With my hubris checked and my pretension thoroughly flattened by belly dancing, I decided to try something I knew for certain would be a bona fide challenge. My search led me to Air Born Aerial Fitness on Yadkin Road, and I could not have been more correct.
For those unfamiliar, Air Born Aerial Fitness is a studio specializing in unique classes focusing on circus arts training through aerial apparatuses. Examples include aerial silks, hoops, slings and my new arch nemesis — the trapeze.
The classes are designed for varying skill and fitness levels to build strength, endurance, core and flexibility.
Customers must go to the studio’s website to create a user profile to get started. Before signing up for any class, you must first sign up for Intro to Circus Aerial. The intro class is mandatory and goes through the basic language, movements and warm-up exercises for each piece of equipment. Heads up, it’s only offered twice a month.
Walking into class, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was relieved to see it filled with women like me: new, excited and nervous, so I felt in pretty good company.
The studio is, quite honestly, beautiful. A wide industrial space with colorful scarves hanging from the ceiling and 90’s alternative music piping in from the speakers, it looks exactly like the type of place where sweat and magic happen.
The appearance of Air Born’s owner, Zahra, and one of her instructors, Sarah, signaled for the start of class. Right away, I knew it would be a fitness experience unlike any other.
I wasn’t wrong.
Before being allowed onto the studio floor, Zahra and Sarah instructed us to remove our shoes (socks are optional) and jewelry and then directed us to wash our hands.
The start of class is as you’d expect. Zahra gave a rundown of the classes offered, how to sign up for them, what to expect and how to be safe.
After that, it was time to fly or flail.
Looking at the instructors, you can see the power this type of exercise creates. Both women seemed so incredibly strong and capable as they handled the equipment. It was amazing to watch them move, and I was under no impression I’d come close to their grace and ease once on the apparatus myself. Still, it felt amazing and very humbling to try.
But, let me be clear here: it was so hard. I strained, grunted, swung, and at one point — I might have even smiled. But at no point did I glide through the air with the greatest of ease.
Now, I wouldn’t have called myself “unfit” before that class, but it did bring attention to some areas of concern. Like apparently, I have zero upper body strength and a severe lack of coordination, all of which are necessary for hoisting, rotating and dismounting from the trapeze, silks and hoop. Despite the challenge, I didn’t feel discouraged; it made me want to dig a little deeper and maybe do a push-up or two.
Of the apparatus we tried during class, the hoop was my favorite, if only because it was Ashley-friendly enough for me to complete a cute little flip before sliding awkwardly to the floor.
Zahra and Sarah were phenomenal instructors. With an eye for safety, both women were clear when stating their expectations. Still, they were tremendously helpful and patient, even acting as a spotter for those (me) who had a little trouble getting onto some (all) of the equipment.
Extra points to them both for not laughing once when I failed to hoist, rotate or dismount from anything at any time.
However, I had a great time and loved how I felt when I left. It wasn’t the glow of fitness victory that carried me to my car but the hum of pride at having made a genuine effort and the thrill of trying something new.
I can’t say that aerial fitness is for everyone, but based on my experience, if you’re a fitness-focused individual looking for a fun, challenging workout — I do think you’ll enjoy Air Born Aerial Fitness quite a bit.
And when you do decide to take the plunge — go with an open mind and a great sense of humor.
For more information visit the studio’s website at www.airbornaerialfitness.com/.
Editor’s note: Up & Coming Weekly is sending our staff writer Ashley out and about in the local area to try new things. She will report on her experiences to help readers decide if they want to try the adventure, too.