Starting her new year’s resolutions, Mallory attended a class at AIR Aerial Fitness Studio in Arcadia. This pose was the last one of the 50-minute session – a way for students to cool down after a tough workout. 


Continuing my fitness expedition with an aerial fitness class

In my continuing fitness journey for 2022, I found another way to work out – and this time, I wouldn’t be using a treadmill or weights. No, this time, I would literally be in the air. 

According to AIR Aerial Fitness studio Owner and Instructor Steph Doheny, aerial fitness is a full-body workout that uses silk hammocks to tone muscle and improve posture and balance. 

“All of the classes – beginner-friendly to intermediate and advanced – emphasize full-body conditioning and stretching, building strength and toning functional muscles with proper form and alignment,” she said. 

I realized that upper body strength is important for aerial classes – this, I do not have. We started with a warm-up, then got right into exercises, working our arms and legs while utilizing the hammock.  

Doheny said that this exercise encompasses a variety of disciplines and exercise types (including aerial yoga, circus arts and more). 

“AIR itself stemmed from the simple idea that staying fit should be challenging but fun. Founder and President Shama Patel left her career as a corporate attorney to open the first studio in Chicago in 2013. There are now nine studios nationwide, and our Phoenix studio is one of the newest, opening in October 2020,” Doheny said. 

I attended a mid-day class with three other people – which was good because attempting to stand in a hammock while moving my feet in ways they don’t usually go made me feel pretty silly. It helped that Doheny also did the exercises with us and showed different variations for more experienced attendees. 

Doheny started as a client at the Chicago location in 2017. She loved it so much that she became a trainer there through the in-house training program in 2019 and opened her studio in Phoenix in 2020.

Class ended with a cool-down, and my two classmates and I stuck around to learn the week’s #AIRPOW or “AIR Pose of the Week.” The pose that day was called “ball pose” and involved wrapping your ankles in the hammock and moving to a sitting position – not for the weak-ankled, is all I’ll say. 

“AIRPOW is a fun way to see and practice different tricks and poses in the hammocks and a great way to track progress,” Doheny said.

Aerial fitness targets all areas of the body, and Doheny explained that most clients start to see new muscle tone within their first month of classes.

AIR also hosts a beginner-friendly aerial yoga class, plus Core, a 30-minute ab-focused class. They also offer advanced and mommy-and-me classes. Prices are $30 for a drop-in and $160 for unlimited monthly memberships. New client specials include $25 for the first week of unlimited classes or $99 for the first month of unlimited classes.

“Our community is inviting, fun, and full of like-minded clients and trainers who will help you achieve your goal,” Doheny said. This class was probably the neatest one I’ve tried yet, but my arms were still sore a week later!