Hoop Downsizing

16 Sep

*Disclaimer: Lots of numbers, abbreviations and general hoop geekiness below

When I first started hooping, I was on a mission to find the “perfect” sized hoop. I read forums and obsessed a little about it before I finally made the decision to start with a 42 inch 100 psi 3/4 inch circle of plastic and tape (outer hoop above). It did turn out to be the perfect hoop for learning and I loved it. I thought it would probably take years before I would abandon my first BIG HOOP love. But then,  I “outgrew” it for my daily practice.

Sooner than I had expected, the time came for me to expand my horizons a bit. I was feeling limited. I was getting bruises (especially while learning the shoulder duck out…that move is brutal!). My next hoop was a 42 inch “lightweight” performance hoop (middle hoop above)…and it made such a HUGE difference switching to a lighter hoop. It wasn’t all that much smaller (same tubing), but the weight (or lack of) made it super easy to throw around off body tricks. I used both hoops quite happily until I started to get into breaks and reverses. A big groovy hoop just doesn’t cut it for a fast, crisp break/reverse!

I had read about people “downsizing” their hoop and I was in AWE at those who were using hoops in the 30-38 inch range. At the Hoop Technique workshop, Rich and Spiral told us their “story” and it was then that I realized that Spiral had pretty much pioneered the “shrinking” of the hoop size…and Rich had helped figure out the best plastics with his famous “tube experiments”.

So once again, I was on the hunt. While I was at the worskhop, I noticed that nearly everyone was using a 1/2 inch hoop…with most of them being made out of super lightweight polypropylene (also nicknamed “polypro”).  Click here to see Danielle spinning her polyro hoop. While I haven’t jumped on the polypro bandwagon quite yet, I’m hoping to buy one at Hoopcamp. I did opt for an HDPE (high density polyethylene) hoop (inner hoop above…photo was taken after I cut it down to a 38). The HDPE is a little more rigid than the polypro…I’ve heard it described as “polypro training wheels” 🙂

My silver HDPE hoop is a 36 inch hoop and I adore it. It’s light & peppy. It does what I tell it to do…and it does it FAST. Sometimes a little too fast 🙂 I’m still learning how to treat it so we can flow together. But for the most part, we have a lovely relationship.  I’ve found that my magic hoop size is a super lightweight 38″ hoop. Shoulder hooping is SO much easier with a 38″, compared to the 36″. Nothing can beat the 36″ for speed on the off body moves….but it can be a bit more challenging for core hooping.

I bought my silver hoop from Rich and Spiral…but when we were in Bozeman, my friend Mary and I made a bunch of our own HDPE hoops and found them to be rather easy to make. Well, I should say that Mary and Matt made them 🙂 I just reaped the benefits. Rich gives detailed instructions here.

I keep lots of sizes on hand…and I go back to the bigger sizes when I’m learning something new. But for now, my go-to hoops are 36 inch and 38 inch.  My size may not be your size. Everyone has a hoop that just feels right. Maybe you have no desire to do off body work or breaks and you’re content with the big slow groovin’ hoops! That’s awesome. I just like to do things fast 🙂 The moral of the story: if you want to spice up your hoop practice a bit…switch up your size!

If you would like to buy a high performance hoop, check out these vendors:

Hoop Horizon

Here is a write up on Hoop City by the fabulous Kendra (HappyLoveHoops) about her experience with polypro hoops:
“Once you go polypro”

Discussion on Hoop City regarding HDPE & Polypro

6 Responses to “Hoop Downsizing”

  1. Heather September 16, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

    It amazes me how talented you are with the hoop. I still look like an epileptic penguin, but I’m having fun!
    Hugs from LI

  2. Kendra September 21, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Sara, I am SO excited to get you, your own Poly Pro hoop! I have a fun style of taping these goodies and am so impressed upon reading about your Hoop Journey! Once I get over this dreadful flu i will ship out your new hoop lover!

  3. Karen September 24, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    I have a question about hoop size. Is the 36-38 inch the diameter? I have a hoopnotica travel hoop. Using it with all 6 segments was fabulous for learning. I have taken it down to 5 segments and I can do alot with it but shoulder and chest hooping is very difficult with it. I am thinking I need one in between these sizes but I am confused as to what I am looking for. Thanks

    • Kendra September 25, 2010 at 3:07 am #

      Hey Karen,

      shoot me an email larson _ kendra (at) yahoo dot com

      I can help you with sizing! Believe it or not, there is a science in figuring out a size or a new size.

  4. amy September 24, 2010 at 9:29 pm #

    Thanks for all the info. You inspired me to pick up a hoop in July and I am in love- although not very good. BUT I love it.
    This was a super informational post. Thanks!! And send out another video of you practicing soon. That’s what got me going!!

  5. Tyrah September 27, 2010 at 6:27 pm #

    When you say that your first hoop is 3/4″ plastic and tape, is that actual 3/4″ tubing at the store or smaller? I’m kind of confused if we go by what the hardware has it labeled or the actual outside dimension. I’ve made my first one with 3/4″ 160psi tubing and it seems very heavy and big (I’m a total beginner-aside from childhood;) It stands right to the bottom of my bra. Would you recommend a different size/weight to start with? I’m 5’8-9″ @ 130#. Your hoops are all so gorgeous, love the colors!

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