this thing's incredible

Thank Goodness for My Weighted Hula-Hoop

The author Hula-Hooping in her Brooklyn apartment. Photo: Jane Drinkard

A short week and a half into quarantine, I’d had my fill of online fitness classes. Following a peppy instructor on a screen began to feel monotonous, and slightly irritating — I wanted something I could do by myself, and that didn’t involve jogging up and down Flushing Avenue while anxiously sidestepping the two-block-long masked line outside of Wegmans.

Because free time often dredges up long-forgotten memories, one afternoon, after knocking a bowl off of the counter in my kitchen, I was reminded of Hula-Hoops — specifically, the hours I spent as a child knocking things over in my living room while spinning one around on my waist. From there, it occurred to me that Hula-Hooping had, in recent years, been touted as a sort of at-home miracle exercise — I’d seen an article at some point about celebrities like Kelly Osbourne and Michelle Obama hooping their way to a super-toned body. Further research revealed that Hula-Hooping is, in fact, excellent exercise: According to the American Council on Exercise (whatever that is), you can burn seven calories a minute while hooping, and it also helps improve posture, boosts circulation, and strengthens core muscles.

My Google search (“hula hoop exercise”) led me to a brand called Spinsterz, which sells weighted hoops in various categories. I placed an order for a one-pound fuchsia hoop and when it arrived, quickly put it together. Finding the space to Hula-Hoop in my shared 1,000-square-foot apartment was a bit of a challenge, I’ll admit. But after some trial and error, I found that there’s a zone where the “living room” meets the “dining room” that works — and it’s where I’ve been more or less since the thing arrived.

I set up my yoga mat, spread my feet hip-width apart, and started hooping. And after several days of doing it incessantly, I’ve learned this: It takes about ten minutes to feel cardio effects (sweaty forehead, faster heartbeat). If you want to intensify the workout, a good trick is hooping in a squat position. It’s also useful for stretching, as it turns out — you just place the hoop in front of you on the floor, extend your arms to grab the outer edges, and bend forward. And though it’s only been half a week, my core does feel tighter. If I were to buy a Hula-Hoop now, I might try one that is ever so slightly heavier (two or three pounds), as the one-pound hoop is challenging to keep up for long bursts of time. On the flip side, the harder it is to keep up, the better the exercise, meaning my one-pounder makes for a slightly more challenging cardio workout than its two- or three-pound counterparts.

I’ve been using my sparkly pink Hula-Hoop so often that my roommate has been forced to make some rules: I’m not allowed to hoop while we’re watching TV, for instance, or while we play games (mostly rummikub). Which still leaves me with plenty of other opportunities to hoop during the day: while listening to podcasts, calling my mom, staring off into space, or even having a glass of wine. It’s good exercise, sure, but it’s also offered me a way to harness the constant restlessness I feel while stuck in my home.

Other weighted Hula-Hoops

This hoop is a bit heavier (just over three pounds) and has a foam-padded exterior for a comfier workout.

It’s weight adjustable (you can remove sections to make it lighter and smaller), meaning this hoop is a good option if you’re unsure if you’d prefer something on the heavier or lighter side. It comes in eight separate interlocking pieces that can be easily disassembled for storage.

Marisa Tomei buys her hoops from this LA–based company founded by Gabriella Redding. All of their hoops are handmade.

An in-between-er weight. This hoop is also detachable (it’s comprised of six pieces) and was designed to be used on your arms to tone shoulders, biceps, and triceps.

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Thank Goodness for My Weighted Hula-Hoop