The size of a hula hoop makes a big difference to what you can easily do with it. Many people have tried to have a go at hooping with a child’s toy hula hoop and have been unable to do it so they think they cannot hoop. However, it is VERY hard for an adult to hoop with a child size hula hoop. Many people think smaller lighter hoops will be easier to use, but the opposite is true. At the last HoopJam here in Christchurch a woman joined us randomly to have a go and was trying to hoop with a thin, smaller sized hoop. She was unable to keep the hoop up. When she was handed a larger, thicker hoop to try and she was able to hoop with it straight away.
So, what is the best type of hoop to use size wise? Well, it depends on what you want to do with it.
Beginners and Fitness
If you are just learning to hoop then a larger, thicker hula hoop is easier to use. Larger hula hoops circle more slowly than smaller hoops. Generally a good size hoop comes up to about your belly when it is resting on the floor in front of you. If you are buying a hoop online measure the length from the floor to your belly-button as a guide for the correct diameter size for a hoop. It is better to go a little larger than smaller than this measurement. Polyethylene (PE) fitness style hoops with a thicker tubing size of 25mm/1″ id (inner diameter) like those sold by In2Hula are the easiest to learn to waist hoop with. They are also good for cardio-style workouts like the In2Hula HoopBlast classes as they are steadier, and it is easier to keep the hoop moving round your waist while you are doing other exercise moves.
While heavier fitness hoops with a tubing size of 25mm/1″ id are great for basic beginner moves, when you start to learn some more complex moves a thinner, lighter hoop can be easier and safer to use. Heavier hoops can cause significant bruising, and also injury to your face and teeth as well as items in your surrounding environment. Medium weight hoops are known as dance or regular hoops and have a tube size of 20mm/3/4″ id. As with beginners a larger hoop is easier to learn with so you can stay with the guideline of a floor to belly-button measurement for the diameter size of the hoop. However, some moves are easier with a smaller diameter hoop which is slightly shorter than your belly-button height, and once you get confident you might want to invest in a second slightly smaller diameter hoop (or pair of hoops).
You can get dance hoops made from polyethylene (PE), high density polyethylene (HDPE) or from polypropene (polypro). You can read about the differences in hoop materials here. Please note, the thickness of PE tubing is usually measured by inner diameter (id), but HDPE tubing can be measured by outer diameter (od). 7/8″ od is about the same as 3/4″ id so check which type of measurement is being used.
Once you get quite confident at hooping with a variety of moves you may wish to add a thinner 16mm/1/2″ polypro hoop, or hoops, to your hula hoop collection. You can also start to play with hoops of much smaller diameter sizes, although the number of moves you can do with these hoops is limited so if cost is an issue then a medium size diameter hoop which is slightly shorter than your belly-button height is more versatile.
The exact diameter of hoop you need will depend on your height, and the best tube thickness will depend on what you want to use the hoop for. Most dedicated hoopers have a collection of hoops in a variety of diameter and tube sizes.