Combine yoga with gymnastics and circus performing and you will be close to imagining what’s on offer at Leeds Aerial Arts to make keeping fit so much fun!
The large warehouse space, located just off Kirkstall Road, is bright, airy and has all the equipment you could possibly need to get involved in unique fitness classes – aerial hoops, huge ribbon like ropes, and a big gymnastics style mat for practising handstands and working on core strength and flexibility. The friendly team, headed by owner Lorna, are on a mission to inspire womxn to step out of their comfort zone and realise they are capable of more than they think. I was invited down to Leeds Aerial Arts to try out a session.
I cycled down to the gym bright and early on Wednesday morning and was greeted warmly by Lorna, who had already hosted one session before mine. After I finished storing my bike, I had a look around the huge, really nicely decorated space, and took in the equipment. I was a little scared to see 6 hoops suspended from a metal frame, and 3 large red ribbon-like ropes also suspended from another frame a few metres away. But, after chatting to Lorna and getting closer to the equipment, I soon realised that I was in safe hands and that I had nothing to be frightened of.
As it was my first session at Leeds Aerial Arts – and my first time trying anything like it – Lorna suggested that she take me through some basic moves on the aerial hoops. Before starting, we went through some dynamic stretches and we got ourselves limbered up.
Lorna demonstrated a series of moves, starting with how to get on the hoop, which is harder than you would think! But after I got the knack of the jump and pull action up to the hoop, I liked seeing the progress I was able to make. Lorna worked me through some slightly more challenging movements. I enjoyed trying out all the different poses. I particularly liked the balancing poses, and especially liked to see how far I could push myself and whether I was able to take my hands off! Lorna showed me a different way to get down from the hoop as we neared the end of the class, and when I had a go I realised that it was going to take me some time to make it look as elegant as she did. But I did manage to complete the move, and I liked seeing the small progress that I was able to make, even during the short time I was there.
Despite working hard, we did make some time to have a chat about where Leeds Aerial Arts started and what the motivation behind the space is. Lorna explained that she did dance at university, and during the course was introduced to aerial. She loved it and wanted to offer it to other dancers. When she started offering the classes, she soon realised that many other people, especially women, were keen to give it a go as a new and exciting way to keep fit. Initially, Lorna set up a studio in the City Centre, but when the classes took off, she sought out a larger space, and eventually decided on a move to Kirkstall.
Leeds Aerial Arts is open to anyone, but the classes are mainly attended by women, who are looking for a fun and sociable way to keep fit and get strong. Lorna explained that many of those who attend group sessions often also attend other classes, like stretch or yoga. I would definitely recommend others to give Leeds Aerial Arts a try. It’s unusual, fun and a great way to build strength. The people on the ground are fab and all are qualified, with plenty of experience to support you in achieving your goals.
You can find out more about the sessions on offer and how you can get involved by heading to the Leeds Aerial Arts website: https://leedsaerialarts.co.uk/