|Just a few of the beautiful colours of polypro|
[Warning: hoop geekery ahead.]
The hoop was unlike any I had seen before.
It was white and didn’t have any of the fancy tape my other hoops had. And it was incredibly light, like hooping with a cloud. It was a polypro hoop – my very first – and it arrived on my back doorstep in May last year, while I was recovering from having my wisdom teeth out.
Spend any time in the hoop community and you will hear the word “polypro” come up sooner or later. No, we’re not talking about polypropylene thermals but about hoops made of polypropylene.
Standard adult hoops [those big, heavy ones] are usually made from some form of polyethylene [PE] – I use medium density polyethylene to make my standard hoops. I’ve heard that using white polypropylene tubing to construct hula hoops was pioneered by a famous hooper named Rich Porter and it hasn’t been around long, perhaps about four years.
The big difference you will notice with polypro is how light it is, and for that reason it’s not for every hooper. Although I know some hoop teachers who recommend their beginning students use polypro hoops, I personally think most beginners should start off with a standard hoop. That’s because beginners need some weight and size to get that hoop swinging around their waist. Some of my students have taken to polypro hoops quickly and easily; others are unlikely to ever use it.
I bought my first polypro hoop when I’d been hooping for three months. I had three PE hoops by then, and I was getting frustrated by the heaviness. I wanted something light, something I could throw! Polypro hoops really seem to float around your body, they’re super responsive to your movements, and they move much faster than PE hoops. They take some getting used to for core or on-the-body hooping, but they’re the best for throws, pops, breaks and other non-core moves.
Polypros are usually, although not always, used “naked” – without tape – and can be sanded to add grip. The great thing about untaped hoops is that you don’t have to worry about scuffing or damaging them. And nowadays polypro hoops come in a dazzling array of colours, so you can get your colour fix without needing to add tape. My current favourites include two yellow ones, a sea-green one, and even a gold one!
I still use my very first, 96cm polypro sometimes, although for regular hooping I quickly downsized to a 92cm hoop. And 92cm has been my polypro size for more than a year now.
But recently that size has started to feel just a little heavy and unwieldy. So over the weekend – after several months of experimenting – I finally decided to downsize to an 89cm hoop. A 3cm cut off the diameter of the hoop doesn’t sound much but already it’s changed the way I hoop. Everything is faster. Some moves flow more freely now; others require a bit more effort. But I’m happy I made the change. It feels good.