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Hula Hoop Customization Options: What it All Means

how to customize hoop
Author Jill Janosek’s personal hula hoop collection….and it is still growing!!

When you are new to the hooping world going though all the options while purchasing a hoop is a daunting process. There are so many different categories and styles that it can feel overwhelming. Most shops carry a handful of pre­made ready to ship hoops, but the majority of the time every purchase you make from a hoopsmith is custom made for you. So we here at ShelLED Hoops have put together a comprehensive list all of the options you have, what they all mean, and how they effect the product you are being sent. Once you have a good understanding of your choices, deciding how to custom order your own hoop is a much easier process!


Basic Hoop Construction Options

When it comes to basic hoop construction you have three main options to consider: the connector, which keeps the hoop in a circle by combining the ends of the tubing, the material of the hoop tubing itself, and hoop taping options.

Hoop Connectors

Outer Connection:­ This means that the part that holds one end of tubing with the other end of tubing is on the outside of the ends. This typically creates a “cuff” around the area.

Inner Connection: These are more typical than outer connections, and just means the part that is keeping the two ends together is on the inside of the tubing. There are two typical types of inner connections, friction fit and push button. A friction fit connector is a piece of tubing that is placed inside each end of the hoop to connect it; the piece on the inside of the hoop is so tight that the two ends of the hoop stay clamped onto the interior piece. When ordering a friction fit hoop you will often be sent with the connector only attached to one side. To connect the two ends together, you will take some sort of heat source such as a blow dryer or warm water to soften the ends and push the hoop together. A push button connection is when the interior tubing that holds both ends of the hoop together has a small piece of metal hardware attached to it consisting of a riveted end and a button end. The hoopsmith attaches the riveted end to one side of the inner connector piece, then drills a hole into the other end of the hoop tubing where the button end of the hardware fits. This allows for a seamless connection and makes it easier to take the hoop apart and put the hoop back together. When you receive a push button connector on your hoop you will simply take the end that has the small button and put it into the other side of the tubing, you will need to hold the button down until it is almost all the way into the tube, keep pushing until you see the button pop out of the hole on the other side of the connection.


Common Hula Hoop Material Choices

Polypropylene:­ Commonly refered to as “polypro”, this is a very common hoop material as it is very light and springy. It is commonly said to be a very “responsive material”.

HDPE:­ HDPE stands for High Density Polyethylene, and is also very common like Polypro. The weight of the material is similar to polypro but it is a harder plastic and is commonly referred to as a “reactive material”.

PolyCarb:­ Polycarbonate is the lightest of all materials, however it is a much more rare tubing choice. PolyCarb hoops tend to be translucent in color, and while they are extremely light they tend to be more brittle, thus making them more prone to cracks.

PE­: Simply standing for Polyethylene, this is what most “beginner” hoops are made out of. While it is a very common material for beginners it by no means is an inferior hoop, many advanced hoopers still prefer this material. It is the heaviest option which slows the hoops rotation and better allows you to learn with the hoop. This material is also very flexible so it allows for a little more give when hooping.


Size of Tubing

1⁄2 inch: This is the smallest size tubing you can purchase and is typically found in Polycarb hoops or sometimes Polypro.

5/8 inch: The thickness of these hoops are about the size of your pinky, they are still extremely light. You will find most 5/8 hoops are made from Polypro or HDPE

3⁄4 inch: This is the thickest of the typical hoop tubing and is about the size of your thumb. Most 3⁄4 hoops are made from PE, HDPE, or Polypro.


Hoop Tape and Grip Options

Color Morph: Color Morph tape creates an illusion effect of changing colors while the hoop moves.

Reflective: This tape is similar to what you see on road signs at night. It is bright and shinny, but only has that effect when there is a direct light source. The effects are best seen in a video taken with flash.

Specialty: This is a type of tape placed around the hoop that may be in limited quantity, or a color/pattern that is unique that a specific hoop shop.

Gaffer/Grip: This is typically seen as a line inside the hoop, spiraled around the hoop, or in a criss-cross pattern around the hoop. This tape helps the hoop stick to you and makes it easier to learn and progress with on body hooping.

