Taking fitness to the next level with aerial silk

Want to take your fitness to a higher level — literally? Try the silk route or Aerial Silk, has been gaining popularity, says Pooja Patel

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Pic: Bhavya Kotian

At the break of dawn, as early as five, Dadar's Shree Samartha Vyayam Mandir is swarmed by aerialists, all gearing up for their daily dose of aerial silk, a fitness fad that is slowly becoming the talk of the town since last year.

While earlier, various kinds of dance forms, such as Zumba and Bokwa, and new yoga forms like power yoga, water yoga, dance yoga, took centre stage, the shift now is towards aerial silk among people looking to experiment with something new and exciting.

Its benefits are vouched for by celebrities who've tried this, including former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen. It is being tried by people from all walks of life and from varied age groups. Pretty similar to rope malkhamb in terms of health benefits, it is a different ball game when it comes to the overall experience. Silk is more sophisticated, needs finesse and is graceful. An Aerial Silk session may include basic steps on silk, aerial yoga, aerial acrobats, aerial dance and can also be combined with intensive acrobatics.

Aditi Deshpande, national champion in rope malkhamb and trained in Aerial Silk in trained in San Fransisco, LA, says, "Aerial Silk strengthens the entire body, increases flexibility by multitudes and tones the thigh muscles. Every part of the body is involved when you are on the silk, holding onto it."

It takes a few sessions for first timers to adjust to the silk, she says and emphasises that there are no prior requisites to be able to try it. Palpable apprehension is often seen among novices who are weary that training might be necessary before they can try silk. Deshpande,who conducts her 'Fly High' classes at Arts in Motion (Khar), Sitara Studio (Lower Parel) and Shree Samartha Vyayam Mandir (Dadar), deals with this apprehension on a daily basis. Clearing the air, she says, "Anybody can try it and there is absolutely no criteria for it, nor is there any age limit. I am training students who are as young as five, while my oldest student is 85 years old!" Once the person is comfortable with the basics of silk, then they can move to the next level, which includes variations. Various dance poses, yoga postures, acrobatics and theatrics can be tried with the help of a trainer.

Shruti Jasani, trained in Aerial Silk from New York, shares, "I started conducting classes for children between the age group of 5 to 15 at my studio called The Wooden Stage in Vile Parle. We once celebrated 'bring your mom day' at the studio where kids taught their mothers certain elements of silk that they had learnt. Post this, we had adults too enrolling, and now have a full batch."

The magic of silk, according to these trainers, is that you gradually fall in love with the exercise-cum-art routine. The transformation of a person from how they felt during the first session and the way they shine with confidence after a few sessions is remarkable. Deshpande adds: "I have seen a positive change in the people who've tried my classes. As a trainer, that is a moment of great pride for me. Aerialist enthusiasts express anxiety and uncertainty during the first session. But after a few sessions, they exude confidence!"

Megha Chatterjee, a student at The Wooden Stage, says: "I have been a dancer all my life but for quite a long time, I had not been able to practise due to academics. Learning Aerial Silk helped me get my strength and flexibility back. I feel this fitness regime builds courage, discipline and makes you fearless."

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