Ever heard of aerial hoop? If you’re like me and enjoy finding new ways to move your body, then you’re going to LOVE this!
I tried aerial arts with a group of PT clients and friends as we were looking for something new to do, but the question I kept getting before our session was “what IS it?!” Honestly having never tried it before I wasn’t exactly sure, I just knew it looked fun! Really it’s an art form, but if it involves moving your body, having fun, and learning something new, then I’m 100% there. Read on to find out what aerial hoop is, what the benefits are, and how you can try it out.
So what is aerial hoop?
I’d describe it as yoga in and around a plastic hoop, suspended from the ceiling! But there’s always a definition, of course, and this one is from the National Institute of Circus Arts’ Circus Dictionary.
The aerial hoop (also known as the lyra, aerial ring or cerceau/cerceaux) is a circular steel apparatus (resembling a hula hoop) suspended from the ceiling, on which circus artists may perform aerial acrobatics. It can be used static, spinning, or swinging.
A quick, very amateur description is that you pull yourself up into a hoop, then move your body around the hoop with different techniques, to create beautiful shapes. As with anything, there are routines you can follow to get to the different shapes, and in a class you’ll learn the entry level piece, then layer other postures on top. Some moves are exhilarating, like when you spin right the way round, and some are very relaxing, like the man in the moon.
Can anyone do it?
We had a range of abilities, shapes and sizes in our group – one who had been doing aerial hoop for a few years, lots who were quite into fitness, and some who had just begun their fitness journeys – and different abilities were catered for with different height and stability of hoop. Not all were doing the more challenging movements but everyone felt like they’d achieved something new during the session. I did feel like having upper body strength and good grip was beneficial, but these would improve as you attend more classes.
What should I wear for aerial hoop?
Definitely longer leggings and maybe even a long-sleeve top, although I did get very hot and sweaty in our class, so you’d be excused for not wanting to wear a sweater. Shiny leggings and baggy pants are a no-go, as you partially use the clothing on your bottom half for grip. The class is barefoot, so don’t worry about having to wear any special shoes or socks.
What about bruises and rubs?
When you’re using your own leg to drag yourself up a hoop, they’re inevitable, unfortunately! Some of us wore our bruises proudly for weeks after, although I’m told the bruising does get slightly better the longer you do it. If it bothers you, just don’t try aerial hoop out for the first time before you go to a wedding, into a meeting, or another occasion you will be wearing a shorter dress – or do, and just own it!
Are there other types of aerial arts?
Yes – we had a go at aerial silks too which felt graceful and looked extremely aesthetic (ie… good for the ‘gram). Cloud Aerial Arts also hold pole and gymnastics classes, so if you try aerial hoop and love it, there are other avenues for you to try too.
What are the benefits of doing aerial hoop?
Aside from the pretty awesome feeling of satisfaction you’ll get from nailing an awesome posture, there are benefits to doing aerial hoop. You’ll gain lots of strength, and moving your own bodyweight is quite the feat, sometimes more difficult than lifting a barbell. You’ll improve motor control and enhance neural pathways which will transfer over into your normal life too, meaning you’ll have better balance and coordination. Most importantly (in my opinion!) there’s also the huge benefit of the self-confidence that sassily flinging yourself up onto a hoop and doing something you couldn’t do just weeks before.
Is aerial hoop dangerous?
There will always be accidents, but you can see the measures the studio takes to keep it safe. There are big thick mats underneath each hoop so if you make a mistake, you’re better off falling well and safely into the mat rather than to try climb out of something. Classes are also held barefoot to stop the risk of slipping on the wooden floor.
How can I try aerial hoop?
If you’re in Manchester or in the surrounding area then I’d recommend Cloud Aerial Arts. We went to the Stockport branch which is a fantastic bright space inside an old mill, but there’s also studios in Ancoats and Burnley. It was just £10 each to us to have a 2 hour private class (minimum of 4 people) but they also run regular classes. I’ve also spotted classes on MoveGB too, so I’ll be trying those soon. Otherwise, just Google ‘aerial hoop’ and your area, I’m sure you’ll find studios local to you!
Overall, it was a really awesome experience that our whole group enjoyed, so whether you want it to become your regular activity or just try it for a party or a hen do, I’d highly recommend aerial hoop!