My journey from fat to fit has been a fun and sweaty one, though at times gruelling and painful. This year I have tried a combo of gym and yoga studio trials, Muay Thai, personal Pilates training, and working out with my kid. I have embraced the pain, gritted my teeth and stretched until muscles twanged… just to find that I have fallen in love with it all. The sweat, the agony, the exhilarating high of putting my body through its paces to find that it still works, having a kid and a busy job hasn’t destroyed my body completely! Then over the summer I started a new job and my exercise habit fell by the wayside. I moved from being a teacher to working at a desk in an office where I spent countless hours sitting at a desk and worst of all, the discovery of my colleagues’ snack habits! So what better way to kick off the back-to-school season than by getting back into the swing of things? Quite literally in my case!
Having heard great things about Epic‘s studio from MMA (mixed martial arts)-loving friends, I was pleasantly surprised to see yoga classes on their schedule. I had wondered if the studio was going be too much testosterone for me, with the gym’s focus on different forms of MMA and CrossFit, so seeing yoga on the menu reassured me that I probably wasn’t going to be the only female in the gym. While I have absolutely nothing against a strong male presence in a gym, the last thing I wanted to do was make an ungainly fool of myself in tight lycra and in front of an audience. The chances were particularly high with the aerial aspect of this yoga class!
However, when I turned up to class, I was surrounded by men! Females were a distinct minority in this class. Having just come off the back of a Brazilian Jiujitsu class, the men were using the antigravity yoga for muscle stretching and cooling down. “Ho hum'” I sighed inwardly, resigning myself to looking as graceful as a hippo and trying to pay them no mind. Happily, nobody cared, we were all too focused on keeping our balance and not falling off our swing! Although it is a hybrid technique, the class is a perfect formula for bringing about awareness of the body and mind. AG Aerial Yoga classes in fitness gyms do not tend to be as spirit based as they are in yoga studios. Every class starts with a levitating meditation and ends with a floating sivasana. Tamer, the lovely instructor (and also nephew of Christopher Harrison, founder of Antigravity Fitness) took us through the basics of finding our plumb line and showing us handholds, before we launched straight into our first inversion hanging upside down in the saddle.
Now if you are one of those perfect parents seen on Pinterest, happily playing with their kid on the monkey bars or swinging upside down in a jungle gym, Antigravity Aerial Yoga will come as a breeze to you. I am not. But after the initial lurch of fear that I was going to slip out of the swing, plunge headfirst to the ground and be left with a brain full of mashed potato, I felt a heady rush of excitement that made me feel like I was 7 years old all over again. It was a giddy sensation and I kept wanting to burst into fits of giggles. It was hard to keep the smile off my face during the class.
AG Fitness is easier than regular yoga because the AntiGravity Hammock supports you in your poses. The stretches are deeper than usual but the use of the swing helps to hold you in place and feel a little more anchored. During an inversion you are only 3 inches off the ground. During 75% of the moves you are distributing your weight between the hammock and the floor. After the first inversion, my spine (usually hunched and tight with stress) felt perfectly straightened and aligned, no kinks or tightness. There are two instructors on hand to spot you and help with your postures, and the floor is cushioned so there is no need to fear swinging upside down. The only thing you need to remember is not to eat a couple of hours before the class.
There were a few moves where we fully let go after a pose and swung for a while, which felt incredibly exciting – that rush again! We then ended the class by being completely cocooned like a caterpillar in a chrysalis, for complete relaxation. This is definitely one class that brings out your inner child! That rush of endorphins is there right from the beginning of class and stays with you for the rest of the day. As I walked back to my office, I felt a couple of inches taller. I felt a natural state of zen-like bliss, only previously reached with high quality pharmaceuticals. Better than any drug any day. The high lasted through to evening and I slept better than I had for weeks!
Epic MMA Club, 29 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong, 2525 2833, www.epicmma.com. Read more about this class here! For enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out a Special Sassy Offer at Epic MMA here and don’t forget to follow Epic MMA on Facebook here and Instagram here!