Ever dream of running off to join the circus? Or competing in gymnastics? You're in luck! Circus-like apparatuses are the next big thing in fitness. So now you can get a taste of the acrobatic life without quitting your day job.
Vertical fitness classes help you build upper body and core strength, flexibility and confidence as you learn to master new skills. And while you may find the physical benefits and "cool factor" of vertical fitness appealing, you’ll also gain a sense of pride in these unique fitness achievements as well as a new form of self-expression.
Give one of these four options below a try, and prepare to use your muscles in ways you probably never have before. All it takes is the courage to step out of your comfort zone.
1. Aerial Silks
Get ready to earn your first pull-up!
Commonly seen in the famous Cirque du Soleil shows, aerial silks routines involve two separate “fabrics,” or “tissues,” hanging from a tall ceiling that you climb and use to perform various tricks.
Don’t worry, though, because any beginner’s class you take will include a careful series of progressions from certified aerial instructors who will ensure you’re comfortable with the basics before assigning anything too advanced. Your first class will likely teach you the technique for climbing the silks.
Aerial silks builds incredible upper body and grip strength because you learn to pull up and hold your body weight with just your grip on the loose fabric. Starting out, you may be turned off by the unfamiliar burns on your skin from getting tied up.
But you’ll get used to these battle scars and may even take pride in them as you advance. Besides, the knots are necessary to secure you into different positions on the fabric, and the result is a picturesque body-and-fabric shape worthy of Instagram.
2. Aerial Hammock Yoga
Want to get off the ground, but not quite ready to fly 10 feet in the air? The aerial hammock may be the apparatus for you. It's a closed loop made of the same material as the aerial silks, but the moves are performed at the base of the loop, which hangs low to the ground. You can swing, spin and dance on the hammock without having to worry how you’ll get up there.
Aerial yoga is an emerging trend that uses the hammock to support the practice of traditional yoga poses — all while suspended. You’ll enjoy floating above ground without the burden of gravity, so you can really focus on each pose and sink deeper into stretches. People with lower back pain often find this incredibly soothing.
Aerial hammock classes may also be more accessible to the general population because the closed loop supports your body weight, providing more opportunities for rest.
3. Pole Dancing
This type of workout isn't just for exotic dancers at gentlemen's clubs anymore. People are now giving pole dancing a second chance — and rightly so. Through a sequence of burlesque moves, pole fitness will have you feeling sexy and confident, regardless of your strength.
At the most basic level, you’ll probably learn floor work and simple spins. Some pole classes may focus more on the dance element and others more on the tricks. Try different studios and instructors to find the one that suits you best.
Bruises are inevitable as you learn new tricks on the pole, so a tough, can-do attitude is necessary. Your first class may be intimidating because you're advised to wear as little as possible in order to maintain better contact with the pole, but any feelings of shyness are put to ease as you realize everyone is there to learn — not to judge.
For some, in fact, pole has become a celebration of the female body and empowerment. Through pole fitness, women are getting stronger and more comfortable in their own skin.
Lyra, also known as “aerial hoop,” is a circular steel hoop that spins and swings as you perform tricks. You must use your core and upper-body strength to lift your lower body into the narrow hoop, which requires the most balance of the aerial apparatuses.
You'll learn to trust your body in different positions as you manipulate it around the hoop. Bruises are, again, inevitable.
Most poses will involve your body weight hanging from this steel apparatus, so it’s essential to wear clothing that covers the backs of your knees and under your arms. Flexibility and strength intertwine here to give you a well-rounded workout and the confidence to take on anything.
Ready to Give It a Try?
These aerial fitness trends are by no means easy. Stick with them, though, and you’ll see how fun they can be. Many people fall in love with these apparatuses, but only after giving them a fair chance.
Classes will vary greatly from teacher to teacher, and having a good one is key, so try out a few studios if you’re not comfortable with your first choice.
Stick with it and you may find that vertical fitness classes are much more than just a workout — they're an opportunity to grow, have fun and challenge your mind and body.
What Do YOU Think?
Have you ever tried an aerial apparatus? How do you feel about vertical fitness? Think you’ll give it a shot? If so, which apparatus will you try first? Tell us in the comments below!