POLL: Hammocks, Poles, Trapezes--Would You Try Them at the Gym?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
This morning I was reading a New York Times story about some unorthodox workouts. From yoga using hammocks to cardio pole dancing, it seems there are some pretty original and outlandish fitness classes these days.
And Equinox gyms are offering a class that might inspire you to run off and join the circus: Jukari Fit to Fly.

According to the NYT:
"The word Jukari is derived from the Sicilian word “jucare,” meaning “to play,” and the class, which was introduced in June in 14 cities, was developed through a partnership between Reebok and Cirque du Soleil.

The redheaded Equinox instructor, Sara Haley, said that Reebok sent her as a “guinea pig” to Cirque du Soleil’s Montreal base last year to see if any of its acrobatic equipment could be adapted for the gym. A team at Reebok and Cirque du Soleil then refined the recommendations and the result is the specially designed FlySet, which is like a trapeze, “but the ropes are way thicker, safer,” she said. "

Sounds neat, doesn't it? But is it a good workout?

A Habit of Fit People is to mix up your workout routine, and an antigravity yoga class spent hanging upside down like a bat would certainly be a change from my usual Ashtanga practice. Here in Cincinnati, no gym is offering such a class, but the next time I head to a "big" city for vacation, I might look into trying something new like that.

I always wonder whether it's really a good workout. I mean, when I take new aerobics classes, I spend so much time trying to figure out what's going on and listening to instructions that I don't feel like I get as good of a workout as if I had gone to my usual Spinning or yoga class. (OK, maybe you're all more coordinated than I am!) The NYT story didn't mention anything about calories burned or effectiveness of the workout. People who take the classes said they're weird and fun but mentioned nothing about heart rates or learning curves.

Do gyms in your areas offer unique classes like these? Have you tried any of them? What's the most unconventional workout you've ever done? Do you think workouts like these are effective?

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Yep trapeze is awesome and a great exercise for the whole body. Report
I'd need more upper body and core strength to do a trapeze workout. There's no one for me to pole dance for. Report
I love trying new things, and have plans to soon try anti-gravity yoga. I've done pole dancing and I rock climb regularly. Like any workout, you get out of it what you put into it, but because it works as both a cardio and a strength-training workout in one, I'd say the trapeze class is likely akin to pole dancing in calorie burn. After a pole dancing class you should be slightly out of breath, with muscles trembling and heart pumping. If this was offered in my area, I'd be 100% in! Report
I teach both pole and aerial yoga (hammocks). I also take aerial silks. The pole and aerial yoga classes are offered at a women's only studio. Although I love all these classes, and think they offer a whole new dimension and challenge to strength training, I don't consider any of them particularly cardio. I'm not at all sure I would want to be involved in these classes in a gym atmosphere. I also teach and attend gym type exercise classes from zumba to body pump.

With the silks and the pole you are lifting your body weight so they are more challenging than any gym classes I have ever been involved in.

On the other hand, the more venues that offer these types of classes the better because they are fun and very useful as strength training (upper body and abs especially)! Report
I went to a free static trapeze lesson offered at a trapeze school downtown. It was phenomenal! I felt like a little kid again, just playing on a single monkey bar instead of many. It was SUCH a great workout - 1.5 hours and I was sore for about 2-3 days afterward. It was never my goal to feel that sore - I was just intent on learning as many poses as possible. I can't say enough great things about static trapeze! One downer is that I'm still in college, and these classes are a little higher in price. That's why you have to look for the freebies! :D Report
I'd definitely try! Report
well if i were younger i would, but as it is icouldnt hold on to a pole for five seconds without dropping. let alone a swing. lol Report
Maybe 20 years ago...and 40 pounds... Report
sounds like some of the gymnastic i did when i was a kid. i'd do it. Report
I love mixing up the workouts. I am easily bored and anything that smacks of 'routine' is to be avoided! I've done trapeze (It REALLY stretches out your spine at the bottom of the arc and feels great), different dance classes, etc. I just did Spin after having avoided it for years. Zumba will be next on my list. Anything that makes you use different muscles is great and if you get over the "I have no idea what I'm doing" feeling, it's fun. Pole dancing? I'm in. Circus stuff? Yep. Add in anything outdoorsey, too. Sea Kayaking? Already signed up. And I'm not young and skinny, just a middle-aged woman of average everything. Go for the fun, it keeps you interested. Report
I would love to try the trapeze but I don't see my club adding this any time soon. Though they have offered "strip tease", belly dancing and a great shadow boxing class. I didn't try the tease but did do the belly dancing and absolutely loved the shadow boxing class, though it is offered at rather difficult times that keep me from being able to participate consistantly.

