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Thursday, June 23, 2016

How to Tape an Aerial Hoop. Probably the Only Guide You'll Need.

Yep, I said it, I meant it- I’ve retaped more lyras than you can shake a stupid stick at, and I’ve tried different methods, and only one makes me happy every time.

The Internet knows Nothing, Jon Snow. 

A brief consult with Google reveals only one piece of advice repeated over and over, which is the old “Start at 5 and tape to 12 o’clock, then repeat” method. I loathe this method because it makes the tape back-curl in the ONE PLACE that you most frequently hold the damn thing, which is at 5 and 7 o'clock. So one of your hands always gets torn up, not to mention the backs of your knees.  I've even read suggestions to tape the hoop from 3 and 9 o'clock, which is truly masochistic.

So why do people do this?

The benefit is meant to be that the bottom of the hoop, where the most action occurs, will have a double layer of tape so that if one layer gets worn away, there is another layer waiting.
“that way the tape will be smooth when your hands slide down and the bottom of the hoop will have 2 wraps where most wear occurs.”
This sentence has been copy/pasted between the dozen sites that suggest this same method. By the way one of them had an incorrect rigging example right above this soooo… I really hope ya’ll are educating yourselves via many channels, because there is so much bad advice on the internet.

Why this makes no sense:

Using this method, if a layer of tape wears away, you aren’t left with a lovely usable backup layer of tape. You are left with a gaping, glue-filled maw yawning in the surface of the tape, which as soon as you hang on it will commence taking a bite right out of your palm.

But Rachel, you might say, at least you won’t have to retape your hoop!

Again, let’s take a closer look.
If you’re using athletic tape and you wear it down enough to rip off the bottom, yes you will have to retape your hoop. Also, the rest of your hoop by that time will have absorbed months of your body oils, skin cells, chalk, and rosin and sweat, and is by now discolored in places and needs to be retaped anyway. So the choice is yours- athletic tape and a lively re-taping every several months (according to use), or cloth tape and live with the same old tape until it gets too shiny and dirty with the aforementioned buggery to give you grip anymore.
If the priority is really, truly to tape your hoop as rarely as possible, throw some money at the problem and buy cotton milled handlebar tape like Newbaums or Velox, which lasts much longer.

Either way, the back-curling of tape is evil and I hate it, so on to Life According to Rachel’s version of how to tape a lyra.

This is way simple, yo. That is why it’s so easy to mess it up.

  1. Look at the lyra like a clock, tab at the top. If it’s tabless, you will need to mark this place so that you hang the lyra in the correct orientation.
  2. Start taping at 6 o’clock, overlapping the tape by about a third of its width.
  3. Tape up to 12 o’clock
  4. Repeat on the other side.

That’s it. That’s all you need. You don’t need a double layer of tape, ever, in my estimation. If you are using athletic tape, after you’re done, cover the whole thing in a thick layer of chalk to absorb the extra glue. If you don’t do this, the lyra stays sticky for longer as your body oils, etc. fill in the gluey gaps.

4 Simple Steps to turn this:

World, meet Aurora.  This is what she looks like nekkid.

Into this:

All dressed up

What kind of tape should I use?

I’ve used many different brands of athletic tape with similar results. Mueller comes in lots of colors, and in a bind good old drugstore brand adhesive cotton tape works just fine, as long as you have access to chalk as it can be quite gooey. For nerds, the goo comes from the zinc oxide adhesive. I have not to my knowledge used a non-zinc oxide based athletic tape but would be interested in the results.

The cotton milled tape I mentioned above is sold in bicycle shops intended for handlebars, or purchased online. Velox and Newbaum’s are the two brands I’m aware of, but I’m sure there are more, and they come in over 30 colors. They are far more expensive but last much longer than athletic tape.

I’ve heard of people using hockey tape, gaffer’s tape, and painting their lyras after they tape them. My advice is to experiment with whatever materials strike your fancy and find the way that works for you.

How many rolls do I need?

Using athletic tape- you will probably need less than two rolls.
Using cotton milled tape- you will need 6-10 based on the size of your hoop. My 38” hoop took 8 rolls of Newbaum’s. 

Do I need pre-wrap?

No. But if you want to use corking or pre-wrap to cushion the lyra, don’t let anyone shame you for it. Your practice, your lyra.

Do I need tape removing spray?

Nope. That’s just something else people are trying to sell you.

When retaping the lyra, do I need to clean off the old goo before putting on new tape?


Are you really, truly certain that I don’t need a double layer of tape??

