Sure, hooping is fun, but is it a real workout?
In response to a hoop class participant who wanted to know how many calories we were burning, I did a little research. I knew hooping got my heart rate up and sweating profusely, but I was still surprised at how hooping stacked up to other fitness classes.
According to research by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), hula hooping burns about 7 calories per minute, or 210 calories in 30 minutes, similar to step aerobics (approx. 6 cal./min) and boot camp classes (approx. 7.5 cal/min). Hooping also increases heart rate similarly to these more traditional fitness classes. ACE concluded that hooping meets industry standards for improving fitness and weight control. The researchers commented that because of the variety of movements in hooping, hooping should be considered a full body workout.
Finally, the ACE report suggests that hooping can also be relaxing, meditative, and just plain enjoyable. For me, this is the key. Yes, hooping is a great addition to any fitness program, but not just because it burns calories, elevates your heart rate, and works your core. It works because it is self-reinforcing. (Also because it’s cheap and requires only an approximately $30 hoop and some space–no expensive machines or trip to the gym.)
It’s even more, though. Hooping can change your whole relationship to your body. Like yoga and dance, hooping requires you to pay attention to your body, to develop an awareness of how you are holding yourself. The hoop becomes a prop that gives you feedback about how you are moving. It becomes a dance partner, a focus, a toy. It can be utterly freeing–an excuse to get in touch with your inner child and your most creative self.
Absolutely, hooping is a workout. But it is so much more. So go ahead: give yourself credit in your fitness journal for the time you spend hooping, and give yourself permission to lose yourself in your hoop.