Random Bits of Projects

December 12, 2009

Making a Hula Hoop and Connector

I recently came across an extremely fun way to get a full body work out (very much needed). I get bored easy with “traditional” exercising so I needed something fun to do and to learn at the same time to keep my mind busy. I also need something that does not cost me much money. Hooping! It is often referred to hoop dancing and is starting to become popular in many countries for both men and women (and it can have you doing some sexy moves regardless of your body shape). All ages can do this. There is a great video showing and adorable white-haired lady hooping at hooping.org to prove it.
This is not the hula hooping you may have done as a kid. More on this later in another post. Here, I want to show you how to make your own hoop.

You can buy some fantastic hoops online and I will share a few links  near the end of this post along with a coupon I found. But when you first start learning, you will be rough on your hoop. Building your own can be much less expensive in the long run and you can also experiment with different diameters to suite you. You may also feel less protective of this hoop, allowing you to relax and just have fun trying to learn.

There are several kinds of materials you can use (see hooping.org link below), here I used coiled PVC. It was all I could find in my area though it might be a little more difficult to use. Once you find the materials, making the hoop is easy. It is the connector that can cause some problems. It has to fit and not leave a flat spot in the hoop. Though, you can use a hoop that has a flat spot, it looks funny and may goof up a few moves.

Materials:

  • Coiled PVC (see picture above). 160 psi rating (so it is not flimsy). I used 3/4 inch diameter. I have seen it in red and white at Home Depot. I bought the white. No reason. I covered it with tape later so I did not worry about the color. You can buy a large or short coils.  The large is around 100 feet long but you can make many future hoops from it or share/sell with friends and it is cheapest in the long run. So far I have cut 4 hoops and I still have enough left for a few more. The shorter (15 feet?) will cost less up front but you only have enough for one hoop. Once you add the cost of  taping  it, you might as well order a pre-made hoop for a little more.
  • A Method of cutting the PVC -I used a pipe cutter. There are also PVC cutters. Both are inexpensive. I found the pipe cutter to have a cleaner cut.
  • A method to cut PVC length-wise under the curve. Here we used a Dremmel with cutting disks attached.
  • Marker that can mark plastic.
  • Pliers
  • Flat head screwdriver (optional)
  • Pretty tape. I used colored duct tape (from a craft store). It is less expensive and strong. It will get scratched up while you learn but you can upgrade to prettier tape later. If you are not concerned with decorating your hoop right now, you will want a little bit of duct tape to hold the ends together.

Remember, I am new at this but I thought I would share a method that worked for me with the limited materials I could find. There are easier ways and that is why I suggest also looking further to pick a method that will work for you. This hoop is very solid and has survived a serious beating with my first lessons so you might find it worth it. In other words, this is not the only way to do this, this goes for all of my posts. I feel very enthusiastic about hooping and I just want to share what little I can so far.

As usual some of my pictures (below) tend to float around the page for some reason and mess up my paragraphs. I am working on it. Not sure if this is a Facebook issue or something I am doing wrong. I barely have time to post right now so I am going with it anyway.

The Hoop

Sizing:

Warning! Each end of a the coil of PVC will often have straightened out some. You will probably want to cut off about 6 inches or more from each end to avoid having a flat spot in your hoop. After removing the end, then start measuring for your hoop.

Measuring:

First of all you need to get the right size hoop. The size you used as a kid will not work.  For a beginner or someone who is on the heavy side, bigger is better than smaller. It will look huge at first. That is normal. Keep in mind when building the hoop, you can still pull it apart before you tape it and resize it if it is too big. Start big and go smaller if you need to. You cannot go from small to large.  Many people start with a diameter of around 42 inches. Another way to measure is leaning the potential hoop against you while resting it on the floor (you will have to hold the coil together). The top edge should land between your naval and chest. If you are very heavy, you may want to add more. Yes, you can hoop without a waste. ;)

Have someone hold the coil of PVC open to the diameter you want, either measure across or hold it up against you, and make a mark with a marker where you wish to cut.

Cutting:

I used a pipe cutter (left) because that is what I had. You put it where you want to cut and spin the cutter around the pipe. With each rotation, tighten it a little bit.

Do not rush it, if you over tighten each time you go around, the cut will not be as nice. Practice on the bad end of your coil first. You can also use a PVC cutter or a saw.

The Connector

The connector is a little bit more work to make but not so bad if you have a good method of cutting it lengthwise.

