It’s a tool for weight loss, core training, and toning. The hula hoop is inexpensive, easily available, and lasts for a lifetime. On days you don’t feel like doing a ‘serious’ HIIT session, a hula hoop can add variety and fun; plus, there’s a certain skill to it, which pushes the challenge up. In gyms abroad, hula hoop sessions are now offered widely.
The hula hoop is a low-impact exercise and has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. A 10-minute workout can leave you panting and sweating.
When hula hooping, wear close-fitting apparel; shoes are not mandatory. Do avoid the hoop if you have a history of chronic back pain due to injury or misalignment. If you have slight lower back pain because of a temporary strain, start hooping once you take care of the pain.
As always, warm up: cat-camel, shoulder rotation, spot jog or jumping jacks for three minutes.
Stand with one foot ahead of the other, and place the hoop around the waist. The hoop should be touching the back of your waist, positioned straight and not tilted at an angle. Twist the waist slightly and give the hoop a swirl. Push your hips forward and back to maintain the momentum of the hoop. In the beginning, you may find it difficult and the hoop may drop several times, but in a couple of days your skill will improve. This helps with toning the waist and abdominal wall. It improves agility and coordination.
Hold the hoop with your arm extended either in front or towards the side, whichever you find easier. Start hooping on the forearm area, where you are likely to have greater control as compared to the upper arm. Rotate from the shoulder, not the elbow, keeping arm parallel to ground. Gradually, you can move to the upper arm. This helps strengthen arm muscles.
Lunge with hoop
Stand with feet together, holding the hoop in front of you. Bring one foot forward so both the knees form 90-degree angles. Hold the hoop at chest level, and holding the lunge, twist the torso to the right; hold for 5 seconds, then to the left. Follow the movement with the eyes. The whole upper body must turn along with the hoop. The more advanced athlete can take the hoop diagonally overhead and bring it down to the thigh level on the opposite side. Repeat 16 times on both sides. This helps with coordination, balance, sensory control.
V-sit with hoop
Lie down on the floor; place hoop near the centre of the feet. Lift legs, raising them to the point at which the hoop forms one arm of a V. Lift the upper body off the floor, so it forms the other arm of the V. This helps in strengthening the core.
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Go into a squat position, with the weight on the heels, and hips pushed back. Hold the hoop across the diameter and lift. Hold for as long as you can, or up to 1 minute or repeat 16 times. This helps with upper body flexibility and lower body strength.
Nisha Varma is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist. A monthly column with exercises for a home workout