Hula-hooping in the 21st century: Still fun, still a good workout


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In 1958, Wham-O toy company founders Richard Knerr and Arthur Melin invented and manufactured brightly colored plastic hoops. Within a few months of the launch, 25 million hoops were sold. That’s a lot of spinning Americans! It seems like we still can’t get enough of this spherical wonder.

While it’s a blast to hula-hoop, you’re also getting a great workout. Shake your hips to your favorite tunes and you’ll tone your abs, increase cardiovascular stamina and strengthen your core.

The hula-hoop fad has come and gone but a new wave of hula hooping is making its way across the country. Read on to learn about some new ways to reconnect with a childhood favorite:

Weighted hula hoops: Larger and heavier than your average hoop, they make it easier to keep up. However, don’t think you need a weighted hoop to get fit. It doesn’t matter what weight hoop you choose. As long as you raise your heart rate, you’ll burn calories — and have fun doing it! Just remember, the longer you hoop, the more you’ll burn.

Dance and performance hula hoops: These hoops are light and designed for a faster-paced workout, dance, and tricks and off-body moves that require the hoop to be lighter and rotate at a quicker rate.

LED hoops: Because dancing and hula-hooping in the dark is even more fun and challenging! Some of these dazzling hoops have as many as 30 color-changing lights. Ah, technology.

Mini hoops: What a fun way to tone your arms and shoulders! Mini hula hoops are small versions made specifically for your arms. Once you’re a pro, use the mini hoops and the waist hoop at the same time.

Hula-hoop fitness classes: Just go to Google and you’ll see they are popping up everywhere! Hoopnotica is one of many cardio workout programs available in DVD format and as live classes at their studio in Los Angeles. You learn basic moves like the waist and hip hopping and work your way to halos (spinning the hoop with your hands above your head). As you become more experienced, you learn more complicated moves.

World Hoop Day: World Hoop Day is a nonprofit organization that supplies “hoop ambassadors” with funding and hula hoops to distribute to schools, orphanages, villages and camps around the world. According to its website, the importance of play is undervalued in this technological age of information. World Hoop Day brings cost-effective toys that double as a portable gym to remote areas of the world where resources are limited. On Dec. 12, there will be hooping events on six continents! Learn more and at Worldhoopday.org.