Health & Fitness, Workouts

Going Upside Down at Breathe Pilates – Denise Li

AntiGravity Fitness has made fans out of Gwyneth Paltrow, Pink, and Madonna. So, is it really worth trying? Denise gives it a go.

Many people think I’m a super brave and gung-ho person but, truth is, there are many things out there that scare me. I like hiking but I’m afraid of falling while descending. I am terrified of heights so I don’t think I will ever bungee-jump in my life. I have mild claustrophobia and I will insist on having the aisle seat in the cinema, or not watch the movie at all.

Yeah … I have a whole host of pretty random fears, so it wasn’t without a little trepidation that I went for for the AntiGravity Fitness trial at Breathe Pilates, especially after I Googled for images of it and saw what it entailed.

It looked closer to acrobatics than any form of yoga that I was familiar with and I must admit … I was not looking forward to being suspended in mid-air for an hour. I mean, I can’t even bear to watch Pink doing her thing cos I’m terrifed that she’ll fall.

Breathe Pilates has a cosy studio located on East Coast Road, and the room where the AntiGravity Fitness is located can accommodate six at any one time. After our teacher Sandra introduced herself, we jumped straight into it. And I mean STRAIGHT. INTO. IT.

The “hammock” that we used for the class is actually way stronger than it looks. It’s able to carry weights of up to 1000kg, which is equivalent to the size of a baby elephant. That set my mind at ease somewhat … until I saw what we had to do.

The first move we did was a basic inversion. Sandra made it look really easy …


… But when it came to my turn to do it, I froze. I got as far as to hook my legs around the hammock. What I found scary was letting go to let my hands touch the floor. Rationally, I knew the hammock was strong enough to support my weight, but there was a mental barrier I couldn’t cross, and Sandra had to gently coax me to release my hands. As I did, I felt my body rock forward, though I’m not sure now if it was just my wild imagination. I started perspiring like crazy because I was so tense, and could see droplets of sweat fall onto the floor.

You can't see it here but my face was red from the blood rushing to my head.

You can’t see it here but my face was red from the blood rushing to my head.

Thankfully, the rest of the class was a whole lot less intimidating. After I relaxed somewhat, I found myself easing into some of the moves and positions. Some the moves were familiar ones that I recognised from yoga – mountain peak (back slightly arched, hands in prayer position), crescent moon (somewhat like mountain peak but your arms and back are stretched backwards even more), chair pose; the only difference was that these were modified such that the hammock was either supporting you, or you were using it as a grip to get deeper into the move. There were also a lot of “swinging” movements where you let the hammock support you as you allow your body to swing forwards, backwards and around. Those moves were so much fun to execute!

Trying to get into Warrior III ...

Trying to get into Warrior III …

I discovered my favourite move towards the end of the class. I can’t remember exactly what it’s called now, but this is what it entails: you’re supposed to put the hammock on your hips and walk forward until it’s taut over your hips. Then, you bend forward and let your legs slightly lift off from the ground. As my hips are easily the stiffest part of my body, I loved how this move helped to stretch them out.

Stretch out those stiff hip flexors!

Stretch out those stiff hip flexors!

Another move I like (though I realise that the pic makes it look a lot like bondage …) was this one. I use my shoulders a lot for boxing, so this really helped ease those tense muscles.

This move is perfect for people who spend long hours hunched in front of a computer too.

This move is perfect for people who spend long hours hunched in front of a computer too.

So … would I do AntiGravity Fitness again? I must admit that if you had asked me at the start of the class when we had to do the scary inversion, I would have said NO. But as the class progressed, I started to really enjoy myself. And when it was time for another inversion – this time with my hands outstretched to the sides instead of touching the ground – I had sorta-kinda gotten used to being upside down by then and relaxed into the move.

AntiGravity Fitness is great if you’re already a seasoned yoga practitioner looking for a spin on your usual workout, but I’d say it could also be good for you if you’re a largely sedentary person looking for an enjoyable workout. It’s supposed to help improve your flexibility, strength (especially core strength, I think) and bring you to a heightened awareness of your body to support efficient movement so you’ll have better posture, fewer muscle aches, and improved muscle tone.

As for me? Well, since I had already deemed 2014 the year of facing my fears, I think my fear of not having both feet on the ground is as good as any to confront head on (pun fully intended).

AntiGravity Fitness is available at Breathe Pilates, #02-05/07 East Coast Road. Tel: 9835 5683

Material World was offered a trial session at Breathe Pilates and was not paid for this review. All opinions are the author’s own.

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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