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.
If you’re imagining the school gym ropes, think again. Aerial rope (or ‘corde lisse’, French for smooth rope) is just 30mm thick and made from soft, comfortable cotton that feels lovely to touch, climb and wrap yourself in.
Hanging invitingly from the ceiling, aerial rope is said to have its roots in the ancient Indian art of Mallakhamb, where gymnasts perform aerial yoga poses and wrestling grips on a pole or hanging rope. You’ll also see similarities with Western calisthenics, acrobatics, gymnastics and dance.
When you first begin, it’s safety first. You’ll learn various locks (such as foot lock) and holds to secure yourself on the rope before mastering classic poses, drops and rolls. Try the piston, arabesque and the basic upside-down hang. Or perform with a partner and do the flower, angel or leg catch – pushing yourself to your limits in terms of trust and self-expression. The opportunities are endless.
Naturally, all that climbing and holding is going to give you upper body strength that most mortals can only dream of. You’ll develop your shoulders, biceps, back, triceps and an impressive vice-like grip.
But if you’ve met any rope artists recently you’ll know that one thing they’ve all got in common is a well-sculpted six-pack. Aerial rope is incredible for the core. Your abs will power you through your moves on the rope as they get stronger and stronger.
Feel your mind strengthen too as you switch off, have fun, be mindful and leave the day’s stresses behind you as you climb.
When you’re working on the rope you want to be wearing something tight-fitting that won’t get in your way or float around – but flexible enough to move in. Go barefoot but cover up your legs and arms to avoid skin burns or scrapes in certain moves.