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?)
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!