(This article first appeared in the June 14, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)
Aerial silks have captivated millions in the form of productions like Cirque du Soleil. Watching performers climb to the sky with such agility, flexibility, and strength is awe-inspiring; so inspiring, in fact, that I decided to go from spectator to participant. Suddenly, I found myself hanging upside down trying my first silks class.
Aerial Fitness and Hot Yoga Studio, founded by April Yakaboski, is located on 38 and 40 West Main Street in Riverhead. They hold their aerial silk tricks and conditioning class at CrossFit Impervious, located on 121 Main Road, due to 20-25 foot ceilings that provide an ideal setting for such “high” expectations.
Oftentimes confused with aerial yoga, which is a hammock, aerial silks are two separate nylon silks attached atop. With two sets of these silks, one for the more experienced participants and one for the newbies, instructor Candyce Paparo began to teach me the basics. Splits, potato tuck, pencil, pike, climb, and the much-anticipated straddle inversion.
Expectation versus reality?
I expected myself to be fearless. After all, what’s a few feet off the ground? I expected it to be mostly leg work. That’s where the silks seem to hold on. I expected to be contorting above with the greatest of ease. No.
Wrapping the dual silks around my wrists, lifting myself up, I wished I didn’t skip that gym class where they made you climb rope. Steadying between the swaying cloths, doing my best to stiffen my body for sturdiness, my arms and abdominals did all the work. From climbing a few feet into the air to inverting mere inches off the ground, the entire hour-long class targeted my core. Also, I quickly realized flipping upside down at any height is mildly nerve-wracking. Don’t try that at home, kids!
“You target core the most, which is hard with other classes. Climbing is typically hard for people to do their first few times. And to be able to get height takes several classes,” Paparo explained. Silk training for seven years, with four as an instructor, she recommends four to six classes as a gauge to see progression.
Beyond eye-catching, aerial fitness benefits both physically and mentally since it doesn’t feel like a workout. Being so preoccupied by the excitement of what I could do next left little room to think about if I was getting in a good sweat.
Nora Catlin, one of experienced participants in my class, has been practicing for seven years. “I took other classes so I could get stronger so I could do more stuff on the silks. It’s a moving target, because you do one trick and then you aim for another.”
Newer to the group, Kaitlin Watkins has been attending weekly for about six months. “Every class there’s an improvement,” she said.
Before the class let out, Paparo allowed for one more trick of my choice. A few inches higher, I thought, for a few seconds longer. Straddle inversion. My new favorite way to hang out!
Though it may take a while before I audition for the next Cirque du Soleil, for an hour I felt like a star.
It’s hard to believe that Summer solstice is upon us. My blog 28 Days of Awesome: Find Your Local Adventure inspired a movement within myself. Though the initial blog was 28 unique things in 28 days I didn’t want to stop there. Why not try new things each season? Hell, I’m making it a blog series!
In order to make the most of 2017 I vowed to optimize each day as the seasons continue with small efforts to live life as an adventurous journey (not one we simple begrudgingly walk through). Spoiler alert: it works! I feel happier and healthier.
Here are some new things I partook in (and highly recommend you do the same):
Eating at New Restaurants, Attending Yearly Events & Trying New Free Offers From A Variety Places:
– The Cuban, Garden City, L.I.- Feel, and taste, like you’re in Little Havana. From Cuban cuisine to Latin music, this restaurant transports you on the vacation you’ve been dying to take.
– Salinas, Meatpacking District, N.Y.C.- Bienvenido a España in this beautifully decorated restaurant next door to the Highline Hotel. In the true Spanish tapas style, plates are pequeña but a variety for sharing to get a taste of everything.
– Ayhan’s Shish Kebab, Port Washington, L.I.- The original of the chain where I drank a pomegranate martini, making me feel like I was one of the Gods.
– Left Coast Kitchen, Merrick, L.I.- I bow down to the person that created this Temple Burger. A spin on the classic bagel, lox & cream cheese deluxe, but replace the bagel with latkes and add some eggs. You read that right.
– La Fondita, Amagansett, L.I.- Under the same ownership as restaurants Nick & Toni’s, Rowdy Hall and Townline BBQ, this off-the-road location looks understated but its large personality matches the enormous flavor.
– Hampton Coffee Company, Hamptons, L.I.- I’ve never actually stopped at a brick & motor location for this coffee. Off route 27, it was an ideal pick me up.
