Friday, April 26, 2013

Taking Flight

Every time I tell someone about my Aerial class, the reaction is usually the same..."what is that?".  I try my hardest to explain it but the  best real life reference that *most* people can get a visual of is when I mention Pink.  Not the color, rather the singer with amazing abs that usually flies through the audience during her concerts.  Of course, I have to quickly tone it down to explain that is NOT exactly what I am doing which is where it becomes a little difficult to describe without visual aids and I start looking like a monkey trying to describe some of the things we do.

Aerial Yoga, Anti-Gravity Yoga, Aerial Fitness, Aerial Arts, Aerial Fabrics, Aerial Silks, Aerial Dance...whatever you call it, they all have one thing in common - Aerial.  In the air, baby!  Depending on the studio, instructor & class you'd see a combination of techniques from Yoga, Pilates, Calisthenics, Gyrokinesis and Acrobatic moves integrated throughout any given workout.  I have been following Pink! for some time now and after she mentioned (and thanked) Dreya Webber for training her, I knew I wanted to learn more.  Dreya Webber is an aerialist and one of my "personal" work out buddies in the P90X videos so I was familiar with the name. ;)  She is strong, lean and shows amazing grace (and posture!) while doing her workouts.  Why wouldn't I want to learn more about this?  Well over a year ago, I did some research on this and even "pinned" some pictures on Pinterest as motivator to find a class and do it one day. It seemed to be on the very early side of a trend then since it wasn't something that was readily available in most cities to the layman (i.e you and me) but celebrities were starting to dote about how much they loved the practice and that's usually all it takes for it to start sprouting everywhere. Case in point, AntigravityYoga , developed by Christopher_Harrison (with many Broadway accolades) has many locations throughout the country now and their site even has information on franchising. (Check them out!...I plan to visit them when we travel to Manhattan this summer.)

I found that the ONLY place in Houston that this is available at is Vault/GyrotonicHouston.  As I mentioned here, I pulled the sample week class and was all geared up to attend and the schedule never panned out for me to make it.  (I had an infant at the time, a very active tournament baseball playing son and was gearing to get back to work among other things).  After that, Aerial lost its traction in my mind and was a faded memory until I went to the Pink concert earlier this year and it sparked me once again to look up the latest  schedule at Vault.  I was lucky enough to catch it in time so that I can set it on my radar for the following month. Coincidentally, my sister (a Yogi herself) posted a picture of herself on FB doing some pretty amazing aerial tricks with a friend of hers.  I knew fate was in the cards that I could not let this pass me up again.

So, here we are.  I attended the sample Aerial Fabrics class with a coworker a few weeks ago.  It was merely a sample so we only got to learn some basic locks, wraps and terminology but did get to flip over a time or two (super cool!).  Due to that fact that I am pregnant now, I knew that I would have to look at modifications if I wanted to pursue this as an exercise regimen. Particularly since  this class required a 6 week commitment (each class builds on itself by learning new techniques).

I tried their other class "Aerial Tone", which is more of a drop in class that can be taken anytime, and knew that I had found the right fit for me (for the time being) until post baby when I can really explore the Fabrics and actually take "flight".  In Tone, we do more muscle strengthening and conditioning that most aerialists need in order to do the performances and routines that they do up "there" by using an aerial hammock. Honestly, it's quite deceiving...it starts off kind of slow with dainty stretches but I assure you, using that hammock as a resistance band makes it is a FULL body workout, everything was burning by the end and child's pose and laying in the hammock in "corpse" pose was a welcomed relief!

I am now 4 classes into Tone and I see myself making this a twice a week routine until my belly won't allow it (which gauging from the last baby was well into my 8th month...fingers crossed that this will be the case this go 'round too!).  I feel myself (already) getting stronger, toner, more flexible and dare I say...taller?  My back feels incredible relief in some of the stretches that we perform and my spine feels realigned after every class.  Enough that I feel the need to continue my stretches and yoga poses beyond class (and see improvement!).  I'll have another post on the Instagram Yoga Challenge my daughter and I have been dabbling with every night later.

Speaking of my daughter, she has been begging to join me at one of my classes.  She's seen some of the pictures and wants nothing more than to partake in the action (can you blamer her?).  They have a kids class on Saturdays that I am considering turning that into a "mom and me" time with her but before I dive into that, I brought her to my last Tone class as an observer and to talk to the instructor about more.

Here are some of the fun things she did and let's just say, she was a natural and totally hooked!!

10 year old goes Aerial
And here are some of the exercises that work the legs, arms, abs and bum (usually all at once).

The plank (top right) is killer.  That's usually incorporate with crunching and twisting side to side at the END of the workout. Ooof!
And finally, here are some of the awesome stretches and fun stuff I got to partake in with my daughter, that in itself was priceless. :)
I love the "Giselle" on the bottom left to open and stretch the hip and back.
I feel great doing all these moves even with the baby (although the bump is barely noticeable in these pics).  I was inverted for very short periods (just for pics and fun, really) and the ab workouts were modified to be less intense.  In fact, while I was rest/cool down mode in the pod or "corpse position" I felt the little fella kick quite a bit, he must have been doing his own somersaults!

A great place to chill (and potentially get motion sick if you stay too long, I've heard!)
I'll leave you with my inspiration for all this flying stuff...Pink performing 'Glitter in the Air' at her concert in Houston, TX earlier this year: