).

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Will hula hooping burn belly fat?

Absolutely. Any cardio activity will start to work on burning fat in different areas of the body. While every *body* is different, and some people lose fat off their butt or their arms, you can be sure that every moment working and rocking out to music with a hula hoop is burning body fat. Somewhere. Possibly everywhere. While there are only a few controlled studies of hula hooping, it’s believed that it can tone the body, as well as creating greater balance due to the rhythmic movement of the exercise.

Experimenting with steps, e.g. side to side or turning, as well as front-to-back and single leg hops while hula hooping turns up the HEAT and is more likely to get you sweating up a storm and burning up fat.

As always, persistence and repetition is key with exercise, so it’s better to get a sweat on AND do it sustainably so that you end up in the hoop several times a week. Or every day. Whatever works!

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Does hula hooping help you lose weight?

Hula hooping can be used alongside a healthy diet to promote a healthy weight and waistline, as well as strengthening the core, increasing fitness and creating a BOSS level of balance. Heaps of people have lost weight doing this super fun and active exercise! The key is that hula hooping is so much fun that it doesn’t really seem like exercise. Beyond anything, hula hooping is an activity that will make you feel GOOD in your body, and no matter your size, age, or background, hula hooping exercise releases endorphins and feel-good chemicals. More often than not, once you get inside the hoop, weight loss goals become less important and are replaced by a desire to have fun, feel healthy and happy and alive, and learn something new. When an activity/workout feels like PLAY, the more often you’re going to do it! Therefore it can be maintained and sustained as a fun, healthy activity over time. It’s lasted this long: hula hooping is a definite health winner.

Hmmm. That makes me want to hula hoop.

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What will hula hooping do for my body?

Tone: Expect toned muscles over time – from arms, to legs, butt, stomach, and even shoulder area. The more activity and movement you bring to the equation, the more you can expect to feel and see the muscles get leaner from hula hooping.

Strengthen: LOVE this one. Frailty is something to ward against as we go through life and get older. Hula hooping is an awesome way to create strength in the core, as well as greater overall strength in different muscle groups across the body. You might even experience a shift in greater mental strength (e.g. I CAN DO THIS) the more you find freedom, fitness and play inside the hula hoop.

Create agility: Spending time holding and playing with any object – including hula hooping – means greater speed and reaction time when interacting with other objects that aren’t a hula hoop! Think greater reflexes, and being quicker to catch the paprika jar when it falls out the cupboard – Ka-BAM! Did anyone *SEE* THAT? I AM A NINJA ZOMG! Thanks, hula hooping.

Find rhythm: You can’t fight the RHYTHMMMM. It’s a dancer. It’s my soul’s companion. You can feel it every-wherrrre! Truly though. There’s nothing like feeling dance just happen rather than feeling awkward or – I Can’t Dance, or I Don’t Know What To Do. Something about learning hula hooping gives folk greater permission to get a groove on unashamedly. And the more you get dancing, the greater the overall impact it’s going to have on muscle structure, movement ability, and range of motion across your arms and upper torso.

It’ll make you fit: Let’s be honest, I hate running. I’ve never been a runner and I’ve never felt called to pound a treadmill. Full credit to those who do. For me, hula hooping has given me access to an overall greater level of cardio fitness. It’s almost like a sneaky extra winning feature of picking up a hula hoop and starting to spin. Warning: greater fitness ahead.

Cardio fitness: Great news for your cardio fitness: hula hooping improves circulation and cardio fitness, AKA your ability and innate power to do a rhythmic, dynamic activity at a moderate to high intensity for extended periods of time.

Feeling good: Ze most IMPORTANT ONE! For a lot of people. Expect a prolonged case of the feel-goods that lasts well into the rest of your day. True story: after hooping it up with a group of people in the city for a Team Building session, employees reported feeling good well into the afternoon, long after our hula hooping workshop.

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How many calories will hula hooping burn?

There have been a few studies trying to figure out how many calories people burn from hula hooping. It varies depending on your age, size, fitness level, and gender. According to Livestrong:

  • Women burn around 165 calories per 30 minutes
  • Men burn around 200 calories per 30 minutes

As a general rule, the heavier you are, the higher your energy expenditure. Many people have lost a lot of weight quite quickly in the first few months of hula hooping, and then once their body balances out to a maintenance weight, find that the exercise of hula hooping becomes healthy maintenance rather than a weight-loss activity.

If you’re looking to BURN those calories, be sure to up the ante on the spin, and create a higher intensity practice by using arm movement, trialling legs together / stepping side to side, or even doing lunges while hula hooping. There are heaps of ways to get lean quickly. If you want to jump in, check out one of my free workout videos here.

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Can hula hooping hurt your back?

