THE BASICS: Flying Fantastic teaches you to do cool stuff that, quite frankly, makes you look sh*t hot whilst hanging upside down. Synopsis for the more eloquent amongst you: At Flying Fantastic, you can choose between lots of ridiculously fun options such as aerial silks, aerial pilates, aerial yoga and aerial hoop (noticing an anti-gravity theme here?)
We chose aerial hoop at Gymbox Farringdon, although a lot more class variety is offered at Flying Fantastic’s main home in Battersea.
THE BITCHES: Carly & Erin
THE CLASS: We had absolutely no idea what to expect from this class- all we knew is that we had to sign up 4 weeks in advance, it was so difficult to procure a space. This made us probably more excited than kids at Christmas when Hanging Upside Down day finally arrived! We passed on work drinks (I know– how keen are we to get some hoop action?) and headed down to Gymbox.
The aerial hoop space is almost in a “pit” in the belly of the big gym. You can look down onto the mats and hoops from the gym space above, and so our first glimpse of flying magic was to peek down and see people from the previous class looking pretty much like circus acrobats. “That’ll be us in 20 mins” I said to Erin.
We burst out laughing. Yeah, right. In twenty months, more like.
The warm up was pretty specialised, and I was grateful for all for all of the yoga and pilates I’ve done as we ended up moving between downward facing dog and plank for a good 5 minutes. This really stretched out the arms, legs, and spine. It also made me wonder if my body was up for this flying malarkey. We did a lot of specialist stretching to loosen up the fingers and arms- all of this I anticipated was probably necessary for the class ahead!
We were split into two groups- the newbies and nearly newbies, and the bonefide trapeze artists. We were in the former. We had a hoop to share between us, which was really good as we could have a break between poses, and then watch and help our hoop buddy whilst they did their moves.
First trick was how to hang your arms from the hoop and throw your legs up over your head, so your legs were essentially split, hanging over your head and you are now suspended, holding the hoop in between your legs. Sounds a bit complicated- and it was.
Now, whilst Erin was able to smoothly glide her body into this position time after time, this very first move is where I failed. And so I would like to take this oppoortunity to say a sheepish thank you to her for being such a lovely human being and helping me scrabble my little stubby legs into the hoop, time and time again, simply because I couldn’t get into position like everyone else. This is definitely one of the perks of training with a Hot Bitch Buddy! To be fair, I was laughing so much I could barely haul my legs up, so goodness knows how she wasn’t in fit of giggles at my flailing baby-spider-monkey impression.
Anyway, although we had developed different techniques to get up onto the hoop and “hock”, once we were actually there, it was a whole world of fun! (Oh, and what does “hock” mean, I hear you ask? True, it sounds like the noise a cat makes, but it is actually the word for hanging upside down with calves looped over the hoop, and the hoop itself rested snugly inbetween the knee joints),
We started by sitting in the hoops- which is essentially dragging yourself up (gracefully) from hanging upside down and doing a 180 degree sit up to shift your thighs over the hoop, bum sitting on it, and perching like a little bird (or as in my head, Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge. Yes, obviously that’s who I looked like). From sitting, we took it in turns to practice man in the moon (or as I yelled out “I”M MOONING!!!” ahem, not quite the right phrase), walking and bird pose. You may admire our skills below! I know, right? Someone call Baz Luhrmann immediately!!
We spent rest times rubbing our shoulders to get over the muscle fatigue, and watching with our mouths open as the teacher gave us demos. Two more experienced (and quite frankly darn right gorgeous) girls did a fantastic array of tricks that my stubby legs were in genuine awe of.
We must have had about 12 tries on the hoop each, which is pretty good considering we were sharing one between us. For your first few classes, this was definitely enough hoop action anyway. Rest times were necessary, and the teacher was really attentive to each of the pairs in class, which meant that she often took it in turns to come to us as an individual pair and help us with the next move, rather than teaching the class as one unit.
This may sound cumbersome, but was actually perfect for the pace of the class and meant that she could match her advice to our abilities. Also, once you were up on the hoop in your pose, it was actually just nice to chill there for a bit. Take it slowly and don’t bite off more than you can swing, people!
Towards the end I was dangling like a tired little chimp with no strength to haul myself up any longer (ok, so I was dangling like a chimp from the word go, but let’s not focus on that please). It was time to admit defeat and congratulate ourselves for our first ever flying class. Warm down was pretty specialised so concentrated on the strange muscles we’d used to launch ourselves around on hoops, and some partner work to reeeeally deeeeeeply stretch. My arms were so limber after this, my stretching partner was almost able to make my elbows touch when she squeezed them behind my back. Oh I do love a good stretch.
THE VERDICT: Now I know I may be accused of being annoyingly over-enthusiastic at times, but this class was quite honestly hilarious. You have to promise yourself that you’ll turn up ready to try everything, throw yourself into it, and go with the flow. I was honestly the worst in the class. I couldn’t even get my legs up into the very first position, but I didn’t care and I wasn’t made to feel silly or uslesss in the slightest. I spent most of the class peeing my pants with laughter, surprising myself with the odd frikkin’ awesome pose, and then hanging upside down, laughing, and peeking through my tangled legs at Erin (who was being very polite at my dangling predicament).
And I tell you what, trying to work out how to disembark from hanging upside down when you are crying with laughter isn’t something you get to do everyday. Well it damn well should be! You really have to go and try it out- the laughter was as good for the soul as the work out was for the body. Genuinely loved this class!!
THE EXTRAS: My new merchandise arrived earlier on Flying Fantastic Day. Have a peek! Everybody say Ooooooh. Aaaaaah! Sign up to THE fitness to kick-off your 2014 The Real Girls Sweat Workshop, and get your hands on a your own Project Hot Bitch T-shirt. Fact.
THE OTHER EXTRA: OH. My. God. My. Arms. Hurt. A. Lot. The. Next. Day.