D OW N S I D E UP Do you dare? Turn­ing your work­out up­side down may be the se­cret to a fit­ter you. By Ni­cole Catanese.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Beauty Bazaar -

When Sa­man­tha Chang first tried aerial yoga at New York’s An­tiGrav­ity Lab, it was an at­tempt to find an an­ti­dote to her life­long anti-work­out at­ti­tude. “I would al­ways get bored,” she says. “But hang­ing from the ceil­ing? It just looked so fun.” It was, and the bonus was that she got lean and strong – fast. So she keeps go­ing back, and she isn’t alone. Classes are sold out a week ahead, while at satel­lite stu­dios in Saudi Ara­bia and Tokyo, ses­sions are booked months in ad­vance. It’s un­de­ni­able: Aerial work­outs are tak­ing off.

The self-pro­claimed pi­o­neer of the aerial fit­ness land­scape is Christo­pher Har­ri­son, a for­mer Broad­way dancer and acro­bat who founded the An­tiGrav­ity Lab. His orig­i­nal in­spi­ra­tion? An af­ter­noon hang­ing around in a ham­mock in the trop­ics, cou­pled with wit­ness­ing aeri­al­ists per­form on hang­ing ropes at New York’s Lin­coln Cen­ter shortly af­ter.

Har­ri­son de­cided to blend the two ideas – and bolted a large piece of fab­ric into the ceil­ing at his stu­dio to cre­ate a wide, stretchy, ham­mock-like con­trap­tion suspended from two points. He not only in­cor­po­rated it into his ac­ro­batic group’s per­for­mance but also put one in his home. “Sud­denly I was hang­ing up­side down and get­ting all the benefits of in­ver­sions – which I loved about my yoga prac­tice – but with­out putting pres­sure on my neck, and I thought, ‘This is awe­some.’”

No, you don’t need to be an acro­bat to do aerial yoga. But it’s not easy. It flows like a yoga class, and there are sim­i­lar poses with sub­tle twists, i.e., Fly­ing Down­ward Dog, where the ham­mock is at your hips, and your arms and legs are dan­gling. Oh, and there are planks – a lot of planks. “I guar­an­tee there is no one, no mat­ter how fit, that An­tiGrav­ity would not kick their ass,” says Har­ri­son. In­ten­sity can be al­tered: “The more you play with the po­si­tion of your feet, the more body weight you put into it, and that is what will shred your abs.”

Plus, it’s the per­fect sup­ple­ment to your other work­outs. Here’s why: Go­ing aerial helps in­crease flex­i­bil­ity and joint mo­bil­ity, a com­monly ne­glected yet cru­cial as­pect of achiev­ing the body you want. Then there are the in­ver­sions, which “boost blood flow to­wards the heart, where it can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxy­genated,” ex­plains Jacqueline Sha­har, a clin­i­cal ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist at the Joslin Di­a­betes Cen­ter in Bos­ton. “And it de­com­presses the spine, re­leases pres­sure be­tween the ver­te­brae, and helps lengthen the mus­cles.” Un­like with tra­di­tional strength train­ing, us­ing your own body weight in ev­ery pose – from pulling your­self up and down into a low squat to tuck­ing your feet in­side the ham­mock for a plank – forces you “to re­cruit more mus­cle fi­bres, which means you’ll get a more full-body work­out that burns more calo­ries,” says Sha­har. Acolyte Mary Goetz, 23, is sold: “I al­ways have fun the en­tire time. I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a work­out class be­fore.”

F L I GHT D E C K

Grav­ity-de­fy­ing yoga is also avail­able in Malaysia at: VIVA VER­TI­CAL STU­DIO,

Ativo Ban­dar Sri Da­mansara. E-mail: vi­vaver­ti­cal@ gmail.com

Tel: 016-209 6997. ARAVIND YOGA STU­DIO,

L-2-2, Plaza Da­mas Phase II. Tel: 012-201 8418/ 03- 6211 2819. DREAMS DANCE STU­DIO,

37C Jalan SS15/4, Subang Jaya. E-mail: dreams­dnc@ gmail.com

Tel: 017-331 1688.

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