When doing any exercise you should always take care to warm up and warm down, and be mindful of your body and any existing injuries or conditions that you have. As always, if you are concerned or worried it’s best to check with a doctor or GP. Anecdotally we’ve found that many people report huge improvements to their overall health and actually find that their back muscles are strengthened through the process of hula hooping. It’s important to spin both ways to balance the hip movement, as well as strengthen spinal muscles equally. In short, being flexible with hula hooping moves = greater physical health. So yes, just as brushing your teeth is a choking hazard, any activity that engages the body in activity runs a risk (that while potentially very small) is something to be mindful of.

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Where does hula hooping tone?

Hula hooping tones whatever it touches. True!

  • Waist hooping targets → ab muscles and back muscles + overall body
  • Knee hooping targets → leg muscles and feet
  • Arm hooping targets → arm muscles and back muscles
  • Isolations target → grip strength (hands), forearms and shoulders
  • The more you get into it (picture groovy dancing arms, or flailing arms if you’re unco like me) the more you’re going to tone up and shape your body into a svelte demigod. Hula hooping is more than just waist movements – the range of both on and off-body moves really do tone up the whole body. I noticed my shoulder strength improve big time after hula hooping for just a few months.

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What size hula hoop do I need?

The question of all ages! The most important thing, if we’re talking SUPER basic, is that

Adults need an adult hoop

Kids need a kids hoop

That should help if you’re at a market fair or festival and are eyeballing the hula hooping area to give it a try. Size is important. For more on why size matters, read our blog on just that right here.

Gimme more info

If you’re looking to buy a hula hoop, a great rule of thumb is bigger = easier. This means that bigger hula hoops are a bit heavier and better for beginners. They create a slower rotation, meaning it takes longer for them to travel once around the body when you are hula hooping. This makes it easier to control and manage (are we doing science?)

For beginners you might like to try 100cm a hoop.

From there, people often drop to a 90cm hula hoop,

Intermediate hula hoopers enjoy more of a 65-85cm range while hula hooping (or smaller).

For a comprehensive hoop-de-doop size how-to, here’s even more info.

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What’s the difference between a polypro and a dance hoop?

We wrote an entire blog post on this subject here.
For those of you wanting to know RIGHT MEOW about the difference between polypro and dance hoops, here are the facts.

  • Polypro hoops are a bit lighter than traditional hoops and good for tricks that are off the body (though can still be used for waist hula hooping by intermediate hoopers)
  • Dance hoops are a bit bigger and heavier, and great for beginners and on-body hula hooping (e.g. waist hooping)

A case for polypro: Polypro is the newer kid on the block and super popular, particularly across the USA, Europe and Australia. Expect to find both seasoned hoopers to newbies with polypro hoops. They’re great for on-body moves and off body moves too – provided they are large enough for on-body hula hooping.

In defence of dance hoops: Dance hoops are the fundamental nostalgia piece for any hooper who’s been in the loop for more than a few months. Almost everyone starts out with a dance hoop and then branches out from there to try other hoops – once a confidence in the basics has been established.

The most important thing to know is that they both work and are both awesome. It’s up to YOU what style of hoop works, but it’s a good idea to start off with a dance hoop and then later down the track progress to a polypro hoop.

So there. The difference between both kinds of hoops in a nutshell. Still want more? Here’s that link again to our hula hooping guide blog post because it’s detailed as heck!

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How do I learn to hoop if there are no classes in my area?

Suuuuuper easy! We got you covered gewwwd. Basically you never have to leave your living room to access HOURS of online content from some of the best hula hoop teachers on the planet.

I also teach classes and I’m pretty bloody good at it (Sources: years of returning students and heaps of great feedback! And years of working on being able to say that out loud ZOMG).

To get started, check out some of the free beginners classes on youtube and go hula hooping in a park or make space in your living room! It really is so accessible and available, and all you need is a hoop and some music if you want tunes.

Check out my Beginners Courses & Workshops.

To stay in the hoop loop about all online (and in person) classes, workshops, challenges and courses, join the Classes and Workshops mailing list. You are SUPER welcome to join in – and there’s even some free stuff!

Without spending a cent, you can get started with free tutorials. It’s really that easy. Join us in the hooooop!

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Who is the hula hoop champion?

Hmmmm, that would depend. There’s not actually an equivalent major competition for hula hooping like there is for many sports that feature in the Olympics and other World Championships.

Also, as a general idea, the best things about hula hooping are:

  • It’s not a competition – if you pick it up, you already rock
  • Every person has their own style of hula hooping
  • The community is super inclusive and fun and welcoming

We will answer your humble question regardless and you can decide who is the champion.

*WHOOOOO is the woooooorld championnnnnnn?*

There have been a lot of Guinness World Records set in the past few years for hula hooping. Let’s take a look at what records were broken!

Biggest hoop spun: Enter Yuya Yumada, who set the world record in 2019 for spinning the world’s largest hula hoop in 2020. World. Champion. Very big hoop. Much record. Most excitement.

Longest marathon hula hooping: Goes to Jenny Doan. For a staggering 100 hour hula hoop marathon!! WHAT! Jenny’s from Australia and set the record in November 2019 in Chicago. Phew.

