How to Hula: Let the Hoop Guide You

hula hoops, hooping, how to hula

Learning how to hula is a blast

Do you know how to Hula? Of all the cardio I've done over the years, hula hooping is by far the most fun. I consider myself a Hoop Girl and I've been doing it for three years now: learning tricks slowly over time, jamming to tunes in my living room, hanging out with friends in a local park when it's warm. Hula really is a great, social, and fun form of exercise. And did you know hooping burns calories? It's comparable to kickboxing and BootCamp classes! But how do you start?

How to Hula

I've had at least a dozen people tell me over the years they can't do anything with a hoop. And I can usually get them up and running in five minutes with some basic waist spins.  It all comes down to working with the hoop, not against it.

A Quick Breakdown

  1. Make sure you're using a decent hoop! Place the hoop on the ground and make sure the diameter hits somewhere between your pubic bone and your belly button. Bigger hoops are easier (a slower spin), smaller is harder, and yes, there are different sizes. The hoop should also have some flexibility to it, but not be too flimsy.
  2. Foot placement is important. If you're a righty, place your right foot forward; lefties, step your left foot forward. Some of you might decide you like a straddle stance better, in which case plant your feet to the sides, slightly wider than your hips.
  3. Find your anchor point. Place the hoop at waist height, pressed gently into the small of your back.
  4. Next comes the twist. If you are a righty, twist your torso to the right (lefties go left). Keep your dominant hand on the hoop.  Push the hoop around you with your dominant hand, pushing towards your belly button. Let go quickly.
  5. Finally: NO ELVIS HIPS! Here's the tricky part: don't swivel your hips in a circle Elvis-style! Instead, shift your weight back and forth on your feet and let the hoop glide around you.
Voila!  You're hooping!

Hooping Videos to Check Out

Once you're done giggling and you've got the hang of it, you'll want to try new challenges.  That's when I suggest a little tour of YouTube. There are a ton of great hooping videos out there, and you can learn lots of tricks by watching others who are better than you show you how. This is mostly how I learned to hoop, although I have also taken a couple of classes locally and picked moves up from other hoopers at parks. First here's mine! I recommend:
  • Safire "Love the Process" which is about learning how to hula "In her Groove" ... I just love this hoop video; it's a beautiful song and beautiful work by her
  • Fatboy Slim Yes, the producer/DJ has a very fun hooping video for his song, "That Old Pair of Jeans"
  • The Hooping Life Trailer Yes, there's a documentary film on hula hooping
Yes, we call ourselves hoopers ... and we have cool T-shirts too.  :-) Let me know if you've tried hooping or if you'd like to try it. You can read all about my early adventures of being a Hoop Girl; it truly is fun. And once you get past the novice level, here are some tips for intermediate hooping fun. Cheers, Lisa  

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.


10 Responses to How to Hula: Let the Hoop Guide You

  1. Tammy January 4, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    I’ve heard about hula hooping for fitness. Do you use a weighted hoop or a regular one?

    Last year I won a hula hoop contest. Goes to show that all those hours during the summer growing up playing with my hoop paid off. How much fun it would be if I could add another option for my fitness routine.

  2. Britt January 16, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    Lisa, I was looking at and there are quite a few options. Sounds like you recommend lighter and medium-sized to start with? What is light? 2lbs? 3lbs? Would you recommend a particular brand?

    Thanks for this article. I’m excited to try!

  3. Lisa Johnson January 27, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    Hi Britt! Check out Trick Concepts for hoops. They’re great, the hoop girls use them a lot and they’re pretty inexpensive. For beginners bigger is better and I do prefer lighter to the weighted ones which are geared for just a few minutes of ab exercise. But that is just personal preference … good luck!

  4. Sammy 11 years May 14, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    I have been trying and trying and i just cant do it. Please help me!

  5. Lisa Johnson May 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    Sammy search on YouTube for Safire … she’s got some great videos that will get you started. Good luck! :-)

  6. Jan May 21, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    I am 60, bought 3 lb hoop and am having trouble keeping it up. Hooped for hours as a kid. Is it too heavy or do I need to keep practicing?

  7. Lisa Johnson May 21, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    Hi Jan,

    It’s probably too heavy … I don’t hoop with weighted hoops … the tricks, etc. are with lighter ones … good luck! :-)

  8. jasmine June 24, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    Doea hula hooping help lose weight.

  9. Lynne March 21, 2016 at 8:17 pm #

    I’m 61 and in pretty good shape. I’ve never hooped before but want to learn Am I too old?


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