Image: Aerial Fitness Studio

 

With so many different fitness classes mushrooming over the island, why keep your feet on the ground when there are options to get fit in the air? While most people already know what aerial yoga is, its dynamic sister aerial arts still draws some puzzled looks. Contrary to popular belief, aerial yoga and aerial arts are not the same thing. But despite both workouts using apparatus that’s hung in the air, the classes and their focus are not the same.

 

What’s the difference?

First of all, they don’t look the same. Aerial yoga uses fabric hammocks hung from the ceiling, where participants can suspend themselves in while executing yoga poses and stretches. Aerial arts uses multiple types of apparatus, depending on the classes you choose – silks, lyra (a hoop), trapeze or more recently, a three-dimensional cube.

 

Are the purposes the same?

 “The aim of aerial yoga is to strike a balance between strength and flexibility,” says Hazel Zhou, founder and instructor at Aerial Fitness Studio. Whereas for aerial arts, students work towards learning and perfecting tricks on an apparatus, eventually stringing them into a routine performed to a song.

 

So what goes down in each class?

Instructor Hazel on the hammocks used for aerial yoga classes
Image: Aerial Fitness Studio

 

We tried both aerial yoga and aerial arts classes at Aerial Fitness Studio, and felt the difference. With the former, there is a greater emphasis on stretching and engaging your core muscles. An instructor takes you through different poses using a hammock (stretching with your arms or legs in the hammock, or using it to assist headstands). Those accustomed to yoga on a mat will find some overlaps, but there is an additional challenge of staying balanced while partially suspended. 

Aerial arts classes are more for the adventurous, with the apparatus hanging higher than the hammocks. They are more dynamic, with the biggest difference being that you’ll require a lot more muscle strength as you position your body into various poses and tricks – it’s more Cirque du Soleil than yoga master. Precision is key, as the more controlled and exact your movements are, the safer you’ll be.  

 

How tough of a workout is it? 

Instructor CS demonstrating a pose on a trapeze
Image: Aerial Fitness Studio

 

Be prepared for your arms to ache after aerial arts – as many women do not exercise their rhomboids (the muscles in your back that are used during pull-ups), when you first start out it’s an unfamiliar burn. You’ll also feel a thorough workout of your core. And as you advance to higher levels, the tricks get progressively more challenging (and therefore requiring more strength and agility).

That’s not to say aerial yoga is a breeze, as some of the muscles used are similar, but you’re able to do the moves at your own pace during class – “students can push themselves as much as they want,” says Hazel. So you can sink into a deeper stretch, or hold a position for a longer time if you want to sweat it out a little more.

 

But the one box that both aerial arts and aerial yoga doesn’t tick is cardio. For those who want to get their heart rate up, the newest kid on the block that’s taking flight is Bungee Fitness.  

 

Wait, what's Bungee Fitness?

Image: Dance Vault Studios

 

Bungee Fitness (brought in by Dance Vault Studios from Thailand) has some overlaps with aerial fitness in the sense that they both involve some degree of being air-borne, and the use of a hanging apparatus. But that’s where the similarities end. While aerial yoga and aerial arts are all about strengthening and toning, bungee workouts are a lot more cardio-focused.

Participants wear a harness and are attached to a bungee cord hung from the ceiling (think of a sturdy rope that springs as you move). During the class, you can expect to do jumps (A LOT of jumps), kicks, floor dives, and even inversions. Routines are taught step by step and done in repetitions to thumping music. It’s a safe bet to say that within minutes you’ll be breaking a sweat. However, if you’re looking to build muscles, this isn’t quite the workout to do it – while there are push-ups and handstands, they are made a lot easier because the bungee cord means that you don’t have to support all your weight on your hands.

 

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The big difference between bungee and aerial yoga is the lack of tension. "Aerial yoga relies on strength, whereas for the bungee you use momentum," instructor Mohamad Rhomeiny says. But that doesn’t mean it's a piece of cake. What you will be working on is your core – the tension in the rope means that you have to use your ab muscles to stop yourself wobbling all over the place. Your legs will also feel the strain the next day from all the leaping that you’ll have to do.

The fun factor ranks high here: because of the bungee cord, with each jump you’ll spring higher from the ground and stay airborne for longer than if you were unassisted. Adrenaline junkies, you’ll love the challenge of leaping higher and lunging further, and for those aren’t as confident, you get the reassurance that the cord guarantees safety.

 

Aerial Fitness Studio is located at #01-42, CT Hub 2, 114 Lavender Street. Visit www.aerialfitness.sg. 
Dance Vault Studio is located at 135 and 176 East Coast Road. Visit www.dancevaultstudios.com.