Hooping: a great toning abdominal workout

The VITL Nutrition Team / Apr 29, 2016

11 years ago I went to Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. There I saw some mesmerizing apparitions with hoops, and I was transfixed. I returned to UK to finish my degree at Edinburgh and couldn't stop thinking about hooping. As soon as I finished my exams a year later I went and bought a hoop from a pound shop, skipped to my local park and gave it a spin.


It fell to the ground. It just didn't work, and I was deeply upset. I had spent a year dreaming of hooping glory and I was a failure. After a week of it falling to the ground, I had a ‘eureka’ moment: the hoop needed to be heavier! So I broke it open, stuffed it with mud, bought some tape and secured the ends together and it worked. The feeling that I had at that moment has never left, and I wanted as many people as possible to feel that same joyful, meditative, sensual sensation that the hoop gives me. 

It’s been 10 years since that day and I’ve done little else but teach and perform with my hoops. In 2013/2014 I became a qualified fitness instructor and my husband, Rowan qualified as a Personal Trainer to compliment his Dietetics & Nutrition degree. Together we developed a hooping class for a local, independent gym in Hackney and the rest is hula history.

The Benefits of Hooping and What It Involves

We use weighted hoops (1kg). Not only are these hoops easier to use because of their weight and size, but by using a weighted hoop you will also get a greater abdominal workout because of the added resistance to your core. As these hoops are easier to use than a regular hula hoop, you are able to concentrate on successfully completing the moves and any choreography we cover in class that giving you the added bonus of improved coordination.

Hooping requires constant push-pull contractions in your core muscles, the abdominals and the obliques, as well as in the glutes and thighs. Combining the added resistance of heavy hoops (up to 1kg) and aerobic exercises, a hula class can assist sculpting, reshaping and toning all the right places.

Hooping has been proven to burn anything from 7 calories a minute upwards. The American Council of Exercise *has tested that hooping for 30 minutes can burn approximately 210kcal (this test was using non-weighted hoops, on subjects that had previous hooping experience, and not doing a fitness cardio workout, it was a test of hoop skills). At our class we aim to hoop you hard, with heavy hoops and rigorous cardio workouts, so we expect to help you burn anything from 400-600kcal in one 45min session.  

You don’t have to be a super hooper to come to go to a hula class, we stick to very basic hoop moves because everyone should be able to join in and feel confident. The class is taken mostly by women aged between 20-40yrs old, although we do get the occasional man. Some people come for an intense abdominal and cardio workout, some come for the first time just hoping to keep a hoop spinning around their hips, and others because they want to add an alternative to their regular fitness programme. 


*American Council of Exercise; January 2011; Jordan Holthusen, M.S., John Porcari, Ph.D., Carl Foster, Ph.D., Scott Doberstein, M.S, with Mark Anders ;http://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/1094/