When I first heard about the Aerial Strength class offered by Brass Vixens on Queen West, I have to admit, I pictured something totally different.
At a recent runway show put on by Cashmere, a lithe young lady used two pink, long, stretchy ribbons to pull herself up to the ceiling, contort her legs into crazy positions and then whirl her way back to the floor. I'm not embarrassed to admit that this is what I thought I'd be walking into.
After a week of being so sick and congested that a jaunt up a flight of stairs would leave me breathless, I was nervous that any kind of fitness class would have me gasping for air. Chatting with Brass owner and class instructor Shannon beforehand gave me the nudge I needed to stop using my cold as a reason to not work out.
Known as the place that offers pole dancing classes (another week, I promise) Brass is one of the few in the city to actually offer Aerial Strength classes. Buoyed by the website's proclamation that aerial would "relieve tension and back pressure, improve digestion and posture and stimulate cleansing and body renewal" all while swaying in a hammock, I signed up!
Arriving at the class, I was happy to note that I wasn't the only nervous one. While the last few classes were lacking comraderie, this one had it in spades. Throughout the class giggles, grunts and the occasional "something hurts!" were heard as Shannon would laugh and help adjust the sling for better comfort.
What you'll need: Stretchy pants, a T-shirt, socks and a bottle of water. The all-over clothing is to make sure your skin doesn't pull or chafe from the sling.
The set-up for aerial fitness is like nothing I've ever experienced. After laying out a yoga mat underneath my feet, I was given a pouch with a long sling and two ribbons with three attached handles of varying lengths each. Reaching up to the ceiling and grabbing hold of the two straps with hooks hanging from them, I clipped on my sling and handles at the height Shannon said was best for my body.
Here's a short snippet of my inner thoughts:
12 p.m. -- Forgot the socks. Crap.
12:03 -- That girl is just sitting and swinging. Please tell me that this is a thing that happens here always.
12:10 -- I looooove sitting in this sling! If they want to call this exercise I am so on board.
12:20 -- Put my feet in the stirrups? How can I do that without...aaaaand now I'm airborne. OK, this... is... it... kind of rocks.
12:22 -- Crafty Shannon! This is just yoga in the air! Which makes it harder. Side plank with feet suspended mid air? You funny.
12:30 -- The worst part about doing floor stretching: the floor. And it's taken out of this equation. Leg stretches inches off the hardwood. I shan't ever go back.
12:35 -- Mid air splits. Something in the groin area is NOT happy about what's happening.
12:40 -- Flying like Wonder Woman with legs, arms and torso held up by slings. I wonder if WW ever had to consciously remember to lower her bum and raise her chest. Flying is hard.
12:45 -- Yes, I AM rocking this inversion! Thanks for noticing, Shannon!
12:50 -- Ooooh an inversion higher off the ground! Very cool. You know what's not cool at all? Looking at a mirror right now. Upside down bangs are pure evil.
12:55 -- Yup, this swaying cocoon is definitely amazing. How hard would it be to install this inside my own home....zzzzzzzz.
End Result: Thanks to the cocoon moment, I'm so relaxed. I could have stayed in there forever. My body feels stretched but my legs are tingly and might have been pushed too far. A day later and my legs refuse to do stairs. Even with that issue and the burn of my abs, I describe the class to friends in only the most positive of ways. Who am I?
Effort: It definitely varied. The first half of the class was strenuous with the lifting and holding yoga poses up in the air but it slowed down and was downright relaxing in the second half. Shannon is beyond great at letting newcomers know that they're doing well and how to ease up on the intensity.
Return Trip?: Absolutely! This is the first class (and I mean ever) that I can remember actually laughing in. Sure it can be hard and painful but it's just so much fun that I don't even notice...until the next day that is.Read other entries in the series
First up on my fitness calendar was hot yoga. Regular yoga was out of the question since the prospect of searing heat makes my heart flutter. (No seriously...tropical temperatures are a dream). Setting out to find a yoga studio that offers the sweaty class was easy and I settled on Hot Yoga Toronto in the Annex. You have the option of taking either a verbally taught or silently lead class. Personally, I opted for the class with words...it was going to be hard enough to follow. Read the full story
This week I decided to sign up for a spin class at Quad on King Street West. While I had no illusions about being a yoga newbie, I always like to think that I'm an excellent cyclist. Every summer on schedule, I decide to use a bicycle as my mode of transportation and pout until my dad unhooks his from the garage ceiling and cleans it up for me. Newly pumped and shiny, it will sit in my hallway unused because cycling around the city is dangerous and it's so much more fun to walk. But somehow I still like to think I could cycle if I really wanted to. Read the full story
When I first heard about the Aerial Strength class offered by Brass Vixens on Queen West, I have to admit, I pictured something totally different. Read the full story
When I decided to start writing this column, pole dancing was the first and foremost workout that I wanted to try. I enjoy a good night out at a club and might have even won a dance-off or two. So, yea I like to think that I can dance. I always figured that placed in front of a pole, I'd do better than alright. Read the full story
I should point out that two years ago, I decided hula hooping was the best way to achieve abs so I bought one, set myself up outside, began to hoop and as soon as it dropped to the floor (which was almost immediately) I said "Nope, this sucks" and left the hoop outside. Luckily for me, Toronto has classes to turn me into my pretend alter-ego of a hippie hula girl. Read the full story.
I signed up for a Barreworks mixed level class and am told it's a good choice for a newbie like me. The instructor promises an hour of fun, serious core work and ballet-inspired barre stretches. Only opened since June of this year, the studio is the first of its kind in Canada. Developed from the super popular trend in the US, Barreworks promises a lean dancer's body through muscle sculpting, cardio training, core conditioning and deep stretching. Read the full story.
A few weeks into my quest for the best workout, a workout buddy mentioned a machine called The Reformer. While describing its uses, I could not get the picture of an 18th-century torture device out of my mind. This week I was excited to try out MisFit Studio after being recommended by a friend. The studio can be found in an alleyway in a stunning converted old coach house. I initially signed up for a "Kick Ass Mat" class with no expectations whatsoever. When I arrived I was taken for a tour of the studio (did I mention it's gorgeous?) and came face-to-face with The Reformer. Read the full story.
Zumba. Everyone is always talking about Zumba. Whenever I mention my workout quest to friends and family they practically unite in saying "Zumba! Have you tried Zumba yet? Why haven't you Zumba'd?!" Well, listen up you guys, I finally went out and tested Zumba. Read the full story.
If you haven't heard about Kangoo don't worry, you're in a huge group. Not one person I've told of my escapade knew what I was talking about. You've probably seen women at trade shows standing in a booth repping the new workout wearing boots that resemble ski shoes with oval springs attached to the bottom. If you haven't, go to more trade shows! Free swag! Anyway those ladies sell Kangoo Jumps boots to be used while you run, walk or generally work out. Read the full story.
Months and months ago, I attended a show in Toronto where Billy Blanks was appearing for a motivational speech as well as autograph signing. For those of you who don't follow the lifestyles of the fit and fabulous (of which I am not, nor do I follow) Billy Blanks invented the workout known as Tae Bo. A fusion of tae kwon do and boxing, the workout is done to a hip hop soundtrack for extra energetic movements. There's punching, kicking, stepping, crunching and a lot more. Since 1975, Blanks has touted the workout as the "future of fitness" and comes complete with an incredible backstory that made me tear up during his speech. So I bought the DVD. And got it autographed. Sometimes I hate me. Read the full story.
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