By Laura Monica, Founder WholyFit
Exercising, eating right, stretching and strengthening can get old after awhile - especially after ten, twenty, thirty or more years. We all know we need to practice the basics of fitness: cardio, strength and flexibility, but the same exercises can really get stale. How do we stay motivated when we've done just about every kind of fitness class and still get bored with exercise? We've used props, flags, chairs, steps, weights, bands, blocks, we've done it all - right? Maybe not yet...
Spice up your fitness regimen with creativity: Try suspension training for an anti-gravity workout - using exercises you already know – ones you have been doing for years, and take fitness to a new height! My version of it is called WholyFit Fly.
Ten years ago I went to Cirque De Soliel and afterwards literally dreamed that I was performing on the high-flying silks. Dream became reality upon my discovery that it was an instant transition to simply take my WholyFit exercises up to the silks. Postures like Breastplate of Righteousness can FLY upside down; Shield of Faith FLY's equally well sideways; The spitz takes on a new dimension in air. Now make them all spin. Talk about three-dimensional fitness. Transform your exercises with suspension training and experience them with different gravitational forces that will surprise and delight you.
5 ESSENTIALS FOR GETTING STARTED: 1. MATERIALS - Get the material you need from a provider like Aerial Essentials. To determine how much low stretch fabric material you will need measure the distance from your hardware to the floor, multiply that number by two and add six more feet of material. You might expect to pay about $225 for 75 feet of material. 2. DESIGN - There are different ways you can design and construct your aerial aerobics system. I like the 18' circus type portable rig apparatus. It has built in rigging to connect your hardware. However, there are other ways to hang your fabric. I like double hung fabric, so knot both ends of the fabric on an "O" ring, then attach each "O" ring to its own carabiner on the rig, hanging each end about one foot apart. Another way to hang the fabric is from a single "O". However, with this method the hammock swivels and may contribute to motion sickness for some people. I like the stability of the double hung hammock because everyone points forward and can see the instruction. 3. LOCATION - An ideal location to do aerial aerobics is a karate studio where they already have rigs for heavy bags. However, you want to check and assure that the height is not a limiting factor. Many gyms have suspension training setups too. My favorite is to use the portable rig outdoors. 4. PREPARATION - Be prepared with enough silks and hardware to hang your hammocks. Allow plenty of time beforehand to tie all the fabric and measure height. The measurement of height depends on what type of exercises you will be doing. High fabric is for upside down postures, ideal for participants with high fitness levels. Low fabric is best for decompression work accessible to all fitness levels. 5. PRECAUTIONS - To keep it safe and fun use the following precautions: Use only aerial designated products. Test the fabric and hardware first. Inspect the fabric well, if there is the smallest tear discard it. Do not allow jewelry, name tags or zippers. There must be a spotter beside each person. Work in teams, so one person is on the hammock, the other is spotting, then they switch. Have participants fill out a health screening form before they can participate. Anyone with more than three risk factors and also people with glaucoma or low blood pressure need a permission note from her or his doctor.
Aerial fitness has been around for hundreds of years and is not limited just to WholyFit, nor to any one fitness class genre or type. Use suspension training for all your own favorite exercises. If you are trained in a fitness discipline on the ground, you too can take the exercises you already know up, up, up and FLY with them. Pushups, pull-ups, handstands, back bends, sit ups - even forward bends - take on an entirely new dimension in the air.
If you are a fitness professional, you will love suspension training for yourself, but you will also love it for your clients. It is especially popular for women's group exercise but certainly men find it to be challenging and enjoyable too. For example, WholyFit Fly is multi-level and can be used in many different heights for low decompression classes or high classes and even has applications for special populations.
My 70-something mom loves the decompression routine on the FLY and has fabric strung from her patio beam. De-compression classes are great for clients with "Text neck." I have a portable apparatus and have taught classes on lawns, patios, on the sand at the beach and right in the sanctuary of our church.
The supply of suspension training exercises are endless because of the variables in position, height and fabric type as well as your own creativity. Are you bored after working out day after day? All your past hard work, through injuries, through illness, is all worth it when you can have fun with exercise like this. The creative use of basic exercises taken to the air will spur you on in the future to new heights of fitness.
HOW TO FACILITATE SPIRITUAL WORSHIP: 1. START WITH PRAYER - One of the best ways to get started is to open the session with an intentional time for prayer. Create awareness that this is important. Faith & Fitness Magazine suggests that this can be the best time to develop your ‘alter ego’. 2. BIBLE SCRIPTURE THEME - Give the session a theme or focus. Speak out a key Bible scripture and repeat it throughout the class as participants are holding postures (especially when in the hammock.) Reinforce the selected Bible passage by asking questions during the holding times like, "What does this scripture say about God? What does it say about other people? What do you think God is telling you? What action will you take to live out this scripture?" 3. CONCLUDE WITH REFLECTION - This type of workout is especially conducive to personal reflection. Meditating on scripture is especially yummy in “Cocoon” posture (see picture - right). You can guide this reflection by asking questions like, "What stressed you out this week?" and "What was awesome this week?" Conclude the session with each two-person team praying together or combine into small groups. Incorporate individual responses from personal reflection into this closing prayer time.
This article is featured in the April/May 2016 issue of Faith & Fitness Magazine, which has the theme Let All Creation ZING!, exploring how to enhance fitness with creative zest from God.
For more information on WholyFit Fly go to the WholyFit website.
Learn about WholyFit Fly and other spiritually strengthening group exercise programs developed by WholyFit by attending the Redefined Conference at the Athletic Business Show in Orlando, November 16-19, 2016.