Hoop Your Way to Weight Loss: Top 5 Tips from a Hoop Workout Expert

Hooping expert Betty "Hoops" Shurin shares her best advice on how to get serious fitness results and have serious fun with hoop workouts for grownups.

“So many people say they feel like a kid again when they try my hoop workout,” says hooping expert Betty “Hoops” Shurin. But the hula hoop isn’t just a toy anymore.

Shurin’s Dance Hoop Workout is a serious fat-burning routine designed to do at home with the included 40-minute workout DVD.

Noticeably heavier than toy 'hula hoops,' the strategically weighted hoop she designed — based partly on what she’s learned in her 10 years as a hoop instructor at clubs including Bally’s and Curves — is easier to keep around your waist (vs. your ankles) than a kid’s plastic hoop.

Yet because a hoop workout requires constant push-pull contractions in your core muscles (abs plus obliques, at the sides of your waist) as well as in the glutes and thighs, the added resistance created by a somewhat heavier hoop has a remarkable way of sculpting and reshaping in all the right places.

“It also burns 100 calories every 10 minutes,” Shurin points out. “That’s as much as running on a treadmill — and a lot more fun.” And it’s low-impact, so it won’t put a lot of stress on your joints.

So what does Shurin mean by “Dance Hoop”? It starts with fluid, artful-looking moves, many inspired by Iyengar yoga, Kundalini yoga, and t’ai chi techniques. So you’ll look and feel amazing while you’re getting a great workout.

Shurin also drew on her experience as an avid rock climber, kayaker, runner (she earned a Guinness World Record hoop/running the Bolder Boulder 10K) and snowboarder (in the ESPN Winter X Games she hoop/boarded down the slopes in Aspen). She infuses techniques from sports training, yoga and body mechanics into her program, making it great cross-training whether you’re an athlete or just want to do better in your core activities.

All this takes hooping beyond a "craze" and into the territory of a serious exercise method — right up there with Pilates, Spinning or Tae Bo®. Major fitness-center chains around the world have begun to offer regularly scheduled hooping classes, and the new take on hooping has been covered by media including the L.A. Times, “The View,” Vogue, Spin, Rolling Stone and MSNBC.

“Ninety percent of my clients use Betty’s hoop for cardio and muscle tone,” says Patti Natafalusy, owner of Go Figure fitness club in Lake Harmony, Penn. “One of my clients lost two inches off her waist in two months, just from hooping. Another who is 63 hoops every time she comes in for at least 30 minutes. Hooping with these adult-sized hoops is a really great workout.”

To help you get into a hoop workout at home, we asked Shurin to share her top five hula hooping workout tips. Here’s her advice:

1.    Stabilize your torso and legs, and mobilize your midsection. Only use your abdominal muscles and hips to keep the hoop spinning.

2.    Scoop your belly in and lift your ribcage. Extend from the center of your body out. The better your posture, the easier it will be to hoop.

3.    Hold the hoop parallel to the floor as you start the spin, and give it some good momentum so it doesn’t start out wobbly.

4.    If your hoop starts to fall, lengthen your spine, push forward and back, and move faster. Imagine yourself as the axis of the orbit, not the orbit itself. If you try to move with the hoop (rotating your hips in a circle) the hoop will lose momentum and fall. Move side to side with your waist and hips or back to front with your belly. Feel the centrifugal force, but don’t try to be the circle; let the circle move around you.

5.    Stick with it. "The longer you hoop, the more your body gets used to the movements," Shurin points out, "and the more skill and confidence you'll have with your hoop." And that will make your workouts even more effective and more fun.

“The hoop is your dance partner,” adds Shurin. “You are creating new muscle as you allow the hoop to move around you and allow yourself to be moved by it.”  

Above all, she says, her Dance Hoop Workout emphasizes appreciating your body as-is. “It goes beyond just wanting to change your physique.” Shurin says. “The goal is not only better fitness, but also improving the connection between your mind and body. These are movements proven to reduce stress, relieve chronic pain ... but most important, this will give you a sense of peace and radiance.”


The Dance Hoop Workout includes Shurin's workout DVD and an innovative, surprisingly sturdy foam-covered hoop made in six interlocking segments, so it’s easy to take along in the car, pack in your luggage or tote to the gym.

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