It's that time of year again... it's cold... you have to hoop inside... in small spaces... you have to wear bulky layers... the probability of breaking your favorite hoop is higher than ever. The odds do not appear to be in your favor, but DO NOT let that stop you from hooping! There are ways to deal with it! What you can do for your hoop: - Keep your hoops warm! Store your hoops in a warm place. If your hoop is cold, try using a hair dryer (hand dryers if you're in public) to warm it up a bit before using it. - Avoid coiling down/collapsing your hoop! If you must, be sure that it's warm first. - Try switching to HDPE (high-density polyethylene). HDPE offers a lower risk of breaking or cracking. It is known to have higher crystallinity than Polypro, which enables it to have more malleable plastic behavior. - Avoid tricks that put extra force on your hoop. Unfortunately this includes breaks and wedgies. - Avoid using those LEDs. Snow is wet and unforgiving. It's not worth ruining a $300 hoop! What you can do for you: - Find a bigger space. If you're a gym member, see if they will let you use the aerobics or yoga room to practice if there isn't a class. You can check out your local community center if you want to save money. You can also check in with your local flow community and see if they utilize a space or take advantage of open-gym sessions. - Embrace your smaller space. Try out those new minis you just got (or go buy some!) Or practice 'performing'... stages often don't allow a lot of flow space anyway, so this is a good time to practice for those instances. - Work with those layers. I know, you feel like Randy from a Christmas Story (you know, the kid with all the layers that falls over and can't get up?). Anyway, because you're a bit 'bulkier' with all your warm clothes on, smaller hoops may be a bit more difficult. Try using a larger hoop. Grip may also become a problem. Sweaters and windbreakers are slippery. Try adding some grip/gaffer tape or try out that new wax you've been hesitant about. I personally like to sand my hoops for extra grip! - Get creative with your fashion style. Hands about to freeze off? Try some gloves with grip pads on them so you can still hold onto the hoop. Pants too slick for leg hooping? Try pairing some cut-offs or long skirts with some leg warmers and boots! That way, your knees will still be open for leg hooping. - Bring on the fire hoop! Can't get any warmer than that. Still take precautions though. For science: I'm sure some of you are curious as to why your hoop breaks more easily in the winter? Here's a little science lesson explaining just that. Many plastics owe their resilience to ductility—the ability of the plastic’s long, chain-like molecules to stretch. Individually, the stretching molecules absorb energy; collectively they dissipate stress from the point of impact, preventing breakage (imagine a crowd doing 'the wave'). This communitarian approach, however, only works when molecules are free to slip past, around, or through one another (imagine coconut oil on everything). If the motion is restricted in some way, the molecules can’t stretch and the stress remains concentrated in a small area and if the concentration gets too great (breaks & wedgies!), the material will fail, thus cracking. A key factor in the molecules’ ability to slip and slide is temperature. Specifically, there is something called the “glass transition temperature” (Tg), which is the point below which an amorphous solid (hula hoop tubing!) goes from being ductile to brittle. Polypro has a Tg of between -4 and 32 degrees F, so it can easily lose its molecular mobility and become shatter-prone on a winter day.