Get in a spin with this summer’s retro fitness trend, hula hooping: a low impact workout and performance art with roots in both the playgrounds of the 1950s and the traditional circus.
Hooping is the ideal lockdown workout – it needs just one piece of equipment, very little space, and (as our beginner tester discovered) plenty of privacy to work on your technique before you hit the park or, one day, a festival.
We tested a variety of weighted hoops, of all weights, surfaces, shapes and sizes, with a little coaching from hooping expert and circus artist Jess Love, who has been hooping for more than 20 years, and been on world tours with Circus Oz and La Clique, among others.
Jess, who teaches private classes, advises that the key to a good technique is to focus on moving your chest forwards and backwards, not circling your hips. She says: “Start with the hoop against the small of your back, then give it a good start, pushing it towards your belly. It should rotate a couple of times, and then you’re ready. As the hoop moves past your tummy, push into it.”
This means that, as well as a cardio workout, hooping is an unbeatable core exercise. Weighted hoops tend to be heavier than the hoops performers like Jess use, and she warns that heavier isn’t necessarily better. A heavier hoop is generally easier to keep up then a very light hoop, but a super heavy hoop isn’t suitable for beginners: if you experience any bruising – a common complaint among beginner hoopers – then your hoop is too heavy, and you need to downsize.
We have included a variety of hoop weights in our testing, including lighter hoops that could be a gateway to performance hooping. Most hoops are made of plastic, but we included one wooden alternative if you’re trying to shop sustainably. Once you’ve got the technique down, HulaFit offers online classes that cover everything from nailing your first rotation to breathtaking tricks.
Whether you want a simple workout you can do in the sun, or a way into the world of circus and gymnastics, hooping is a fun, cheap way to exercise. “Anyone can do it,” Jess says, “whatever your fitness level, age, body shape. It’s fun, low impact, you can do it with friends, and it’s a little bit silly – which is good for the soul!”
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Powerhoop deluxe, adjustable weight
Powerhoop is one of the best-known brands in fitness hooping, promising not just a hoop, but a whole hooping community, online classes, tutorials and teacher training. Its deluxe model is expensive, but it’s the ultimate weighted hoop and is suitable for beginners and expert hoopers: it comes with intuitive steel inserts to slide inside the hoop to customise its weight, all the way up to a serious 2kg, and is lined with colourful, flexible plastic gradations that help the hoop grip to you without bruising. Both our novice and experienced testers loved this hoop, and its grippy casing made it one of the easiest to get started with.
ResultSport the original foam padded fitness hoop, various weights
Our beginner hooper was a fan of the smoother, unridged hula hoops, which feel more like the kind you might have once used in the playground and less like a piece of gym equipment. ResultSport’s smooth hoop has a perfect mix of padding and grip, thanks to the foam casing. It comes in weights that are categorised by expertise – level one is a beginner-friendly 1.2kg, while level three is 2kg.
Opti weighted hula hoop, 1.8kg
One of the heaviest hoops we tried, our beginner tester found that they could only keep this hoop in the air for a few rotations, with some serious core burn. We also found it could be quite bruising, although the foam padding helped, and wearing a fitness belt helped a bit here too. But despite being heavy it packs down easily, so won’t take up a huge amount of space. If you are exploring hooping purely as an ab workout and don’t have any plans to try any tricks or routines, this is the one to buy.
Powerhoop slim, 1.4kg
Powerhoop’s lighter model is beginner friendly, at a gentle but challenging 1.4kg, and lets you change the diameter of the hoop by removing or adding a link: this is so it can be used by kids and adults, but we found it also meant you could easily vary the intensity of your workout (bigger for a slower spin and gentler workout, smaller for a harder workout). The squishy foam casing made it comfortable to use for longer, and our beginner found the soft, thick lining welcomely gentle when starting out.
Mirafit ridged weighted hula hoop, 1.2kg
A good price for a solid-feeling hoop, this was one of the best beginner hoops we tried. The ridges were very grippy, which helped keep the hoop up, and the relatively low weight – 1.2kg – is perfect for longer workouts. The hoop looks sporty, too, with a black and orange colour scheme that looks a bit more gym-ready than Glastonbury-ready. Some might find it a little on the light side, but because it comes with a carry case it would make a good travel hoop.
Grevinga exercise hoop, 320g
Grevinga’s wooden hoop is a great alternative to the ubiquitous plastic variety, although it is very light and we found the smooth surface really needed some grippy clothes to help it get going. The light weight is perfect for beginners or children, and the light-coloured wood invites a bit of creative customisation if you’re hoping to take your hooping skills on the road next festival season. The lighter weight also makes this hoop suitable for more gymnastic workouts – our beginner managed a convincing, if short, routine with this one after a bit of practise.
Opti weighted hula hoop, 1.5kg
Our reviewers’ favourite lighter hoop, this is smooth, light and easy to get going thanks to its grippy foam casing. The weight was just right for a beginner – heavy enough to give you a better chance of keeping it spinning and give you a decent workout, but not so heavy it becomes painful to use. Like the heavier Opti hoop, it packs down small and is easy to reassemble, so it would be a good option for travelling.
Phoenix fitness weighted hula hoop, 1.2kg
An enormously popular piece of kit for beginners and for good reason. It's a cheap, relatively light, ridged hoop that’s very easy to put together and take apart. It’s coated in a squishy foam that is easy to keep clean, and you can remove a section to make the hoop smaller – great for a faster spin, if you have less space to hoop in, or if you want one hoop that everyone in the family can use. Our beginner tester generally preferred the smoother hoops, but if you prefer a rigid one this is a good choice.
The verdict: Weighted hula hoops
We loved how customisable the Powerhoop deluxe was, and the brilliant community and tutorials that came with it. If you want a light, easy hoop to test the gymnastic waters, the lighter Opti hoop is a good, mid-range place to start.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.