Daily Fitness: Aerial Silks

(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.

Daily Fitness: Ruschmeyer’s Waves and Wellness

(This article first appeared in the May 31, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)


While many in Montauk likely awoke Saturday morning with a hangover, Ruschmeyer’s kicked off the first official day of Memorial Day Weekend with their #CampRusch #WavesandWellness program.

Located outside on their Great Lawn, the commencement class was a Manhattan based BOX+FLOW. The mats were laid out and tired souls were still sleeping in their cabins, as a small group of ladies and gentleman prepared for an unconventional wake up call.

I walked over with coffee in one hand and water bottle in the other, then laced up my sneakers and braced for the next 55 minutes.

BOX+FLOW was led by Caitlin Delaney, an instructor ready to rev up her morning victims, I mean students. The first 40-minutes consisted of warmups and “shadow boxing.” Without any weights, though they are typically used in an in-studio class, there were several “rumbles.”

A rumble focused on 30 seconds of speed and power intervals primarily consisting of squats and air punches. Grooving to the beat of the music, Delaney called out students’ individual names to keep the motivation going.

As a former kickboxing student, the “box” portion of this class was familiar. Next was the “flow” portion. Described as the calm after the storm, the remaining 15-minutes included a quickened vinyasa flow of deep breathing and stretching. To some, and when I say “some” I mean myself, this was the bigger struggle of the class.

In a surprising twist of events, I was both relaxed and energized simultaneously. Even without using weights, my arms and shoulders were sore. The combination of badass self-defense movements and yogi flow resulted in a total mind, body and soul trifecta workout.

Finishing the class I grabbed a delicious Peanut Butter Berry protein shake, compliments of Indie Fresh.

As the summer season welcomes newcomers to Montauk, Ruschmeyer’s is providing a wellness program for locals and visitors alike. By including instructors from studios that are both on the East End and in Manhattan, fitness enthusiasts from all over can partake in programs during the week and on their weekend escapes.