Monday

Up, Up and Away: Flying Fantastic Review

I have a confession to make: for a health and fitness writer, I am actually pretty unfit. Sure, I go through spells of obsessive running, gymming, HIIT-ing and yoga-ing, but I soon straight fall back into lazy cycles of wining, dining and watching Orange is the New Black. However, with my long-awaited summer holiday a matter of days away, it is high time for me to get back into the swing of things, for that teeny tiny bikini of yesteryear is calling.

I hate to talk about "bikini bodies", for it feels so passé and somewhat derogatory. There is no right or wrong bikini body, and as long as you are happy in yourself, then nothing else matters. Otherwise I have a groundbreaking, life changing tip: to get a bikini body, buy a bikini and put it on your body.

Joking aside, if you would like to tone up a little before your summer holidays, then I have just the thing to get you off to a flying start. Fun, exhilarating and undeniably challenging, aerial fitness is best way to kick your body up a gear, working muscles from top to toe. Based in Battersea's Wilditch Centre, with a couple of weekly classes at Gymbox in Farringdon, Flying Fantastic is London's first aerial fitness initiative for all levels.

Flying Fantastic aims to put the fun back into fitness, and the progressive nature of the practice means you will always be driven to go back for more. The idea came from a trip to Buenos Aires, where aerial fitness has really taken off, inspiring the founders to set up shop in London.

The practice itself is inspired by the agility of circus performers and acrobats, with a variety of different classes designed to build core strength, stamina and flexibility. Most popular are the enchanting aerial silk classes, though you can also try aerial hoop, trapeze and aerial yoga classes.

I decided to opt for aerial trapeze. I am not too shabby at yoga, I have a relatively strong core and I am pretty flexible, so surely I can swing from a trapeze, right? Wrong. Apparently my core is about as strong as a Flump. More on my marshmallow-esque strength later.



Turning up at Battersea's Wilditch Centre, I was rather nervous having read a few reviews online. I then realised that I was the only novice in the class, and panic ensued. The tales of aches, pains, blisters and bruises didn't help.

Onwards and upwards, as they say. The cardio warm up was great fun, as were the stretches, and then it was on to the tricky stuff. There were three trapezes set up, with two people per trapeze. One particularly advanced practitioner, Alice, was allocated her own trapeze, majestically weaving from one pose to another while I struggled to get my feet off the ground.

Our teacher was incredible, and I am in awe of her strength and agility. She was also very tolerant of my pathetic attempt at aerial trapeze. Even though I felt embarrassed at times, the teachers are very encouraging of beginners, so don't be intimidated. Of course this class is difficult, but my downfall was my lack of self belief. That and my spaghetti arms.

Once you work out the basics, though, the class is really rewarding. When I finally managed to engage my stomach muscles and hold the elegant gazelle pose, I felt a real sense of achievement, and am now ready to push myself further.

Above all, Flying Fantastic is a workout like no other. At the time it does not feel arduous, but you will certainly feel it afterwards. My muscles are still aching, but I feel so much stronger as a result. I  for one will be going back for more, but this time I will bring a friend. Ideally someone with an equally marshmallowy core. Any takers?

Find out more about Flying Fantastic here. Classes start at £17 for a drop-in session, and you must book all classes online. Flying Fantastic are on Twitter here.
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