POLYPRO HOOPS! They’re the craze in the hooping world right now. Just like countless other fads in our day and age, this one has had a few [inaccurate] myths stick to it over the past few years. Unfortunately, sometimes extreme popularity comes hand in hand with extreme misconception…so let’s set the record straight!Polypropylene tubing a.k.a. “polypro” is an industrial grade plastic tubing which is flexible, yet more rigid than polyethylene. It also holds up well under heat and in the sun, whereas polyethylene becomes soft and pliable at a much lower temperature. Prior to its rise in popularity within the hoop world, polypropylene tubing was primarily used in industrial applications, and was only available in basic natural colors. Since its rebirth as the polypro hoop, it has now become available in all sorts of colors and finishes. The diameters most commonly used for hoops are 3/4″, 5/8″, and occasionally 1/2″ for minis. NOW…let’s start busting some myths that have surrounded polypros since their conception in the hula hoop community!
MYTH #4: Lighter hoops are better.
Polypro tubing is praised for its featherlight weight. It’s important to remember though, lighter hoops are only better for certain hoop dance styles! Examples may include off body, reversal-oriented, high speed, doubles, or acro hooping. BUT there are plenty of techniques that are better served with a bit more hoop weight including: on body mono tricks (shoulder hooping anyone?), on body multiples, partner hooping (ever seen Rayna and Anah hoop together in a polypro? 😉 ), slow tempo music, more accentuated hoop tricks (on or off), dramatic or theatrical style hooping…the list goes on. Think about Brecken and Tiana. Tiana has a very quick off body-oriented style that is ideal for very small, light hoops. Brecken likes to roll around on the floor a lot. You don’t see her doing that with tiny polypros. She likes to have a bit of weight to throw around the hoop’s contact point while she’s rolling across the stage, hooping on…everything!
MYTH #3: Polypros are for FAST hoopers.
This is one of the largest misconceptions about hooping with polypros. People often confuse the fact that they can be used for fast hooping, with they should be used for fast hooping. Yes, small diameter polypros are pretty fast. You can’t really avoid speed with those babies. However, larger diameter polypros (e.g. 34″-40″) can have a slower, softer, more graceful flow to them, and therefore can create a style all their own. Remember…the faster you hoop, the less technique we see as the audience. (Especially when the audience isn’t hoopers!)
MYTH #2: Polypros should be small.
You’ll notice a lot of YouTube hoopers these days throwing around small diameter (28″-31″ ish) polypros at the speed of lightning. While it is unarguably impressive, it is not the only thing you can do with a polypro! This tubing is more rigid and durable than polyethylene, therefore it actually makes for a sturdier large-diameter hoop. Try cutting (or ordering) a nice 37″ polypro (in 3/4″ or 5/8″) and give it a spin. You will find a slower cloud-like flow with this graceful hoop and be able to flaunt some seriously beautiful on body tricks.
MYTH #1: Polypros are for the pros!
This is the biggest, silliest myth out there that DOES have shades of truth beneath the misconceptions. The reason this myth is so hard to squash is because pros do use polypros. In fact, most professional hoop dancers are dancing with polypros these days (among other things), as opposed to the classic polyethylene hoops. THIS is where the misconception comes in. Polypro hoops are light, rigid, bouncy, and responsive, which complements a fast and fluid style of hula hooping. Often times, professional dancers are fast and fluid with their hoops, and therefore gravitate towards instruments that possess these characteristics. That being said, it is not the only way to use these hoops. Polypros compliment
Dancer: Tarapin of Hoop Roots
other styles of hooping too! For instance, someone who likes to work with multiple hoops (regardless of their skill level) might really enjoy their light weight and rigid form. Similarly, a hooper who can’t get enough of isolations or reversals could also reap the benefits of a light, responsive polypro hoop. However, as an instructor and a hoop-maker, I do not recommend them for all of my students. Sometimes I find that they make a great beginners hoop for children due to their smaller frame. They can also be great off body hoops for adult beginners, and often lead to less painful injuries in the beginning, especially when starting out with twin hoops. But when it comes to on body hooping, I do not usually encourage adults to use them in the beginning. The reason is that they just go too fast to be able to break down and learn complicated on body sequences. I find that it is better to first learn them with a heavier hoop than progress lighter with your skill level. Remember this is for on body hooping specifically. Which I believe is the reason polypros get stamped with the PRO label a little too often. But honestly, it all comes down to your style of hooping. Ask yourself: what is your style, and what hoop fits it best?
We are so lucky to have so many options for hoop material these days!
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