Tuesday, May 7, 2013


I had the good fortune recently to try out the Cirque du Soleil-sponsored fitness program Jukari.  It's a unique class, integrating elements of trapeze, plyometrics, and strength training.  Check out this video to get more of a glimpse.

The only place in the U.S. that's currently teaching Jukari classes is the Equinox gym, in the Flatiron district of Manhattan.  Lynze Schiller, pictured, is the wonderfully energetic instructor, and her enthusiasm is infectious.

As an aerialist, I have to admit, I walked into this class with skepticism.  I know all too well what it takes to get strong enough to really "fly" on a trapeze, and I couldn't imagine that any amount of Cirque du Soleil-soundtrack playing and aerobic step-touching was going to get us there.

In some ways, I was right.  This class does not prepare you to be an aerialist.  But I discovered something else ... Jukari is really fun, in a way that traditional aerial-arts classes are not.  The curriculum brings out a childish sense of flight - of swinging, of spinning, or being carried by momentum - that gets even the most skeptical student smiling and laughing.  It feels like being seven years old on a playground.  And at the same time, it's a workout that covers most major muscle groups.  (Abdominals, biceps, and legs all got a significant workout - notably absent was attention to the back and shoulder muscles, which are essential for true aerial work - but perhaps more likely to be injured for beginner students?)

The apparatus we used in the class is called a Fly Set.  It's a bar, attached with loops to a nylon daisy-chain of sorts... the daisy-chain is round and padded like a rope, so you can hold onto it comfortably.  The bar easily pops in and out, and can be adjusted to all different heights.  At the top of the set are carabiners and swivels.

By the end of the class I was sold.  Jukari is a great class for students who want the feel of flying, who want to imagine themselves in Cirque du Soleil, but who aren't ready to climb a 20' rope.  The class can be gentle or more challenging, but it's designed to give a reasonably well-rounded workout to all kinds of bodies.  I hope more people have a chance to experience it!

1 comment:

  1. I wonder why this hasn't seen more widespread adoption in US gyms. Maybe a lot of them don't have the structure to rig to?

    Clearly someone should open up a Jukari gym in Manayunk, to go with the spin gym, rowing gym, boxing gym, and pole dancing gym down there.