I tried my hand at an exercise class I'd never even heard of until a week ago, and let me tell you it was one of the hardest classes I've ever taken!
A few weeks ago I came across a Facebook group called Melbourne Girls Outside (MGO). The intent of the group is to provide a safe environment for women of all ages to get together to participate in fun outdoor (and sometimes indoor) activities. It's especially good if, like me, you struggle to find friends who want to do all the physical activities that you want to try. I did some research and also found an online news article about the group, and the whole thing sounded perfect for me.
I signed up for their Facebook group as well as the corresponding Meetup group that is the base camp for all the activities they organise. With over 4,000 member from across Victoria, the activities do fill up quickly so you need to be fast with your RSVPs, however there are so many activities that you're sure to find something that tickles your fancy.
When the notification dropped into my inbox about an aerial silks class, I was immediately interested. I'd never even heard of an aerial silks class before, but it looked interesting and I'm always on the lookout for new things to try. I clicked the "Attend" button and paid my $15 for the class (which was a bargain in my opinion).
When I told my friends at work that I was doing this class, one of them said, "Oh you mean like Pink does?" Now for those of you who aren't aware, in the past, the singer P!nk has often performed with aerial silks at her concerts and she's quite well known for putting on an amazing display (all while singing at the same time).
"Yes! That's exactly what I'll be doing," I responded enthusiastically, visions of performing graceful arabesques while 15 feet in the air running through my head.
Let me just tell you from the outset, I looked nothing like that. Instead, picture a large trout caught on a fishing line and flopping around with absolutely no control. That was me.
But first, let me give you a rundown on how the day went.
I arrived at Levitate Fitness in Bayswater at 11.20am on a Saturday morning. The class was being run specially for our MGO group so it was for members only and the whole studio had been booked out just for us. I stood around with about 12 other women awkwardly as I didn't know a soul there, and secretly hoping I wasn't the only one there who knew no-one and who also had absolutely no idea what to expect from the class. (Luckily we were all in the same boat.)
We started off with the instructors introducing themselves to us. There was Lilli, who's the owner of the studio, and Kate, who would be running the class for all us newbies. The important thing to note here is that this was a beginner class that was just a taster so we could see what it was like.
Next we did the obligatory round circle thing where we all introduce ourselves to the group. I'm usually one of those people who rolls their eyes at this, but it was actually pretty fun. We had to come up with something that would help the others remember our names. For example, I once had to go to a party when I was in Brownies as a 7yo and we had to dress up as something beginning with the first letter of our name. I went as a nut. Nat the Nut. Go figure.
The girl next to me was named Fiona and she was Scottish, just like Princess Fiona from Shrek. I liked her explanation a lot better than mine.
Next it was time for the warm up. I should preface this by saying that my fitness leaves a lot to be desired. I'm pathetically unfit and after 5 minutes of "warming up" I was ready to say, "Great workout, who's up for a chocolate muffin and a coffee?" My muscles were already wondering what the hell I was doing pushing them into unnatural positions and I hadn't even started the actual aerial part of the class yet.
After warming up we broke into pairs as there weren't enough silks for everyone to have their own. I partnered up with a gorgeous chick called Wen who didn't know anyone either and was attempting aerial silks for the first time as well. We had an absolute blast together.
We started out by gripping the silks and learning to lean right back and hold ourselves up with them, the aim being to get more comfortable with the feel. Then we proceeded to learn a couple of "simple" ways to climb the silks - Russian and French. Lemme just say, I don't consider either of these methods to be simple. Remember those visions I had of performing graceful arabesques 15 feet off the ground? Yeah, that didn't happen. I couldn't even manage to get three inches off the ground. The amount of upper body strength that was involved in trying to climb the silks was ridiculous. I don't consider myself to be particularly "top weak" or "bottom heavy", but believe me when I tell you there is no better motivation to lay off the pepperoni pizza than trying to haul your over-sized butt up a set of silks with just your arms.
After mastering the climbing techniques (of which only about 4 people managed to achieve), we then moved on to a "hip lock". This is basically where you end up lying sideways with the silks wrapped around your waist to hold you off the ground whilst giving yourself a one-sided wedgie. It wasn't particularly comfortable or easy to achieve (thanks again to Wen for the assist).
This was then followed by what was probably the most fun part of the class. We learned how to lock our foot into the silks, then we split the silks (one in each hand), stepped through them and let ourselves hand down with the silks behind us (see below for a visual).
Some people in the class were really good at this part, and I was definitely envious of their strength and flexibility. They made it look easy, and believe me it was anything but. It did make for some great photos though.
Finally we moved onto one last movement that left us lying on our sides again with yet another wedgie. Remember the trout flopping around on the end of a fishing line? This was that moment. I have never felt more unsexy than hanging halfway upside down with my ass waving in the breeze, my face bright red and my lady parts screaming for mercy.
After going back over everything we'd done for some final photo opportunities (thanks again to Wen for playing photographer for me), we all landed back down on the floor for the cool down. By this stage my legs were like jelly, my arms were burning and my hands were shaking so badly I ended up wearing more of my water than I managed to actually drink from my drink bottle. It was so. much. fun!
It's now 2 days later and what I will say is that my muscles are killing me! The whole thing was absolutely worth it and I had a blast, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to try. But be prepared for the burn afterwards because the pain is real!
So that's it folks, my first adventure with the MGO group. I thoroughly enjoyed my time and I'm very grateful to Anat from MGO for organising the event. I met some fantastic ladies that I really hope to see again soon because I'll definitely be attending more events in the future. Now I just have to decide what I want to do... Rock climbing... Stand up paddle boarding... Hiking... Bike riding... Decisions, decisions.
Until next time,