I definitely did not look like that. (Photo: Aerial Arts Academy via Facebook)
In a never-ending quest to make us spend more money, the health and beauty industry comes up with creative ways to tell us we’re fat, and correspondingly creative ways to tell us how to lose it. Sometimes it seems that the city’s health-conscious residents are more susceptible to trying out the latest fitness fads than they are to catching SARS.
Coconuts Hong Kong’s associate editor Laurel Chor is going to save you the trouble by sweating her way through all the latest fads in this new five-part, biweekly series. We review anonymously and pay for ourselves.
Having recently watched the House of Dancing Water in Macau, the show that combines convoluted, slightly racist plotlines with jaw-dropping circus acts performed above a giant pool, I was curious to try out some of the death-defying acts myself.
Obviously, I have no relevant skills, probably not a fraction of the upper body strength required, and would probably die instantly if I were to try doing anything graceful while suspended 20 feet in the air.
Thankfully, the Aerial Arts Academy of Hong Kong is here to fulfill your circus fantasies, in a setting that minimises the risk of you breaking your neck.
I signed up for my first “aerial hoops” class at their Causeway Bay studio, expecting more cardio than actual technique, like your average Muay Thai or dance class in Hong Kong.
The studio. (Photo: Laurel Chor/Coconuts Media)
To my pleasant surprise, the instructor – a small, fabulous man with the upper body of an Olympic gymnast and the hips of svelte woman – actually taught us proper techniques and real tricks.
The intimate studio felt a bit more like someone’s living room than anything, but with only two students in the class, it wasn’t a problem.
We started off with a comprehensive warm-up, the large hoops hanging above our heads.
Then, the instructor taught me how to properly get inside the hoop, so that I’m sitting inside it.
Checking myself in the mirror, I soon learned that everyone looks like a beautiful circus performer when sitting inside a large, hanging hoop and pointing their toes.
Though I felt a little bit less like a tiny dancer when the instructor observed that I was maybe “too big” for a certain move called “Man In The Moon”, where you kind of curl up inside the hoop, your back leaning against the lower edge and your legs propped up above you.
An appropriately sized person executing a “Man In The Moon”. (Photo: Aerial Arts Academy via Facebook)
He told me I could stick my legs outside the hoop instead, probably so that I looked less like a “Man Squashed Inside The Moon”.
And this was after he told me to switch from the hoop I was using to a larger one.
(For the record, I am more or less average-sized and am 167 centimetres tall.)
But my apparent Gigantor status did not discourage my instructor, who very gently but firmly gives you clear instructions, like, “The hoop should be in your buttcrack,” as he split his time to give both students personal attention so that we could progress according to our respective skill levels.
Soon, I was upside down, hanging by an arm and a leg, and executing sexy moves like “The Secretary”, which means you lean backwards, your back arched, your legs crossed (because even the world of aerial hoops still makes use of sexist tropes) – all within the 50 minutes of their “happy hour” class.
The session was definitely a class, and not your standard gym workout, but I have no doubt that if I came back regularly that I’d soon develop the muscles needed to perform a decent repertoire of moves.
I’ll definitely be back! And maybe I’ll try out some of their other classes, like aerial silks or even pole-dancing…