What is a smart hula hoop? The viral home fitness trend that costs less than $20

We explain the smart hula hoop phenomenon, which some claim to be twice as effective for weight loss as running on a treadmill.

Active 21 Smart Hula Hoop
(Image credit: Active 21)

You're probably familiar with the hula hoop, but the smart hula hoop is a whole new idea. While the former is a classic children's toy, the latter has become the next big thing in personal fitness, thanks to social media. 

Smart weight hula hoops have become a sensation after going viral on TikTok. At the time, Amazon struggled to keep the fitness gadgets in stock. Now, you'll find hundreds of options for smart hula hoops to buy to put pride of place in your home gym, next to the best exercise bikes

So what exactly is it? Well, a smart hula hoop (thankfully) is designed to work in a different way to a traditional hula hoop, with weighted hoops used when training. 

So, while a weighted hula hoop is still a large ring that you spin around your waist – only with weight to make it harder for better fitness results – a smart hula hoop works totally differently. 

It promises to help tighten up your mid-section, while also aiming to be a fun, low-impact way to exercise. Thousands of people swear by them on social media, and given they're pretty budget friendly to try, it might just be something to try while these gadgets are on sale. 

What is a smart hula hoop?

Unlike traditional hoops, the smart hula hoops feature a fixed ring that clips closed around your waist. The weighted part is attached with a cord and hangs from the hoop. Where it is attached, that point can slide around the hoop, on a rolling flexible axle, moving about your body. 

So the hip movements are similar to traditional hoops, however, it isn't so reliant on you having that all-important rhythm to keep the hoop up. This stays on easily, meaning exercise can be sustained for longer periods of time.

How does a smart hula hoop work?

There are two types of smart hula hoops - those that come pre-made and those you put together yourself. In either case, it ends up being a plastic hoop that can be adjusted in size to fit snugly around your waist - ideal no matter how big your home gym is. Once clipped into place you can start swinging your hips to get the weight flying around you.

Some smart hula hoops even come with inner padded parts which push into you as you move, helping you get a massage as you work out. It's also claimed that this massage action helps to shift waist fat. 

A few hoops also have displays that allow you to keep track of how long you've been at work, how many calories you've burned, how many loops you've swung, and how your battery is doing.

Smart hula hoop

(Image credit: Amazon)

Can it really help you lose weight?

Getting those hips swinging is what these hoops are all about. Adding weight to that movement and you have yourself an easy-to-use and long-term sustainable, fun way to engage your core. That means you can work your abdominals, for a flatter stomach, obliques for more definition, and even your quads and glutes for strong and flexible legs.

All that adds up to a tighter body. Get into longer stretches or work faster and it can even give you a decent cardiovascular workout, which is great for overall health and wellbeing.

Many smart hula hoop makers claim that a half hour of exercise is the equivalent of burning a whopping 800 calories, a figure it normally takes an hour at a solid 6-mile pace on a treadmill to burn. Of course, this claim will vary based on lots of factors like age, fitness, technique, and so on, but it suggests this can be a viable weight loss tool. That massage against your flesh also helps to shift the fat from that area as you work to help tone up and tighten the waist.

One great thing about a smart hula hoop is that it's much easier to do than a traditional hula hoop - a bonus for anyone struggling with how to stay motivated to work out. That also means you can keep going for longer but can also integrate other movements. You could do a whole workout with lunges, squats, and anything else you can manage while hooping. Or have this hooping as a part of an interval workout with other movements like press-ups, jumping jacks, and so on.

Smart hula hoop

(Image credit: Amazon)

What is the best smart hula hoop?

This area has really blown up and there are now lots of smart hula hoop options to pick from. So what do you need to think about when picking your smart hula hoop?

Some have screens while others don't, so if you need one of these that can help narrow down your choice right away. Another area to look at is assembly. Some come partially assembled, or at least come with instructions while others can be more of a self-service affair. 

Size is a very important area to consider. You'll need to make sure the size goes small or big enough to offer you a comfortable fit. You can see more about our top picks below:

Luke Edwards

Luke is a veteran journalist and editor of over two decades where he has written about everything but specialises is technology, science, health and fitness, smart homes and health. He contributes to Real Homes, T3, Tom's Guide and TechRadar, among many other titles. As a father of two, any spare time he gets is enjoyed surfing, reading, hiking, camping and generally getting out in nature.