Aerial arts offer exercise and artistic expression, instructor says.
It’s “a dance in the air.” That’s how instructor Barrie Michaels describes aerial arts. She’s currently bringing the fitness trend to Volusia County and classes are available at the Ormond Beach Nova Recreation Center.
She says this is the first time it’s been available in Volusia County, as well as Flagler County, where she lives.
Think of Cirque du Soliel, where the performers are suspended on ropes and ribbons above the crowd. That is aerial arts, and the Cirque is the reason for the sport’s growing popularity.
Michaels is quick to point out that aerial arts is not aerial yoga. Yoga is done with a hammock, allowing the student to assume yoga positions, while aerial arts is more of an artistic performance.
“It’s a performing art,” she said. “People do beautiful performances. A student learns a few tricks, and then puts them together with music. It mesmerizes people.”
Michaels offers three types of aerial arts, silks, lyra and cube. Silks are two separate silk strands, the lyra is a metal hoop and the cube is a box with open sides. They offer many possibilities of movements.
The health benefit is also important she said. For one thing, it’s very good for building upper body strength, which is needed by many women. It’s also good for flexibility and the core muscles, and being inverted gets the circulation going, provides spinal decompression and flushes out the lymph glands, she said.
She points out that beginners start close to the ground and move higher after they master the movements, for safety.
She also sees it as stress reliever, similar to yoga. She once was in a high-stress occupation in the corporate world, and also was an employee of Guardian Ad Litem for six years. She found the practice to be very beneficial in calming the mind.
It also provides a potential for economic opportunity. In addition to Cirque du Soliel, which has performing companies all over the world, entertainment venues such as Disney World have similar shows. Aerial arts performers are also hired at weddings, fashion shows, etc.
“It’s been around 20 years but started getting popular about 10 years ago,” she said. “When Pink did it at the Grammys … that got people talking.”
She said it’s very prevalent on the west coast of Florida.
Her company is called VertiFit Aerial Arts and Yoga, which stands for vertical fitness and includes aerial yoga.
Michaels is helping Ann-Margret Emery, of Ormond Beach, get started in aerial arts. Emery, who is assistant city attorney, said she was a competitive gymnast when younger, and has missed it.
“It’s exercise but to me it looks like fun,” she said. “I like the idea of climbing high and getting upside down.”
She said people shouldn’t feel like they are too old to get involved.
“You don’t want to just watch your kids,” she said.
Michaels said aerial arts is suitable for all ages and VertiFit will be a partner in the Mayor’s Fitness Challenge, offering discounted rates.
She also has the attention of other instructors in the area. She is going to do a special workshop on Nov. 10 for SkyHigh Gymnastics.
Visit vertifit.com or call 586-3268.