Whether you have decided to hula hoop for fun or fitness, the first hurdle many new hoopers face is how to keep it going around your waist!
There are some people who are a natural, and can do it instinctively. For most of us however it is a challenging, sweaty, discouraging time. But don't be discouraged! Hula hooping is so much fun, and the sense of achievement is so rewarding, it is worth pushing through the difficult times! Here is a short guide to waist hooping to start you on your way. Check out my Youtube tutorial to see this guide put into practice, and if you need any advice on choosing a hoop, get in touch!
The Starting Position.
This is very important. A good start is half the battle.
Stand with your back straight, shoulders back, head up and looking forwards. Don't look down! It will make it harder to keep it up.
Have your feet hip or shoulder width apart. If you push the hoop around the the left (most people do, regardless of left or right handedness), place your right foot slightly forwards. If you push the hoop around to your right, stand with your left foot slightly in front. Angling the body this way helps the hoop spin cleanly around your body.
Hold the hoop around your waist, with the hoop making contact with the small of your back. Press it against the small of your back. The hoop needs a point of contact with the body to spin around.
Ensure you are holding the hoop so it is nice and level. Do not hold from the top of the hoop. Make a nice ledge with your arms and have your palms at the side of the hoop. This gives you maximum momentum when you push.
You are now ready to give it a big push! Give it a try and just let it drop to see how it feels, and then we will get onto how to keep it going!
The fun part!
Get into the starting position again, ready to push.
When you push it around you, resist all temptation to look down or bend over! Looking down or bending your neck and shoulders over will often push the hoop right down! Keep your back straight and head up. You will develop excellent posture!
When you make the push, push as hard as you can, but keeping it nice and level. So, if you push it to your left, make sure that your right hand/arm comes across your tummy as you push round. (If pushing to your right, your left hand will be coming across your tummy). As your hand/arm comes across your tummy, push forwards immediately to meet it with your belly button.
Now, the motion that you need to keep the hoop going is forwards and back (not round in circles!) The movement is coming from your core, so make sure you are pushing out from your core and not from your chest, shoulders, hips or legs (this all comes later!)
When you are comfortable with the forward and back movement - now try keeping it going by pushing side to side.
"My hoop keeps dropping to the floor!"
Don't be disheartened if it keeps falling down. I spent about a week hooping in my front room, unable to keep it going more than a few rotations, before it finally clicked. Here are a few of the most common reasons for your hoop dropping to the floor.
You looked down. Don't look down! It is a constant temptation, to look at the hoop going around your waist, to marvel at you actually being able to do it when you thought you couldn't...but don't do it! It will start to drop!
You bent over. Again, it is a massive temptation to check out what is going on down there, but looking down will push that hoop right down.
You are not pushing from your waist (core). You are either pushing from your hips or your knees. The hoop will move to whatever part of the body is moving, so if you are moving your hips or knees the hoop will drop. If you are only pushing from your waist (push that belly button out, harder!) it *should* stay around your waist. This is difficult, because in day to day life your legs are used to taking over. They do all the work!They will naturally try to make over the movement in hula hooping as well, so don't let them!
You are hooping in your non-dominant direction. Everyone has a hoop-handedness - a dominant current (left or right) while on body hooping, and hand when off body. Try hooping in both directions - one will feel much more natural. But make sure you practice in both directions, so that you don't end up overdeveloped on one side!
Your hoop is too small or light. If you are using a small hoop, or a child's hoop from the toy shop, you will find it incredibly challenging if not impossible to get started as a beginner, You need an adult beginners hoop, that comes up to at least your belly button. A 40" diameter hoop is a good general size. The hoop can rarely be too big, but can be too small. The bigger it is the easier it is to get started with.
The Next Steps.
When you are able to keep the hula hoop going around comfortably (not forgetting to practice in both directions), try to move with the hoop.
Turn in a circle, in the same direction as the hula hoop is going around.
Walk forwards, backwards, side to side.
Put your favourite music on, and mix up spinning, walking, turning.
Step your feet out from side to side, forward and back while standing on the spot.
Use your hands and arms to dance with your hoop! Wave them in the air, vogue, punch forwards, upwards and side to side.
Incorporate your favourite dance styles and moves.
Find your local/national hula hoop group on Facebook and meet up with other hoopers for hoop jams, festivals and fun.