Today I DEFIED GRAVITY!
Well, not really. But I did do AntiGravity Yoga with my brave pianist friend Candace.
What is AntiGravity Yoga? Well – here is the official breakdown.
The class I took was AntiGravity FUNdamentals at OM Factory NYC. My description would be, a gentle riff on classical Yoga using a large orange hammock that makes the exercises even more challenging while simultaneously making you feel like a masochistic 7 year old on a playground.
You walk into “flight school,” a room with several large orange “hammocks” hanging from the ceiling. Our lovely teacher adjusted the hammocks according to our heights and assured us they were rigged to hold up to 1000 pounds so we were all safe. She explained that this exercise technique came from a performance group called AntiGravity, which coincidentally I had seen IN performance and loved. Our teacher also warned us that we should wear a shirt with sleeves and long pants, otherwise the hammocks might hurt a lot against our skin. Armed with proper t-shirts, Candace and I were excited to get started. (The rest of our class consisted of two student who looked like true yogis, then a bunch of complete exercise novices ranging in age from what looked like 11 to mid-50s.)
Class started out easy enough. We sat in our hammocks and twisted ourselves into “womb” and cocoon-like positions. It was rather relaxing.
The we hung upside down! Which I was very excited about, until I actually did it! I consider myself a fairly in shape mobile person, but my goodness the blood rushed to my head and was actually rather painful! On the other hand, it definitely stretched out and decompressed my back. So, perhaps it was worth the head pain. The position also LOOKS very complicated and difficult, but in actuality it really isn’t. Every in the class could achieve the position and hold onto it in a very stable fashion.
Next came the unpleasant part. It was actually exceedingly unpleasant. We basically turned the hammocks into ropes that we draped ourselves over and balanced on. Doesn’t sound so bad until you are doing it and the rope digs into your hip joints in a most unpleasant way. The teacher informed us she had “wussy pads” for those of us that just couldn’t take the pain. With that name, nobody wanted to ask for one. Finally I was just in too much pain, asked for one, and immediately half the class also asked to join the “wussy pad” parade. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR WUSSY PADS! When you’re dangling in this position you’ll thank me!
To be honest, this whole dangling series was SO unpleasant, it alone would make me not want to take the class again, but then we moved onto upper body strength. As I’ve discussed before, I have no upper body strength. At all. I’m surprised I can carry grocery bags home. We were now being asked to essentially do pull-ups. Exercises I’m more used to seeing Olympic Gymnasts do on the rings instead of beginners in a yoga class.
For me, just holding a position like the one pictures above is a task that requires Herculean strength! We were being asked to bring our legs up into a pike position and a split positing! I nearly cried. As did Candace. Candace was mainly crying because this particular exercise hurt her (and my) fingers. Candace is a pianist so her fingers are insured for billions of dollars. The way we were asked to grip the hammocks was painful, and assured she would not be returning. I just felt like a wuss!
THEN, we finally got back to the fun stuff! By “fun stuff” I mean, exercises that require flipping around and pretending you are a flying 7 year old on a swing set. We got into fun positions such as The Bat:
And my personal favorite the VAMPIRE – which looks very impressive, and sounded intimidating as it was being described, but was actually relatively easy and fun to execute!
We ended the class with five minutes of relaxing in “cocoon,” which I must admit was very very VERY nice.
So, would I do AntiGravtiy Yoga again? Probably. But the $20 a class is very steep, and I’m not sure I feel like I actually got a good workout. There were some gentle toning exercises in a few of the position. For example, in “vampire” we did some “Vampire Crunches” which I definitely felt in my abs, but it was nowhere near as satisfying as a pilates class. Nor did I get the cardio high of Zumba. But I did have fun flipping around in the hammock, when, of course, I was not in positions where the hammocks were digging into my skin! But, you never know, I might pop in again. Especially if I have friend with me. Candace, however, will not be returning. It’s definitely not a workout for everyone. I would definitely NOT recommend it to an exercise novice. Those that seemed to fare the best were those with a very strong YOGA background. There was another pilates instructor in the room having just as much trouble as I was. If you are looking to shake things up, however, this is a fun time.
Here are two videos about AntiGravity Yoga in case you were wondering what it looks like in action!