Saturday, August 6, 2016

Aerial: An Alternative Form of Exercise

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By Emery R.

            As a human being who has lived on this Earth for fifteen years, I have noticed that people tend to have differing opinions on exercise. For some, like me, it is a necessity. Others don’t feel like extending the effort – even as a dedicated swimmer and runner, I understand the urge to shut yourself inside to read, write, sketch, or watch Netflix, but the bottom line is, exercise is healthy for you. Years of research and studies have proved this, and even without those, keeping your body in good shape sounds like a good idea.
            “But how do you make exercise fun?” you ask.
            Well, says I, you have to find an activity that is fun for you to do. In fact, if you want to get moving, but you are a little bit daunted by the idea of a morning run, then I suggest you find something that is outside of the usual scope of recreation (i.e. running, cycling, weight training, etc.). One prime example of this is aerial dance.
            Aerial dance is an activity that takes place in the air (hence aerial) on the trapeze, the silks (two long lengths of nylon), the Spanish web (a long, thick, almost canvas-like rope), the lyra (a metal hoop, about the size of a hula hoop), etc. If you have ever been to a circus, the idea is somewhat similar. The apparatuses are still the same, but the environment of an aerial class is less intense, and more controlled, with a lot less risk involved.
For example, beginners will not often use the Spanish web because it is less safe than say, the silks (more security climbing the silks), nor will a beginner be expected to swing on a flying trapeze. The space for that is hard to acquire, and the rigging is expensive, so most places have a dancer’s trapeze (just a trapeze suspended five to six feet from the floor).
            I actually took aerial classes for about four years. They were absolutely incredible. I loved the unconventionality of climbing high in swaths of fabric, hanging upside down, and learning how to do gorgeous poses like the cross back straddle, or dragonfly. One of the best parts of taking classes was being able to have shows. My aerial instructors, fellow trainees, and I would plan an end-of-year show for our parents and anyone else who wanted to come. It was always so fun to pick a theme, like fantasy, for example, and build routines that demonstrated the message we wanted to deliver, as well as showcased our developing skills.

Personally, the best thing about aerial was that I did it with a group of friends. We were all from the same school, and since all of us were interested in aerial, we decided to take lessons at the same place. It is an excellent way to spend some time with your friends without having to do a lot of planning; you just have to show up. To this day, I still miss the group aspect of those lessons.
To recap, aerial is an excellent yet unconventional form of alternative exercise. It is fun and exciting, while still allowing you to strengthen and condition your body. If you are interested in aerial, search for places near you that offer lessons, and try to get your friends involved. The more, the merrier, as they say. Plus, you can only ride with the circus if you can earn your keep. Being able to do aerial will make things easier if you run away to join it.


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