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If you want to get into shape but think exercise is a drag, pick up the latest fitness tool—a hula hoop—and shimmy your way into shape. Hula hooping—also called hooping or hoop dancing—is creating fitness converts out of even the most reluctant exercisers. It’s fun, it’s playful, and it’s a fantastic workout.


The hula hoop has been around for thousands of years, when young children used encircled grapevines and grasses as toys. The modern day hula hoop evolved when an Australian company began making wooden rings or “hoops” in 1957. Shortly thereafter, a California company caught on to the craze and the colorful, plastic hula hoop was born. It was an instant sensation and developed into a bit of a craze during the 1950s and 60s, but the appeal faded over time.

Hooping has experienced a resurgence since the mid-1990s, partly due to the influence of a band, String Cheese Incident, that was known for tossing hoops into the crowd during their shows. Soon enough, hooping re-entered the mainstream.

What Exactly is Hooping?

Hooping is a little different from the playful experimentation with those small plastic hoops of our childhood. Today’s hoops are a little bit larger and heavier than those toy hoops. They typically weigh anywhere from 1 to 2 pounds. These larger, customized hoops are usually about 4 feet in diameter, which makes them easier to navigate because they rotate more slowly around the body. Even an amateur can experience success with the larger hoops.

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Hooping is for everyone—even the “rhythmically challenged” can experience success and fun in a hooping class. Hooping can be as simple as spinning a hoop around the waist or as elegant as performing dance moves with the hoop or as exciting as performing tricks with it.

Benefits of Hooping

Hooping and hoop dancing classes have cropped up across the country as a fun, playful way to exercise. In fact, an hour of intense hooping can burn up to 600 calories—which is the equivalent of a one-hour run, but a lot more fun. Hooping builds core strength and stamina while torching calories.

Most people who discover hooping find that not only is it great exercise, but it’s great fun as well. It teaches adults to play again. In fact, some people see hooping as a meditative experience and report that it has helped them feel more centered and calm.

How to Hoop

If you want to learn to hoop, there are plenty of videos and classes available to introduce you to the experience. Find a hoop that’s the right size—if you balance it in front of you, the hoop should measure somewhere between your belly button and chest. Ready to try hooping?

  • Stand up tall and look straight ahead rather than down.
  • Place your feet about hip-distance apart with one foot slightly in front of the other.
  • Rock your hips from sided-to-side rather than rotating them in a circle.
  • If the hoop starts to fall, move a little faster.
  • Finally, have fun and be patient. It may take a while to get the hang of it, but you’ll be hooping in no time.