by Elaine Eason April 22, 2018 5 min read

WHAT IS THE AERIAL HOOP?

It’s addictive, sensual, and simply beautiful. Aerial Hoop is a powerful apparatus that showcases flexibility, grace, and strength in a unique way. Typically made of steel, the circular equipment grew to fame in use of gymnastics and circus shows. Aerial Hoop is also known as the Aerial Ring or Lyra. It is similar in appearance to the hula hoop and is suspended from the ceiling by a cable or a lengthy cord. 

HISTORY OF THE AERIAL HOOP

The earliest known metal hoops date back in the late 18th century and were recreational items used for children. There was no recorded Lyra performance until 1893, when the entertainment newspaper, the New York Clipper, featured a performer named “Caedo” performing a Lyra hoop routine for an advertisement.

The origin of the Aerial Hoop is unclear, but Lyra has grown in popularity in conventional circus performances since the mid-2000s such as the Cirque du Soleil's Varekai show, which has toured internationally since 2002. The Lyra has picked up since then and is now widely offered in the circus, gyms and aerial studios across the world.

BASIC COMPONENTS

  • HOOP COMPOSITION

The Lyra hoop is usually made from either steel or aluminum. Aluminum hoops are lighter and compared to steel ones. The tubing can also be constructed as hollow or solid. Hollow tubes are lighter and tend to spin easily. On the other hand, a solid tube is harder to spin but once it accumulates momentum, it will continue to spin longer compared to a hollow one. Aluminum and steel have disparate static and dynamic load dimensions. The static load refers to your standing weight while you’re on the hoop. Once you start moving, the static load becomes dynamic load which exerts a much greater force on the hoop, measuring up to 5 times your original weight. For this reason, professional rigging is critical for a safe and enjoyable Aerial Hoop practice. 

  • RIGGING

Rigging is key to the entire aerial hoop setup. You can hook your Lyra hoop to the ceiling, exposed beam, or an A-Frame but it is imperative you seek the help from a professional rigger, contractor, or engineer with expertise in installing this kind of equipment. Trees are also commonly used but must always be examined by an arborist prior to use. Swivels are commonly used to take pressure off the rigging point.

  • TABS

Tabs are protrusions along the edge of the hoop where the suspension cables can be hooked on. Aerial hoops can be customized to remain stationary or spin depending on the the tabs thus allowing you to configure it to your intended effect. If you want a more stable, stationary hoop, try a Double Tab Lyra. If you like the traditional spinning hoop, try a Single Tab Lyra. The tabs are connected to suspension cables commonly called Span Sets made of polyester, nylon, or Dyneema. Swivels and carabiners and can be placed between the cables and the tabs to improve stability and desired ring movement. 

HOW TO SELECT AN AERIAL HOOP FOR YOU

  • SIZES

Lyra hoop sizes actually refer to the external diameter of the ring as a whole. The tubing usually measures up to 2 inches in diameter and we sell hoops ranging from 30in to 41in. You can determine which size is suitable for you by simply sitting straight on a chair, measuring the length from the base of the chair to the top of your head, and then adding 2in to the measurement you have. We carry two different diameter hoops - the Pro and the Sport. Pro Hoops are the traditional 1 inch (25.4mm) thick tubing, while Sport Hoops are thicker 1.3 inch (34mm) diameter thick tubing. Beginners and aerialists with pole fitness experience often prefer the thicker grip of the Sport Hoops.

WHY TRY THE AERIAL HOOP?

Although it can be intimidating to start, Aerial Hoop provides you the opportunity to express yourself in innovative and unique ways while suspended in the air. This apparatus expresses a raw form of art that is completely pure, graceful, and pleasing to the eyes and soul.

Aerial practice will challenge your muscles and your mind. Typically practice is composed of a combination of contortion techniques, gymnastics, and acrobatics. achieved by the conditioning of a lot of upper and lower body strength. Using the aerial hoop would not only help you focus on building strength and skill development, It will also help you develop your artistic flow and capabilities. It would help you learn amazing skills, sequences, and transitions, necessary to help develop the flexibility and strength of the muscles, shoulders, arms, back and core. Engaging the core constantly is required to control the spin and pendulum motion of the hoop effectively.

The aerial hoop is a respected art because it requires tremendous amounts of strength, flexibility, and grace to make the aerial acrobatic look flawless as they suspend, spin, transition, and hold poses using the metal hoop that is hung above.

Nowadays, Lyra hoops have become sources of both entertainment and options for health conditioning regimes. It is a common transition from pole fitness, aerial silks, and aerial yoga. Aerial Hoops can be physically demanding but mentally and physically rewarding. Starting on Aerial hoop can be the start of a new routine with interesting moves and techniques that are fun and motivating.

BASIC AERIAL HOOP MOVES AND TECHNIQUES

HANGS

  • HAND HANGS

This is a foundational move that involves a variety of poses with the hands, elbows and armpits. The basic move would require you to hang from the hoop using your hands. It needs upper body strength and a firm grip.

  • LEG HANGS

This move involves you suspending yourself from the hoop using your legs, feet or under-knees. It requires an extreme amount of lower body strength.

  • HEAD HANGS

This pose is super tasking as it involves you to suspend yourself from the hoop using your neck. This pose in particular, requires a lot of strength and flexibility.

  • BACK HANGS

These are a combination of poses that involve hanging on your back. It requires a lot of core and muscle strength. 

  • BELLY HANGS

You are required to suspend yourself from the hoop using your belly or stomach. It could be a static or transitional move depending on your routine.

  • HAND AND LEG HANGS

This is a transitional move, composed of the combination of both hand and leg grip simultaneously. This move requires both upper and lower body strength. 

POSES

  • SEATS

A variety of poses that involves seating on the hoop.

  • LYING

This is a static move that involves lying on the hoop.

The aerial hoop is powerful apparatus that expresses true art, passion, and grace. With its major advantages, one of which is to improve health, it is never a bad idea to try it. So get your aerial hoop today, pick a move, and start spinning.

Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited. All Rights Reserved.

Elaine Eason
Elaine Eason



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