This is a part of our ongoing ‘We Tried it’ series where we test out weird and wonderful things to do, eat or see in Colorado. Go here to see what else we’ve tried. Comment below and let us know what we should do next.
Exercising is already hard enough, but exercising in the air takes fitness to a whole new level. The fact that you have to focus on yourself while making sure you have enough strength to not fall is something I personally have never thought about. Usually, in workout classes I am more concerned with not throwing up rather than gravity. As a result, AIR ® is not only one of the craziest fitness classes I’ve ever taken, but also one of the most grueling arm workouts I’ve ever done (trust me, I’ve been sore for days). AIR® is located in the Denver Highland area, but the company has locations all over the US, and are looking to add more in the Mile High. They offer a wide arrange of classes and are eventually adding barre classes into their mix. Here’s what I experience during my very first aerial work out.
So how did this idea start? I personally thought it started from an ex-circus performer, but in fact it turns out it’s the complete opposite. Shama Patel was a corporate attorney and left her career to pursue the health and wellness industry. So far, she has also started a Mud facial bar (located in Boulder), and a Floor Lab (coming to Denver in early 2018) which is a modern floor barre workout.
The class I attended, which is highly recommended for beginners, is AIR Foundation. This class is a “50-minute beginner class that introduces new clients to aerial exercises on hammocks; the class emphasizes basic alignment, foundation, and specific muscle action so that the body can learn how to balance on aerial hammocks. AIR® is an intense aerial fitness training program fusing elements of conditioning, Pilates, ballet and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) on aerial hammocks.” They also offer other classes such as AIR Core (ab focused), AIR Flow, and AIR. Each class is different and they are 50 minute long classes except for the AIR Core which is 30 minutes long. Right now they offer about three classes a day which start at 12:00 pm and the last class starts at 7:15 p.m They also offer weekend classes, one at 10 a.m. AM and the other at 11:15 a. m.
I attended the 11:15 a. m. class on Saturday, which had about four other people in it. It was a very clean studio, which had a gorgeous view of the mountains. Everyone in the class faces the mirror wall, which was super useful since it helps you see what you are doing. Each hammock is different in a way that more hammocks are higher off the ground for tall people, and closer to the ground for short people. I am 5’5 and the instructor helped me chose a “middle” one, which ended up being the perfect size for me. The hammocks are made from aerial fabric that includes spandex and silk and are washed on a weekly basis(don’t worry, they don’t smell at all). Everyone grabs a mat, which you put under your hammock station, as well as two dumbbells that weigh three pounds each. At the start of class, the instructor tells everyone to get comfortable with their hammock by “floating” around with it. When we began the stretching that even incorporated the hammock (note: every exercise involved using the hammock). The workout has a wide variety of exercises that work different muscle groups for the 50 minutes, but my personal favorite were the lunges, squats and the upside-down crunches.
What’s nice is that each exercise is super short (I would say around 30 seconds), so you don’t stay focused on how miserable or painful it is. When doing the lunges, it wasn’t your regular “stay on the ground and switch legs.” You wrap your arms through the hammock and jump and float in between the lunges. This creates a more aggressive way to do lunges since your putting all your weight on your thighs while also incorporating your arms in between. The squats also involve using your arms to jump in between — for the first time I was having fun while doing squats. The upside-down crunches part involves wrapping your legs around the two strings and resting your back on the hammock. I’m not going to lie, it felt super weird at first and I needed the instructor to reassure me that I wouldn’t fall on my head. Once I was upside down and hanging I couldn’t even focus on the exercise because I was so confused on where I was and couldn’t adjust myself to being upside down. Looking past that, I did manage to do about 2 upside down crutches before quickly pulling myself back up.
The hardest workout that I could barely do was the pull-ups. Both of your feet are in the hammock above the ground, and then you reach both hands up and pull yourself up, and spread your feet apart so you can casually go down and do the exercise again. We did this exercise twice in the 50 minute workout, and the first time I was so tired that I couldn’t even do it without knowing I would fall. That is one thing you have to constantly worry about is falling, which makes you extra careful when pushing yourself (you can see this as an upside or downside). This is also the first time I felt defeated with an exercise since I couldn’t even lift myself up to do one pull-up at this point.
When the class ended we stretched, which I chose to stretch on the floor rather than the hammock since yet again I was so sore and knew I couldn’t trust my body to hold myself up. The instructor was a 10/10 since she was very attentive and very descriptive in what she was doing (which was great for a newcomer). If your foot or arm came out of the hammock, she would be there to help you settle back in. The music was upbeat and she would say a couple of jokes in class which distracted us from the workout. Overall the other people in the class were super nice and encouraging too, and told me after that they even fell once or twice at their first class. The instructor also reassured me that after the first or second time in the class, you will be way more comfortable with the moves.
I could barely lift my arms to call someone after (no, I’m not kidding or being dramatic). The soreness lasted a day after, but I would definitely do it again. I am also interested in the other classes they offer, and when they will add some barre classes to the mix. The only downside I see is that they don’t have a lot of time slots for classes, but since this studio just opened this past October, I could see them definitely adding more times in the future. The first class is free with discount code “AIRDENVER” , and any class after is $30. A first time membership of unlimited classes is $100. You can find more info on memberships and prices here.
*Note: I do not recommend doing this hungover.