From Cirque du Soleil to acrobatic sport: everything you need to know about Aerial Silks

For Technogym, sport is an essential component to lead a wellness lifestyle. Physical activity of any kind in fact is proven to improve mental conditions as well, a fundamental trait to have a constant positive attitude towards life and be relaxed. This is surely the case for Aerial Silks, the acrobatic discipline whose origin is still shrouded in myth.

Probably, the first time you saw it you were watching live or through a screen a spectacular performance of the Cirque du Soleil. With time, you happened to see more and more frequently people training specifically for it in some gyms, and maybe even in parks. We really have to say it, the acrobatic discipline of Aerial Silks has conquered many people, who have not been content to stand by as spectators.

Twisting and turning: what are Aerial Silks?

To tell the truth, rather than "What are they?" it would be better to ask "What is it?". When we talk about Aerial Silks, in fact, we are talking about an acrobatic discipline.

Inspired by circus performances and using silk sheets (the same ones that give the discipline its name), the athletes involved in this exercise perform spectacular and scenic movements. On top of that, also the height at which everything happens makes everything even more spectacular: from 4 to 10 meters from the ground.

The magic of Aerial Silks
A few meters of Silky fabrics fixed to a hook are enough to give life to a magic show. Falls, turns, acrobatics and shapes drawn with the body: a unique hybrid between athletic practice and dance.

The history of Aerial Silks, from gymnastics to circus performances and back

Like every magical thing, even the history of Aerial Silk has some element of mystery. In fact, not everyone agrees in attributing the origin of this fantastic discipline.
A past spent in Circuses
There are those who say that everything originated in France in 1959, when some students of a circus school were tasked to present a whole new acrobatic exercise. One of the students would have presented an exercise all built on the use of a long sheet of fabric, obtaining a response so positive as to give rise to a discipline in its own right.

Others, however, claim that this practice comes from the genius of André Simard. Simard, who has specialised in researching and developing acrobatic exercises for the Cirque du Soleil since 1987, is already universally credited for having turned circus athletes into real performers.  Indeed, he invited them to focus not only on facial expressions, but also on body movements. This allowed them to express deep themes and feelings to their viewers in a spectacular and impressive way.

Who said Aerial Silks is a female-only sport?
Regardless, Aerial Silks owes a lot to the Cirque du Soleil. Its diffusion is in fact largely due to Isabelle Vauelle and Isabelle Chasse, two artists that during a show of the Cirque du Soleil have performed incredible exercises, using the same fabrics that today are naturally associated with this practice.

Aerial Silks: 4 false myths that must be disproved

As mentioned, today Aerial Silks is a discipline that enjoys good popularity. More and more people, attracted by the unquestionable charm of aerial exercises, are dedicating time and energy to its learning.

Especially when approaching such a particular practice, doubts and insecurities can be many. Let's try to clarify some of them:

  • To start practicing Aerial Silks, it is not necessary to have a particular body type. There are many courses for beginners, and the discipline easily adapts to levels of physical preparation even very different from each other.
A photo rich in premiumness
  • It is not necessary to have a good initial level of upper body strength. Being trained certainly helps, and for this reason, those who climb or train regularly with weightlifting will have an easier start. That said, starting to practice the discipline can be a great way for those who want to develop their strength.
  • It is not a discipline reserved for women. It is true that the number of female athletes exceeds, by far, male ones, but this does not mean that Aerial Silks is an exclusively female discipline.
  • You don't have to be exceptionally flexible to get close to Aerial Silks. What is really important is to be aware of one's own abilities and limits: to have a clear idea of where one starts from and where one wants to get to. In any case, if you want to improve your flexibility, you can supplement your Aerial Silks classes with regular gym sessions.
To strike this pose, the whole body is in tension

Disentangling the fabric: how to work out for Aerial Silks

Aerial Silks is a complete discipline, as you use arms and legs to climb, while the core - with particular attention to the abdominal belt - is necessary to maintain stability during the numerous poses, reversals and falls.

Therefore, the recommended gym workout, outside the practice of Aerial Silks, is strongly focused on weightlifting and functional training.

Starting from weightlifting, Technogym offers the Selection 700 and Selection 900 Lines. These new lines of isotonic equipment with weight stack, created for the training of the whole body, allows you to specifically work on specific muscle groups or the training of agonist/antagonist muscle pairs. In fact, with the 3 Selection 700 Dual machines, it is possible to train the adductor/abductor, quadriceps/hamstrings and pectoral/bladder pairs.
The training of the antagonist muscles is fundamental for the rapid changes of direction in Aerial Silks, movements that require explosiveness to muscle power. Similarly, to maintain stability in mid-air on highly unstable surfaces such as silky smooth fabrics, functional training is the best type of workout.
Functional training is in fact characterized by multi-articular movements, which are performed on different planes and axes. They stimulate proprioception, body control and core activity. With Kinesis Personal Vision, Kinesis Personal Heritage Leather e Kinesis Personal Heritage Black, the feeling is that of performing bodyweight exercises, but effectively guided by the tool. In fact, Kinesis allows you to perform more than 200 different exercises with 20 levels of resistance, so to maximize core and body stability.

Aerial Silks: what are the benefits for your body (and your mind)?

It has been said that the typical exercises of the discipline help a lot to develop strength in the upper body, but this does not mean that Aerial Silks is not a complete discipline. On the contrary, being called upon to find a balance by being lifted off the ground, those who practice Aerial Silks train the whole body. The benefits that derive, therefore, are many.

  • First, it is an excellent physical exercise. The use of the muscles of the arms and legs contributes significantly to weight loss, and stretching the muscles of the belly helps a lot to reduce the fat that can be deposited there.
Mindfulness can be achieved also through the practice of this sport
  • Just like yoga, Aerial Silks is a great way to increase your body's flexibility.
  • For the many people who practice Aerial Silks report, this discipline naturally leads to improving their concentration skills. Even to avoid injuries, it is extraordinarily important to maintain very high attention at every stage of airtightness. At the same time, the ability to control one's emotions is positively influenced.
  • Finally, there are those who have reported, not without enthusiasm, a real change in mindset. Practicing Aerial Silks pushes you to overcome your limits, radically changing your conception of what is scary or dangerous, in a real path of personal growth.

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