Yes, I am really truly certain.

Any other advice?

Yes.  Use a color you can live with, particularly if you are using cotton milled tape.  For example I invested in several rolls of my favorite color, emerald green.  Halfway done I looked at it and said out loud, "No.  No, no, we cannot be having this.  I am not a leprechaun."  And had to start over.  See?  

This isn't doing anyone any good.

Want to see a visual aid?

Or perhaps if you're like me and find fast motion videos to be extremely satisfying to watch, I made a dumb little video right here.  Enjoy and happy taping!

psssssst! I tell my email list stuff I don't announce anywhere else.  You can be one of em by following this link ----->
I can't promise it will save your life but, you know, it could save your life.

Update:  9/27/2019

I've recently learned that zinc oxide free tape (which can be purchased from a medical supply company) do indeed lose their stickiness much faster than regular athletic tape, making it a preferable option for taping hoops and other apparatus. I also learned that the zinc-oxide, which is added to make adhesive stickier in regular athletic tape, also has an anti-bacterial properties. It helps to prevent infection when wrapped around injuries that may have minor broken skin or other entry points for the little nasties. Therefore it is not recommended to use zinc-oxide free tape when wrapping over skin.  DON'T YOU JUST LOVE SCIENCE?!  Thanks to Clayton and Jordan of AerialFit in Charleston for this gem!


Unknown said...

Now I know!!

How long does it take to tape Aurora?

Rachel Strickland said...

I've got it down to about a 20 minute experience now...but I like to take my time. I enjoy the ritual of it!

Unknown said...

Hi! I have a powder coated solid lyra, and I want to remove the tape and use the metal! What is the best method to do this? Thank you so much!

Rachel Strickland said...

Oh man, Thy I wish I had better news for you, but hunker down with an episode of Frasier or something and peel it off the old fashioned way. Sometimes it goes faster if you ball it up as you go. To get the tape goo off afterwards you can use a little oil on a cloth, or goo gone if you like. Then to get the oil off you can use some rubbing alcohol on a cloth. make sure you get that oil off. :) Hope you enjoy your nekkid hoop!

Unknown said...

Madame Rex!
Wonderfully written! :-)
I am the owner of
Not only do we want to work with you to feature your writing, but possibly looking at an aerialist sponsorship as well.

Please send an email to:
And include the best phone number to reach you.

We look forward to speaking with you!

Rachel Strickland said...

Wow the comment fairy really left me a nice one this time!! I will be in touch shortly, thanks so much for reading!

Anonymous said...

Why do you say that you do not need to clean the goo off before retaping? Sources I have read say that removing residue is an important step both so you can properly inspect hoop and so there are not lumps and bumps caused by old residue when you rewrap.

Rachel Strickland said...

Howdy Anonymous,
The residue should be minimal and has never been an issue either in inspecting the equipment nor presenting a problem underneath the new tape in my experience. I invite you to experiment as you like and choose the method that works best for you!

Unknown said...

Thank you for this, I'm very happy with my lyra taped like this. How would I use this method if I wanted to tape with 2 colors?

Rachel Strickland said...

Hi Kristy- do you know, I have no freaking idea. Two-toned lyras always made me feel a bit dizzy so I never pursued them. I can't work out a way in my mind where back curling wouldn't be an I suppose I'll have to say Godspeed good woman and let us know what you discover!

Anonymous said...

Hi Madame Rex,

Don't you think it'd be a better bet to tape one shot from 12 to 12 with no connections?

I fear that the spots where you restart taping, in this case 6, will have their weakness.

Other than that, I wanted to ask you if you suggest me to buy a painted hoop or zync plated.

Thanks a lot for your hints!

Rachel Strickland said...

Hyello Anonymous,
NO I don't, and please do not tape your hoop from 12 to 12, because then one whole side of it will be taped the wrong way, and it will back curl and make you hate your life. There is no weakness at the 6 o'clock spot. If you stopped retaping at like, the 9 o'clock spot and started again, yeah that would back curl cause your body would be sliding down it all the time. But to start and stop at 6 o'clock is a perfect storm of factors to make.

I'm not sure about this next question, I'd have to know what kind of paint you are talking about. Who is selling painted hoops? I'm intrigued. You can also PM me if you like: madame rex entertainment @ gmail.
thanks for reading!

Unknown said...

Hi, I have a zero point lyra. Should I tape over the weld spot or leave it untaped for the strap?

Rachel Strickland said...