– Kobrick Coffee, Meatpacking, N.Y.C.- In an intimate and swanky, yet surprisingly casual location, that serves an Affogato worth salivating over!
– Starbucks , All Over- I came, I bought and I loved the newly released Toasted Coconut Cold Brew.
– Douglas & James Ice Cream, Port Washington, L.I.- A quaint little parlor right on the water with a decor that makes you want to try it all!
– Carvel’s Free Cone Day, (once a year) All Over- I was the only adult on line, April 27th, but no way was I missing out! Mark your calendar for yours.
– Taste of Tuckahoe, Southampton, L.I.- This annual benefit supports local schools and provides delicious tastes from dozens of local fare!
As a self-proclaimed ‘fitness foodie’ my motto is that if you want to eat hard you have to work out even harder. As evident of the above, I had some hard work ahead of me. Listed below are some of the unique ways to keep fit:
– Glow Golf, Garden City, L.I.- It can still get chilly in Spring, so some outdoor activities remain on the back burner (like mini golf). But mention indoor, GLOW IN THE DARK mini golf and no questions needed.
– Aerial Silks, Riverhead, L.I.- I took an aerial fitness class in a hammock (what they use for aerial yoga) and became hooked. A slightly different, and more difficult, experience was the dual hanging silks! Full review here.
– Volleyball, All Over- I may be an athlete by nature but I had never played competitive beach volleyball before now. Turns out, while I certainly need practice, I’m not half bad (for a real review ask my teammates).
– Box + Flow, N.Y.C.- This summer Ruschmeyer’s kicked off #WavesandWellness. Based in NYC, Box+Flow made their east end debut with a class combining boxing & yoga. This was the best way, potentially the only way, to eagerly get me on a yoga mat. Read my review in full.
– Cryotherapy, Water Mill, L.I. & N.Y.C.- Can you stand to be in a tube filled with nitrogen gas at -250 degrees Fahrenheit? How about for 3 minutes? For the health benefits it’s entirely worth it. Read more.
Explored some new places: Some things I just stumbled into, or decided to experience for myself. In omnia paratus!
– Private Artists Exhibit, East Hampton, L.I.- Guild Hall held its 79th Artists Member Exhibition and I was fortunate to attend the initial private showing.
– Baron’s Cove, Sag Harbor, L.I.- Sitting under heat lamps on the outside deck, sipping my last whiskey cocktail of the season, it was a pleasant reminder that winter had passed and Spring was blossoming.
– Long Beach Strip, Sag Harbor, L.I.- A different Long Beach, known as Foster Memorial. A beautiful strip on the bay side.
– Democrat Point, Robert Moses Beach, L.I.- I hit a few first with this one, including watching kitesurfers!
– Long Island Welcome Center, Dix Hills, L.I.- You’ve likely seen the obnoxious, blue I <3 New York advertisement signs on every major parkway. I stopped by the newly developed L.I. Welcome Center (eastbound on the L.I.E.). With all local produce it supports the entire community and gives back to those who make this island great.
– Montauk Salt Cave, Huntington, L.I.- I couldn’t make it to Montauk but I did get to experience my first salt cave at their secondary location in Huntington. Inhale salty benefits, exhale stress.
On a more personal note, I made a conscious effort to further my career: I’ve worked hard on building my ‘Nikki on the Daily‘ brand for years. Recently, by consciously making an effort to push harder, it seems things are finally falling into place. But I wouldn’t be where I am without some help.
– Started a Fitness Column, East End, L.I.- I’ve been writing for The Independent Newspaper for several years. Currently I am perma-freelance reporting on several topics. A topic I aimed to be fluent in is fitness & have earned the weekly IndyFit column.
– Modeled LIVE on TV, N.Y.C.- When I was in the studio audience of The Wendy Williams Show, back during my 28 Days of Awesome, I was asked to potentially return for a model segment. Thanks to help of style expert, Chassie Post, I modeled in a live TV segment called Look for Less.
– Hampton’s Modeling Debut, Southampton, L.I.- The wonderful Gabby Wild and Southampton Adoption Center invited me to walk in their ethical fashion show/benefit, Catwalk for Canines. I took a step in the right direction in the gorgeous fashion lines of Marita Wrong and Pelush, with a pup up for adoption.
– Bethpage Polo at the Park,L.I.- This season, as a manager to the VIP tent on the polo grounds, I am both humbled and proud to be able to contribute to a business community I strongly believe in. Come join us on Sundays.
From my adventuress to yours, may every moment be more awesome than the last!