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