Sanding: This creates extra grip on the hoop without the look and use of grip tape. It is common to have “inside line” which would be only the inside section of the hoop, or having the entire hoop sanded. While some shops list this as an option, this may also come standard on a hoop, or the shop may include a small piece of sandpaper with the hoop so you may sand the hoop to your own specifications.


Categories and Sub-­Categories of Hoops

The basic construction options are not the only thing you need to consider when purchasing a new hoop. You also need to know what style of hoop would best fit your needs!

Beginner Hoops: These hoops are made from PE material, with a friction fit connection, they have decorative and gaffer tape.

Day Hoop/ Practice Hoops/ Performance Hoop: They are made from any type of tubing, and are typically seen with a push button connector. If they are listed as “naked” or “bare” they have no tape and will often come with an option of sanding the hoop, otherwise you will be given an option to choose from the shops selection of decorative and graffer tapes.

Single Circuit LED: This is a type of hoop that has a string of lights inside the hoop. Sometimes it may be one color, or it could be multiple colors. Some have strobing lights while some may be static, just be sure to fully read the listing.

Two Circuit LED: These hoops are a little more rare and have a switch that you can switch between two different single circuit LEDs in one hoop.

Smart Hoop: Most commonly found in 3⁄4 HDPE, but there are some companies coming out with selections for 5/8 and Polypro. These are the most expensive hoops you can find and have 300+ patterns (more than one setting of colors in the hoop) and designs. These can range anywhere between $250-$500 depending on brand and customization.


How to Find a Hoop Shop That Will Fit Your Needs

The best way to find a shop to accommodate your needs is through referrals, if you have friends or family members who are involved in the hoop community ask what companies they trust and you will be pointed in the right direction.

Reputation: You will also want to be familiar with the shops general community reputation, for instance ShelLED Hoops is known for their amazing quality, fast shipping, and dedication to customer service.

Facebook:­ One of the best ways to find a shop to fit your needs is to search though the “Hula­ Hoop Shop Directory” group on facebook. You can search through posts from companies highlighting their shops specialty, or you could post what you are looking for and shops can comment with how they would be able to accommodate you. If you are unsure about a shop you may also want to check out the Infinite Circles group on facebook, in the files section of their page they have a list of companies who have had complaints in the past this list is posted under “Buyer Beware”

Websites­: When looking for a hoop many hoopsmiths have their own websites which will detail exactly what you are purchasing, be sure to not only read the product description but also the shops general policies and procedures. If the shop you are considering is listed on Etsy, reading through the reviews is a good idea to get a feel of previous customers satisfaction.

Shipping: When considering shipping while purchasing a hoop you will want to read further into the method of shipping, not just asking the question “is it being shipped through UPS, FEDEX, or USPS?”. Because hoops are handcrafted be sure you are also aware of the build time for a shop. Build times typically range anywhere between one week up to two months depending on the style of hoop and type of shop.


Keep in mind when ordering from any hoopsmith, they want you to be pleased with your purchase, they are handcrafting an item for you and hope you love your hoop just as much as they enjoyed making it for you. If you ever have any questions about an order reach out to the shop owner or a sponsored hooper and they would be MORE than happy to help you in any way possible! The hoop industry is constantly changing and evolving so don’t be surprised if you see more options for customization or construction in the future!



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Hula Hoop Sizing: Choosing the Right Size or the Next Size

By shelledhoops, Jul 30 2015 12:27AM

Hula hooping for beginners, choosing the right hula hoop size
Choosing the right hoop can set you up for success!

When I was a young girl the plastic hula hoops available were all basically the same size no matter which retail store you found them at. They were lightweight, and very easy to bend or kink…which is why they cost only a dollar or so. Nowadays hula hoops are available in so many different sizes, weights, and believe it or not even a couple unique shapes (I have totally seen someone hoop with square hoops). Those cheap hoops from the past were so light and hard to keep up since you had to move so fast to do so. Sure as a kid you could get it going, but not many adults or even teenagers could pick one of those up and keep it up.
When I started getting into the music festival scene and was inspired by some really awesome hoopers to go back to my childhood obsession, the first thing I did was go and purchase one of these cheap hoops like I was used to using as a little girl. I brought it home thinking that I would still totally have it…like riding a bike right? Well no, not really!! I was so disappointed, not only could my little sister do it but my mother could too! I struggled a lot with it the first day, got frustrated with it, and then finally got it good again. But it was difficult and not graceful at all. It was too light and too small compared to some of the hoops that I had been seeing at the festivals.
I shopped around online and found this website selling water weighted hula hoops for working out. I read that heavier hoops were easier so I decided to give that a try! Oh my gosh was this thing easy to keep up!! It was slightly awkward when you first started it because of the water gushing around the circle, but once you got it around once it was like you barely had to work for it at all! It was so mindless that you could literally sit in front of the television and watch your favorite program just peacefully hooping away. The downside….bruises!! The weight of it would make your belly and hips get some bruises in the beginning, but after a couple of times that wasn’t a problem anymore.

