One of the biggest reasons people give up an exercise regimen, is that it’s just not fun. It seems there’s a reason they call it a ‘work’-out.
But what if there was an activity that combined fitness with creativity and passion? What if you actually looked forward to a little physical exertion in your week? This type of thinking has led to alternative fitness routines, that actually have people longing for more.
One great way to get in shape and have fun while you’re doing it, is to practice circus arts. Fortunately, you won’t have to run away to join the circus to participate. There’s a school in the West End that has instruction in flying trapeze, aerial hoops, aerial silks and acrobatics. Aerial Edge offers classes in all of these disciplines and more for adults of all skill levels that range in age from uni students to those in their seventies!
In case you’re wondering right about now…the trapeze is perfectly safe! And it just happens to be the only full-time, indoor flying trapeze in the UK.
Students are ‘in lines’ meaning that they are in a type of harness and are clipped to cables with an instructor who ensures that there are no involuntary falls. Students can frequently be caught (swinging from one trapeze bar to be caught by the catcher on another) from the first class. It all depends upon individual ability and comfort level. Even though it’s quite safe, the perceived danger can help to greatly increase confidence levels, and the physical activity will lead to greater core strength, flexibility and balance.
For those who prefer to stay a bit closer to the ground, the aerial hoops and aerial silks are much lower and can be performed while just a couple of metres off the floor. Aerial silk artists were made famous by Cirque du Soleil where individuals form different spins and poses while hanging from long pieces of silk fabric. It’s beautiful to watch, and it requires every muscle to perform.
Aerial Edge also offers floor acrobatics, flexibility classes, and conditioning classes where individuals can strengthen the muscles needed for circus arts – while reaping the rewards of a finely-toned circus body. Some individuals train in these classes exclusively, and do not train on the trapeze or silks. Many students however, come with the intention of attending the conditioning classes only, but soon find that with increased confidence levels, they want to try the different aerial arts, taking their instruction to the next level.
All the classes are taught by highly trained instructors, and many degree-educated circus instructors and professional performers, one of whom is a former Cirque du Soleil coach.
The classes are held in historic Kelvin Hall, the original site of the 1920s circuses which came to Glasgow. Many of the building’s features still surround the area where classes are held, and it lends a bit of charm and nostalgia to the overall experience.
Classes are designed to be inclusive, in a friendly, non-competitive atmosphere. It’s all about doing your best and improving your own personal skills.
Another fun way to improve your fitness levels while exploring your creative side is dance. If you ever attended ballet classes as a child, or perhaps just stared at a Degas painting and wondered what it would be like – the ballet classes at Dance Glasgow may be for you!
The upstairs studio on Ruthven Lane has been seasoned with character; its slightly worn, hardwood floors tell the tale of thousands of dancers who have left their mark on them in search of the perfect pirouette.
The adults who come here for instruction are both young and mature, serious and playful. They eagerly line up at the barre in front of the mirrored wall and practice their positions, creating beautiful moving pictures. More than just creating pretty movements though, they’re developing their core and leg strength, improving their balance, and gaining confidence. The instructor watches each student carefully and makes gentle corrections when needed, which leads to better form and more amplitude in the movements – and a better stretch.
The familiar practice piano provides music throughout the one hour and 15 minutes lesson, although the songs are popular recognisable tunes, such as “Candle in the Wind”, and the Atomic Kitten song, “The Tide is High”. The instructor, Marion Baird, who is a dance master, keeps the atmosphere light-hearted with a joke now and then, in between giving commands in French. She explains that learning the commands in French is important, because some of her students will return to their hometown after uni, while others may move to a new area or country for work. By learning the commands in French, they can study ballet anywhere and easily know the universal language of the movements.
After the barre work is finished, the barres are removed from the centre of the room and dancers begin the floor section of their training. They take the movements they’ve practiced on barre and begin to put them together into small, choreographed segments.
Dance Glasgow has classes for absolute beginners who have never danced a step, and classes for adults who are more advanced and want to continue to learn more. The classes are drop-in, and can be joined at any time so that there’s no waiting for weeks for a class to begin. And I’m happy to report that several men attend the classes and find it thoroughly enjoyable. It also bears mentioning that many adults also find the belly dance and Zumba classes a great experience, depending upon your own personal preference.
So take the ‘work’ out of your workout, and start having fun instead!