by Jade Hunter, The Juice Daily. 

Aerial fitness is the acai bowl of exercise. Just like the Amazonian berry transformed our brunch game, taking your workout into the air gives it a new edge. The combination of strength/inversions/stretching, plus the thrill of virtually flying is surprisingly freeing for the body and mind. Through a nondescript door in Surry Hills, hidden down an ally splashed with graffiti art, you’ll find Sky-Lab; a quirky studio that is equal measures zen and badass. Not knowing what to expect, I left with a new appreciation for the freeing benefits of aerial fitness.

1. Energise

Aerial fitness is a playful way to get more energy. As the images decorating the walls suggest, you spend a lot of time upside down in classes. In yoga these are known as inversions, when the head is below the heart. This improves blood flow to the brain, which counteracts fatigue and makes you feel physically and mentally revitalised. The classes are designed to give you a full body workout, but without the high intensity burn that makes you tired, so you’ll leave with a spring in your step.

2. Lighter mind

Swinging around on silks makes your body feel lighter and has the same effect on your mind. During regular yoga classes you might start wondering what you’ll have for dinner that night or if you turned your hair straightener off, but the concentration required for aerial fitness leaves no room for distractions. The hour class is dedicated to your mind and body working in harmony, listening to your teachers voice (instead of your own inner monologue) and concentrating on coordinating your limbs. The result will leave you feeling blissful and connected (instead of daydreaming about that haloumi salad).

3. Freedom from crunches

Hello abs! I expected to have tired arms from my first aerial fitness class, but man was I unprepared for how much core work was involved! No more boring sit-ups once you discover aerial cycles! The teachers at Sky-Lab will teach you how to support and lift your body using your abdominals, rather than just the guns. Add in the extra core engagement you need to stay balanced, and it’s the ultimate flat belly workout without any of the boring bits.

4. Detox

Being free from toxins is vital for overall wellness. Moving through poses, being upside down and stretching joints and muscles has a positive effect on the lymphatic system. This system is responsible for draining and eliminating toxins from the body; the swaying and moving is like a massage. Suspension fitness uses a combination of gravity and muscle contractions. This boosts the efficiency of the lymphatic system to filter bacteria and fatty acids. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to drink plenty of water after class. The water continues to flush these toxins from the body and keeps you hydrated.

5. Muscle recovery

Free those aching muscles! Aerial fitness allows you to move deeper into poses and release any tension. The combination of silks and gravity improves your range of motion and depth, so you can stretch into areas that are harder to target during regular stretching and yoga. This is especially useful if you’ve had an injury and you’re not ready for high impact exercises yet. Aerial fitness can be tailored to suit limitations and experience level, so you have the freedom to experiment. When I returned to exercise after a torn rotator cuff, I found that many of the postures were useful at releasing the tension in that notoriously hard to reach area.

6. Confidence

Heights can make me kind of nervous. I am completely in awe of any kind of aerial trapeze acrobats. After my time at Sky-Lab, I was smiling from ear to ear. There is something about back flipping in the air using the silks for support that makes you feel graceful and talented (the reality of me heaving into a somersault probably looked much more awkward than it felt). Using the silks for stretches and exercises is unlike anything else, you feel like an aerial ballerina. The freedom of flying and being upside down gives you a confidence that lasts long after the class has finished. I’m still not a trapeze artist, but I am a tiny bit closer to reaching my dream of being a free-flying fitness fairy (a dream I never knew I had until I tried aerial fitness).

Jade Hunter 

30th Dec 2015