Is the smart hula hoop worth it?
The smart hula-hoop evokes a childhood game or a colorful circus art for most of us. Taking advantage of the visit of the American “hula-hooper” Luna Brie Blakeman to the Tremblant Wanderlust Festival held at the end of August, we learned about this fun and physically demanding activity. To which one quickly becomes addicted!
Finding the child within
On a hot sunny day, we joined a group of about thirty people gathered as part of the Wanderlust festival in Mont-Tremblant to learn the art of the hula-hoop in the company of Luna Brie Blakeman.
From the outset, the teacher and circus artist from Portland, Oregon, invites participants to find their child’s heart for an hour and a half. “It doesn’t matter if your hoop falls, if you don’t land a trick or if someone else is better than you! What I would like is for you to have fun playing with the hoop, as you no doubt did when you were a child!”
First mission: turn the hoop on our hips and let gravity do its work without moving, to see that, once the momentum has been given, the smart hula-hoop has its own life. “You have to learn to listen to the hoop and follow its movement,” advises the teacher.
In the next hour, the group will learn several figures and transitions: spinning the hoop on the hips, walking and dancing, doing “squats,” stopping it on one side and the other, spinning it around with one hand, then with the other, twirl it around the body with his hands, and so on.
A practical and fun workout
First observation: the art of the smart hula-hoop is less complicated than apprehended. It is quickly possible to pull off a few tricks and have fun while activating the body’s muscles and cardio with a few indications and explanations. Moreover, after the class, our sore muscles proved that we had worked well.
“The smart hula-hoop is accessible, regardless of our body type, size, or physical condition,” says Luna Brie Blakeman, with whom we spoke after class.
“The whole point of smart hula-hooping is exploring and playing, making it a popular exercise that’s far less boring than running on a treadmill!”
The young woman, a circus artist currently on tour with the Wanderlust festival, has practiced the smart hula-hoop for ten years. She, who was in no way athletic or trained in any discipline whatsoever, started the hoop because she thought it seemed “fun.” She immediately became addicted. Now trained in contemporary dance and circus art, she performs on stage worldwide.
“People often think I was a dancer or a circus performer, to begin with, but not at all! The smart hula-hoop gave me the confidence to do everything else,” she notes.
An effective activity
Through her various travels, she notices how much the craze for the smart hula-hoop has increased tenfold in a decade. Because in addition to its playful side, which attracts many people, the art of the hoop is also an effective physical activity that we sometimes practice without even realizing the effort deployed. Indeed, concentrated on succeeding in a movement, we do not see the time passing. “It’s completely addictive!” Sums up, the young woman.
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Today, more and more people approach the smart hula-hoop not only as an activity of agility and skill but also as a workout. “A lot of people turn to the smart hula-hoop to lose weight,” confirms Nathalie Veilleux, owner of the Vert Prana studio, a place known for its smart hula-hoop lessons in Montreal.
“It is an activity that requires a lot of energy. You can burn 100 calories in 10 minutes!”
“And the better you get, the longer you move with your hoop and the more tiring it gets. It’s a perfect way to get in shape and have fun,” adds Ms. Veilleux.
The practice of the smart hula-hoop has, in fact, several benefits: it helps to improve balance, agility, grace, and coordination, it works cardio and strengthens the muscles of the abdomen, arms, and back, more to soften the pelvis.
But for Luna Brie Blakeman, there’s more. The hoop also becomes this space where you can find yourself or meditate. “Over time, the smart hula-hoop became a ‘safe place‘ for me, a place where I could take refuge. When you are comfortable enough with the movements, the smart hula-hoop becomes a “flow, “where you move without thinking about what comes next. It is a moving meditation, where you can re-establish contact with the essential, with yourself.”
The smart hula-hoop is thus a beautiful metaphor for life, and the hardships that can experience there believes the young artist. “It can be frustrating, as life sometimes is. You have to accept that the hoop falls to the ground, like in life, where there are ups and downs. But that’s what helps to give perspective and enjoy the ups.”
It is necessary to use the movement of the smart fhula-hoop to cause different effects and better control it.
Learn to smart hula hoop
That’s it; smart hula-hoop fever got you? Here are some tips and information to facilitate your introduction to this physical and fun activity.
