Work It

Hula Hoop Your Way to a Fitter You

Let me start off by saying I’m not a very active person. I’m in my 20s and my day off includes lying in my bed for three hours with my laptop on my stomach and then taking 4 steps to my desk and spending the rest of the day there while my laptop charges. When I realize I should get off my lazy butt and see something else besides a computer screen, it’s to fetch the hula hoop I have stashed behind my headboard.

In elementary school, I would spend my recess either inside helping my teachers or in the shade with a hula hoop. I used to tell my parents I wanted to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for hula hooping. I am completely serious; take off that judging look!

My friend who lives nearby has a Wii Fit and when I visit, I love doing the games and reading how many calories they burn. On the hula hoop games, it once said 30 minutes of “hooping” equates to burning quite a bit of calories – that’s enough inspiration for me.

Now, for the actual workout! I usually turn my television on to a show I love, but could easily rewatch, so The Daily Show, Colbert Report, or reruns of Mad Men feature heavily. I wait until the show starts and start hula hooping. I usually just keep my arms up above my head or just straight out in front of me, a la zombie pose. No one can see me therefore no judgement is passed.

When a commercial break comes up, depending on my mood and how energized I feel, I either keep going or take a break and lift some weights. When I say “lift some weights,” I mean a three-pound dumbbell, because my arms are ridiculously weak. I usually do waist twists (or whatever they’re called. I call them “twisters”), and a stretch that involves reaching over my head and leaning to one side for a certain numbers of repetitions. Again, I’m not a very athletic person, but I watch YouTube exercise videos and see that one often.

Another one I might throw in is the “plank.” Don’t worry, it’s not the overdone internet meme you’ve all done. This is when you’re on the floor and hold yourself up using your forearms and your toes like this. The most common combo I do during TV/hula hoop time is hula hooping during the show, with a side of “planking” during the commercial breaks. In my reasoning, I’m working the abdominals and building arm strength. Balance, right? Right!

Overall, my lazy (almost childish), workout has worked for me. The last time I went to see my doctor, the nurse asked if I exercised and when I told her what I did, she said, “Good job! Whatever helps you to do it!”

I suggest we all go and get a $7 hula hoop and use it while watching some TV! After all, the girls during the 1950s and 1960s were dancing and hula hooping their way into tiny-waisted dresses, we should be able to as well. I just hope I don’t end up like Betty Draper and eat my daughter’s leftover chocolate sundae.

Image via shutterstock

  • Jj Murrell

    if only i could make it spin ive never ever managed it

  • Gini Strobel

    I’m going to buy a hula hoon today! Awesome idea!

    • Gini Strobel


  • Shauna MacKenzie MacNeil

    For inexperienced hoopers or for people who have always had trouble keePing a hoop up, you may want to try a heavier hoop. I have quite a bit of experience with it, and. I still find it hard to keep a cheap, lightweight Wal-Mart hoop up. I had one custom made for about $40 and it’s great. You can also find instructions to make your own online.

  • Allison Frankfother

    Oh wow! I love this! I could never hula hoop until just a few weeks ago, and I got completely hooked on it! After spring break, my friend from my dorm brought back a hula hoop and after I learned I was just so excited I couldn’t stop. That was the first really warm week of the year, and I just stood out in the lawn with my friends listening to music, studying, talking, hula hooping…oh man, it was great. Such a carefree activity!

  • Sarah Walker

    I go to hula hoop classes and they’re really good fun as well as a really good workout (it surprised me how tough a work out it is!) but Shauna’s right, you need a heavier hoop and also the larger the hoop is the easier it is to keep up. I’m getting my own hoop at my next class so I’ll be hooping in front of the telly in no time!

    • Shauna MacKenzie MacNeil

      Yes, thanks for the reminder- larger definitely helps too!

  • Susan Troutt Fischer

    lol at the Mad Men reference at the end! Poor betty!

    • Michelle Escobar

      😀 Thanks! You have to admit Betty eating the sundae was hilarious!

  • Jenny Bunyan

    I read this and then tried, apparently, I can’t do it any more. I think my hoop is faulty. It’s blue, and if you kind of squint, and tilt your head to the left, it looks slightly bent. I’m going to go and buy a pink sparkly one now, see if that’s any better.

    • Michelle Escobar

      Mine is purple with a pink stripe… I hope you get a good one!

  • Val Ieum

    Hello Cyber World, this is your friendly neighborhood hoop dancer (2 years and still going strong my loves!) All of this is great information and this article made me smile. Remember kids, heavier hoops= more work out. Lighter= fancier, off body tricks like whips and isolations. Go online and you will definitely be able to find a custom hoop on the cheap, or DIY with some irrigation tubing and couplings from a hardware store (along with the tube cutters of course) For those who are suffering from a case of the kinks, hint: lay your hoop out on the sun on your drive way for a bit to let it get pliable and then spin it! Voila, happy hoop!

  • Val Ieum

    P.S. You can even wrap and decorate your new hoops (say from KMart or Walmart) with rad electrical tape to add valuable weight to them, plus it lets you make it super YOU. (If you didn’t want to go through the whole schpiel or buying online or DIYing one.)

    • Michelle Escobar

      Oh good tips! Me gusta :)

  • Brittany Noel

    This sounds like me, I love hula hooping. I have two regular hoops and a wave hoop. It really does make a difference and gives you a tiny waist.

  • Jessica Ann Craine

    Hooping is a fun, easy (once you find your rhythm) and a GREAT way to exercise! I love doing tricks (the vortex and isolation’s are great for your arms!) check out hooping videos on youtube to get how to’s on tricks to challenge yourself.
    Keeping the hoop in one place can be boring and sometimes make you sore so try hooping on your upper and lower waist. hooping with your arms up and maintaining the hoop above your breasts is a GREAT workout (it can be a little difficult) but very rewarding. I’m still struggling with keeping the hoop up around my legs but it’s very fun to keep practicing and seeing your progress. I remember the first time I hit 100 rotations I was so happy!!

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