You are keen to begin a fitness activity but the gym or running and cycling are not exactly your cup of tea. Well, it was somewhat the same for K Kavya until, a few years back, she tried the hula hoop. Hula hooping not just helped her reach a good state of physical and mental well-being but also opened a new path in life.
“I used to live a very sedentary life a few years back,” says Kavya from Hyderabad. “I was aware that I needed to work out, but I was unable to bring myself up to go to a gym or engage in any conventional fitness activities. One day, I just picked up the hoop my old roommate left in my house and decided to give it a shot.”
Since then, the journey has been so fulfilling for Kavya that she has become a pro.
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“It’s been one and a half years since I started now,” adds the flow artiste. “I feel like I have grown from beginner to intermediate and stepped into a place where I can tap into the flow state more often. It has really improved my overall physical and mental health. Now I have started to look at it professionally.”
What is hula hooping?
Hula hooping is the practice of continuously rotating a circular hoop around one’s body. It comes under flow arts. The broad term flow arts refer to a multitude of activities that combine skill-based movement with artistic expression to reach a state of flow, which is, in essence, present-moment awareness.
“Flow art is sort of like an extension of your body. It coordinates your entire body and sets it into motion,” says KA Nishitha, a flow arts performer from Bengaluru. There are multiple props to go along with it like poi, fans, hoop, staff, buugeng and so on.”
Hula hooping has two broad variations: on-body and off-body hooping. On-body hooping is when you are inside the hoop, or when you are trying to get inside the hoop while rotating it. Off-body hooping is when the hoop is outside the body’s axis and is tossed, rolled or circled.
How to choose the hoop?
Sessi Gianoglio, a hula hooper and trainer from Italy who is currently based in Bengaluru, says heavier and larger hoops are ideal for beginners.
“Every person’s body is different,” explains Gianoglio. “According to the body proportion, one can find the right hoop for them. What I suggest is that it should come a few inches below your belly button. Maybe around three to four inches is kind of the perfect size.”
Kavya adds, “The bigger the hoop, the easier it is to hoop.”
In-house cardio activity
Hula hooping is a great cardio routine that requires minimal space.
“Usually, you can’t perform cardio activities in a small space,” says Gianoglio.
“Hula hooping gives you the possibility of having a sort of gym in your own room,” she adds. “You don’t need extra space for it. You can make hula hooping a full-body exercise by advancing the way you hoop a little bit. For example, you can keep one hoop on your waist, one on the chest and the other on the knees. In this manner, you can make hula hooping a full-body exercise. The cardio benefit of hula hooping is very close to running.”
Nishitha explains how hooping helps in muscle activation.
“You stretch some muscles of your body automatically while hooping, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to complete the move,” says Nishitha. “Hoops force you to use and stretch muscles which ensures muscle activity. The entire process is like moving each part of your body while having fun. It is great for muscle movement.”
Kavya adds, “There are a lot of repeated movements involved in hooping that help you activate the kind of muscles you are focusing on. For example, if you are foot hooping, the calf muscle is automatically activated. Because you are holding a posture and focusing all your energy on one muscle or joint to perform the move.”
Irrespective of which part of the body you are trying to activate while hooping, the core engages to help you execute the move.
“For instance, if I’m doing a hand movement, I still need to keep myself in a certain posture and make sure I’m standing straight and holding my arm in a fixed position. Anything you do to stabilise yourself in hooping helps activate your core,” says Kavya.
Nishitha adds, “If you want to move a hoop on your body, you must put strength into it. Hooping is just an oscillation between two points. To maintain that oscillation, you should put in your strength. The process directly improves your core strength.”
She says that most people use either their right or left hand to do tasks.
“They have been focusing on one side of their body all their life. Gradually one side of the body will get dominated,” Nishitha adds. “You must use your entire body in hula hooping, which results in the active participation of both sides of your brain and your body. One’s brain gets new activity or new learning through hula hooping. Keeping your brain active is very important for your mental and physical health.”
Hula hooping also helps to increase focus and concentration, and relaxes you, much like meditation, say experts.
“It’s not only a physical activity, but also it has more to do with the way it makes you feel,” says Gianoglio. “Hooping taught me to be patient subsequently in my life. There are hundreds of hooping tricks that you can try and experience by just being determined, consistent and persistent. One’s body requires a fixed time to get used to the tricks. Allow your body to build muscle memory to do the movement that it has never done before.”
Kavya says hooping is a mindful exercise. “Just like how people meditate, by not letting other thoughts pass through their body or brain, while hooping, you’re filling up moments without thinking about anything but the movements of your hoop,” she says. “It’s literally a form of meditation.”
- The act of artistically rotating a circular hoop around one’s body is known as hula hooping. It belongs to the broad category of flow arts.
- Hula hooping is both a fitness routine and a means of expression and can be done by anyone and requires minimal space.
- Muscle activation, core strengthening, enhanced focus and concentration are some of the health benefits of hula hooping.