A friend in LA goes to mini trampoline (mini tramp) classes and says that it's awesome not only for cardio but for cellular health as well. (not sure what this means???)

I'm of the opinion that anything that gets you moving, that you enjoy and find fun to do is always a good thing! Report
I have some Denise Richards cardio striptease dvds. I REALLY like them. While it isn't the best cardio workout (I actually get a better workout from the workout dvd from the same line). However, I feel GREAT after I'm done with one. It is a fun way to get myself moving, plus I feel just a little sexier after. :) Nothing wrong with moving around a little bit while boosting your self esteem, I just have to understand that it isn't a substitute for a cardio workout. Report
That sounds like a whole lot of fun; wish it was more widely available. The 14 cities that offer these classes are international. There are currently only 2 gyms in the US that have Jukari classes - one in NYC and one in LA. Bummer.

There are some out-of-the-ordinary cardio classes available in my city, though, including pole dancing. Report
For years we had a homemade trapeze in the back yard attached to a huge maple tree. My daughter lived on it so much its a miricle her hands don't drag on the ground. She'd flip around on that thing and get it going soooo high...it would take my breath away. I have no doubt this would be a major workout. I don't think my arms would hold my body up right now, but if they would I think it would be fun. Hmmmmm something to aim for. Report
Oh I need to look this article up! I live in NYC & don't belong to Equinox where this particular class is, but just joined Crunch where they have classes using silks for aerial yoga. I can't WAIT to take that class! I've also taken Trapeze and let me tell you, that is one heck of a workout! I've never been so sore in my entire life! Cardio? Not so much. Toning and strength? Absolutely. Report
I saw this on a news story and would definitely give it a try! It looks like fun and the reporter showed that a lot of the beginning movements were very close to ground and then you can choose to work your up or not. Bring it on! Report
Sounds like a lot of fun! As much as I think I'd love to try it, I don't believe I would ever actually sign up at a gym for it. Report
I would definitely give it a try, if one was offered in my area. I'm still looking for: Ballet for Fitness; Gymnastics for Fitness; or some similar "... for Fitness" (aside from Yoga and Pilates) to be offered in my area. Report
If I was younger, and not such a fraidy cat, i might try something, like that. At this stage of the game, i'm just to old, and our gym, doesn't offer things like that. Report
It sounds like fun. However, I would use them in moderation. I would try them and then return to my regular activities. Report
I would never use any of this type of equipment, and most of the gyms in my area do not have them. Report
I agree with mixing up my routine. But I have no desire to try any of these type of workouts. None of our gyms here have them so I have not seen them either. Report
To old to try these, i have trouble with ladders Report
HECK yes sign me up! What a fun thing to try . . . and I mean think about it . . . it's pretty darn close to flying! woohoo! :) Report
My wife and I went on vacation at Superclubs in Jamaica. They have a trapeze and huge trampolines. The trapeze is a great workout for the whole body. At least it was for me. I went several times. Unfortunately my wife missed the bar and tumbled to the net below. A little bruised, but otherwise she was fine...but she was not going to go again. Report
That looks so awesome. I wish I had the upper arm strength to do that but I guess that would be the point of trying a trapeze in the first place. I also heard somewhere that they actually want to make pole dancing as part of the Olympics! Hey, it is cardio exercise! Report
Heck YEAH! Sign me up please!!!

Even if it's not the most intense cardio just the act of doing some unusual physical activity is good for you on many levels. It challenges the muscles and the body in ways it's never been challenged, at least ways mine never has! The psychological goodness is derived from the emotional burst of excitement from doing something new, and the added benefit of it being physically active should release some 'feel good chemicals' and endorphins. Maybe it won't replace your everyday workout, but it's all good :) Report
Well, you're not just loafing around doing nothing, so you obviously burn SOME calories. I think something like trapeze is more of a strength workout than cardio. I would absolutely try it if i could afford the classes or could track down a facility with the program. Report
Well, I'll try anything once LOL. I'm 60 years old and can see myself trying yoga in a hammock (my daughter's club in Italy has it and I want to try it next time I'm there) and the trapeze if I were sure it was safe. I've tried copeira (a type of Brazilian dance/martial arts), zumba fitness, hip hop and I regularly do boxing and kick boxing classes. Love to mix it up. I agree that when there's a new dance routine or completely new activity, it takes a while to do it quickly and somoothly enough to break a sweat. But I think doing all these activities is a great way to keep fit and interested. Hats off to those who can do the treadmill and ellipticals but I'm like "has it only been FOUR minutes?" whereas I can skip in a Heavy Rope class for an hour. Luckily, we're all different and that applies in fitness as much as in life. Report
My gym offers zumba & belly dancing as 'different activities'. While I've never taken them, I'm of the belief that any cardio that you do is a good thing! We can't do intense workouts all the time and our body/muscles need to be have variety/changes in order for them to work at their peak...These workouts have value to some...and not to others...me personally I love love to spin, run, play tennis and do the elliptical.

