Aerial classes gain popularity

Exercise is not always boring

Natella Muradyan, Photographer

Scrolling through Instagram, I came across a picture of a girl posing in the air with the help of something that looked like a rope. It looked so beautiful as the rope supported her in the air as she showcased an interesting pose. I was intrigued by the skills and talent she was portraying so I wanted to find out where I could learn to do these tricks myself. The name of the place was Xtreme Training Center and the location was tagged on the picture. The name quickly caught my attention and I set on a journey to find out more about it and try it out myself.

Senior Arpi Safaryan searched of places she could go for her senior project, and aerial arts in Xtreme Training Center caught her attention. “I basically started aerial because I wanted to do something cool for my senior project,” Safaryan said. My reason for doing this was a little different. I wanted to do aerial because it reminded me of art with the different poses but at the same time it was a great exercise for the body and mind.

First, I checked on their website to receive more information about the classes they offer and what positive outcomes came out of this experience. A series of different classes was listed like Boxing, Capoeira, Kajukenbo, Muay Thai, Fitness, Kickboxing, and the one I chose to take, Aerial Silk. XTC is one of the few places in Southern California that offers Aerial fitness programs.

Aerial classes used to be only offered to Olympic-level gymnasts or circus performers, but over time aerial classes were created and included in fitness programs that anyone could take. People can use the fabric curtain sheets that hang from the ceiling to do different exercises and moves that require flexibility, strength and courage.

How can such delicate fabric hold a person’s weight while hanging from it in the air? How can it hold such high impact drops? Well, according to Sky Gym, technology to create synthetic fabrics strong enough to hold the incredible amounts of weight of high impact drops has been invented and used for the past 50 years.

I found it interesting that I could exercise my body and mind not just with the regular weights or with the same old machines in the gyms. Through the aerial class, a form or art was being portrayed as well. There was creativity behind each pose.

These type of classes are gaining popularity very quickly. According to an article written in February in the Argus Leader, such classes have gained popularity recently in places such as South Dakota. Ellen Davis, an aerial class instructor and the owner of a business in Sioux Falls that offers aerial silk classes, said that she hopes to connect with other aerial instructors. Davis said that she iis “excited to help support an industry that is popular in larger markets.”

How Xtreme Training Center looks from the outside.
Elen Margaryan
How Xtreme Training Center looks from the outside.

Wanting to learn more about this industry, I went after school on Tuesday to get an appointment. I have heard from people and read online reviews expressing that the classes fill up pretty quickly. However, I was able to get the appointment from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. that same day. I got pretty lucky. The front desk informed me that I took the last spot. I was excited but nervous at the same time. What if today was the last day of my life?

My friend Elen Margaryan came with me because she was also interested in the Aerial Silk class. Compared to me, she was feeling a lot more calm. “Don’t worry, it will be fun,” said Margaryan, trying to calm me down because I was feeling a little nervous.

“What if I fall down?” I asked. “I’ll die laughing,” she replied. Reassuring, right? Not really.

At 6:30, the instructor, Keely Luna, welcomed us to class. “Everyone make a circle and we are going to start with 50 jumping jacks,” Luna said. Truth be told, at that second I felt a little disappointed because I was expecting to do cool tricks in the air right from the start. However, I understood that this was a great warmup for what was about to come. There were about eight of us on the mat doing jumping jacks and other set of exercises for the first few minutes of the class.

Then we lined up to finally use the fabrics hanging from the ceiling. The instructor said “run,” and I imagine the confusion on my face at that moment could not be hidden. Being the beginner there, I waited for the others to go first to see what we were supposed to do. All we had to do was run, hold on to the fabric in the air and swing back and forth. Sounds easy, right? It was not that easy for some because they let go of the fabric and fell on the mat. At least we were not so high in the air.

“She makes it look so easy,” “How is she so good,” were comments heard about Sarah Jacobs , one of the participants in my class. She has been going to Xtreme Training Center and practicing aerial for about a year. Luna told us that it was through a lot of practice that they reached that level of comfortability on the fabrics. “Practice and patience makes perfection.” she said.

Luna was a great instructor, and I practiced the climb with her because it was my first time there. “That was a great first climb,” she told me. To be honest, I was pretty proud of myself because I’m not the kind of person to ever exercise that much but I was successful at completing the climb.

“I love helping people learn and it’s good that I can share my knowledge about aerial with others,” Luna said. She has been working at Xtreme Training Center for about six years, but took interest in aerial when she was 16 years old.

Luna helping me to complete the climb.
Elen Margaryan
Luna helping me to complete the climb.

If the aerial class does not seem like a way to better one’s physique then I don’t know what is. I could barely move my body the next day. My muscles hurt and my body was sore. I needed two to three days for the soreness to go away.

“Even though my body felt sore, there was a family environment at Xtreme and I was able to exercise and have fun at the same time,” Safaryan said.