Circus Pro launches Aerial Fitness Classes in Tampa Bay, FL

Every few months, there’s a new trend in exercising and working out. From Yoga, to Pilates, to Zumba, these trends are taking over gyms across the world. Now, the latest fad in exercise seems to be aerial fitness, and if you’ve been to a circus in the last few decades, you can surely imagine what it’s all about.

Ariel fitness is akin to the flying trapeze, and is more similar – despite its perceptibly dangerous nature – than you might think. It involves a trapeze, a long silk curtain and a hoop, known as a lyra. And according to those who’ve been professionally trained in the performance art, it’s one of the most amazing forms of full-body exercise you’ll ever try.

Aerial Fitness

Aerial Dragons Class, photo, NBC News Channel 8

Jessica Watson, a 3rd generation circus performer who specializes in aerial performances, along with her partner, Kaley Gay, have opened a new aerial fitness studio in Ybor, Florida, near Tampa. As Watson explained, aerial workouts weren’t nearly so common until just recently.

“It wasn’t at the time accessible for everybody. You had to either be in a traditional circus or a circus school in order to learn this skill,” said Watson.

“It’s a fun way to work the body,” added Gay. “You gain all kinds of strength and flexibility, but it’s fun, and you don’t even realize you’re working out.”

Aerial fitness classes are unlike most traditional forms of exercise because it targets each and every part of the body, from the back and chest, to the arms, legs and core musculature. Watson said it immediately increases an individuals upper body strength, “because it’s either hold yourself up or fall, so people get strong really quickly.”

Signing up for the Aerial Dragons takes a little extra courage, and according to the owners, those who take the plunge often come out feeling empowered. “We try to motivate and encourage each other to do things you never thought were possible,” said Watson.

Sure enough, flying through the air on a drape or lyra hoop is certainly something most people never imagined themselves doing – at least, not past the age of 5 or 6 while admiring the sheer audacity of trapeze artists when the circus came to town.

The two admitted that their clientele must succumb to a certain degree of vulnerability when signing up for the aerial fitness class, taking them far outside their normal comfort zone. However, as they become stronger, experiencing notable improvements with each class, the sense of accomplishment is palpable.

Students start out by learning how to wrap a silken drape around their feet and legs, assisting in the climbing process, as well as securing themselves on a hoop before it ascends 8 feet into the air. The primary focus of every class, however, is teaching techniques to remain safe throughout the experience. Watson explained that each and every technique works out a different part of the body.

Watson and Gay are currently hosting Ariel Dragons classes at Cigar City Crossfit in Ybor City, just northeast of Tampa.

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