I'm NOT coordinated...and feel uncomfortable with 'dance type' activities. No aerobics or other coordinated type activities for me! LOL Report
That sounds like a blast to me! Report
I would not do that at 70 years of age. When I was in my 20's and 30's, most definitely. Report
maybe after a few pounds (like 100) Report
i wouldn't do a trapeze because i simply don't have the strength. But i would try the others out of sheer curiousity. i have done a strip-fit class in the past. it was really fun, but the choreography was challenging. i liked that, but i could see others struggling. Report
I would totally try these things, but I've got the coordination of a chicken on crack so it would probably wind up being an exercise in emergency room maneuvers. Report
I would love to to a cardio pole dancing class! Wish I could find one near by. The most unconventional workout I have done is Carmen Electra's Strip tease workout. I don't like doing it around the kids though so I don't really use it. I don't like flying so I wouldn't be doing any circus workouts. Report
I am sure it is a good workout, but you would never catch me now, nor would I have done these in the past. I'm too chicken. Report
oh YES!!! i went back to college at age 27 and 1 of my classes was a gymnastics class where we did the rings and uneven parallel bars and ... i was a big kid playing on a brand new jungle gym...the things i could do upside down on the rings and my routine on the unevens...and using the horse...it was so much fun...and even if the gym would have it available as a circuit for warm up or cool down 'play' it would encourage us BIG KIDS to go...and as pointed out it would be burning calories and our face muscles would be getting soooooo much exercise(smiling)...and a trapeze? MORE fun...i hope it catches on... Report
One of the questions was "do you think these workouts are effective?" Well, it depends on what you're looking for, but I think the short answer is yes! As part of a well-rounded fitness program, unconventional workouts like these challenge muscles that don't normally get used (I bet you'll feel so sore after doing one of these!) And you have to have more upper body and core strength to do the aerial stuff than say, step aerobics. That said, I have never tried one and don't think anything like this is available in my area, but I'd love to try it!

Just make sure that if you're not getting your heart rate up enough in one of these classes to keep going to your spin class :) Report
Any movement is better than no movement, so why not move in fun? I think it is great to have fun while working out! We don't have any uncoventual offerings here, but they did have a "strip aerobics" class at one of the dance studios. I'd love to take a turn at pole dancing and would definitely try trapeze! I'm sure anything is a better workout the longer you try and learn it, so why keep yourself away from trying new things b/c that new class takes too much of your time to learn it? I started belly dancing back in January and some of the classes do have me observing more than dancing, but I always get at least 30 min. of cardio working out even if I do spend 1/2 the time learning.... As I progress I dance more and observe less. I'm going to take an African Dance class next and can't wait! It will be all new, but isn't that part of the enjoyment of life? Learning new things and having fun? Report
Would I do this? Heck, no! I guesss if you like the feeling of flying it's alright but I have vertigo and I'm afraid of heights. I can't even stand most amusement park rides! Report
I would try it but I would want someone with me the whole time. Report
I agree with POOHBAH51, At the age of 63 this is best left to the young, but oh if I was about even twenty years younger...yes, I would try it. Report
Nope, not my cup of tea. Report
A view of my behind on the ground is enough, thank you. Report
i would deffinatly try this. Not too sure, but i think it will help with strength more than cardio. Report
I would love to try it but I bet it's expensive. I was always a climber and daredevil as a child. I used the trapeze on my jungle gym with ease and climbed 50 foot trees like a monkey. I would love to get that feeling back. Report
No! I'm deathly afraid of heights and add swinging around in mid-air to that and you can forget it!! LOL
I'll stick to my jazzercise routines for now!! :o) Report
Tremndous fear of heights and physical limitations would not let it happen. After I conquer my weight issues maybe I'll work on my fear! Have not heard of those types of classes being available around here. Report
My Mom worked as a trapeze artist for the Bertram Mills circus in England way way back in the early 1950's and broke her back on the net. I have never had any interest in doing this preferring horses in my youth. Today my favorite kind of cardio workout is taking my bike out with the hubby and hitting the trails. and we do like to 'fly'..:-)... Report
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