Friday, October 24, 2014

Aerial Exercise: Fly your way to fitness.

As published VC Reporter’s “Fitness Guide,” January 2014

Aerial Exercise
Fly your way to fitness.

Courtesy photo provided by AIReal Yoga ™
Move over pole dancing and boot camp, the newest fitness craze will have you flying through the air like a circus acrobat.
Kathy Lopez of V-FIT Studio in midtown is teaching what’s known as AIReal Yoga ™, fully accredited by the Yoga Alliance and created by local Carmen Curtis of Airealistic Circus and Flying School, whose background includes gymnastics and work with Cirque du Soleil. Using a thick and tightly woven red silk fashioned into a hammock swiveling freely from a single point in the ceiling, the luxurious fabric molds to your body comfortably, allowing you to perform yoga poses unencumbered mid-air.
Safety is given top priority with this exercise. Fear subsides, giving way to trust in self and the professionally-rigged equipment. You’re never far from the ground since the straps are customized according to your height plus a few inches to make you hover over the floor from a safe distance. Carabiners keep the straps safely anchored, and the hammock acts as a built-in spotter, but still allows you to challenge your balance while building strength.
Using the looped silk just like the trained professionals you see in the circus, the assistance and resistance provided by the hammock helps you find muscles you never knew you had and takes advantage of deeper stretches than you ever imagined. When was the last time you did a handstand? With the help of the silks and a creative intertwining of your legs, that handstand that seemed impossible becomes a reality. It’s one of Lopez’s clients’ favorite exercises.
“They love the inversions – hanging upside down,” says Lopez. Leveraging the strength and safety of the silk straps against the weight and support of your own body makes these gravity-defying moves a cinch. Another simple pose on the hammock allows for a deep backbend with arms wide open and floating. These inversions take away joint pressure, decompress the spine, bring blood-flow to the brain and allow tension in hips, back and neck to melt away.
More challenging moves get the heart rate up and build strength, like the handstand pushup, which targets chest and shoulder muscles a simple floor pushup can’t begin to tackle. Core work is central to most of the choreography, building tighter abs and a strong healthy back. For some, yoga can seem boring and nondynamic, but yoga suspended up in the air makes for a thrilling and fluid workout.
All fitness levels can experience the pure grace and freedom of movement of a professional aerial ballerina. But make no mistake, sore muscles the next day will remind you this is an intense workout.

Go for it:
V-FIT is located at 4561 Market Street, Suite C. For more information visit

Airealistic Circus and Flying School is located at 4476 DuPont Court, Suite B. For more information visit