I used to be an old school gym rat and like many fitness professionals, now prefer functional, full body training, with a big emphasis on fun.
I’m the co-Mama of Invention of the Fly Gym Aerial Fitness Swing (flygym.com). We designed this series of 7 stretchy fabric loops based on client need. Each piece can be used separately or combined in countless variations to comfortably suspend some or all of the body, a few inches to several feet above the floor. It offers equal parts fitness, circus, flexibility, floating Pilates and rehab.
Teaching clients to hang safely from any apparatus, means you as a trainer have to teach them the art of leveraging body weight up and down a movement chain. The more points of contact you make, the easier the work. The same is true if you hold on with points closest to your torso. Reverse all that and, you guessed it…more work. The best way to learn this is one step at a time and from a patient teacher until it becomes intuitive.
We’ve identified 11 pairs of contact points on your body and have combined a few just to simplify. If you had a tail, you’d have one more.
- Upper back /chest
- Elbows / forearms
- Wrists / hands
- Sacrum / hips (below the hip bone is the balance point).
- Top of the thigh / inner thigh
- Knee / shin
- Ankle / Foot
Fly Gym offers a non-threatening way to suspend clients. As a trainer it also gives you a very effective and still unusual tool in your bag. It’s portable, washable and comfortable. As its Mama, I use it every day myself to relieve my scoliosis.
So who do you train in it? Dancers, gymnasts, martial artists, yogis and of course, kids tend to be natural monkeys. But experience has shown us that Fly Gym also works for:
- Senior fitness.
- People who work at computers or on their feet all day. Low backs welcome the traction found in low inversions.
- King or queen sized people who haven’t experienced lightness of being or freedom of motion outside of a swimming pool.
- People who get dizzy hanging upside down (there are 60+ other things we teach in Level 1 training).
- People in wheelchairs or even missing limbs (since the fabric supports armpits and upper thighs).
For some clients, you could use the Fly Gym for whole workouts and for others, just a stretch or two. The best way to train a client with a Fly Gym is with 2 swings—one for you and one for your client. Since it’s a new experience, it’s much easier if they follow visual instruction. Plus, when you’re suspended, the terms right, left, up and down lose meaning.
So where and how do you hang it? Most gyms have plenty of rigging opportunities all around. For full rigging info see flygym.com.
There are 3 ways to use a Fly Gym:
- Hung directly against a wall, not unlike Iyengar yoga straps. The wall and floor provide the most stable, comfortable place to begin.
- Hung from an overhead mount. A pull-up bar makes a great rigging point. Crossfit gyms’ pull-up bars offer ideal settings for multiple swing mounts.
- Combining a wall or overhead mounted swing with a fixed point, i.e. a dance pole or bar, monkey bars. Pulling on a stable object while floating is the bomb! Try horizontal pull-ups or side flying crunches.
Yes, this is a new universe for many trainers but really, it’s just training in 3-D! The leap of faith isn’t too high off the ground but the pay off is pure delight.
Aruna Karen Andes is also known as Karen Andes, the author of the A Woman’s Book of Strength and 2 other books in the trilogy published by Putnam Penguin. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida and hangs daily. For info on trainings and rigging, please see flygym.com. For specific questions, please contact [email protected].