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