Flying trick or… Flying treat?

Posted on March 5, 2024

Are you into performing? Or do you prefer a focused workout ‘in the zone’? Do you love the idea of flipping, inverting and twisting to a routine? Or do you simply want to fast-track your body to strength and flexibility? At Flex you’ll see both Aerial Arts and Flying Pilates on the class schedule. Which one should you choose?

While Aerial Arts and Flying Pilates both use a hammock, that is where the main similarities end. “When I think of Aerial Arts I think of performing,” says Flex instructor Emily Tan. “A class of Flying Pilates demands more effort and energy, helping you build more strength and flexibility. When you do Aerial Arts you’re distracted trying to do tricks and you barely know you’re activating the muscles, although of course you are.”

Learning sequences and combos to music according to a choreographed routine, Flex’s teen students currently following the Aerial Arts classes are planning on putting on a performance for their class mates, parents and friends at the end of term, which gives them around 12 weeks of training.

How sophisticated the moves are and how fast the class progresses depends on the group, says Emily. “If the students have done Aerial Arts before or have a gymnastic background they will have a lot more understanding and body awareness when off the ground or upside down. Plus endurance levels are important, as handling your own body weight off the ground gets pretty tiring.”

The gains aren’t simply physical, but impact students psychologically too. “By week three to four they feel more confortable and confidant, less shy, and less reluctant to try new tricks. It’s funny, you can tell which kids play outside in the playground and which don’t. And it makes me realise how much less play kids are getting these days.”

Emily says that it is natural that these confidence gains in class have a knock-on effect on the rest of their lives. “Initially students may think they won’t be able to do a trick, but once they try, succeed and know they can do it, it enables them to think they can apply that to everything else in life. It opens their eyes to all the possibilities in life.”

Flying Pilates, on the other hand, has more serious objectives (whether you’re a kid or an adult). “You’re looking at creating a stronger core, building better posture and increasing your body awareness,” says Emily. “The class is a lot more intense and results-oriented. You’re really concentrating on the exact muscles you’re trying to engage.”

While the moves may seem simple in theory, in practice they push you to extremes of effort. “Hero moves include the ‘dish’ where only your butt and lower back are supported by the hammock. The whole body is intensely engaged,” says Emily. “The more mind-body connection you create the easier it is to transfer the strength you build to a regular sit up next time you try. There’s also the ‘pull up’ where you’re using the hammock for assistance. Although this seems like it’s all about the arms, if you don’t engage the core and shoulders you feel much heavier. The arms are unlikely to be strong enough to be solely responsible for this move.”

By contrast, in Aerial Arts it is about inversions, anything where you’re supported by your lower back and hang upside down. “The basic Monkey inversion has your ankles in the hammock; knees bent out like a ballerina and your body hanging down. Similar moves like Spiderman and Superman are a little more advanced,” says Emily. “Once you come to making shapes, that’s when flexibility becomes a bonus.”

Flex offers regular classes for both Aerial and Flying Pilates. Teens and adults can try out this fun fitness routine.
View Class Schedule

Special Workshop
22nd May | 6 – 7:30 PM | Central Studio
Aerial Circus Party
with Emily Tan

View Details

Share this article


Typically replies within an hour