Monday, June 27, 2011

Man in the Moon

What do an accountant, a dancer, and a non-profit worker have in common? Well, probably not that much but last week, these three were taking their very first Silks class together!

What do I mean by “silks”? Perhaps you caught a glimpse of Pink’s 2010 Grammys performance when she brought them mainstream? Or maybe you’ve been lucky enough to have seen aerial ballet performed by Cirque du Soleil?

Lemmie give you an explanation of the, er, sport. (Feels silly to call it a “sport” but you definitely have to have strength and focus to do it so “sport” works for me!) Aerial silks is a combination of acrobatics and ballet in the air. A long strip of fabric is hung securely and the participant climbs up, twists around, drops down, flips, poses, and every other action you can imagine all the while securing herself to the silks using her feet, legs and arms.

I attended a Beginner’s class at NYC Trapeze School which is housed in a huge white tent on the far Westside of Midtown Manhattan. I arrived early and watched some of the other classes going on which I’ll definitely be returning to try! Trapeze, anyone?!

But back to Silks. My teacher, Suzie, introduced herself and after stretching for about 10 minutes we got started. The silk we used was a tiny bit stretchy (Suzie explained that different silks are more stretchy than others) but sturdy. Thank god. I’m not afraid of heights but looking at how high it went up (about 50 feet), you could say I was a bit nervous!

Suzie had us start off by learning to wrap our foot- key to a majority of the moves as that is the only thing securing you as you climb. We practiced this a few times- wrap and climb, wrap and climb…. We climbed pretty high and those nerves started to wash away- “Ok, I can do this!” I thought. It was actually similar to climbing a rope (remember doing that in grade school?) Once Suzie was certain we were not going to kill ourselves, she taught us how to straddle (which means you’re upside down, legs in a “V” in the air and the only thing keeping you from falling out of the silk), “Man in the Moon” (which simply consists of creating the basic foot knot and climbing several times in a row, maneuvering through the middle of the two pieces of fabric, and leaning forward). I’ll tell you, it’s not so easy but here's a picture of me managing to do this!

By the time we three students had learned these basic moves, it was time to wrap it up! Drill sergeant Suzie (I kid- she was so nice and supportive!) insisted we each do pull-ups, using the silks. We sat on the floor, legs straight out in front of us, and used the silks to pull our entire body up- WHOA! Tough but I get it- working with silk requires a lot of upper-body strength and good ol’ Suze just wanted to condition us properly. :)

So, would I do this again and what are the pros and cons?

I would absolutely love to take this class again! It was so challenging and I am certain I was the worst of us three girls but it was such a good time and I felt so strong as I pulled myself up the silks each time. Though it might not sound like we learned a lot, we stayed busy the entire hour and I felt like I got my money and time’s worth out of the experience.

Now for the cons: The biggest con is probably the price. The class itself cost $35 plus NYC Trapeze School requires a one-time application fee of $20. $55 for one hour of working out just isn’t for most of us, amIright? Luckily, it was such a great experience that I would pay the $35 again (I just don’t know how often- Maybe once/week? Once every two weeks?) The NYC Trapeze School also offers “Open Silks” hours where, for just $20/hour, you can go in and practice what you’ve already learned under the watchful eye of an instructor; that’s comparable in price to a lot of other exercise classes you can take in the city. Lastly, they offer a discount if you buy classes in bulk which is a bit easier to swallow.
The only other cons I can think of are the fact that it sort’ve hurts your skin and is extremely uncomfortable at first. I mean, you’re leaning all of your body weight onto a thin piece of fabric and, since you’re in the air, gravity is really working against you and some of the moves can be a little painful, not to mention your skin is rubbed in the same spots over and over again as you practice. Sexy, I know. Suzie assured me that yes, this is normal (and sucks) but the more you practice, the less it hurts because a) you gain strength and stop bearing all of your weight on the silks and b) you simply begin to get used to it.  I believe her because I watched her and a couple others who have clearly been practicing silks for awhile and they seemed completely fine.

I 100% recommend you try this class if you have the chance. It is definitely a workout (I was sore, especially in my upper body, for three days after my lesson… you know, the good kind of sore!) but because all of the moves are new and you’re learning (and laughing at yourself) as you go, you forget that you’re getting in a fantastic workout!

Here is a list of places that offer these classes:

- NYC/D.C./Boston/L.A./Chicago:  NYC Trapeze School
- Atlanta, GA:  SkyGym
- London: Flying Fantastic
- Houston, TX: Gyrotonic Houston

                          Let me know if you give it a go!


  1. Wow! That looks like soo much fun!! I am totally going to look into Atlanta's classes. I have wondered how hard it would be to actually do something like that :)

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Kristy, I'll sign up for one with you next time I'm in town for any real amount of time! :)

  3. Well, i just did my first aerial silks class today at Skygym. My Instructor, Kara, was Awesome! I apparently signed up on their photo shoot day so I had a class all to myself! Kara taught me so many moves and was super encouraging! I felt great from all the stretching and pulling from the different positions. I am definitely taking more Silks classes! Thank you Laci for the inspiration to get off my butt and try new things! =)