We’ll assume you’re new to hoop dance, or you wouldn’t be asking about hula hoop sizing.
First time women? A hula hoop should reach from your sternum (bra line) to the ground.
First time men? The hula hoop should reach from your shoulder to the ground.
Men who weigh more than 250 pounds? I travel with a hula hoop that is just over six feet across. Many larger men can learn to keep a hula hoop up with one this big. It’s made of 2″ tubing. Once they learn, they can often move down to a 5′ model made of 1″/160 PSI tubing.
A few inches either way won’t matter, and the more fit and athletic you are, the smaller the hula hoop size you can use. (Men who are good dancers can also start a bit smaller.)
Isn’t it harder to use a bigger hoop?
No, actually, it’s very much easier. When I hear, “I tried my little girl’s hula hoop and I couldn’t do it,” I will say, “You’re not wearing the same size shoes you wore when you were her age, are you?” Just as you wear bigger shoes today, you need a hula hoop that’s the right size for the body you have today. Hula hoops are sized according to both your height and weight, and most people will do fine in one sized according to the guidelines above.
I carry hoops made of 1″/100 PSI tubing, 1″/160 PSI tubing, 3/4″ / 100 PSI, and a number of smaller weights for children. Sometimes changing the weight of the tubing will also make it easier to use.
Getting better, going smaller
Once you know how to use a hula hoop, or remind yourself of what you knew 20 (!) years ago, you will probably be able to use a smaller model. Smaller hoops move faster, which gives you more aerobic exercise. Smaller hoops are also lighter, so you can do more tricks. People who hoop dance a lot tend to settle on a hoop that is between hip and waist height. (Actually, people who do a lot of hula hoop exercise own more than one, so they can move at different speeds comfortably, depending on the music.
Hoop dancers who perform in nightclubs and similar venues may use hoops as small as inseam height. Few adults of “healthy” 😉 weight are comfortable moving this fast.