You may have read the title of this article and thought, "No, I can't!" I thought the same thing before I learned more about the physics of hula hoops. The truth is hula hoops that are sold in stores are not made for adults. They are not even made for most teens or even heavier little kids. Unless you are a particularly adept hoop spinner, a lightweight, narrow hoop like the ones found in your local toy department will never stay up for long. Here's the good news. Hula hoops are easy to make, and you can make your own hoop that you can customize in whatever colors you choose, and it will stay up! Read on, and soon you will be hula hooping like a pro.
Bigger folks need bigger hoops
The wider your waist, the bigger your hula hoop should be. A larger hoop has a bigger diameter, and will spin with a larger orbit. If your hoop to waist ratio is small, you will have to spin the hoop a lot faster to keep it elevated. If your hoop to waist ratio is larger, you can spin the hoop slower and have much greater success. The hoops sold in stores often have a diameter no larger than about 30 inches. That is far too small for an adult to spin. But most adults can spin a hoop with a 40 inch diameter easily, and even plus-size folks can usually spin a 44 inch diameter hoop.
You can make your own hoop
Using materials found at the hardware store, you can easily make your own hula hoop in any diameter you choose. Buy a length of ¾ inch irrigation tubing around 12 feet in length. You may need to get a bit longer length if you are plus size, but with a hula hooping workout, expect to be making a smaller hoop before long. Also buy a connector the right size for the tubing. Finally, buy a couple of rolls of electrical tape in contrasting colors. Use the connector to form the tubing into a hoop and secure with tape. Then decorate your hoop with the tape, going round and round the tubing in a spiral pattern like a candy cane. The tape will not only make your hula hoop more attractive, it will help increase the friction as it spins around your body.
Give your hula hoop a spin
When your hula hoop is finished, it's time to give it a twirl. The friction of the hoop against your body fights the force of gravity to keep the hoop in the air. The tape you choose will help increase the friction. Faster spinning is needed to keep a smaller hoop in contact with your body, but your new larger hoop can spin more slowly and still stay in the air. You may not be able to defy gravity with your hula hoop for long on your first few tries, but the more you practice, the better you will get. Soon, you will be shaping your waist, hips and thighs and strengthening your core with a calorie burning workout that is a whole lot of fun. Don't forget to throw on some tunes to make your hula hooping experience more fun - The Beach Boys are a cool, retro choice - and enjoy this new workout all summer long.
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Tavia worked as a naturalist and recreation specialist at an Oklahoma lake during her college years. She enjoys using what she learned as an outdoor educator in her work with children today.