The Spec­ta­tor’s Emma Reilly ex­plores three new ways to add some spice to your work­out sched­ule

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - EMMA REILLY

WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE. A New Years’ res­o­lu­tion to hit the gym, which seems so easy to main­tain dur­ing the first few weeks of Jan­uary, starts to look a lit­tle less shiny as Fe­bru­ary rolls around (es­pe­cially when day­light hours are lim­ited and the weather is woe­fully dull).

The so­lu­tion? A change of rou­tine. Here are three dif­fer­ent work­outs to add some spice to your work­out sched­ule — and keep your res­o­lu­tions from fiz­zling out.

If you’ve ever wanted to run away and join the cir­cus, this is the work­out for you. This class feels like a cross be­tween yoga, gym­nas­tics and a Cirque du Soleil per­for­mance. Large silk ham­mocks, hung from the ceil­ing, are used to help bal­ance tra­di­tional floor poses or as a sup­port dur­ing ac­ro­batic flips and stands.

The poses are both com­fort­ing — ly­ing out­stretched sup­ported by a silk ham­mock feels like in­hab­it­ing a cosy co­coon — and chal­leng­ing, as some will find stu­dents hang­ing up­side down, sup­ported by the silks. For me, the most dif­fi­cult part of the class was trust­ing that I wouldn’t tum­ble out of my ham­mock and land head­first on the floor.

Melanie Lourenco, the owner of Cir­cle Stu­dios on Fer­gu­son Av­enue and an ae­rial yoga in­struc­tor, says the work­out is safe — the silks were OK’d by a struc­tural engi­neer and in­stalled by a pro­fes­sional rig­ger — and ben­e­fi­cial. Ae­rial yoga of­fers the same ad­van­tages of tra­di­tional yoga, in­clud­ing deep mus­cle stretches and re­lax­ation, while re­liev­ing strain on knees, hips, and an­kles. The sus­pen­sion also re­leases ten­sion in your bones and mus­cles.

“This is great to work out and get deep stretches with­out put­ting pres­sure on the joints,” she said.

Ae­rial yoga is also ben­e­fi­cial for your core mus­cles, as your abs im­me­di­ately en­gage to help main­tain the sta­bil­ity you lose by tak­ing your work­out off the ground.

Over­all, I en­joyed my ex­pe­ri­ence with ae­rial yoga. Though the poses look in­tim­i­dat­ing, it was sur­pris­ingly easy to get the hang of it (pun in­tended). Lourenco walked us through the dif­fi­cult flips and poses step-by-step and gen­tly en­cour­aged her stu­dents to get out of our com­fort zones. Plus, it of­fers the same Zen-like re­lax­ation ben­e­fits of tra­di­tional yoga — my favourite part was be­ing gen­tly rocked side-to-side while ly­ing in the ham­mock at the end of the class.

Scal­ing a 40-to-50-foot wall is a test of both men­tal and phys­i­cal en­durance. While rock climb­ing is a fan­tas­tic work­out — climb­ing works your arms, up­per back, legs and core while in­creas­ing flex­i­bil­ity — it’s a men­tal chal­lenge as well. First-timers like me may find the dizzy­ing heights to be, well, dizzy­ing. For my first cou­ple climbs, I could only make it three-quar­ters of the way up the wall.

I lost my nerve and made a bee­line for solid ground.

Still, the adrenalin rush that comes along with climb­ing can be hard to beat.

“I al­ways say to peo­ple, if you get up to the top and your heart’s not rac­ing, it wouldn’t be the same ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Reid Monk, the owner of Grav­ity Climb­ing Gym on Frid Street.

Rock climb­ing is an ex­cel­lent way to build up­per body strength and tar­get mus­cle groups that are of­ten over­looked at the gym — es­pe­cially the arms, lats and fore­arms, Monk said.

“It works your back, your lats, your abs, your glutes, a lit­tle bit of legs — but mostly, it’s the in­side of the fore­arms — the mus­cles that close your hand.”

One draw­back: climb­ing can be in­tim­i­dat­ing, es­pe­cially in­tim­i­dat­ing for women — both due to the at­mos­phere at climb­ing gyms (the sport tends to draw more men than women) and be­cause women tend to have less up­per body strength than men. You may be more com­fort­able bring­ing a buddy, whether it’s some­one who is equally new to climb­ing or some­one who can lit­er­ally teach you the ropes (I re­lied on the ex­per­tise and en­cour­age­ment of my brother Liam, who has been climb­ing for years).

I can see why climb­ing can be­come to­tally ad­dict­ing. Each climb feels like a high-stakes men­tal puz­zle: fig­ur­ing out a route to the top while the rest of the world looms be­low is both ter­ri­fy­ing and ex­hil­a­rat­ing.

For those who want the work­out with­out deal­ing with har­nesses or sky­high heights, Grav­ity also of­fers a boul­der­ing wall where clim­bers rise only a few me­tres off the ground.

Tram­po­line jump­ing

Your favourite child­hood pas­time is also a great way to get your blood pump­ing. The Flying Squir­rel tram­po­line gym on Up­per James, which opened in Novem­ber, is about to un­veil two new 55-minute fit­ness classes: a car­dio speed class that fo­cuses on the legs and in­cor­po­rates a soft ball, and a full-body work­out that uses re­sis­tance bands.

The health ben­e­fits of tram­po­line work gained cred­i­bil­ity in the 1980s, when NASA stud­ied it as a way to help as­tro­nauts work out af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing weight­less­ness in space. That study found that 10 min­utes bounc­ing on a tram­po­line is a bet­ter car­dio­vas­cu­lar work­out than 33 min­utes of run­ning. Bounc­ing also tones your legs, core, and lower back — the mus­cle groups that help you stay sta­bi­lized on the tram­po­line.

“In­stead of just go­ing to the gym and do­ing one set of mus­cle work­outs at a time, here you get the full body and full core work­out,” said Luke Schueler, who owns Flying Squir­rel. “You can burn up to 1,500 calo­ries an hour on a tram­po­line.”

Schueler sug­gests re­plac­ing one day at the gym with a bounce on the tram­po­line and ar­gues the switch will help get you “into the best shape of your life.”

Af­ter only a few min­utes on the tram­po­line, I could be­lieve it — I was sur­prised by how quickly my heart rate spiked.

Plus, jump­ing on a tram­po­line is gen­uinely fun — some­thing most of us would never say about run­ning on a tread­mill.


Emma goes ver­ti­cal. Climb­ing can be ter­ri­fy­ing and ex­hil­a­rat­ing. Ae­rial yoga feels like a cross be­tween yoga and gym­nas­tics.



A tram­po­line work­out gets your heart pump­ing fast.


Co­coon­ing in the ham­mock was a sooth­ing way to end the work­out.


Emma Reilly work­ing out at Flying Squir­rel tram­po­line park, with the help of owner Luke Schueler.


Stretch­ing up­side down, sup­ported by silks.


First-timers can find climb­ing a bit in­tim­i­dat­ing. Emma went with her brother Liam Reilly, who is an ex­pe­ri­enced climber.

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