As someone who gets bored easily, I’m always on the lookout for a new workout to spice up my weekly gym routine. Having said that, I do have one rule when trying a new exercise—it shouldn’t feel like one! And so, I started my fitness journey with party-like Zumba, followed by drum-inspired Pound, martial arts-inspired BodyCombat, and the list goes on.
When the opportunity to try out the trendy Aerial Hammock workout presented itself, I grabbed it instantly. Having tried traditional mat yoga before (and swearing to myself it is not for me), I was interested to know if this music-driven, yoga-based class would make me think otherwise. The idea of taking the practice off the mat and using a trapeze-like apparatus, with music and dance moves incorporated into the routines, made it sound nothing like the yoga classes I’d previously encountered. So as a total dance fitness enthusiast, I was hooked.
Did my love for yoga fly high this second time around? Read on to get the lowdown!
WHERE IT WAS
I made my way to Movement Dance Studio for my first aerial hammock class. As the Philippine pioneer in belly dance, pole dance, and aerial silk, it was the place to be. Fully equipped with tall ceilings and large mirrors, the dance area provides just enough space for small groups, which allows instructors to focus their energy and attention on each individual. A big plus for first-timers who need guidance, like me!
WHAT I WORE
Sportswear that makes me look and feel sexy can often be enough motivation to strut and sweat it out in the gym. Stitched with curve emphasizing seams, Core Athletics’ Pace Yourself 7/8s Leggings in Black (coming soon on BeautyMNL) fit me like a glove. It accentuated my legs and backside while providing a durable stretch so I could move freely without restrictions.
Next to perfect fit, design is on my list of activewear non-negotiables. Some girls love their basics, but IMHO, prints and color make for a way more fun outfit! Strength Activewear’s Audacia Bra in Black and Red added just the right pop of color to my almost all-black ensemble. Besides its breathable spandex-nylon blend that kept me cool and covered, I particularly liked how the 4-way stretch and wide straps provided the right support and extra security I needed to do the vigorous flows and upside-down poses I assumed I’d be doing.
WHAT I EXPECTED
Being not too fond of yoga, I had to remind myself to keep an open mind before the class. I usually think of the practice as calming, but dangling on a piece of fabric while moving from pose to pose sounded physically and mentally demanding. It is yoga first, dance second so I knew that it would still require the balance, strength, flexibility, and power I hoped I had. I always wondered how other people made it look so effortless, but I was up for the challenge!
HOW IT WENT
The class started with a warm-up session. We spent the first 15 minutes doing light cardiovascular exercises combined with stretching to condition every muscle of the body. After a couple of breathing exercises, we were ready to take off.
Owner and instructor Ms. Czarina divided our class into small groups so she could modify the routine based on our experiences. Before getting to our positions, she shared some tips on how to correctly grip the silk and maintain balance so as not to fall head-first especially during inversions where the heart is higher from the ground than the head.
Since it doesn’t involve any equipment apart from the silk, fabric burn was the only injury we should watch out for IF we weren’t wear the right clothes. But knowing I had on the perfect activewear, that was the least of my worries!
We started with some pull-ups to ease ourselves onto the hammock. Ms. Czarina approached us one group at a time to demonstrate the tricks we have to learn and master for a short routine, which we were to perform in an after-class “show-off.” For newbies like us, we were assigned with the basics: inversion, monkey, gazelle, and chandelier. When combined, these 4 poses form a seamless routine that look similar to what I’ve seen on celebs’ Instagram posts and even the movie, The Greatest Showman!
After struggling with our first few tries, my partner and I eventually realized that it doesn’t just involve simple awareness of proper form. To move with grace (and no fear!), we had to combine breathing, movement, and mindfulness. I found the inversion the trickiest to do as the feeling of blood flowing from my feet to my head made me feel dizzy. Before we knew it, the practice was over and it was time for our showdown.
“It’s a workout that not everyone can do, so there’s a sense of pride if you can do it,” said Ms. Czarina. True enough, I instantly felt more confident with my body, and seeing my classmates with different body shapes and sizes do the same made the session more inspiring. I didn’t sweat as much as in the other workouts I was used to, but I felt just as (or even more) sore after doing a series of bends, backbends, and other challenging poses, which meant that it was effective in working every muscle in my body. I knew right there and then that it was a class I could see myself committing to, if only I didn’t have vertigo or dizzy spells.
MY OVERALL VERDICT
I admit that this class proved me wrong when I swore that yoga is not for me. By taking the practice off the mat and incorporating dance, the studio’s unique spin on yoga made it feel more exciting and less like a workout to me. With regular sessions, I see how it could strengthen your full body, condition your core, increase flexibility, and boost self-esteem knowing you can do something that seemed impossible at first. Because of the full-body stretches it comprises, it’s a great way to mix things up in the gym and complement high-impact, high-intensity workouts.
Lesson learned: Yoga is a lot like love—no workout is exactly the same, so don’t be afraid to give it a second chance. You just have to find the right one that you’ll enjoy and commit to!
4 TIPS FOR NEWBIES
Want to try it for yourself? Here are 4 tips to keep in mind when attending your first aerial hammock class:
1. Safety first. Provided you’re careful, you won’t risk serious injury with this type of class. However, poses here should be avoided by people experiencing vertigo, glaucoma, osteoporosis, and other health concerns.
2. Watch what you eat and drink. Too little or too much food in your belly can spell disaster during inversions. Keep to a light snack and just enough water an hour before your class.
3. Don’t rush. Just like me, you might get tempted to hook yourself up on the silk right away. Watch your teacher’s demo carefully, then follow the routine one grip at a time, and at your own pace.
4. Just enjoy! In order to find a workout you’ll love, it’s important to have fun. Don’t put pressure on yourself to get the routine right away. Start slow and work up to a faster pace. Soon, you’ll find yourself moving naturally to the music.
Movement Dance Studio’s Drop-In Pass to Any Floor or Aerial Class is available via Deal Grocer’s Fitness Flash Sale for P325 (originally P650). Available for a limited time only!
Ready to take your fitness to new heights with yoga? Sound off in the comments section below!
Unit 2008, 20/F AIC Burgundy Empire Tower
ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig
MOBILE: (0918) 823 6588
OPERATING HOURS: Mondays to Fridays, 6PM-10PM and Saturdays, 1PM-6PM
Photos by Mark Jesalva
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