Wanna know where the most people were hula hooping all at once? The record was set at Virutcham International Public school in Tamil Nadu, India, in 2018, with 965 students hooping it up on a giant school oval!

Okay, who ran the fastest 50 metres while hula hooping?  Wow, there’s a world record for that? Yep! It went to Thomas Gallant with a zippy 8.08 seconds in 2019. Fast if you’re running, and ridiculous if you’re running while hooping!

Biggest bloody hoop spun (women’s division) Getti Kehayova spun a 5.188 metre hoop in late 2018 in Las Vegas. You wanna join in with her? We could probably fit both of our families inside her hoop with her. And pets.

We end with a bonafide queen of the rings, who spun the MOST hula hoops all once. Marawa Imbrahim (Australia) broke her own record (for the fourth time!) in Los Angeles in 2015 with an astounding 200 hoops. At once. You GO girl.

Check out other hula hooping world record holders here.

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What hula hoop should I buy?

Great questioooooon! Hula hooping is highly individual and different for each person. In a nutshell, “polypro” hoops are a bit lighter than traditional hoops and good for tricks that are off the body (though can still be used for waist hula hooping by intermediate hoopers).

Dance” hoops are a bit bigger and heavier, and great for beginners and on-body hula hooping (e.g. waist hooping). “Practice” hoops are also a fair size for beginners to hula hooping as a no-fuss option, with less tape (and need to keep it shiny and new).

We’ve written a blog post in detail to guide you into choosing the right hoop here.

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What hula hoop is best for exercise?

When you get started hula hooping, it’s best to start with a bigger hoop. We’ve created a blog answering just that question right here.

For on-body exercise like waist hula hooping, I’d be going for a taped beginners dance hoop for ease of use and to get familiar with the feel, weight and style of hula hooping.

Don’t care about whether it’s shiny? Grab a practice hoop instead and get hula hooping!

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Which hula hoop is best for beginners?

NOT a kids hoop! Unless it’s for a child. That’s first and foremost. If you are a hula hooping Beginner, follow these two rules:

  1. Go for a hoop at least 100cm in diameter
  2. Unsure? Measure from toes to belly button and get a hoop at least that size

Most Beginners find taped dance hoops are the best when they first start hula hooping. They are taped for grip, and the weight of them is forgiving, which means they rotate more slowly around the body when you’re hula hooping – compared to lighter hoops. Beginners should avoid polypro hoops as a first hoop if you want to learn waist hooping and/or other on-body moves. While some people are whiz kids and find instant success hula hooping on-body with lighter hoops, starting with a slightly heavier dance hoop is the way to go for almost everybody.

One last thing – avoid weighted “fitness” hoops. The studded or lumpy weighted dance hoops that can be bought from heaps of toy stores and fitness stores can actually cause bruising – and have – on many people I know who started out on one of these unforgiving bad boys. Best to start with a regular dance hoop or practice hoop, which has a smooth tubing perfect for hula hooping, with no extra added weight.

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Can I hula hoop when pregnant?

This is really up to YOU. Of course, follow your doctor’s advice and use common sense if you feel like something isn’t quite right.

You might be surprised to know that for many people, it isn’t a hard “no” to hula hoop while pregnant – as the beautiful Freyja Wild showed us recently here. People just modify the movement so it feels right for them. It’s actually a good thing to get some exercise while pregnant, and that can happen (for some people) easily all the way into the final trimester. Remember that you can always explore the world of off-body moves, like weaves, coin flips, hand passes and lassoos.

Please take care to avoid weighted “fitness” hoops that are overly heavy and have extra weight built inside them. These hoops are best to avoid at the best of times and can cause bruising – and should definitely be avoided while pregnant (we don’t sell any of those FYI).

Provided you use a hoop that’s right for you and it’s all good with your GP or doctor, you can enjoy hula hooping all the way through your pregnancy. Happy growing a little bean!!

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How do live online classes work?

Online classes are a great way to start, maintain, or expand upon your hula hooping practice. It’s a super fun and welcoming environment free from judgment and jam-packed with inclusive, friendly and fun learning. What are the nuts and bolts?

Classes are delivered via Zoom and you can choose to share have your video switched on (or not) throughout the class. Settings in Zoom allow you to mute yourself (so no worries about background noise) and enjoy your hula hooping lesson with ease.

They are hosted by a kick-ass and experienced Hoop Sparx facilitator whose job is to share at a speed that works for you, as well as workshopping any questions or things you find tricky in class. In short: group instruction, and one-on-one support. The teacher can zoom in on you and, if you choose to switch on your video, give you pointers and tips, just like in a regular hula hooping class. People are LOVING it! We sometimes even have about 50  oopers online ALL together for a full-power global gathering of hoop teachers and students, all hula hooping together.

Regular classes are capped at 12 students, so you won’t get lost in the fray! Join us in the hoop loop from anywhere in the world – and join the SUPER fun hula hooping revolution from ya loungeroom.