At first glance, hooping looks like simple play. Guess what? It is! That does not mean it isn’t effective and beneficial for the body, however. It provides great opportunity for both static and dynamic hoop stretches.
When you think of the hoop as a playmate, you really are partnering up with unlimited possibilities for better health. You know I have spoken about the physical and mental benefits for years, and I will continue to do so. Always.
Right now I’d like you to take a look at the video in this post. While you may notice what FUN it looks like, step back and really pay attention. Everyone is really moving with their hoops and the parts of their bodies that are getting the most benefit.
You will notice everyone doing different things…but try to focus less on the hoop and look at body parts…arms, legs, hands, feet, back, hips, shoulders, neck and even the face. We are in constant motion, some higher intensity than others, but always moving, keeping the hoop touching us somehow. Maybe we are simply holding it. Perhaps it’s on our body spinning. We transition between the two gently and smoothly. We are even SMILING, which uses muscles in our face…that means we are feeling HAPPY…and there is nothing wrong with working on those happiness muscles, either!
Did we get there overnight? NO. Did it take practice? YES. Did it feel like work? Absolutely not at all! It felt like playtime. Even though it was not, still is not and may never be perfection, it is always progress…and each time we pick up our hoop, we are STILL moving, getting better with our moves, but also getting beautiful stretching and cardio all rolled up into one motion!
So that you’ll better understand the fitness side of hooping better, let’s get technical for a minute and step off the playground…
What ARE the stretches & when are they done?
Plenty of stretches, included in my full Warm Up & Stretch sequence, are actually done throughout your hoopdance anytime you are hooping. It’s what we do in the first part of a solid hoop practice. DYNAMIC stretches closely mimic movements made during hoopdance, so the Warm Up & Stretch sequence really PREPARES you to HOOP by moving and reviewing slowly what you are about to do. STATIC stretches are used to improve flexibility, plus help cool your body down after you hoop, and are therefore done when the body is standing still. We always get our body warm with movement before doing any stretches standing still. This prevents injury to the muscles. Once we have used parts of our body, the muscles can then be gently stretched mid-practice and as we cool down.
Perhaps one of the most beautifully beneficial things about hooping and hoopdance practice is that it actually IS one, big, happy DYNAMIC STRETCH! Think about it! When we hoop, we get to keep moving gently and repeatedly, doing the same motions, again and again. Those movements, over time, open up & lubricate joints, lengthen & tone muscles, increase range of motion and alleviate pain. Consider our Warm Up & Stretch sequence simply hoopdance, slowed down enough to prepare our body and mind for the exercise. If all you do at home is warm up & stretch, you are still making the hoop a part of your day, you will reap rewards over time, which will include becoming more flexible and relaxed.
Other healthy benefits!
Now that you understand more how dynamic and static stretches are a part of hoopdance, when you watch the video again, look at our movements and notice how we incorporate the hoop to add a little extra resistance to our body weight that is pushing or guiding the hoop. Those muscles we are using, from our heads to our toes, are all getting a workout. Depending on the intensity, hooping can be very high cardio or, when you need/want to slow it down, it’s still giving you great benefits on your joints in a very no-to-low impact way!
Another bonus? Switching between cardio intensities, creating short periods ranging from high to rest, is called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This type of exercise is what hooping is ALL about and a major reason why you can achieve weight loss goals with a hoop effectively.