“When a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life.” Eighteenth-century Samuel Johnson had a good point. It’s old, new, arty, leafy, green, grey, high-rise, low-rise, busy, edgy, diverse, creative and so much more.
Bristol is an energetic melting pot of old and new – where heritage gets an imaginative twist for the present day. Climb aboard SS Great Britain, scramble under the mighty Clifton Suspension Bridge and get hands-on with history in the M Shed.
Welcome to Scotland’s city of cool. Once written off as too gritty, edgy and urban, Glasgow has grown up, blending style and sophistication with lively authenticity.
Once a run-down mill town, Leeds is now a vision of urban architectural chic with glitzy malls and expertly repurposed industrial buildings lining its canals.
“This is Manchester. We do things differently here.” The famous words of Factory Records co-founder Tony Hall ring truer today then ever on the streets of Manchester.
Known as the British Hollywood, Hertfordshire has a host of hidden talents. Just a short hop from London, but worlds away, you’ll discover picturesque villages, medieval market towns (check out St Albans)
Beautiful. Creative. Free. Imagine yourself suspended in the air by two long lengths of coloured fabric hanging from the ceiling. Climb them, wrap yourself in them, pose, stretch, swing, spin and tumble down as you surprise yourself with your strength, flexibility and creativity. It’s like a gravity-defying dance in the sky flowing with elegance, freedom and power.
Flexibility & Contortion
Mindful. Mesmerising. Moving. Explore the possibilities of your incredible body. Own it. Stretch it. Bend it. Break free from the restrictions of static modern life and reset your own natural range of motion to move in the way that nature intended. This is what freedom feels like. Let your body show you how far you can go as you become more and more flexible, open and in tune. Release. Relax. Repeat.
Purity. Grace. Power. You feel completely focused and in full control of your entire body and mind. You place your hands on the floor, then slowly lift your legs off the ground and raise them straight up over your head. You hold the pose, tensing everything, total concentration. You’ve nailed it. This is what real strength looks like.
Graceful. Diverse. Dynamic. Simply sitting in the aerial hoop feels iconic, elegant and exciting. You’re suspended in mid- air, preparing for your next move – will it be the mermaid, man-in-the-moon or the gazelle? You’re in control and it feels exhilarating.
Elegance. Simplicity. Drama. What goes up must come down. You’ve expertly climbed high up the rope, you’re wrapped head down in a pose and now it’s time for the drop. You wait a beat, then take it down, spinning as you sink elegantly to the floor. It’s the stuff childhood dreams are made of. And here you are, making it happen on a standard Tuesday night.
Strength. Agility. Performance. All eyes are on you. You’re on fire, tensing everything, holding your crucifix pose with the straps firmly wrapped around your wrists. This is what you came for. Hold, hold, hold and then release, flip and fly down to the floor. Aerial straps are a seriously demanding discipline, but determination pays off. And it feels incredible.
Static & Dance Trapeze
Classical. Masterful. Magical. Hands gripping tight. Heart a-thumping. You close your eyes and the crowd is below, admiring, expectant. It’s time to shine. You start to spin 360 as you skin-the-cat, once, twice, three times. You elegantly drape your body into the gazelle, feeling the adulation from below. For a magical moment you taste the glitz and glamour of the circus, before coming back to reality. Here you’re the star of your own journey… and it feels even better.
Blissful. Freeing. Fun. The world is upside down, yet things have never felt so clear. You’re balanced in a headstand for the very first time, supported by a sling hanging from the ceiling that wraps around your pelvis, legs and feet. You feel light, free and in tune. Why you’ll love it Try new tricks for the thrill of it Nail your inversions with the support of the sling Go deeper and longer into stretches Intensify your core and cardio workout Savasana swaying in a sling is pure bliss What to expect What to expect This is the lovechild of yoga and aerial silks – it’s gorgeous, fun and makes you feel incredible, whether you’re an accomplished yogi, aerial expert or total beginner. Descending from the ceiling are silky slings or hammocks that support your whole body weight. You’ll twist and shape the sling to support you within traditional yoga poses – opening your hips, shoulders and hamstrings to help you stretch deeper for longer. The weightless feeling allows you to enhance your practice with positions you never thought possible and get playful with aerial poses and tricks. Benefits to your body Imagine all the benefits of yoga and then intensify them. Taking your yoga routine into the air removes your stability, so you’ll start to switch on your core without even noticing. As you go deeper into positions and try new ones you’ll boost your flexibility, strength and all-round fitness. Emotionally – expect to smile, surprise yourself and feel truly zen as you zone out cocooned in a sling. What to wear You can throw on your standard yoga gear but avoid anything baggy – that way you won’t get an unwanted top-over-head scenario when you go upside down.
Flight. Freedom. Fun. You’re on a small platform high above the world, toes touching the edge. It’s time. You take the trapeze in both hands and leap into the unknown. You’re flying! Free as a bird you swing through the air on an adrenaline high. Riding the rush you swing upside down from your knees, then take it back to your hands before backflipping down to earth. What. A. Feeling.
Power. Grace. Precision. You’re high on a 9-metre vertical pole, gripping it only with your legs as you hold a precision pose, the rest of your body firm and strong. Next you’re flipping, sliding down and free running back up. Drawing on a circus tradition of power, strength and acrobatics, yet now starting to blend dance and movement from pole dancing, this is an exciting time to explore the Chinese pole. Why you’ll love it Mixes acrobatics, calisthenics, dance and free-running Fun and welcoming for men and women Achieve strength and grace simultaneously 800-year tradition that keeps on evolving Like pole-dancing but without the burlesque What to expect What to expect First of all, there’s the pole. It’s made of steel (but usually covered in rubber for a good grip), between 3-9 metres high and around 3 inches in diameter. Some Chinese poles actually rotate – allowing you to spin around on the vertical axis, adding movement to what would otherwise be static moves. The closer you bring your body into the pole, the faster it spins. In Chinese pole classes, you’ll start by building your core and upper body strength through calisthenics and basic moves on the pole, before progressing to more advanced poses and tricks. The famous trick to aspire to is ‘the flag’ – where you hang straight out from the pole with your hands. Needless to say, this requires incredible upper body strength. #Goals. Benefits to your body This is a serious strength and conditioning workout for your core, upper body and every muscle in between. Practise on the Chinese pole and you will get strong fast, using just your own bodyweight. Expect exceptional muscle tone, beautiful flexibility, and a real fitness boost too. You’ll leave your pole session feeling empowered and exhilarated – it’s a tonic for the mind as well as the body. Feel the pride that comes with pushing your own limits, the excitement of exploring this changing art form and the sense of community that’ll surround you. What to wear The right clothes and shoes can transform your Chinese pole experience. First-timers should wear long johns or leggings under old jeans with a belt – it’s all about the grip, protection and coverage. On your feet, go with plimsoles or soft, flexible trainers for now. If you get into it, buy professional Chinese pole footwear like Tabi boots, Feiyue shoes or Teva Protons online or in London’s Chinatown – they’re not expensive and will give you the edge.