Hula hooping sent TikTok into a spin this lockdown, with thousands of fitness fans broadcasting their workouts from home, with users boasting of abs within days of using their weighted hula hoops.
Our reviewer, sadly, didn’t notice this. But she did have ridiculous amounts of fun trying to keep hoops of various weights in the air and felt an improvement in her core strength.
We tested a variety of hoops – differing in weights, surfaces, shapes and sizes – over the course of a year. And we also received 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 than 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.
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, or 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!”
The best-weighted hula hoops 2021
- Best overall: Powerhoop deluxe, £49.95, Powerhoop.com
- Best for working your way up the weights: Opti weighted hula hoop, £15.99, Argos.co.uk
- Best for physiotherapy and recovering from injury: Therapy in Motion adjustable weight wave hula hoop, £34.99, Vivomed.com
- Best for experienced hoopers: Opti weighted hula hoop, £17.99, Argos.co.uk
- Best for beginners on a budget: Nyamba weighted hula hoop, £14.99, Decathlon.co.uk
- Best for family hooping: Powerhoop slim, 1.4kg, £39.95, Sport-thieme.co.uk
- Best for festivals and showing off your skills: Hoopspin beginner hoop shiny spiral, £24, Hoopspin.co.uk
- Best for your first hooping session: ResultSport the original foam padded fitness hoop, £32.95, Amazon.co.uk
Powerhoop deluxe, adjustable weight
Still our favourite hoop for long workouts and short bursts of energy, Powerhoop isn’t just a hoop, but a whole hooping community, with 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 combined.
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.
Opti weighted hula hoop, 1.25kg
Best for: Working your way up the weights
The newest hoop in this range is a super light 1.25kg, making it ideal for a longer workout. At this weight, we found we could keep the hoop in the air for much longer without feeling like our core and glutes were overworked. The foam is a little thin, so wear plenty of layers until you get your technique down to avoid bruising, but it grips well when you get a spin going.
Therapy in Motion adjustable weight wave hula hoop
Best for: Physiotherapy and recovering from injury
Building up core strength is a great way to protect your back from injury, so it’s no surprise to see a number of physio-orientated hoops entering the market. Our favourite is without doubt Vivomed’s foam-covered wavy hoop, which comes with iron weights that you slip into the hoop to increase the weight. This makes it great to use with a physio – they can help you find the right weight for your rehab. The foam covering means the hoop is comfortable to spin, even with the “wave” texture.
ResultSport the original foam padded fitness hoop, various weights
Best for: Your first hooping session
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
Best for: Experienced hoopers
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.
Nyamba weighted hula hoop, 1.4kg
Best for: Beginners on a budget
A fantastic budget option that, because it’s at a low weight (1.4kg) feels comfortable even without the thicker padding you’d get with a more expensive hoop. A great hoop to try if you’re not sure the workout is for you, it comes apart really easily thanks to the click-in system, making it easy to store. You can reassemble it with fewer segments if you want a smaller hoop: the smaller the hoop the easier it is to spin.
Powerhoop slim, 1.4kg
Best for: Family hooping
Powerhoop’s lighter model is beginner-friendly, at a gentle but challenging 1.4kg. It 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.
Hoopspin beginner hoop shiny spiral
Best for: Festivals and showing off your skills
One of Jess Love’s favourite brands, Hoopspin’s awesome, colourful hoops are handmade to exactly the level of sparkle you select, making them perfect for festival hooping. At 333g, they’re really light: you’ll still get a workout keeping them in the air, but you won’t end up feeling battered and bruised. You can also customise size and diameter, and the push-button release makes them effortless to collapse and store.
The verdict: Weighted hula hoops
The Powerhoop deluxe remains our favourite after a year of hooping – it looks cool, is endlessly customisable and comes with a whole world of extras like online hooping classes.
With our hooping technique perfected, we loved learning to perform tricks with Hoopspin’s beautiful lightweight hoops – just in time to show off at the summer festivals.
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