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'Circus Fit' is a New Gym Class For People Who Hate Normal Exercise

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Switch your treadmill for a trapeze swing.

Good news for those who hate exercise — there are places you can go and actually have fun while you get fit. Beyoncé dance classes and fitness parties like No Lights No Lycra are all the rage, and gyms have started to follow suit by injecting a little fun into their regular proceedings. Fitness Playground, a colourful gym with locations in Surry Hills, Marrickville and Newtown, are leading the charge on having fun and getting fit, mainly by offering classes like aerial yoga, barre and our personal favourite, Circus Fit. We've only seen photos, and the name was a little vague, so we thought we would head down to the gym and find out what really happens (so we can let you know exactly what you're in for).

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SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS CIRCUS FIT?

Circus Fit was invented by the bright and bubbly instructor of the Surry Hills class we visited, Laura Basta. She hails from Paris, where she worked as a fitness instructor by day and a circus acrobat by night. Two years ago she made the move to Sydney and began working with Fitness Playground. Together with founders Justin Ashley and Serra Burmin, she developed Circus Fit, a combination of strength and flexibility training routine, mixed with a healthy dose of aerial trapeze exercise.

The class uses a low-hanging trapeze arrangement that detaches from the roof. Throughout the class, participants perform a series of exercises that focus on core stabilisation and strength building. The class is built to achieve results — to make your body stronger and more flexible — but it approaches strength building in a fun way. It's not a class where you spend an hour picking up heavy things up and putting them down again, and it's not 45 minutes of being yelled at because you can't sprint at the same speed at Usain Bolt. It's a class where you get fit, but you have a good time while you're doing it.

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WHAT ARE THE MOVES LIKE?

To begin the class, everybody jumps up onto their bar and swings from the roof. Basta energetically leads everyone through the steps — she teaches a captive audience how to extend their legs off the trapeze while maintaining balance and use the supporting straps to achieve a 'look, no hands!' moment. Repetition is key to results — there are push ups, pull ups, swinging on the bar and balance exercises. The favourite move seems to be sitting side-saddle on the bar and extending the whole body until you're flat out, before a theatrical flourish of the arms to finish. The class focuses on results in areas that a lot of other classes miss. Acrobatic elements help members to work on core activation, upper body strength, co-ordination, mobility, and flexibility. It's all about using your own body weight and nature's gym equipment — gravity — to make you stronger and more bendy. It's not about power, and it's not about overdoing it — "too many repetitions," Basta says, "is what will injure your body."

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IS THE CLASS CHALLENGING?

Like yoga, or pilates, each warm up exercise teaches participants part of a routine that the class finishes with. The toughest part of the class is the last ten minutes, where you use all the techniques you've learnt in one final routine. Even those who had a hard time grasping the hand-eye co-ordination necessary to partake in the class now look like they've been doing it for years by the end of the class, and everyone's having a giggle over the little mistakes that they may have made throughout. Basta moves expertly about the room, gently manipulating bodies, offering encouragement and correcting technique. The class ends with a gentle swing on the trapeze, during which Basta takes feedback and offers her own to her members. There's a collaborative, inclusive nature to the class that you don't often see in a workout. Even when things get tough and sweaty, there's an element of fun to the whole thing.

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WHAT'S THE CROWD LIKE?

Don't let our photos fool you — the crowd at the Circus Fit class we attended represented a plethora of differing demographics (some people just weren't keen on being photographed). There's a guy who could probably lift you over his head. There are a few corporate ladies, some obvious female gym buffs, and there's a gentleman at the back who looks like he might be pretty new to gyms, but he's ready to give this class everything he's got. There's no common age or body shape. Instead, it's just a room full of people with one thing in common: they all want to swing around on a trapeze while burning off all the excess calories from the weekend.

Circus Fit is one to try if you're a little bored with your current exercise routine, or you're keen for a challenge. What better way to shake things up than running away to the circus?

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We're hosting four Circus Fit classes on Saturday February 25 in partnership with Fitness Playground. They're free, and exclusive to Concrete Playground readers in Sydney — head here to register for your place.

If you're keen to check out Fitness Playground, head along to the Open Week exclusive to Concrete Playground readers.

Images: Steven Woodburn.

Published on February 14, 2017 by

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