TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — Short of running away and joining the circus, aerial fitness may be the closest most of us will get to the flying trapeze. Aerial fitness classes usually include a trapeze, a hoop known as a lyra, and long drapes of silks.
“It wasn’t at the time accessible for everybody. You had to either be in a traditional circus or a circus school in order to learn this skill,” said third generation circus performer Jessica Watson. Watson and her partner Kaley Gay just opened a new aerial fitness studio to bring those skills to more people.
“It’s a fun way to work the body,” said Gay. “You gain all kinds of strength and flexibility, but it’s fun, and you don’t even realize you’re working out.”
It is a full body workout that targets the back, the chest, the arms and the core, and it will increase upper body strength.
“Because it’s either hold yourself up or fall, so people get strong really quickly,” said Watson.
Watson and Gay explain that this type of workout not only increases your strength but it empowers those who take the leap and join. “We try to motivate and encourage each other to do things you never thought were possible,” said Watson.
They recognize it takes a certain amount of vulnerability to do something outside your comfort zone, but as you get stronger, you see improvements with each class.
From learning how to wrap the silks around your feet to help you climb to pulling yourself into a hoop dangling eight feet above the ground, they focus on technique keep everyone safe. Each of those techniques works a different set of muscles.
Watson and Gay along with others from their Aerial Dragons classes also perform at venues and events throughout Tampa Bay. The Aerial Dragons classes are taught in Cigar City Crossfit in Ybor City. Dance and Circus Arts of Tampa Bay in Clearwater also offers this type of workout, and Yoga Downtown Tampa incorporates hanging silks into some of their classes as well.