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With hindsight the name said it all, but on my way down to my first aerial yoga class I somehow didn’t expect it to be a flying-from-the-ropes and dangling-from-the-ceiling sort of malarkey. This had been marketed towards regular people, like me, not professional flying trapeze folk - so it had to be pretty simple, right?
Well it started off like that. A gentle warm up and stretching on yoga mats was just like any other class I’d been to. Although this time, in place of an uncomfortable vision of my downward dog derriere in an unflattering mirrored wall (why?), I was surrounded by ominous silks, hanging from the ceiling. Yikes! After a final stretch (still in the comfort zone), which consisted of sitting with legs straight out in front of you and then trying to get your nose on your knees (the girl next to me had impressively managed to snap her body in half, literally, as I inched forward a couple of centimetres realising that, yes, that was probably going to be about it) we were up and off into ability groups.
Our first foray into this new world, where the humble floor just doesn’t cut it, was simply trying to get our whole body onto the silk and haul ourselves up it. After the first demonstration a fellow ‘beginner’ in my group flew up the silks (only to declare that yeah, she used to be a flying trapeze artist). Super. So, not a level playing field here, but, what the heck, let’s do this…
Managing to just about (inelegantly) haul myself up, the first thing I noticed was the core strength I was using. I felt my stomach muscles really working and rather than counting the seconds of sit-up torture, you’re so distracted it’s actually, dare I say it, pretty fun. With each newly acquired airborne move, the hour flew by (literally) – I had barely noticed how much my muscles had worked.
Chris Wigan from Flying Fantastic explains the benefits of an hour dangling in the air on silk ropes:
1. It’s a serious muscle workout: “There isn’t much that doesn’t get stretched - arms, wrists, forearms, biceps, triceps, shoulders, legs, quads, back, calves – you name it, we’re working it”. (I can solemnly vouch for this. I couldn’t even twist the door handle the next day because my wrists and forearms were aching like a b**ch.)
2. It’s varied so you don’t get bored (or clock watch): Perfect for the impatient people like me who find repeated sequences tedious. Wigan explains, “A typical class involves a combination of climbs, tricks, drops and conditioning as well as floor work.” (Although don’t be put off by the ‘tricks’ and ‘drops’ – there are varying degrees of ability so you start with a load of other budding beginners).
3. It boosts fitness too: “The combination of intensity levels (from stretching to climbs) is the best way to burn fat and drastically improve your fitness”, explains Wigan. Keep this in the back of your mind when you can’t move the next day…
4. It’s good fun!: Unlike every other exercise class, this one is about team work too. You get to chat (really great!) and cheer on other beginners as when you’re not swinging from the ceiling you’re helping the ones that are.
Verdict? I’m an aerial fitness convert - it was a good laugh and a really good work out too. Only one thing I would note – try not to stare around the room. There are some jaw droppingly amazing performances going on, so don’t be put off. We all have to start somewhere.
To book Flying Fantastic visit: http://www.flyingfantastic.co.uk/ Prices start from £22.