When Samantha Chang first tried aerial yoga at New York’s AntiGravity lab, it was an attempt to find an antidote to her lifelong anti-workout attitude. “I would always get bored,” she says. “But hanging from the ceiling? It just looked so fun.” It was, and the bonus was that she got lean and strong—fast. So she keeps going back, and she isn’t alone. Classes are sold out a week ahead, while at satellite studios in Saudi Arabia and Tokyo, sessions are booked months in advance. It’s undeniable: Aerial workouts are taking off. The self-proclaimed pioneer of the aerial fitness landscape is Christopher Harrison, a former Broadway dancer an acrobat who founded the AntiGravity Lab.
His original inspiration? An afternoon hanging around in a hammock in the tropics, coupled with witnessing aerialists perform on hanging ropes at New York’s Lincoln Center shortly after. Harrison decided to blend thetwo ideas—and bolted a large piece of fabric into the ceiling at his studio to create a wide, stretchy, hammock-like contraption suspended from two points. He not only incorporated it into his acrobatic group’s performances but also put one in his home. “Suddenly I was hanging upside down and getting all the benefits of inversions—which I loved about my yoga practice—but without putting pressure on my neck, and I thought, This is awesome.”
No you don’t need to be an acrobat to do aerial yoga. But it’s not easy. It flows like a yoga class, and there are similar poses with subtle twists, i.e, Flying Downward Dog, where the hammock is at your hips, and your arms and legs are dangling. Oh, and there are planks—a lot of planks. “I guarantee there is no one, no matter how fit, that AntiGravity would not kick their ass,” says Harrison. Intensity can be altered: “The more you play with the position of your feet, the more body weight you put into it, and that is what will shred your abs.” Plus, it’s the perfect supplement to you other workouts.
Here’s why: Going aerial helps increase flexibility and joint mobility, a commonly neglected yet crucial aspect of achieving the body you want. Then there are the inversions, which “boost blood flow toward the heart, where it can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated,” explains Jacqueline Shahar, a clinical exercise physiologist at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. “And it decompresses the spine, releases pressure between the vertebrae, and helps lengthen the muscles.” Unlike with traditional strength training, using your own body weight in every pose—from pulling yourself up and down into a low squat to tucking your feet inside the hammock for a plank—forces you “to recruit more muscle fibers, which means you’ll get a more full-body workout that burns more calories,” says Shahar. Acolyte Mary Goetz, 23, is sold: “I always have fun the entire time. I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a workout class before.” By: Nichole Catanese – http://www.nicolecatanese.com/