By MARY HUHN
Last Updated: 8:04 AM, July 29, 2008
Posted: 2:39 AM, July 29, 2008
Baby boomers and younger generations may recall the toy first sold by Wham-O in 1958, which spawned a national craze. Fifty years later, it’s back. But today’s hoops, made for fun and fitness, aren’t just for children – and they’ll make you sweat.
On the virtual front, there’s Wii Fit’s Hula Hoop game.
You stand on the Wii Fit Balance Board ($90) and swivel your hips as fast as you can while the Wii console counts spins on the TV screen. You can work up a sweat in eight minutes of imaginary hooping, but any longer gets tedious – for the hooper, that is.
The game has set off a YouTube craze of hilarious videos featuring people hooping in their underwear. The trend was sparked by the wildly popular video titled “Why every guy should buy his girlfriend Wii Fit,” which features a woman shaking her butt as her boyfriend secretly videotapes her.
On the nonvirtual front, there’s the old standby: the Wham-O Hula Hoop ($4). Unlike riding a bike, you can forget how to use it, and it’s both fun and frustrating to try.
Then there’s the combo of Hoopnotica Hoopdance Workout DVDs ($20 each) and a Hoopnotic Travel Hoop.
Made for adults, the Hoopnotic Travel Hoop ($40) is heavier and larger than the Wham-O rings, making it easier to work out and dance with.
“That’s how you get a full-body workout,” says Rayna McInturf, 34, the Hoopnotica founder who based the DVDs on her Los Angeles hoop-dancing classes (hoopnotica.com).
“People loved hula hooping as kids, but they quickly figure out that ours is similar but totally different.”
Hoop dancing looks like belly dancing with a hoop that floats over the hips and waist and is swung over the head. Developed from the performance-art world, it has a little bit of that crunchy California feel to it.
Not to say that it isn’t a tough workout.
“It’s absolutely harder than I thought it would be,” says Meaghan Buchan, the fitness director of Self, who has taken McInturf’s LA Hoopnotica class. “It’s more than just swinging your hips. It’s a great cardio workout involving the hula hoop. It whittles your waist and works the abdominals.”
In the first half-hour of the DVD, I learned to spin the hoop on my waist, then hips, and walk back and forth and side to side and pivot, all while keeping the hoop rhythmically spinning.
I mastered the waist bit and the walking, but not the hip-spinning. I felt anything but graceful. I quit when it was time to spin the hoop over my head – there’s not enough space in my living room. The weight and size of the Hoopnotic Hoop makes it easier to use than the Wham-O, but different moves keep it challenging and fun.
To test your hooping skills, check out World Hoop Day (worldhoopday.com) on Aug. 8 at the north end of Central Park’s Sheep’s Meadow from 5 p.m. until dark for hoop contests, classes and the crowning of Mr. and Mrs. NYC Hoops. At 11 p.m., join the party at Spiegeltent (at South Street Seaport’s Pier 17) to see some star hoopers. (Go to groovehoops.com for info on both events.)