“Will this hoop fit me?” a new hooper asks, peering uncertainly at our row of various colored sparkle hoops, almost every one, approximately 41 inches in diameter. She taller than average, but of a fairly average build.
“Most likely, this will be just right,” I assure her. “Try one of our demos in this size.”
Wait, isn’t the hoop supposed to be measure two inches above the belly button?
Of course, 41″ will not be perfect for everyone, but I have found it to be comfortable for adults of a wide range of heights. That’s right: tall and petite folks can use the same diameter hoop. I’m going to be honest here and tell you something I feel like other hoop makers/sellers are failing to emphasize: a key body measurement for hoop diameter is not height (nor the height of your belly button), but girth.
In our culture, it may seem indelicate to mention body type, but just as we buy clothing that fits our measurements as well as our fit preferences, we ought to pick a hoop appropriate to our dimensions and our hooping skills and styles.
Imagine trying to spin a hoop around your waist that is just barely bigger than your middle. You have to shake your body like crazy to get it going and keep moving super fast to keep it from falling right to the ground. The space between your body and the hoop counts–the more space, the further the hoop gets to travel on each spin, meaning the slower it goes.
Now imagine the effort it would take to get a gigantic hoop going around your waist. It’s going to take some effort to get started and it will spin very s-l-o-w-l-y. (Some people like this sensation, but most people who want to use the hoop for fitness or hoop dance would find it burdensome.)
Somewhere in between these scenarios is a sweet spot for on-body hooping–large enough for the hoop to gather momentum to effortless spin around your waist (or shoulders or wherever), but small enough to feel manageable.
So, how much bigger than your body should the hoop be? It depends on your skill/experience and what you plan do to with the hoop. I have read websites which claim that a 33″ hoop is suitable for a beginner, which astounds me–that’s around the size of a toy hoop! For an adult-sized person that would require a whole lot of fast movement to get such a hoop to spin around the body. With practice, however, you might find a small hoop that spins faster is just the right challenge. Plus, off-body hooping at any level can be easier with a smaller (and lighter material) hoop–sizes referred to sometimes (and here) as twin sized or even smaller, minis. By all means, experiment with hoop diameters (and weights, and tubing thickness, tubing diameter and materials), but when you are just get started, why frustrate yourself with a hoop that’s too small?
Fortunately, people of a fairly wide range of bodies–from relatively thin to somewhat overweight–can comfortably use the same size hoop–in my experience that’s the 41″ diameter. My students usually feel confident spinning one of these size hoops within a few classes. (People get comfortable with the hooping movement at different rates–some get it instantly and for others it takes time and practice.)
That said, very thin or small-framed people may find a smaller hoop easier to manage from the start and large-framed people may find a larger hoop more comfortable, at least in the beginning. If you think you “can’t hoop” you may need a bigger hoop. (You may also benefit from hoop classes and from giving yourself the time and patience to learn a new skill, to move your body in a way you are not used to.)