Try something new - Boost your flexibility with aerial fitness
If you've been following our 'Try something new' posts, you'll know we've already been lucky enough to try Tai Chi, Bouldering, Boxing and more – this week it's aerial fitness that's in the spotlight. Aerial fitness has become a workout trend for A-list celebrities this year, and no wonder, it's fun, quirky and provides a full-body workout. In fact, it doesn't even feel like exercise, although it is pretty hard to master!
In-air exercise classes that provide a combination of acrobatics moves, core conditioning and strength training, aerial fitness classes also include aerial yoga and aerial pilates, so there's something for everyone. We thought we'd head down to Flying Fantastic in London and check it out for ourselves...
It all depends what type of class you sign up for, but Flying Fantastic offers aerial yoga, pilates, aerial silks, aerial hoop, aerial trapeze and aerial sling classes. We thought we'd try out aerial yoga (for relaxation and flexibility) and aerial pilates, because we love pilates!
Classes are a good mix of floor work, climbing, body conditioning and tricks performed on the silks – it's harder than it sounds. It's not all about honing your aerial skills so you can run off and join 'Cirque du Soleil' (tempted as we may be!) - it's about fitness and the mixed intensity classes promise to 'drastically improve your fitness.'
You'll learn new skills, work your muscles and develop strength you never knew you had – it's a great workout for your core and upper body. Our aerial yoga class, which we were a bit daunted about, wasn't scary at all. You're suspended just a short distance above the ground with a wide aerial silk sling (sort of like a hammock). The idea behind this is that the sling helps to support your body, so you can enjoy deeper, more relaxed stretches and postures. Trust us, this is the most relaxing, yet hard, yoga class we've been to!
We combined our session with an aerial pilates class which provided a challenging workout aimed at boosting flexibility and improving posture. Expect regular pilates moves, but with the aid of the sling to support your body weight. Trust us, you will wake up aching in places you didn't think possible!
Who's it for?
Because aerial fitness can help to improve your posture and flexibility, it is ideal for most ages, but if you are new to exercising, you should take it slowly. The support provided by the sling in aerial yoga and pilates makes it easier to achieve the postures and stretches without the risk of injury, making it ideal for those with previous back or shoulder injuries. Classes, even the more complex ones such as aerial trapeze, are aimed at all levels, so if you're a complete beginner, don't worry.
What equipment do you need?
Loose fitting clothing is recommended for aerial fitness classes, such as a cotton vest and jogging bottoms. For our classes, Flying Fantastic recommended cotton fabrics, as they glide more easily on the silk slings. You can wear ballet pumps, if you like, but bare feet are best. Zip-free clothing is also recommended to avoid snagging the silk fabric. The good news is that no other specialist equipment is needed, so whilst classes might seem quite pricey compared to some other options, there is no need to invest in any kit.
Is aerial fitness really a good workout?
There's no denying that this will be one of the toughest things you have ever tried – it's quite a challenge! A combination of upper body strength and stamina is required to master the moves. Aerial fitness is thought to be one of the most effective ways to build strength, and we think it's a great addition to your regular workout routine – strength training is important if you're a runner! Aerial yoga and pilates stimulate your endorphins, to boost your mood naturally, and they can help strengthen your core and increase joint mobility. Aerial hoop classes help to build strength and stamina – did we mention they're also pretty good fun too! You're less likely to get bored of your workouts if you mix things up a little.
Where to find out more
Aerial fitness is a growing craze, but if you live in a smaller town or more rural area, it may not have reached you yet. Don't worry – there's sure to be classes running in a city near you and a quick online search should bring up some options.
For those in London, Flying Fantastic run classes from their Farringdon and Battersea studios. Classes start at £22, but you don't need to commit to a block (unless you want to!), provided you book and pay in advance rather than just turning up. By booking a block of classes, you can enjoy significant savings – book 4 classes for £80 (£20 per class), 6 classes for £110 (£18.30 per class) or 8 classes for £136 (£17.00 per class). We think it's well worth booking a block if you enjoy your first session, and you will!
What do you all think of the aerial fitness trend; is it something you've considered trying? If you've booked a class after reading this, do let us know how you get on by commenting below or getting in touch on Twitter!