Aerial fitness covers a range of activities done suspended from the ceiling, be it from hoops, trapeze or silk ropes! Flying Fantastic is the principle London school for all things aerial, and I was excited to book into a beginners silks class.
What They Say:
We’re an Aerial Fitness School. We’re here because we love all things aerial – it’s as simple as that. We’re looking to share the aerial love as far and wide (and high) as we possibly can. That’s why we exist. That’s what drives us.
There’s nothing more satisfying than getting people off the sofa and into the air. It’s a thrill. People are learning something new and having fun. But then something happens. Not long after the first class, there’s the muscle soreness. Over time this fades. And it gets less and less every time. But then the muscles kick in. Muscles like never before. Where did they come from? It turns out this aerial fitness thing is pretty effective after all.
Who would have thought that something so fun could be so very good for you?
Flying Fantastic is based in double height railway arches just down the road from Waterloo. There are two small studios – a full height one for silks and straps and a mezzanine level for hoops. I had signed in for a beginners silks class and as we entered the room there were 6 red silks hanging from the high roof, beautifully knotted up. The roof was brightly lit in a cheerful colours and the space was light and airy.
There were 6 girls in my class; 3 newbies and 3 who’d come to a few sessions before. We started with a heart-raiser and some mobility and shoulder activation. It was a full 25 minutes before we actually got to play on the silks but, once the crash mats came out, boy was it fun!
First of all we were shown how to climb the silk “Russian” style. I’ve climbed ropes before so got to grips with this pretty quickly. The silks are soft and stretchy – you can kinda bounce around on them – so lovely and soft compared to the type we use in CrossFit… no rope burn today!
Once we’d had a crack at climbing we went upside-down, or ‘inverted’ to use aerial lingo. We did a move called the gazelle (upside down, hooked in by one leg, arms hanging free – I think I looked more koala than gazelle) and a hip lock, where you face the floor – flying style – while hooked in by your hip. These moves came less naturally to me than the climb … getting into them was certainly not elegant, but there was something so satisfying, freeing and exhilarating about hanging upside down!
One girl in our group was on her fourth class and worked on some slightly more advanced moves – I was seriously impressed and reckon you’d quickly learn a lot of cool tricks and how to link them together by coming to classes regularly. There were also some more advanced girls in the studio working on straps, who were awesome and in superb gymnast shape.
This class is probably not for complete fitness beginners – you need to have a degree of core control and upper body strength to be able to hold your weight. That said, you definitely don’t have to be super fit, and this would be an immense, fun and effective way of building strength, muscle and flexibility without even noticing you’re working out.
The studio offers classes for all levels and is welcoming and friendly. They also run regular workshops on specific moves and sessions where intermediates can practice at their own pace. The instructors are great and make it look so graceful! Every move was clearly explained and I can see it would be easy to make fast improvements and get hooked.
I would highly recommend giving this a go to anyone who regularly commutes through Waterloo – add an extra hour into your day even just once a week, you won’t regret it!
Flying fun! Learning new skills and getting stronger and flexi while hanging from silk ropes – what’s not to love?!
Where: Flying Fantastic, Union Street, SE1 (they also have studios in Old Street, Battersea and Wimbledon)
Cost: Single Class £25, packages available and £10 for drop ins once you’re accomplished enough to practice without guidance.
How to book: www.flyingfantastic.co.uk or MindBody app