I have tried several pre-made objects to hold the hoop together but I always ended up with a flat spot. This was our solution. You may come up with something else. There is no “right” way as long as the ends are held  together to your satisfaction. I do suggest not having much of anything bulging out, such as from a wrap-around connector, unless it is soft. You are going to feel bruised enough when you first start with a smooth surface rolling all over your body. If something is sticking out slightly, you will know it.

We chose this method because the connector has the same curve as the hoop and it fit snug.

Cutting:

On PVC you are not using for your hoop, cut off about 4 inches. This does not have to be exact. A little shorter is easier, longer more secure. You can always cut more off if it is too long. The piece shown in these pictures is too long. We cut it down later. This was our third hoop and we were experimenting with different connector lengths.

Next, you will need to mark off about a finger-width section, length wise, under the curve or arch of this piece. You will remove this bit from the center of the curve. The lines can be rough. They are just a guide and this will all be hidden later.

Now use the method you have chosen to cut out this piece. If you use the Dremmel, cutting disks work well. Wear eye protection and a mask. Bits will fly up at you and you can breath in fine particles. Do not press down to hard. Just lightly go over the line several times. The plastic will melt if you press too much and you also risk breaking the disk in the groove. Neither is bad but it is better to avoid it. You can cut most of the way through and then just pry up the rest with a flat head screwdriver.

A flat head screw driver might help pull that last bit out so you do not have to saw all the way through.

Here the piece has been removed.

You might want to experiment with other, lighter material for the connector, should you have it, if you have trouble cutting the strip out.

Preparing:

Now one edge needs to be curled under the other edge to decrease the diameter of the connector. No need to be fancy with any of this since the connector will be hidden. You just need it to fit snugly inside of your hoop.

Take your pliers and crunch down the one edge. You will just work your way on down. Keep doing this continue  to work the first edge under the second edge. Long handles on your pliers may give you better leverage to do this but it is not needed.

When done, your connector will be curled in on itself and narrower.

Inserting:

Now it is time to stuff the connector into the hoop. The tighter you wound the connector, the easier this will be.

First, mark the center (you do not need to be exact) of the  connector so you know when you have inserted the connector far enough into one end of your hoop. Again, the piece we cut for the connector in these pictures was too long. We cut it down later.

While inserting the connector, use the pliers throughout. Do not be afraid to crunch it more narrow as you go. The pliers will give you a good grip and you can rock and twist back and forth as you go. Do try to keep the curve in line with the hoop as much as possible. My husband found it helped to press his thumb against the pliers to help force in the connector.

When you hit the half way mark, stop. Now wiggle and twist the other side of the hoop onto the other end of the connector. Again, use the pliers to crunch the connector narrow as needed. If you need to shorted the connector the pipe cutter, etc an do the job even if the connector is curled up the way it is. We had to on this one.

The two ends of the hoop should now be flush and hopefully no obvious flat spot. You may notice a little wiggle room or gap on one side but that will be fixed with the tape. You are now mostly done! Whew!

Finishing the Hoop

If you do not decorate your hoop, you will want to at least secure the ends together with some duct tape. Tape the ends tight together and wrap a little more around that. This might be what you want to do at first if this is your first time hooping. You can play with the hoop awhile and see if this is the size you like. Be sure to give it some time before deciding unless you have plenty of PVC to make more hoops. If you feel you want a smaller hoop, peel off the tape, pull the ends apart, and cut some off of one end and put it all back together. You have to work harder with smaller hoops, this is why bigger is often better to start  (yes, you can get too big). In the picture, my husband found it was easier to wrap the hoop if he held it with his toes. :)  He made his black with some red stripes. Yep, he hoops too!

If you decorate the hoop, I still recommend some securing tape at the connector. I covered the entire hoop in a one base color and then added contrasting colors on top. It is all up to you. You can do spirals, stripes, dots, etc! I do not recommend tassels or anything else hanging off of the hoop. They snag in your hands.

Soon, I will post a short blurb about hooping itself and my newbie experience with it. :)  See below for additional links on making/buying hoops of various types  and to learn more about hoop dancing. The list is not long because I am just getting into this and I am still finding new sites to look at.

Additional links:

Here are some links I found useful or interesting. Unless I state otherwise, I do not personally know  the quality of any products listed at these sites.

