By Grace Huseth
Inhale, exhale and flip upside down. At Virginia-Highland’s Inspire Aerial Arts, even newbies can fly off the ground as aerial artists within minutes.
Inspire offers group aerial classes, private lessons and private parties in various apparatuses such as aerial silks and aerial hoops. Owner Kimberly Snede, who has trained with countless professional aerialists and Cirque du Soleil artists from around the world, opened the high-ceiling studio space on Amsterdam Walk in 2015.
“One of my favorite things about aerial is that it allows you to express yourself creatively, but also gives you the added benefit of a great workout. If you’re like me and you get bored at the gym, you’ll love aerial because it’s like playing for adults,” Snede said.
Most start with the Intro to Aerial Dance class, which teaches beginners how to balance, transition in and out of poses and go upside in a 60 minute class. From there, aerial artists can progress to aerial fitness classes and flexibility series or drop in for open practice.
Instructor DeAndrea Clark warmed up the intro class with some jumping jacks and light stretches and then briefed the students about special ropes and how to tie them. Aerial fabric is designed to hold a maximum of 2,000 puonds and the rigging will hold at least 10,000 pounds.
“I started aerial arts by accident. It found me. I passed an aerial gym, saw the silks, took an intro class and the rest is history. I love being in the air and I’ll climb as high as I can,” Clark said.
Clark has a background as a dancer and said dancing translates well to aerial arts. She has been assisting instruction for a year, and said the best secret to mastering the ropes is grip strength. While your arms may be solid, strong hands are often overlooked. If you are just starting off with a fitness routine, you can see progression in a few months with aerial art. If you are an athlete, you can challenge yourself in a new way by applying different muscles and skills.
“Some people may be intimidated by aerial art, but you build your strength. It definitely takes upper body strength, but it also takes core, leg and muscles that you didn’t even know you had. Everyone should try it at least once,” said Clark.
For more information about classes, visit inspireaerialarts.com.