Who knew that aerial dance could be a great way to learn action hero stuff?
It’s true. The irony is, I was only checking it out ‘cause like I’ve said, I want to be like Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft Tomb Raider when she does that somersaulting, ballet-like dance one night in her pajamas while strapped into a bungee-supported harness. That’s a great way to relax before popping off to bed, I always thought – just gracefully bounce about in the massive entrance hall of your castle.
Well, it turns out that bungee-whirling is in the repertoire for aerial dance. Even if you don’t know the term, you’ve seen such dance performed in venues like Cirque du Soleil when sylph-like creatures twirl and climb and spiral down to earth and up again while wrapping themselves in hanging strips of fabric or in rings or other do-dads. Of course, if you ever see these sylphs up close you realize they have muscles like bowling balls.
Now personally, I’m not a performer. I’m not interested in tangling myself up in mid-air while striking artsy fartsy poses. I only want to do the much easier bungee bouncing.
And to that end I signed up for a Fitness Conditioning class with the local troupe Aerial Fabric Acrobatics. For a mere $16 I could get a one-on-one workout preparation with gymnast guy Eric.
Damn, did Eric work me over.
Yes, soft spoken, very nice Eric gave me what the website promised, “… a chance to work specifically on core strength utilizing aerial equipment, gymnastic equipment, and methods from Feldenkrais, Pilates, dance, and Yoga… If you want to start learning aerial, this class is an excellent prep to help boost your core strength.”
Oh, I’ve been strength boosted, alright. It’s been over 48 hours and my shoulders and arms and upper chest still hurt. On the bright side, my abs now merely feel bruised.
Unlike Parkour, Eric didn’t maintain a boot camp atmosphere. That would have been difficult to do anyway in the bright, colorful gym of Dardano’s School of Gymnastics. Most of the time the place appears to be populated with little girls in pretty tights. Quite a contrast to the funky, tough, uber masculine Parkour gym I suffered in last summer. Anyway, Eric had me do one exercise after another as we moved from a long trampoline strip to mats, the floor, a balance beam, and bars on the wall. I did the works, and I did them pretty well.
In between the routines, I stole glimpses at the teenage girls and women who were working out on the fabric strips and aerial hoop and trapeze bar that hung from the ceiling. As they climbed up, hung upside down, and generally pulled off some cool stuff, I had an epiphany…
This aerial stuff is just what Layla might do!
I mean, on occasion Layla simply has to hang like a bat while going in upside down through a window from a roof’s overhang. And old castles and mansions often have massive drapes and tapestries she’d need to negotiate to get up and down some walls. Being a second story antiquities hunter, she’s got to have all-around climbing chops.
So you know what? I’ll just plain have to do more aerial dance training than I’d originally planned. For one thing, it turns out that I can’t do the bungee stuff until spring when the weather is warm because the rig is outside. So I might as well get into better shape in the meantime.
Besides, there’s the continuing problem of my (lack of) upper body strength.
At the end of class, Eric wanted me to climb a rope that hung from the high ceiling. “Go all the way up and ring the bell at the top,” he said. “I want you to do it twice.” He even held the rope taut for me and there were knots in it every couple of feet. But by then my arms and shoulders were shot, and try as I might (and I tried three times), I only got up a few of those knots before collapsing back down to the mat.
Layla would have scampered to the top like a monkey.
So you know what this means: I’ve got to take more conditioning classes with Eric and learn the basics of climbing fabrics. And one day very soon I’m going to climb all the way up that rope and ring that damn bell.
And I’ll climb it twice.