Having studied pole fitness on and off for the past two years, I approached my very first aerial silks class with a certain level of arrogance that swiftly disappeared as soon as I tried my first climb. No matter how many videos I watched or articles I read about how good silks are for your core, I was not prepared for this hour long, full body workout.
While the girls on Instagram make every move and drop look effortless with smiling faces that disguise the amount of strength their muscles are exerting, my dreams of joining Cirque du Soleil might have to be put on hold for a while.
In out of my depth?
I enter the room, excited to compare this aerial art with the one I hold dearest to my heart and to my surprise, am met with the same vibe. What you need to know about aerial arts is that they make women (and men alike) so kind. You know how women are in the bathrooms of bars after a few too many cocktails? Genuinely desperate to tell you how fabulous you are, despite only knowing you for however long it’s taken you to adjust your hair and leave. Yeah, that’s what it’s like being in an aerial studio.
We are told to grab a mat and I expect to do a small warm up to prepare for the real workout ahead. I am quickly taken aback with the intensity of this. We are running, then sprinting and a few jumping jacks are thrown in for good measure. At this point, I am warm and raring to go, but we aren’t finished yet. We begin doing planks, walkovers, push up of two varieties (just in case the first one wasn’t hard enough) and then we move into, what can only be described as a yoga routine.
Five downward dogs, two pigeon sits and a child pose later, I feel stretched, closer to boiling than warm and ready to jump on the silks. Being the only first timer in the class means that I get special treatment and Anna, the gorgeous and tiny aerial instructor, gives me a lesson on climbing.
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To start, a French climb sees me try to get my head around which way the silks need to be, I look around me and see women on the other side of the studio (the advanced side) climbing to the top like monkeys, wrapping the silks around them and dropping from great heights. How I wish I could be on the other side of that studio.
I manage to do a basic climb and Anna walks to the other women in the class, who have had at least five classes more than I have, and shows them how to get into a Rebecca split. Anna turns to me and asks “Amy, are you flexible?” I grin cheek to cheek because, although my core strength has a lot of room for improvement, I can do the splits. ‘Yes, I am’, I reply, excited to get a picture of something more impressive than me falling to the mat. Getting into this move isn’t easy. The amount of strength it takes for me to secure my feet is leaving me breathless. Some twisting, wrapping and turning and I am in the splits. I turn to the girl I am working on a mat with to take a picture and unfortunately the photo did not capture the pain and effort I went through to get into that move.
Anna seemed satisfied with my progress for a beginner and she allowed me to try the X back straddle inversion (going upside down with the material wrapped around you). I struggle my way through getting myself in the correct position to invert. With some help and a kick in the face later – sorry Anna! – I am upside down and I love it.
When I get back down I’m exhausted. The girls on Instagram don’t fall the ground when they get down and I would love to know how they manage that. My hand are in agony from gripping the material, my back aches from all the hanging and my feet are sore from the silks being tightly bound to them. I am done for the day and after an hour of what can only be described as the toughest workout I’ve ever done, we have a much needed cool down and stretch.
With that, I leave the studio, exhausted, tired and desperate to go back the next day. I don’t know what it is about being in the air that I adore so much, but if anyone out there has any vacancies for a beginner aerial artist, count me in.
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