Why aerial silk is the latest fitness trend in town

Jun 15, 2014, 09:55 IST | Rinky Kumar

Aditi Deshpande, a national champion in rope mallakhamb who is also trained in aerial silk, tells Rinky Kumar about the health benefits of swinging from a cloth and reveals why this form of acrobatics is the latest fitness trend in town  

Former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen can’t stop raving about aerial silk and owes her recent weight loss and svelte look to this art form. Actors Aamir Khan and Katrina Kaif enthralled audiences with their sexy moves while swinging from a cloth and professing their love for each other in the song Malang from last year’s blockbuster Dhoom 3. Aerial silk, thanks to its aesthetical and fitness, is not only being lapped up by choreographers in dance reality shows and movies but also by common people who want to get fit. It is gaining so much prominence that last month, Airplay, a two-day event celebrating aerial movements such as acrobatics, aerial silk, slack-lining, aerial yoga and pilates, was organised by three outfits — Natura, Dancers Alliance and Capoeira De Ouro at Sitara Studio in Dadar.

Aditi Deshpande performs the aerial silk without a harness, but using solely her strength and skill

Aerial silk decoded
Aditi Deshpande, a national champion in rope mallakhamb who is also trained in aerial silk and has been conducting classes for it since last year, says, “Aerial silk is a special type of cloth suspended from the top on which one or more people perform aerial acrobatics. The fabric is also known as tissue, aerial fabric or aerial cloth. This art form is more popular as a performance act. It is also used as an exercise tool, as it helps to develop strength, flexibility, stamina, neuro-muscular coordination and a variety of motor skills.” She adds that unlike other acrobatics, aerial silk is performed without a harness, but solely on the basis of the performer’s strength and skill. The 28-year-old, who learnt mallakhamb at Shree Samartha Vyayam Mandir at Dadar, was intrigued by this form when she saw artistes from all over the world come to the institute and practise mallakhamb on silk. “I got interested and started learning aerial silk from them. Last year, I went to the Athletic playground at San Francisco to learn advance moves on aerial silk,” she explains.

At a session with 73-year-old Shantilal Sanghvi, one of her seniormost students at Shree Samartha Vyayam Mandir at Dadar. Pic/ Swapnil Khese

How does it work
Deshpande explains that she usually starts off by asking her students to do a full body warm up. Then she ensures that they get familiar with the fabric with simple movements such as holding the fabric, tying a knot on it and learning inverted hanging positions to build their confidence. Simultaneously participants perform exercises to improve their strength and flexibility. “The teaching varies according to the age group of participants. I try to include fun movements for kids and dance moves for dancers, etc,” she says.

Once they are slightly more comfortable, they tie a knot on the fabric and learn varied movements on it such as standing on the knot with both legs, standing with one leg, hanging upside down, doing the superman pose etc. “Some of these exercises help to strengthen their core, arms and back and help them lose weight and tone your body,” Deshpande reveals.

Word of caution
She, however, cautions, that aerial silk should be always performed in the presence of an instructor. “The hook on which the silk is hanged should be checked, there should be a mat below the silk and one should undergo a proper warm up before starting this form of exercise. There is no upper age limit to do aerial silk, but children below six years aren’t allowed as such young kids can’t focus too much,” Deshpande concludes.

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