So yeah basically….if you would like to hoop but think you cannot do it, I can almost guarantee that you can! It’s just all about the right size hoop.
Bigger and heavier hoops are easier to keep up because they slow the rotation down, you do not have to move so fast to keep up with them. Beginner hoopers should start out with something nice and large….like a 36-40” hoop! Actually 38” seems to be a really conventional and popular size for beginner hoops. Day hoops of this type and size will generally be made with 3/4″ id PE tubing, the black tubing found in the plumbing section of hardware stores. It’s a great size/weight to learn on, but it’s also not overly heavy so you will still be able to learn basic tricks and dance moves with it. I learned quick with that the water weighted hoop that I bought that basically all you could do with it was waist hoop, it was too heavy to dance or do tricks with….so I moved down to a non weighted hoop like the ones I just mentioned. We sell beginner day hoops of this type in our shop! Or maybe you have your day hoop already and are ready to treat yourself to an LED hoop? Well if you like these larger and heavier hoops than you should get one of our 7/8” HDPE LED hoop. This is the size/weight that compares nicely with the hoops discussed above. I know the inner diameter and outer diameter terminology used to describe different tubing types (3/4″ i.d PE versus 7/8” o.d HDPE) can get confusing. If you would like to read more about i.d and o.d please refer to my other blog post discussing this….otherwise just take my word for it that you should go for our 7/8” LED tubing if you like your hoop on the larger size!
In the hula hooping world you will generally always move down in hoop size as you move up in skill level. The better you get, the faster you will want to hoop, and the lighter of a hoop you will want/need to get tricks down. If you are ready to make this transition the next hoop you will probably want to get in the middle of should be one made from the 1/2″ id PE tubing from the hardware stores…the thinnest stuff they offer for making taped day hoops with. You’re in luck…we sell these too! And if you would like your first/next LED hoop to compare nicely with this hoop than it would be the 3/4″ od HDPE tubing that you will want! (Again, id versus od gets people mixed up…sorry!!). At this level of hooping you could probably call yourself an intermediate….and 3/4″ HDPE tubing is so great for this level of hooping! It’s lighter, yet not too light…and it’s so darn durable!! The 3/4″od hoops are also great for beginners who know that can keep a hoop up just fine and want to learn more dance and trick moves. If you already can hoop, then you might quickly outgrow a 7/8” LED hoop, so might as well just start with one of these ones instead! These 3/4″ od hoops are most commonly ordered between like 30-36” id. The range in sizes again reflects back to skill level for the most part, and body size a bit too! If you are a taller or curvier hooper, you probably would want to stay in the higher end of this range for your hoop…whereas if you are a tiny little thing go smaller. Having a hoop that’s too big or too small for you will interfere with your flow. I’ve heard people say before that you shouldn’t let your hoop stand taller than your own belly button…so that might be a good rule of thumb if you want to pull out a tape measure and check that length! Otherwise just wing it based on a hunch, or based on how big your last hoop was and how much smaller you might want this one to be. Although we see this type of hoop ordered in the whole range of sizes, the 36” id is probably the most popular size ordered for them, which is why we set that as our ‘generic’ size when people do not customize a size on their LED hoop purchase.
Now you’ve been hooping your little heart out for quite some time now and you are ready to step it up a bit, so you should once again step it down in size. Perhaps you are ready to give this polypro tubing you hear everyone talk about a try. Whether you decide on polypro tubing or stick with the more durable HDPE tubing, you will probably find yourself wanting a good couple inches smaller hoop diameter. Maybe you want to stick with 3/4″ tubing and just go to that lower end of the size range (so maybe like 30-32”), or maybe you would like to try the 5/8” tubing now. For 5/8” hoops, we highly discourage making them any larger than 32” id. The tubing is so thin that at larger sizes the hoops seem a little ‘wonky’….like flimsy. These hoops are most popular between like 27-30” id, so if you think you are ready to give them a try I would stick within that range! Once you work your way down to hooping with a tiny hoop like this, you have probably reached a size you won’t grow out of. I love my 28” id 5/8” polypro hoop….and I am quite positive that I will use that size forever now.

