I take three steps backwards, close my eyes and jump. The wind rushes through my hair and I feel a thousand miles from the ground but as I open my eyes reality brings me back down to Earth with a reassuring bump.
I’m taking part in a group exercise class called Jukari Fit to Fly which gives the sensation of flying whilst strengthening the body. Here’s how I got on…
Charlotte practices a move on her flyset during the Jukari lesson
WHAT IS IT?
A fitness routine inspired by the trapeze performances of Cirque du Soleil that targets the core muscles and builds upper-body strength.
The focal point of the 30 to 45 minute class is a piece of equipment called a FlySet, which consists of a bar suspended from sturdy rope attached to the ceiling on a 360 degree pivot point.
Each class member has their own flyset on which they will perform a combination of moves such as squats and off-the-floor spins to music from the Cirque.
The flyset can be adjusted to suite different statures and provide different workout options, for example the bar can be removed and replaced with foot loops that enable the user to carry out floor exercises.
WHAT TO EXPECT
As I’m a beginner instructor Dairina McCarthy helps me to adjust the height of the bar on my flyset so that it is comfortable to use.
‘Jukari fit to fly was designed to encourage women who found the gym boring back into exercise, but we would never turn away men who wanted to join in,’ she tells me.
‘A lot of women focus on their lower body, the hips and thighs, but this class brings the focus back up to the top by challenging the core, back, shoulder and arm muscles.
‘What we want to do is get your heart-rate up and get those muscles working so the routine has been constructed as an interval session.’
To begin Dairina takes us through a warm-up of squats and lunges, both forward and to the side, whilst resting our hands on the bar. So far so good.
As the workout gets into full swing the moves become more challenging and require me to be more trusting of the flyset.
I take three long steps backwards and on the fourth step jump into the air. The flyset carries me back to my original position and I gently place my feet back on to the floor.
We repeat this move, getting faster every time and my arms shake a little as I am using them to lift myself from the ground each time.
Charlotte performs a lunge during the lesson, which principally works the core, back, shoulder and arm muscles
We then up-the-ante even more and Dairina warns us that if we aren’t careful as we do the next move there could be collisions, oh dear.
To begin I lean back as far as I can whilst holding on to the bar of the flyset, even this move works the core as you use your stomach muscles to stay still and balanced.
I then do four jumps sideways which will take me in a full circle. On my first attempt I don’t jump far enough and it takes me six leaps and a near-miss with another classmate to return to my starting position.
To avoid disaster Dairina steps in and helps me to perfect the move. A smile spreads across my face when I get it right.
The final and most fun move is a spin. With the bar above my head, I am told to stand on my tip-toes and bend my right leg, I then twist my body round to the right, to effectively wind myself up.
Then when Dairina gives the signal I spin round to the left, lift both my feet off the ground and around I go. It’s absolutely brilliant.
To finish off the routine we swap the bar for foot loops and do a series of floor exercises, including a press-up, which is particularly gruelling.
As you whoosh around on your flyset it is easy not to notice how hard you are working because it’s such a thrilling experience.
It will put your shoulder muscles and core to the test and after a few classes your stomach muscles will be stronger as you use them throughout to balance and control the movements invovled in the routine.
It is a fantastic leg and thigh blitz as the less you hang on to the bar the harder you make your legs work.
Although it may seem intimidating at first the flyset will never take you to dizzying heights and the beauty of the feel-good class is that beginners and experts can exercise alongside each other – but it may take a few more classes to get me up to Cirque standards.
Jukari: Fit to fly is available in 12 major cities, including London, Madrid, New York and LA. For more information visit www.reeboksportsclublondon.com
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