When Reebok invited me to try out its new Cirque du Soleil–inspired workout last week, I pictured myself swinging high in the air, balancing a hoop on my nose, and twisting my body into strange, uncomfortable positions. And while the Jukari Fit to Fly class was acutally none of those things, it was just as fun as I'd hopedand great exercise to boot.
Fit to Fly classes are about an hour long and involve the use of a trapeze-like bar called a Fly Set. Because this device hangs from the ceilingand because you need a radius of several feet to swing freely and perform all of the movesyou can't do this workout at home: It's rolling out gradually at Equinox fitness clubs throughout the country starting this spring, along with other gyms in major cities around the world.
What a class entails
During my trial run of the Fit to Fly workout, I had a lot of fun skipping, jumping, swinging, kicking, and stretching while hanging onto the Fly Set bar, surprised at how out of breath I was from literally just going in circles. The moves reminded me of a combination of step aerobics, Pilates, and strength-training moves I've done with resistance bands or stability balls.
One thing I really liked was that I was concentrating so hard on executing the moves properly, I had no choice but to lose myself entirely in the workout. I couldn't think about the pile of papers on my desk or the stresses in my personal life. And I didn't have time to gawk at the other women around meand I know they weren't looking (and laughing) at me, either.
Most of the workout involved the trapeze bar, except for what I found to be the most challenging part: laying on the ground with my feet suspended behind me in leg straps, holding myself up in a plank pose and attempting to do push-ups, while struggling to keep the Fly Set still. My abs were sore for days!
Why it will work for you
Circus-style exercise classes aren't exactly new, but this is the first one I've seen that really focuses on the cardio and strength-training aspects of hanging from a bar, rather than teaching acrobatic skills and cool-looking tricks. And that makes it a great option for women (and men) of all ages and fitness levels: Because you're using your own body weight as resistance, you can modify the moves to make them as easy or as difficult as neededleaning back and walking your feet further under the bar during a pull-up, positioning your body at a more challenging horizontal angle, for example.
If you're looking for trapeze lessons or high-wire high jinks, you may be a bit disappointed with this intro-level class. But if you're looking for a fun new cardio-plus-strength workout, this is definitely worth a try if it comes to a gym near you. (There's no word yet whether classes will be offered to all Equinox members or whether a separate fee will be charged to members and/or nonmembers.)
Reebok and Cirque du Soleil's goal with this project was to reach women who have forgotten that movement can be refreshing and rewarding. And while acess will be limited, I'll bet that those fortunate enough to take a class will indeed remember that fitness can be fun.