Aerial fitness has been gaining popularity recently, in part thanks to The Greatest Showman!
This jaw dropping, beauty of a workout includes a range of options such as aerial silks, pole, lyra (aerial hoop), trapeze, net, rope, cube, the list goes on and on!
I started with the aerial silks, and since then I have tried lyra and pole. It’s been an amazing eighteen months working out like this, and I want to share some tips I’ve picked up along the way.
To get started, you have to choose a studio. If you’re lucky enough to have more than one option where you live, that’s awesome!
How To Pick An Aerial Fitness Studio:
1. Price point
This is an expensive hobby. Some studios offer tiered pricing which allows you to take certain classes within certain tiers. Cheaper tiers might include only yoga or conditioning classes, while more expensive tiers let you take any class in your ability.
Unlimited monthly passes can range from $99 to $300+! Make sure to check Groupon to see if the studio is running any deals. You can also check with the studio to see if they offer discounts to new students, and always keep an eye out for Black Friday deals! When I started, I scored several packs of 10 classes for only $50 during the studio’s Black Friday deal.
2. What do they offer?
Some studios offer only pole, while others offer the whole shebang! If you can afford it, aim to get a pass at a studio that offers everything because you will definitely want to try everything.
Some studios have individual classes that you can drop (haha aerial humor) into each week. Others offer a set course that you complete in order to move onto the next level course. Both options work well depending on how your learn, or your schedule availability.
Glow Tip: If the studio offers open hours for you to practice on your own, that’s really fun and useful!
You’ve picked a studio. Now how do you succeed at this fun new challenge? Any apparatus you choose to work on is going to be hard at first. You will build up a lot of core, back, and arm strength. You are going to be so strong!
How to Succeed at Aerial Fitness:
1. Cross train weak or problem muscles
I started with a weak back and shoulders. I could not lift myself up, and really struggled in my first couple classes because I couldn’t get into a certain position, especially inversions. (That’s when you go upside down!) Luckily I was also working with a personal trainer on other days during the week, so I was able to focus on strengthening my back and shoulders. Soon after I was able to invert! Now I invert like it’s NBD.
2. Grip Aids
Let’s talk about grip. You’re going to have super strong hands! So much of aerial fitness involves gripping the silks, pole, or lyra as you gracefully maneuver into the next position. There are grip aids (sprays, lotions) that help you stick to what you’re gripping, but try to learn without any. If you rely too much on an aid you’ll never really develop the grip strength you need.
Personally, I have sweaty hands. I don’t need a grip aid on the silks because the fabric just absorbs the sweat. TMI? But in pole class, if my hands start sweating, I end up on the floor! I use an aid called “Dry Hands” which functions kind of like chalk that a gymnast might use. You can even use a cheap deodorant! Ask the other students in your class which they prefer.
3. Follow other aerialists on Instagram
But don’t start comparing yourself when you see how amazing they are! Often they’re not showing the hours of practice it took to perfect that routine, not to mention the falls, bruises, and tangles they got stuck in while practicing.
I follow @aerialphysique, an account that teaches you new skills and tricks every day. You can even get a subscription with them to gain access to a wealth of teaching videos!
4. Don’t throw yourself into an advanced move
I know, you’re all revved up from watching the amazing insta-aerialists and you want to look just like them. But take your time with a teacher to make sure you’re getting the wraps right, and especially take care of your muscles! When I was learning to invert, I would yank myself into position and eventually pulled my lat muscle. Big mistake! I had to rest for a month and even just getting off the couch was awful!
On that note, GlowTip: learn to engage your back muscles! Think about the lat pull down machine at the gym and how you feel those back muscles contracting and releasing. Those are super important in aerial fitness. I always tell people, “Remember to engage your lats!”
5. Use a mat for goodness’ sake!
You might feel pressured to not grab a safety mat if no one else in the class is using one. But don’t be silly! Silks and pole are all up in the air; if you fall, you’re going down and we’re all yelling timber! Pride or embarrassment is not worth a broken bone or serious bruise.
6. Don’t be self conscious!
Whether you’re down to booty shorts and a sports bra for a pole class, or you’re flailing, stuck in the silks, don’t be embarrassed! Everyone starts somewhere and everyone in that class has been where you are. Don’t worry about what your body looks like; don’t worry about looking silly. Every single class I’ve ever been to has been full of the most supportive and encouraging people! They cheer when you manage a new trick, they encourage you when you’re afraid to try a drop, they even help you untangle yourself from the silks (they do this one for me a lot!).
Finally, HAVE FUN!