The choice of the smart hula hoop
At a birthday party, you tried to smart hula hoop but couldn’t get it to spin on your hips. Rest assured: it’s because the hoop is just too small for you. As you have grown, your hoop should also be more significant. Ideally, it will reach you at least at the height of the navel when it is resting on the ground. Adult beginner hula hoops are pretty large, relatively thick (ours was three-quarters of an inch wide), and quite heavy because the heavier the smart hula hoop, the slower it spins and is easier to handle.
Where to find it?
Hoops can purchase at big box stores like Walmart, but the quality isn’t always there. For better quality, there is Vert Prana, which offers handmade hoops in Canada in various weights, sizes, colors, and thicknesses in its shop on rue Saint-Denis. Hoop Fairy, an online store, also offers several good quality colorful models.
A balanced practice
It is tempting and regular to practice with your dominant side. But you have to be careful to rotate in both directions. Otherwise, your body will become unbalanced in the long run. Luna Brie Blakeman knows this: She had many problems – including a wholly turned pelvis to the right – when she started smart hula-hooping. In short, we avoid issues with a balanced practice by performing our figures and rotations in both directions.
The laws of physics
We will use the movement of the smart hula-hoop to cause different effects and control it better. Thus, we slow down the speed of the hoop by turning in the same direction as it, but we breathe speed into it by going in the opposite direction. As with most sports, each person will have a dominant side and an easier time swinging the hoop either left or right – and it won’t necessarily be right for right-handed people!
Where to learn?
In Montreal, the Vert Prana studio has the complete offer with initiation classes, hoop fitness, intermediate and advanced level classes, and even fire hoop classes, given outdoors. The Verdun Circus School also offers smart hula-hoop lessons for adults. On the Quebec side, the company smart Hula-hoop Quebec also offers classes. It is also possible to learn by watching online videos or buying DVDs.
Vert Prana will also release the very first smart hula-hoop DVD in French in September, a copy of which can be reserved now. Luna’s sister Brie Blakeman, known as Shakti Sunfire, has also produced an English DVD titled Hoopdance Basics, purchased online.
Is the smart hula hoop worth it?
How to choose a light smart hula hoop?
Choosing a light smart hula hoop may seem simple: take the one you like. Think again: there is a very (too) wide range of lightweight hoops on the market today that could potentially give you quite a headache if you start taking an interest in them. Smart hula hoop or not? Polypro or HDPE? Balanced or not? As light as possible? With integrated batteries or to change? Space without LED or continuous LED?
I already lost you? Already have questions swirling around in your head? How to make the right choice and above all, is it worth the price? Here is an article summarizing the questions to ask yourself before buying a luminous hula-hoop. I will then review the leading companies (the ones I recommend) the pros and cons of the best hoops on the market.
Light hoops are expensive impossible to get by. It is a very specialized market, where each piece is made by hand. Since the best companies are located in the United States, shopping is often done online. If you are ordering from the USA, then expect to pay the exchange rate and customs fees (15% of the price paid in Canada) in addition to the cost of the hoop.
In the case of light-up hula-hoops, the phrase “get what you pay for” is especially true. Indeed, there are luminous hoops at $50-60, but I strongly advise against them. It is mainly for their poor quality and because of the non-existent customer service in case of problems. The price for a good hoop light starts at around USD 100. The LED colors will be fixed at this price, sometimes with a strobe effect. There are magnificent models, between 100 and 180 dollars, with several or a single color. However, it will not be possible to change patterns, colors or effects.
The price generally increases with the complexity of the LEDs and the possibilities of controlling their hoop patterns. Beyond USD 250, we enter the wonderful world of smart hula hoops. We speak of a smart hula hoop when there is a memory to program several patterns (sometimes over 3000!!), and each LED can change color independently. Today, in 2017, some hoops can be completely customizable, where we can choose and create our patterns, synchronize pattern changes with our favorite songs, choose the light intensity, etc. Some are even gravity and sound responsive! Of course, all this at a price.
Smart Hula Hoop: POLYPRO OR HDPE?
Polypro and HDPE are different if one decides to buy a day hoop or an evening hoop. The reason: the durability of the material depending on the temperature. Think about it: when are you going to want to get your light hoop out? In a room inside, or outside, at nightfall and even sometimes until the wee hours of the morning. Even July nights can be freezing in Quebec and drop to around 8-10ºC. We must, therefore, inevitably think about the resistance of our hoop to the cold.