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Hula Hoop Sizing: Inner Diameter vs Outer Diameter

By shelledhoops, Jul 30 2015 12:07AM


Inner diameter vs outer diameter, hula hoop sizing, getting started hula hooping
ID vs OD Diagram

Whether you are a first time buyer or have several hoops already, the language of hoop sizes can get confusing. More specifically the concept of inner versus outer diameters can rattle your brain a bit when trying to choose the right size, or making sure you ordered the size you intended to. These terms are used in describing the tubing itself, so how thick it is, and of course the diameter of the actual hoop.

When it comes to the tubing itself, the HDPE and polypro tubing used for LED hoops (or the colored tubing used for day hoops) is categorize by the tubes outer diameter. So the 3/4” tubing measures three quarters of an inch across from each outside rim…. the measurement takes into account the wall thickness of the tube. The inner diameter of that same tubing measures 5/8” which is why the 5/8” od tubing is used as the insert tubing for connecting 3/4” hoops.

So that may be pretty straightforward, but what can be confusing is when you are used to the day hoops made from the black PE tubing at hardware stores. This tubing is categorized by inner diameter, so the 3/4” id tubing at the hardware store is actually quite different in size and weight from the 3/4” od tubing that say your first LED hoop might come in. If you are used to that 3/4” black PE tubing and would like to order an LED hoop that compares nicely to that tubing than it is actually the 7/8” HDPE tubing that you should order. Some people also get confused by this because they know that they like the thinnest day hoop tubing from the hardware store, which is the 1/2” id tubing, so they think that they should order the thinnest LED hoop tubing we offer, which is the 5/8” tubing. Again, these two do not compare well…the 1/2″ id black PE tubing actually compares nicely to the 3/4″ od HDPE tubing. The 5/8” tubing is thinner and lighter. So if you are going to order your LED hoop with intentions of it being similar to your favorite daytime taped PE hoop than this should help you know which tubing is most appropriate for you to choose.

More commonly the inner and outer diameter terminology is used to describe the size of the hoop itself. Inner diameter (id) is measured from one inside edge of the hoop straight across to the other inside edge. Therefore, the inner diameter measurement does not take into account the thickness of the tubing. Outer diameter (od) is measured from one outside edge of the hoop across to the other outside edge, therefore taking account of tubing thickness in the measurement. The thicker the tubing, the more different the inner diameter is from the outer diameter. So with 3/4″ tubing, for example a 35” id hoop would have a 36.5” od measurement. And for a 32” id hoop, the od would be 33.5”. So the difference between inner and outer diameter for the 3/4″ tubing is 1.5” (since ¾” + ¾” = 6/4 = 1.5). Basically whatever the tubing thickness is, if you double it then that is what the difference between the id and od of the hoop would be. Going off of this then, for the 5/8” tubing the difference between the inner diameter and outer diameter of a hoop is 1.25”. Therefore a 28” id hoop has an od of 29.25”. Or a 28” od hoop has an id of 26.75”. We are always happy to do conversions in either direction for customers, but it is nice knowing how these measurements and conversions work.

So what’s more commonly used, the inner diameter or outer diameter? In our experience inner diameter has always been more popular but we really have been seeing a lot of each lately when given size preferences for hoops. I think the reasoning behind inner diameter being more common is that the inner diameter of the hoop is the part that actually comes in contact with the body while hooping. More often than not we are still given inner diameters on orders, but the outer diameter specs have been getting more popular…especially on the small 5/8” hoop orders it seems. Perhaps the rise of so much off body style hooping has shifted the way people measure their hoops! Or maybe not, but it’s logical thought!

I hope you found this explanation of inner and outer diameters useful for better understanding how hula hoops and the tubing used to make them is measured! If you are still confused please feel free to contact me. Otherwise go ahead and start shopping for some new hoops!