Monday, December 28, 2009

Hoop Sweat

When I first tried out hooping this summer, I immediately discarded it as an exercise form, thinking that it was not intense enough for my triathlon-training self. As the triathlon grew closer, however, and my body neared its peak for the race, I craved something more than the usual workout. Biking, swimming, running, weights -- I enjoyed them all, but my body cried out for more, for rest.

So I returned to the hoop, this time in earnest. I began to learn about tricks, about flow, and I watched a myriad of inspiring videos of other hoopers worldwide via the internet. Not only did I begin to fall in love with hooping, but I saw that it could work the body much more than I expected.

As I have learned more and grown as a hooper -- and now I do consider myself a hooper, where I did not this summer -- I have shared my journey here at Kitchen Courage as well as through Hoop City and my YouTube videos. The encouragement and feedback that I have received from you, my readers, has been an incredible gift. Thank you!

I have also read a number of questions about hooping, and one began to form in my own mind -- just how much of an exercise form is hooping? I've read claims that an hour of hooping can burn 600 calories, and I've heard from some hoopers that hooping is secondary to their workouts in terms of health and activity. But can it be both? Can you work up a sweat while hooping? I decided to find out.

I powered up my trusty Garmin, strapped on the heart rate monitoring strap, and took an initial reading. After warming up with some hooping and then letting my heart return to normal, my heart rate before beginning this test clocked in at 78 beats per minute (BPM). I then hooped for three to four minutes to Jay Sean's Down, featuring Lil Wayne. When the song finished, I checked the Garmin -- I had a heart rate of 156 BPM! You can watch the corresponding video to judge how intense my hoop dance was:

I then became curious as to how many calories I burned with that heart rate. Using the Triathlon Training Blog's calorie calculator, I learned that I burned 43 calories in three minutes of hooping. Of course, that is only if my average heart rate stayed at 156, and if that calculator is accurate. However, if I continued with that intensity of hooping for an hour, I calculated that I would burn as many as 800 calories in that time period. I came to that conclusion by multiplying my calories burned during three minutes (I rounded the total to 40) by the number of times I could hoop to Down in an hour (20 times).

40 calories per 3 minutes x 20 = 800 calories per 60 minutes

Is that accurate? Maybe. But for me the more important question is -- does it matter? Would I stop hooping if I only used 300 calories an hour, or less? My answer is a resounding no! I love hooping. The fact that its active is simply a bonus.

So is hooping exercise? My conclusion is that it can be. But it doesn't have to. I hoop because I enjoy the form of active expression, of moving my body to a rhythm, of finding a unique space of peace and joy and connection to myself inside the hoop. It grounds me, and it lifts me closer to God. It makes me feel lovely and graceful even when I'm flinging my hoop everywhere but where it's supposed to go. I love the process, I love the bruises, and I love the surging emotions that ribbon around me in time to the hoop's circling.

How can burning calories compare with all that?

1 comment:

  1. That is a great idea. I'm looking for new methods to exercise as my gym membership is expiring in Feb and I will not be extending it (tired of dirt in this place)... I have already exercise ball, but not hoolahoop :)Happy New Year,Margot


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