Getting the hang of anti-gravity yoga


Dangling upside down from a nine-foot-long silk hammock might not instill happiness in everyone, but for me, a self-proclaimed adventurist, this is nirvana. Next to me, three brave souls sway alongside on their slippery fabric hammocks. I catch a glimpse of the polished hardwood floors of the studio, then the stark ceiling lined with metal hooks.

I’m a mother of two young boys. Sometimes a mom needs to branch out from tasks like emptying pockets while doing laundry—which, with little boys, can be risky, but not exactly adventurous. I’m on a quest to find adventure in the everyday, and that journey led me to anti-gravity yoga at Fit to the Core in Austin. This hybrid of yoga, Pilates, dance, and acrobatics was created by gymnasts and is intended for people of all athletic skill levels. Travis and Sarah Shrader, videographer and nurse by day, transform into circus performers at night when they guide a maximum of six anti-gravity class participants through a series of energizing poses.

“When we lived in New York, Sarah, a dancer for fifteen years, dragged me to every wacky fitness class imaginable,” said Travis. “When we discovered anti-gravity yoga, I realized it was challenging, fun, and just weird enough for Austin.”

The couple trained in anti-gravity yoga, a fitness regimen in a new genre known as suspension fitness, using silk materials similar to those used by aerial artists in Cirque de Soleil and hammocks that can suspend up to 1,000 pounds three feet off the ground. After moving to Austin, they opened their franchise, the only one in Texas, in 2011.

Our class, comprising two personal trainers and me, started as Sarah explained how to navigate the material in order to safely perform the poses. During the next fifty-five minutes, we accomplished leg lifts, inversions (flipping upside down), handstands, and swings. It was impossible to take myself too seriously as Sarah requested that we perform poses like the “skydiver,” the “booty wrap monkey,” or the “cocoon.” The lighthearted atmosphere made the experience much more fun than any jaunt on a treadmill could ever offer.

“All fitness levels are welcome,” said Travis. “When a first-timer trusts the hammock and lets go, the room is filled with a sense of accomplishment.”

With the small class ratio, it’s easy to get personal attention and bond with fellow participants. The day I attended anti-gravity yoga, Veronica Ethridge, a personal trainer, yoga instructor, and stand-up paddleboard yoga instructor, was taking her second class. “Both stand-up paddleboarding and anti-gravity yoga require strength, flexibility, stability, and mental focus, which create balance in the body. Playfulness is mandatory.”

Anti-gravity yoga convinced my inner-five-year-old to make an appearance. This aerial activity makes everyday life shinier, so it gets a big check on this mama’s adventure list.

AntiGravity® Yoga at Fit to the Core
2745 Bee Caves Road, Suite 105,
inside 5 Fitness
Austin, TX 78746

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