Christine- taping over the weld spot is fine, just be sure to MARK the 12 o clock spot on the hoop so that you rig from there (ie choke the spanset in that 12 o clock place)! Otherwise all your careful work goes to nothing if it's not rigged from the proper location.

Unknown said...

We ( tape like you do as well. Thank you for posting the best way to do it, since many are convinced 5-12 is the best. As far as zero point or tabless lyra, we like to wrap a few times around at the weld point as to "mark it."

Unknown said...

Hi Madame Rex,

My lyras are leaving a gooey residue despite chalking them heavily. Do you have a solution that seals the tape? I heard acrylic gloss is good....but like you said, the internet seems to know nothing about this problem. Thoughts?

Love your blog!

Rachel Strickland said...

Hey Amy!! Love seeing you here!

Unfortunately my only suggestion for this persistent annoyance other than chalk, is to try a different tape. For the usual cloth tape, this is my favorite non-sticky tape:

I found it usable right away! Others have had similar experiences. If longevity is your focus, I love Newbaum's for their cotton milled tape:

just note that if you go the cotton milled route, you'll need a lot of rolls to cover each lyra, and then under no circumstances allow a lotion-up body to get on it! Of course I don't foresee that being a problem with with pole acrobats. :)

Shanaya said...

The entire information is really good and some good insights available. Looking forward to do more clicks.

Unknown said...

Hey there! I've recently been very interested in picking up the "aerial hoop" as a hobby. However, I have no idea where to start. Not to mention, I'm 18 and afraid I might've started to late. Nonetheless, I found your blog and it is just inspiring me to pursue it. Say, do you think making a lyra would be difficult?

Rachel Strickland said...

Hi Rebecca- Well I started when I was 25, and I know aerialists who started at 40, 50, and older. So you can go ahead and mark "too old" off of your list. :)

It's imperative that you find a teacher- this is non-negotiable and your progress will explode in the best way. Studios have popped up like mushrooms all over the world, a quick Google search should give you some good leads. If you want more help you can message me.

As for making a lyra, unless you are a metal worker who knows how to roll steel and test a piece of equipment to failure, DO NOT attempt to make a lyra. Your life is worth the price of paying a real fabricator to make you a beautiful piece of equipment.

Thanks for reading and I'm very happy you're getting inspired! PM me with questions if you like.

Unknown said...


I havent trained in my Lyra in a very long time and Im bruising. For practice reasons not performance I would like to cushion it. You mention corking or pre wrapping can you explain this further and what materials to use? I have some pipe insulation that I started to wrap around then tape but it's too big. Any help is appreciated.

Rachel Strickland said...

Hey Roxi- I've never used corking or padding myself so I don't have any recommendations I can get behind...but pipe insulation will be way too thick. My best guess is padded handlebar tape underneath athletic tape.
Good news though- the bruising passes once you get your body used to the apparatus again.

Yuko said...

* What do you mean by back-curling? I'm not a native speaker, sorry ... do you mean when the tape curls lengthwise? But isn't that the point of taping it from bottom to top?
* Isn't the double layering done to make it softer? I'm a beginner, so I'd assume anything that makes the hoop less hard would be welcome ...
* I didn't get what's the problem with the other method at 5 and 7 o'clock. That hurts the hands? Why is that? Shouldn't the "step" from one layer to two layers be relatively smooth?
* In your method, when you start the 2nd half at 6 o'clock, do you tuck the start of the tape away somehow, or does it stick enough so it doesn't curl up? Same probably with the other places where one roll was empty and another one has to be started ... so I would assume one would stick the start of the tape to the hoop, then roll the tape around once a little backwards to cover the beginning, and then start going forward. You know what I mean? Is that the way to do it?

Thanks so much for these instructions! :) Looking forward to taping my hoop!

Rachel Strickland said...

Hey Yuko- thanks for reading!

- Backcurling is when people tape the hoop from top to bottom and it curls back on itself and becomes a living hell of sticky torture to your palms.

- No, making the lyra "softer" is not the point of tape. The point of tape is to increase traction of the hands and other body parts that come in contact with the lyra. Circus just hurts- you'll get used to the hardness of the apparatus with practice, and your bruising will lessen. No amount of padding will save you from this truth.

- The 5 and 7 o' clock method sucks because it leads to backcurling, which hurts the hands. There's no reason to double layer tape on a hoop.

- Good question! I make sure the very first pass of the tape goes exactly on top of itself, so there is no little tags sticking out at all. So no need to tape "back" at all, just over itself once. Then you can pull slightly to the side so the tape goes on at a slight angle the rest of the time.

