Lately, I have been inundated with ads on social media for those brightly-colored, weighted hula hoops that are attached around your waist. Maybe you've seen a barrage of them, too? With such a barrage of influencer content, I finally broke down and tried one.
For transparency's sake, let me clarify: While the actual Infinity Hoop and others like it can cost around $35 and up, I decided to try a cheaper version. More on that in a bit.
What Is a Weighted Hula Hoop?
These hoops, instead of rotating, serve as a track for a small, surprisingly heavy weight to go around and around as you try to wiggle in such a way as to keep the whole somewhat-embarrassing process in motion. The Infinity Loop website notes that hooping for 30 minutes will burn the same number of calories that you'd get with a 2-mile run, swinging away "calories and inches."
These TikTok popular items have many, many names: Infinity Hoop, Activa Non-Falling Hula Hoop, Weighted Fit Loop, Weight Hoop ... you get the idea.
I wasn't in a rush to buy one, as most looked made from cheap plastic and were priced for more than I wanted to spend. But, after my youngest kid saw one, I realized resistance was futile. She loves hula hooping, and it was something she and I both could use to get some exercise. OK, fine. Sold.
@daveauxruth Join me LIVE throughout the week so we can hoop and hang out together!! #infinityhoop #hoolahoop #weightedhoop #hoop #hoopfit #hoopfitness #hoolahoopchallenge #weightedhulahoop #hulahoop #hulahoopchallenge #hulahoopchallenge #hulahoopfitness #hulahooper #hopping #fit #fitness #amazon #amazonfind #amazonfinds #deals #amazondeals ♬ Hips Don't Lie (feat. Wyclef Jean) - Shakira
Before I looked for the hula hoop in earnest, I found out what it was being sold for via social media influencers. One TikTok vendor was asking $70 (at 30% off!), while another was asking $17 ("just for today!"). Uh-huh. Those, as well as suspiciously cheap ones, were a pass.
The best prices were on Amazon and AliExpress — and Amazon shipped for free in a day or two with Prime. The JKSHMYT weighted exercise hoop was just $12 plus tax, which I could live with, even if I suspected it was a cheap piece of plastic junk.
I was surprised that what arrived was... not bad. Even though there are newer models with notable improvements (more on that later), this weighted hula hoop did everything that was expected. Although one TikToker had already warned against knockoffs of the original Infinity Hoop, saying they'd break, weren't as flexible, and didn't have "massaging" pads against your waist, I didn't care. If my kid (or I) used it every day, maybe we would want to upgrade at some point, but a starter hoop at a starter price was fine.
Does the Infinity Hoop Work? The Scientific Evidence
There are not a ton of studies that have focused on the effects of a weighted hoop. One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research had women using the hoop for regular workouts over six weeks. The study sought to test the exercise "for its efficacy on improving core muscular endurance and influence on measures of body composition." Participants saw an average waist circumference reduction of 3.4 cm and lost half a kilogram (just over 1 pound). However, "there were no improvements in torso muscular endurance as measured by isometric testing."
Another study saw similar results and noted an additional positive health outcome: Participants saw "significantly decreased LDL cholesterol."
I think you'd get the best answer to the question of "does weighted hooping work?" by answering with another question: "For what?" In other words, if you're trying to be more active in general, improve your mental health or heart health, or add active time to what would otherwise be sedentary time — e.g. watching TV — then yes, the Infinity Hoop and others like it can work.
Do Weighted Hula Hoops Work? My Experience
I've used it for a few days, as has my kid, and the verdict is that we both honestly think it's pretty fun. While most people on TikTok are more focused on removing links (as you lose weight, you need a smaller hoop), I'm just enjoying the hula-hooping movement. It is a workout, but if you are focused elsewhere (TV, music), time goes by quickly and you may not even notice if you break out in a sweat.
Making the hoop work takes some trial and error, and you should get used to that stupid weight banging against your legs a few times. But you just have to grab the weight and try another spin, which is easier than with a non-weighted hula hoop.
If you can get over looking more than a little ridiculous with a plastic ring around your waist, it's worth it. Is it worth $70? No, but it's worth trying. Just resist the urge to impulse-buy from social media if you do try it.
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How to Use a Weighted Hula Hoop
So, how's the hoop? If you're still interested in buying and trying one, there are some things to keep in mind.
Don't wear a loose shirt. While you'll probably want to wear something unless you don't mind the tabs twisting on your bare skin (not recommended), a shirt can bunch up if it's not tucked in. So tuck (or wear a more form-fitting shirt).
Some models are noisy. Really noisy. Newer models have solved the extremely loud sound of the weight rotating in the track. If you opt for an older model, be prepared. If you work out to music or by watching a TV show, you'll have to turn up the volume. If you live in an apartment, apologize to the neighbors in advance.
Make sure you have a lot of space. You're spinning two pounds of sand hidden in a hard plastic ball around your waist. Step away from anything fragile.
You can change the weight. See that seam in the middle of the weight? Just unscrew it and you'll find a bag of sand inside. Adjust as needed to make the exercise easier or harder. Some hoops also have ways to adjust the length of the string hanging from the weight — if yours doesn't, you can tie knots.
Find something to do with your hands. As with a real hula hoop, you have to raise your arms above your waist. As previously noted, this exercise targets the mid-section ... and not much else. Some people hold light weights in each hand or raise their arms over their head. Improvise to find out what works best for you.
Speaking of that weight ... slow down gradually. Don't forget you have a weight spinning around at high speeds, so slowing down instead of stopping suddenly is recommended. Also, don't lower your arms while that weight is still zipping around.
Embrace looking silly. If you're wondering why there's no photo of me or my kid doing this, we are destroying the evidence. Until you master the art of weighted hooping, you might look a little goofy while doing it. Just run — err, hoop — with it.