You know those circus performers who hang off of giant circular rings and do death-defying acrobatic tricks because they get off of gambling with their lives? That’s called Aerial Hoop (also known as Lyra), and I happened to take one of those classes at NYC’s esteemed A-list dance school, Body & Pole.
If you’re into aerial fitness classes that include hanging off of fabrics chained to the ceiling, or twirling around a pole, then you’ve probably heard of an aerial hoops class. Even if you haven’t, a lot of people who are sick of running on a treadmill like a crazed hamster are starting to try out new and unconventional fitness regimens like Lyra.
Cirque Du Soleil performers clearly do an awesome job at catfishing everyone and making the sport look seemingly easy, when in reality, it’s hard AF.
As a seasoned pole dancer, I thought I could just breeze my way through a hoops class and leave ready to audition for a Vegas circus troupe. I was wrong. This class seriously kicked my ass and I was sore for DAYS.
Coming into Body & Pole’s Chelsea studio, I pranced my way into a Level 1 Lyra class designed for total newbies and beginners unfamiliar to the sport.
After going through a 15 minute stretch session to Rihanna’s EDM phase and other typical, group workout Calvin Harris-esque tunes, we were warmed up and ready to hop on the hoop. There were only 2 hoops in the studio and 5 of us, so we had to take turns and watch each other struggle to lift our bodyweight onto a giant circular steel hanging from the ceiling.
Although my hands are pretty decently calloused from pole dancing, I definitely wasn’t prepared for how much hoop f*cking hurts. And I mean my fingers were literally aching 10 minutes into class. Not good.
We watched as the instructor performed a series of ‘basic’ level 1 moves that already included hanging upside down from the hoop.
“Alright, let’s try it!” She exclaimed after gracefully flowing through an arm-crushing combo that involved a full on pull up onto the hoop followed by another trick that I was definitely not about to do for the sake of not my breaking my neck.
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I waited to try the combo out until she was ready to spot me because, well… I’m a wince.
Even though I always had the core and arm strength to do inverts, it took me a good 6 months to comfortably hang upside down off of a spinning pole because I was deathly terrified of falling. So with that being said, I definitely wasn’t about to risk my spine in a hoop class without a proper spot.
The rest of the class consisted of me anxiously watching the instructor perform basic tricks and internally screaming at the possibility of falling onto my face on the crash mat. The vision I had of myself leaving class able to gracefully execute a simple beginners combo had vanished. By the end of it, I was able to manage pulling myself onto the hoop, doing literally 2 basic tricks…and that’s about it. I left class with my arms and hands trembling, shook from the utter intensity of it all.
That being said, would I go back to another class?
Hell yeah. Lyra was an intense workout that my body desperately needed, and the amount of strength and coordination that you need to gracefully move yourself in and out of the hoop is insane.
Luckily, you don’t need to have bread to be able to take the class. You can find Body & Pole on ClassPass, and other aerial studios usually have deals for first-time students. If you really can’t get yourself to the gym, then maybe it’s time for you to try an unconventional fitness class like Lyra. And the best part about it is that time flies when you’re having fun while you’re working out. Just be prepared for some serious DOMS for the next few days after class.