Polypro is the darling of hula hoopers, but it has the disadvantage of cracking with temperature changes. At night, polypro becomes stiff and highly brittle, increasing the chances of breaking if you hover over your hoop. Companies know it: some void the hoop warranty when polypro is chosen as the material. On the other hand, HDPE is perhaps a little less reactive than polypro, but it is much more robust to temperature changes. And, to be honest, the difference in looks and feel is minimal. Polypro is great for indoor shows, but for festival-goers, choose HDPE.
BATTERIES, BALANCING, AND SPACE WITHOUT LED?
If you want to charge the LEDs, there are two batteries: built-in rechargeable batteries and interchangeable batteries. That is, one can be charged via a cable that you plug directly into the hula-hoop, and the other requires removing the battery from the hula-hoop to put in a new one. Built-in rechargeable batteries are often preferred for two main reasons:
-These batteries are often arranged so as not to create a counterweight, whereas, with the interchangeable batteries, there will necessarily be a part of the hoop which will be heavier than the rest. Some companies, therefore, offer to add weight to the hoop to rebalance it. Unfortunately, this often makes the hoop heavier and less pleasant to handle.
An interchangeable battery makes a space in the hoop with no LEDs. This hole is more or less visible (and aggressive), depending on the hoop.
However, the built-in batteries have a considerable drawback: the only solution is to wait for them to be recharged when the battery is empty. It is less practical when we have to wait several hours to have fun with our hoop, whereas there is no such problem with interchangeable batteries.
So what to choose? There are no right or wrong choices, and you have to know why you want a lighted hula-hoop. If it’s for shows, for numbers lasting less than an hour, hoops with integrated batteries are ideal. These hoops are balanced (so they will respond more faithfully to your movements), and most will have no gap without LEDs, ensuring optimum effect.
If you are more the type to take out your light hoop in musical events, parties, or music festivals, in my opinion, the idea is to choose the option of interchangeable batteries. It will ensure you have enough battery life to hula-hoop all evening without dependent on power outlets.
A light hoop will be heavier than your favorite daytime hoop: with all those lights, circuits, and wires, you can easily double the initial weight of the initial hula-hoop (as a guide, a daytime hoop is about 3 -6oz). The weight of the hoops varies a lot from one company to another. When your hoop is both cumbersome AND unbalanced, specific movements that you have mastered will then become impossible to do (I am thinking of hand spins, among others). To find out which hoops are the lightest, consult the table below.
LED density is the number of LEDs you will have in your hoop. The closer together the LEDs, the more there will be in your hoop, and the less it will appear to be pixelated. It allows more designs to be put in for smart hoops and increases the possibilities of methods to incorporate into your hoop. Generally, the higher the density, the more expensive the hoop. That said, some hoops, like those from Moodhoops, have beautiful designs despite not having the maximum density found in other companies.
Size should choose carefully. The first question to ask yourself: Has the size of your daytime hoops been stable for a long time, or do you think you will have to reduce the diameter of your hoop eventually? If you are still transitioning to smaller hoops, I would recommend purchasing a light hoop two inches smaller. Yes, it won’t be easy at first, but you may enjoy your hoop longer than buying too large a size and stagnating afterward. In addition, I also advise you to choose a company that provides diameter reductions.
The second question to ask yourself: do you want to do mainly on-body movements, out-of-body movements, isolations, or all simultaneously? This question may seem stupid but think about it: it will be impossible to change the size of your smart hula hoop, and at this price, it is better to know what you want to do with it. It only takes an inch too much or less, and you could be restricted in your movements. The most versatile sizes (in my opinion) are between 29 and 32 inches OD (outside diameter).
Do you have to think about all this to buy a luminous hula-hoop? In my opinion, yes, especially for a purchase that can easily exceed $600 Canadian! It is an investment, so you have to think about your primary needs, durability, use, and what you want to have like effects. There is no perfect hoop, but it is sure to suit your needs. Sometimes the most expensive is not the best.
THE BEST LIGHT smart hula HOOP COMPANIES (IN MY EXPERIENCE).
Over the years, I have had the chance to observe and try many hula-hoops available on the market, politely asking people. It allowed me to compare the different hoops, their weight, their functionality. So here is a small list of the best hoops so you can see the strengths and weak points of each of them (as well as their price):