New Dimension in Exercise

The U.S. gym, health and fitness club market is a $3 billion businessthat's growing at a rate of 2.5 percent per year. It's so successful,  in part, because it is never shy to adopt the latest exercise trends and crazes.

Like aerial yoga!

What, you're still doing yoga, like, on the ground? C'mon, get with the program!

A little over a decade old, aerial yoga makes use of “silks,” or hammocks, suspended from the ceiling or a metal frame. These can support up to 1,000 pounds, and use the effects of supported body weight and gravity to contract, lengthen, strengthen and extend muscles.

It's moved beyond yoga, as well. Classes with names like “Aerial Fitness Dance,” “Aerial-batics,” and “Aerial Pilates” combine every manner of gym studio class with a new, off-ground dimension.

Yoga Journal has extolled its virtues, saying it “combines acrobatic arts and anti-gravity asana.” Aerial yoga generates core and upper-arm strength that is not tapped in traditional yoga, as participants must pull down on the silks to lift themselves up. The suspension also creates space in your joints, decreases compression in your spine, and provides a decidedly liberating sense of mobility.

It's also zero impact (assuming you stay in the air...)

Aerial yoga can also make your terra-firma yoga better. Some poses that some students find difficult to achieve on the floor may come more naturally, with gravity's guiding hand, in the air, and the insights gained from the aerial workout can be carried over onto the mat.

Of course, the gyms love it because it takes a wonderful exercise like yoga which anyone can do in the privacy of their home with absolutely no extra gear beyond loose pants and a mat or rug and turns it into something requiring a specially tricked-out studio with chains and hammocks and carabiners.

It's also fun. By all accounts aerial yoga is as much about the giggling as it is the Ganesha. After all, who wouldn't want their work-outs with a little less sweat and a little more more Cirque Du Soleil?