Yuko said...

Great, thank you so much for answering so fast and so patient! :) I've just ordered my hoop and will now order the Velox tape (10 of them, to be safe)! Thanks so much! :)

Anonymous said...

Hey there

Thanks for a great article! I was wondering about the chalking part...what kind of chalk should I use and to what extent do I cover it? I've never taped up my own lyra before so don't want to mess it up by chalking too much or too little!
Thanks so much!

Rachel Strickland said...

Hi Anonymous! Use gymnastics chalk...also known as gym chalk. It comes in bricks. You can't really mess this up...if it's "too much", it will fall away harmlessly as soon as you get on it. If it's not enough, it will feel really sticky. Start with a light layer rubbed all over, and if it still feels sticky you can add more.

And remember you don't have to chalk cotton twill tape. :) Happy hooping!

Arianna Rose Thorne said...

Hey sister,
Would you recommend the same technique for wrapping a double tab?

Unknown said...

Great post - thank you!

kjb_aerial said...


Just wondering if this same technique would work on a double point lyra


kjb_aerial said...


Just wondering if this technique would work on a double point lyra


Rachel Strickland said...

Hey hey! Yes it totally will, although for the top curve between the points most people have no issues if they just tape from one side to the other...but yes for the bottom portion of the hoop this technique will serve you well.

World of wheelz said...

These are the Best Handlebar tapes to cycle.

Sass said...

Hi, this was a super helpful post - I’ve been hooping for a while but am a month out from doing my first competition and we have to bring our own hoops so I am taping for the first time and I’m freaking out a bit about having it ok so that I don’t fall or hurt myself on stage. I’ve just done the first half of my hoop using just a strapping tape (I’m not anticipating using my own hoop that much so I didn’t want to go too hard out with pricey tape) and I’ve noticed that when I run my hand in one direction along the hoop, the tape starts to curl back and I have to press it back down. Does this mean I’ve done it wrong? Like maybe the wrong amount of overlap or not a good angle of wrap? Thanks in advance.

Rachel Strickland said...

Hey Sass!
I don't know what strapping tape is, but as far as I can tell from a block of text, you are not doing it wrong. The nature of taping means that it will always back curl when you slide against it in one direction. The point of taping properly is to ensure that that back curling direction works with us, not against us.

The reason that I created this post was so that the majority of slide will happen in the appropriate direction. That means, if you tape according to my instructions, and presumably spend most of your time sliding from the top of the hoop towards the bottom (thanks gravity) then the tape will be laid in the appropriate configuration to support this.

If you started somehow levitating and slid from the bottom upwards on the hoop, yes it would back curl.

demi said...

Hey Rachel,
Thanks for the awesome advice! I was wondering what would be recommended for prewrap? I want to add a bit of cushioning. I’ve found some 3M surgical foam tape that’s about 2mm thick and is sticky on one side, would that work? And do you wrap the prewrap the same was at the cotton tape or is it a different method?

Rachel Strickland said...

Hey Demi! I've never used prewrap, so I congratulate you on your new experiment! That sounds like a solid place to start. What I can tell you is that no, you don't have to use the same method for wrapping the prewrap, you can just go in one continuous line and cover the hoop. As long as the tape on top is done using the method I describe in the post, you'll be golden. Let me know how it goes!

Anna said...

Just came here to say thank you so much for this helpful post! I have now successfully taped my very first lyra, thanks to your advice.

Rachel Strickland said...

My pleasure Anna! Happy hooping!

BubblyChic said...

What about using a pilates mat? I was suggested to use it over a yoga matt because they have more "gush" to them. Lay it over the bottom of the hoop?

Rachel Strickland said...

Hi there, if cushioning is what you're after when taping the hoop, you'll be much better off using a padded handlebar tape. If you mean literally laying a pilates mat over the hoop to practice, that won't give you much opportunity to gain applicable skill. It really truly does stop hurting once your nervous system realizes you aren't in imminent danger.

Anonymous said...

I have a question, I taped my hoop once, chalked it, and hated it. Can I just cover it with a new layer, just to make it thicker and add a bit of cushioning (I’m used to hollow hoops but I bought a solid one and still getting used to the diameter). Or is double taping not recommended?

Rachel Strickland said...

Hi Anonymous! I would NOT tape over old chalked tape, unless I was in a bind and it was really nice and worn in and disgusting with body oils and dirt. The chalk (if it hasn't been worn in by lots of use) would prevent the new cushioning and new tape from sticking properly.