Who tried it: Gabrielle Olya, PEOPLE writer and reporter
Level of Difficulty: 9 (on a scale from 1 to 10 — beginners beware!)
Walking into the sunlit room of AIR Aerial Fitness’ Los Angeles location, filled with turquoise hanging silk hammocks of varying lengths, I wasn’t sure if I’d walked into a workout class or an audition for Pink’s next music video.
What ensued over the next 50 minutes of my AIR Foundation class was unlike any workout I had experienced before. Having tried everything from boot camp to barre classes, I thought I would be prepared for any workout, but this was definitely one of the most challenging classes I have ever tried.
Courtesy Riot Media Group
The class began with a warm-up to get the heart pumping that included classic moves like jumping jacks and high knees. Soon, we were getting to know our silks, first just sitting in them, and soon hanging upside down from them and spinning in circles (I learned that I do not enjoy being upside down!).
Although initially even getting into a position to be able to spin upside down seemed impossible, my instructor was very good at breaking down exactly what to do with the silk to get into the proper position, and came over to help during the moments of the class I was really struggling.
I expected the class to be similar to a yoga class that somehow used the hanging silks, but it was actually more like a boot camp class — but more difficult because you have to keep your body balanced on the silk while performing already intense moves like burpees, pikes, planks and sit-ups. (For these moves, one or both feet stayed in the silks while doing the moves on a mat.)
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The Foundation class — which was meant for beginners, but trust me, was still extremely challenging — switched up continually between doing reps of traditional strengthening exercises and learning how to do “tricks” such as climbing up the silks.
While I found some of the moves uncomfortable (and others downright impossible) I think a lot of my issues had to do with my own mental blocks and a fear of falling rather than an actual physical inability to do the different silk positions.
I left the class feeling challenged — mentally and physically — and wanting to go back to make a second attempt at some of the moves I found too daunting to try the first time.
The Verdict: If you’re looking to get out of a workout rut and try something completely different, this is a great class to try. You get to feel like an acrobat while working up a serious sweat and doing incredibly challenging strengthening and toning exercises.