Sweat SF: Everything You Need to Know About Aspen Aerials


Aspen Aerials is an alternative exercise using a circus apparatus known as silks to move through a series of tricks and climbs to develop strength and flexibility. We promise, you will never look at two-way stretch polyester lycra the same again!

“Students can expect to be challenged but also to have fun,” Aspen Aerials owner Maia Adams explains. “A lot of times students say it was so much fun being upside down and climbing that students forgot they were working out! Reminding everyone who walks through our doors about a sense of play and a positive relationship with their body is very important to us. It’s a great way to experience moving in an entirely new way and you would be surprised at what you are capable of!"

“Class content focuses on conditioning upper body and core strength with an emphasis on preventative stretching techniques for proper shoulder care,” Maia said, predicting how sore we would be the following day. “It's also super important to do pull-ups. Do them, even if it's half of one. If you keep thinking you suck at it try to remember sucking at something is the first step to being sort of good at it.”

Aspen Aerial client Allie is more than “sort of good.” The former gymnast has been taking classes for over a year. “My body craves movement,” she explained, “pursuing aerial silks was a natural choice for me as I love to stretch, be upside down, and thoroughly enjoy the adrenaline rush of doing it all 20ft off the ground. I found Aspen Aerials about a year ago, and fell in love the space immediately. The studio is beautiful, and all the instructors are fabulous - they really care about each and every student's individual progress and making everyone feel at home and safe.” The Sunnyvale resident encouraged us newbies. “Be prepared for a full-body workout that will challenge you in ways you didn't know were possible. The strength builds quickly; so don't get discouraged if you can't climb all the way up on your first go!  Stick with it and soon that rope from middle school gym class will be something to laugh at.”

I did have flashbacks to the 7th grade rope climb when we first arrived. When my friend Jenny and I walked into the 2,700-square-foot Mission studio where silks hung above gigantic mats from lofted ceilings, we gave each other a glance, “What did we get ourselves into?” As one of the instructors finished up a private lesson we watched in awe as she gracefully maneuvered through a series of splits and inversions at least 15 feet in the air. Neither one of us would have guessed that an hour later I’d be clapping for Jenny as she climbed her way up and successfully completed an “angel” pose.

Our intro class started with light cardio and fifteen minutes of yoga-inspired stretching to focus on flexibility and alignment. Once we were warm our teacher, appropriately named Helium, divided us into groups based on experience. We quickly jumped on the “no experience” mat eager to start our Cirque du Soleil careers. Helium guided us through beginner exercises to become familiar with the silks, climbing and foot locking techniques. It wasn’t long before our arms muscles were burning. A very supportive teacher, Helium tailored tricks to everyone’s capabilities so the eight of us were constantly engaged despite varying experience. While we mastered the Koala Hug and Karate Kick, it was hard to keep a straight face when Helium reminded, “Don’t crotch it.”

Naturally, we have about a dozen photos documenting the struggle and far from graceful attempts but as Maia predicted, it was extremely surprising and rewarding when accomplishing a pose. And days later, as I write this article my arms are still extraordinarily sore. It still may be a little while though before we take our act on the road.

Aspen Aerial, soon to be named Aerial Artique is located at 132 9th St #302. Open Gym sessions are $15, drop in classes are $35 and discounted packages and new student offers are available.



  • Wear long tights or pants as the silks can burn slightly depending on the trick. Bring a long sleeve shirt for additional coverage if you have sensitive arms.
  • Yoga mats will be used in the beginning of class, bring your own or they are available to rent.
  • Hydration is key, complimentary water filter station provided.
  • No shoes, no problem, classes are taught barefoot.




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