Aerial Physique tones the upper body and core while burning calories

By Gabrielle Olya
Updated September 02, 2016 10:45 AM
Credit: TC Franklin Photography

What Is It: Aerial Physique uses silks suspended from the ceiling for a workout “designed to give you the strength of a Cirque performer, the beautiful lines of a ballet dancer and the ease of movement like a Pilates pro.”

Who Tried It: Gabrielle Olya, PEOPLE writer and reporter

Level of Difficulty: 7 (on a scale of 1 to 10). I took an intro class that caters to people who are new to aerial workouts. It was challenging, but founder Jill Franklin was amazing at talking us through the steps to make the moves doable.

I had actually used aerial silks twice before and found both experiences to be pretty scary! So while I was somewhat intimidated to try Franklin’s Aerial Physique class, my interest was piqued knowing that several celebs have been seen in the class!

The class began with about 10 minutes of warm-up stretches for all of the muscles we would be using. Then it was onto our first lesson of how to stand up on the fabric (which sounds easier than it was!). You have to wrap your dominant leg around the silk, prop your other foot on top, and pull your body up to standing. It took me a couple of tries to master it, and I already felt my upper body working from having to hoist my body weight.

Next, Franklin demonstrated how to climb up the silk. This began with the standing move, followed by releasing the legs, pulling the body up, and re-securing the silk with the foot. Sadly this was too difficult for me to master – it takes A LOT of upper body strength!

We then did our first inversion, or upside-down position. We created a hammock with the silk, and then straddled the silk upside down. While it felt disorienting at first, Franklin taught us to look up at our body as a way to reorient ourselves. I actually found this position to be really fun!

Next, we used our triceps to pull our bodies up on the silks and practiced tucking our bodies to do a flip. That move also really worked my core! We also did a couple of tricks on the silk, including a horizontal “superhero” pose, and a back arch.

Finally, we used the silks as if they were TRX cables to do inverted pull-ups. At the very end, we stretched out our forearms, which Franklin explained tend to be sore because we don’t often engage those muscles.

“It’s a great mental workout, it’s a great upper body workout, it’s a great core workout,” says Franklin. “You can’t just zone out. If you’re not present or you’re not fully aware of what you’re doing, you’ll be on the floor!”

Franklin says the class is a great calorie burner in addition to providing strengthening and toning.

“If you’re up on the fabric for a few minutes, that’s the equivalent of a crazy workout,” she says. “Your whole body is working.”

The Verdict: I went in feeling pretty nervous, but I ended up having a lot of fun! Not only did I enjoy a sense of accomplishment once I was able to learn the tricks, but I definitely got a good workout, especially for my arms, shoulders and core. I’d recommend this to anyone who is looking to break out of a workout rut with a class that’s both unique and effective. I want to go back to master more skills!