Unfurling Gracelessly

Unfurling Gracelessly

Words by Katie Daly

When your interest in fitness activities doesn’t quite meet your interest in keeping fit, try adding a bit of fun and fantasy to the mix.

We have this Whatsapp group called ‘Ladies That Do Sh*t’ (other than drinking wine and cocktails) – honestly – that is the sub-heading. ‘Brunch Club’ is for organising drinking wine and cocktails.

As both these groups have the same members, we’ll have to consider that there is a vague delusion within this construct – separating our conversational selves into either active, adventurous and enthusiastic, or sedentary, safe and cynical women.

We all know we are both and more, and they compete.

Anyway – as the name suggests, this group is for organising activities involving fitness or adventure that we are all happy to partake in. Decisions are made by consensus. Links to possible activities are posted in the group – those that suck us into a tangential vortex of the imaginary self win and the day / evening is organised around the work schedule of all.

And so it was with Aerial Fitness… ‘We’ll look just like Charlize Theron in that perfume ad!’  was the opening sell, but the ensuing pings back and forth, depicting situations of spiralling absurdity, in which we would unfurl ourselves from the sunbeams themselves, had us convinced that this adventure was definitely worth sacrificing an evening of wine and cocktails.

There are at least 5 Aerial Fitness groups in the immediate Dublin City area – which is a surprisingly large number for such a small city, but it does make finding a class to suit your schedule a good bit easier. We went with a recommendation – for a school in Clontarf called Creation Aerial and booked ourselves in for the 2 hour class in aerial silks (unskilled).

With most of our group taking no regular exercise and and none of us having any experience in gymnastics, there was definitely some scepticism as to our suitability for this class – I mean nobody wants to be this disruptive in someone else’s fun-time, and we lost a few souls on the way – but for those who persevered, doubts were batted away with reminders of those golden sunbeams and on we trundled into the converted community hall with hanging hoops and ropes and silken columns of purple, pink and gold.

It did not bode well for us when even the warm-up movements were proving a challenge, and when the class broke out into it’s groups, it was clear that most of these women already knew what they were doing. Watching the ladies effortlessly climb to the ceiling, tumbling and turning with ease, drew oohs and aahs and the odd mumbled ‘I can’t do THAT!’ but as we shuffled to our own area, there was a slightly disheartened assumption that we would surely be grounded for the lesson, with a few of us making a quick recalculation on our decision to come.

We were quickly introduced to the silks however and set our first challenges under the calm and careful guidance of our instructor Salla. Eyebrows raised around our small group as Salla slowly wrapped her wrists in swathes of silk to demonstrate the correct method of a hanging hold – it was an unexpected dimension to the evening, but one that sent our group enthusiastically scrambling up the silks and tying ourselves in knots.  Bit by bit, Salla brought us through a beginner’s routine that was enough to get our phones out to capture our attempts at seductive swirls. By the end of the evening quite a few of us had managed not just to swirl, but to wrap, climb, hang and even add the odd cirque-styled flourish which made the whole experience very satisfying as a first-timer.

I will tell you now that I laughed a lot during this lesson –  failure is funny when accompanied by a desperate attempt to look graceful – though I suspect without the circle of friends around to laugh at me, I may have just felt incompetent – maybe that is true of all failure. I worked a lot during the class too – it takes significant arm and core strength to achieve the hardest of the movements so all those years of sporadic enthusiasm for yoga and pilates definitely helped out.

I’ll go back I think – its rare you find fun and fitness together. I suspect this may be a little like my fleeting conversion to Bikram – although no one can say Bikram is fun so maybe this one will stick.

You never know until you try.



Words by Katie Daly