If you’re looking to change up your routine and bring a whole new sense of fitness into your life, aerial fitness and pole dancing are two nontraditional forms of fitness that help build strength and flexibility.

Royalty Pole Dance owner Carmen Vasquez describes pole dancing as a “super-sport” because it involves a form of gymnastics, dance and coordination. Vasquez said pole dancing is similar to other normal workouts because it requires strength training, repetitions and sets.

“If you’re doing a lot of the dancing part of it, it’s also cardio, too, because you’re moving around fast and you engage your core that builds up your muscles as well,” said Vasquez.

Vasquez admits that because pole dancing is different, some people think the sport as risque and it can be taken the wrong way. However, Vasquez feels like pole dancing is her gateway sport and has grown in other forms of fitness because of it.

“I got into other forms of fitness because I wanted to get better at this. People use it as a very strong form of expression. It’s bold and cutting edge. That’s what sets it apart,” said Vasquez.

Royalty Pole Dance instructor Amanda Baker mentions that she has grown as an athlete because of her pole-dancing experience.

Vasquez and Baker encourage everyone to try pole dancing and move past the stigma behind it because it helps people get in shape, regardless of body type, age and background.

“It’s only your mind that holds you back, not your body or anything else. It’s what you tell yourself you can or can’t do,” said Baker.

At Solitude Healing Arts, owner Sheila Mauck describes aerial fitness as a low-impact sport with isometric types of techniques and yoga.

“It’s an ideal way for people that don’t have upper-body strength to build that strength. It’s different for everyone but it offers the same benefits,” she said.

Mauck adds that aerial fitness is spiritual but focuses on community and connecting while disconnecting from the distractions around people.

Because it is holistic fitness and is compared to physical therapy, “clients are able to release, recharge and become one with their body,” Mauck adds.

“We’re working different components of our body but doing the same thing. Altogether, the classes are small for intimacy and safety. It’s not an easy art to do but it’s something everyone can do,” said Mauck.

Gracie Howell, Mauck’s personal assistant at Solitude Healing Arts, said the classes she’s taken have helped her heal physically from her own personal adversity. Though it can be intimidating, both Howell and Mauck encourage people to try aerial fitness because it’s a great way to stimulate the mind, body and soul.

“It’s not like exercise. We feed off of each other. We’re all rooting for one another, which is amazing. We empower one another in the class,” said Howell. 

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