Anja Madhvani tests her upper body strength...

Recently, I’ve been looking for fun ways to keep fit. I often look at people doing amazing things, whether it’s dance, aerial silks or acrobatics and desperately wish that it were me. But, what I’m learning this year is that we really can do anything we want to, the biggest step is deciding to have a go.

In one of my classic midlife crisis moments I decided that Aerial Hoop was the right class for me. So I contacted Lorna from Leeds Aerial Arts and booked a class for a small group. A motley crew from all walks of life and all sorts of fitness backgrounds, the one thing we have in common is that we enjoy trying new challenges. 

I’ll admit, it takes a hell of a lot of upper body strength to get into those hoops...

18 09 18 Aerial Class Leeds Libs

Georgia has a background in dance and attends yoga twice a week. Fran and her brother Craig enjoy running, cycling, yoga and climbing. Libs is currently doing yoga and swimming, and Jess is a Zumba aficionado. We arrive just as an aerial yoga group is finishing, all elegantly entangled in swathes of suspended cloth. Cue nervous laughter, surely none of us would look even half as good as these guys.

We begin with a warm up, rolling shoulders, bobbing knees and giggling. Lorna gives demonstrations between each stage of the class, and spots each of us as we make our first attempt onto the hoop. I’ll admit, it takes a hell of a lot of upper body strength to get into those hoops, and we haul ourselves in with minimal grace.

18 09 18 Aerial Class Leeds Craig
Craig - ‘I found it fun and very different to anything I’ve done before. Hard on the arms and great for the core.’

Once we are all confident in mounting and dismounting the hoop (with varying levels of poise - damn you Georgia you elegant beast) Lorna demonstrates our first pose, the man in the moon.

A big part of this class seems to be overcoming fear that we develop as adults. Children will give anything ago without too much thought, but as adults we develop a fear that stops us from taking small impulsive risks. For example, sometimes we need to take our hands off the hoop and trust that our legs and bodies will stop us from falling. They do, but it does take a little while to build that confidence. I was worried that I wouldn’t be strong enough or flexible enough for this, I can barely touch my toes these days. But I was surprised at how much I was able to do, attending regularly would definitely build a heap of upper body strength.

18 09 18 Aerial Class Leeds Fran
Fran - ‘I felt like I’d been run over afterwards but I would definitely go again’

Lorna’s instruction is so clear and confident that I feel instantly boosted. When she tells me I can do something I feel compelled to give it a go, even when that means tipping forward in my hoop and plummeting head first towards my crash mat. It works, I manage my first full roll around the hoop and strike what I think is the perfect post-gymnastics routine pose. It definitely isn’t, but I feel sensational.

18 09 18 Aerial Class Leeds Jess
Jess - ‘I ached like mad the next day but it was totally worth it. I’ll be going back again for sure’

Lorna moves from person to person giving guidance and boosting moral. The feeling in the room is electric, each of us is elated to be trying something new and to be making these little achievements. I’ve been unable to exercise for a few months due to a lung issue, and I can honestly say I walked out of that room the happiest I have been all year. I feel stronger than I expected to, accomplished and confident.

 We all spend varying amounts on gym memberships, yoga classes and other fitness commitments. Aerial classes may seem expensive, but really they’re comparable with the likes of specialist yoga such as Bikram. I’d gain as much upper body strength through this as I would doing weights at the gym. If you’re looking for a fun way to get in shape, with plenty of laughter along the way I cannot recommend this highly enough. We are so lucky that there are people in our city like Lorna who are ready to share a truly unique skill set with us and help us achieve unimaginable things.

Leeds Aerial Arts, Studio 2, Cross York Street, Leeds LS2 7EE

One Aerial Class £13.00 Six Class Pass (£12 per class) Valid for 8 weeks £72.00 Ten Class Pass (£11 per class) Valid for 12 weeks £110.00