Shopping:

http://www.hoopnotica.com Hoopnotica. They have DVDs, hoops, and other fun stuff. This one I found a coupon code for $5 off your order. It is AA0902. I do not think it expires. Let me know if it does, please, so I can remove this. So far I have ordered a DVD from them as recommened by a friend. I cannot tell you what I think yet because I am too new to be fair. I bought level 2 instead of level 1 since I had someone to show me the early moves. But they were fast with shipping and looking through the DVD, it seems to actually show you how to troubleshoot as well as how to do the moves so I do like that so far. Plus there is a work out routine you can follow.

http://superhooper.org Super Hooper. This site has hoops, supplies, tips, and listings on where to go for free classes. They will travel to various places and hold free classes if someone will host them. I was fortunate to recently attend a beginner’s class when they came through my area. It was a lot of fun. Lara, the lady who taught us, was very nice and a lot of fun. I learned much more than expected and never felt put down for being new. So do check that out. And no, no one wore funny outfits. ;)  Also, if you attend a class, you get free shipping on an LED hoop. Also, the classes included more advanced hooping, LED, and fire as well.

I also was able to look at and play with their LED hoops and I found them to be very well made. I hope to treat myself to one later on.

General:

http://www.hooping.org This site has a little of everything, including making hoops of various types. There are tips, videos, links, and much more. It takes a little digging in a few places but it is usually worth it. I refer to this site before any.

http://www.squidoo.com/hulahooping Make a hoop.  Here is  a site that shows another way to make a fast hoop with the more popular materials if you can find them in your area.

http://www.myspace.com/mariethomas108 This is a link to Marie. She is organizing a hooping club or class in the Destin/Fort Walton Beach Florida area. As of December, 2009 it is still in the rough and not yet organized. But if you are interested, contact her. She is nice. Tell her Amy sent you. ;)

Online Videos:

On Youtube, search out Hooping basics. They have a series on there I like very much because they will show you how to do each move as well as what  it is. Unfortunately it is not easy to know what order they should go in but you do have a general idea of the level of difficulty.

I hope to continue adding to these links.

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8 Comments »

  1. This is a very over-complicated method of making a hoop. Using white or red Pex tubing (as article does) is harder than using PVC black irrigation tubing.

    Comment by anonymous — December 15, 2009 @ 9:35 am | Reply

    • I agree, anonymous, that this is a complicated method. This is why I also posted (and will continue to post) links at the end for people to do further research, namely hooping.org where they have several sources. I never stated this was THE method to do this. The materials listed in this post was all I could get so I thought I would share how I did it for anyone looking for a different method with what they could find. Upon reading several posts at different sites, this was a common complaint, not being able to find the materials you mentioned without having to buy online. Granted the Dremmel is limiting in this one but perhaps it will spark an idea for an alternate method for someone who reads this. I seem to find it is the connector that causes problems for people as well. This hoop is very solid compared to some other home made hoops I have tried so I thought maybe it was worth sharing. After one is made, it is very easy and quick to make any others.

      Comment by virtuallyamy — December 15, 2009 @ 11:00 am | Reply

  2. I’m going to try making my next hoop with the pvc piping connector method you described. It seems pretty straightforward to do.

    Comment by T.W. — December 22, 2009 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

    • Great! Let me know how it goes. Just need to grunt a few times getting it in. ha! But it does hold well.

      Comment by virtuallyamy — December 22, 2009 @ 8:08 pm | Reply

  3. I like this connector method, because the cupplings that you use to connect the pvc pipe, makes a flat spot in the hoop and I hate that. I am going to try this the next time I make a hoop, as I have this pex pipe that you talk about. Thanks for all the info!!

    Comment by Judy — July 2, 2010 @ 6:19 pm | Reply

    • Great! I found it worth the extra time to do this. No flat spot. let me know how it goes!

      Comment by virtuallyamy — July 20, 2010 @ 10:43 am | Reply

  4. I am in the process of gathering info to set up goldfish. My main problem is I’m not very conventional & don’t want a typical fish tank and stand. I love your site w all the diy stuff. I’m probably going to do the cinder blocks under 60 gallon cube tank. Then I came across you hoops. I’m a hooper too & you just solidified a place in my favorite people & websites! You rock! I will post pics if the tank turns out. (another) Amy

    Comment by Amy — April 22, 2011 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

    • Yay! Keep me posted! :)

      Comment by virtuallyamy — April 22, 2011 @ 2:39 pm | Reply


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