We Tried It: AirBarre at Swet Studio

Elevate your barre practice—literally.
AirBarre

AirBarre at Swet Studio. Photos by Jamie Ducharme

What it is: Aerial barre
Where to go: Swet Studio, in the South End
What it costs: $28 drop-in. New customers also get a 10-day unlimited pass for $30.
Know before you go: You’ll need to take a prerequisite AntiGravity Fundamentals class first. Wear long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, and grip socks, or go barefoot.

The gist:

Picture a barre class. Now take away the barre, weights, and props, and add in aerial silks. Got a mental image? Neither did I.

Nonetheless, I signed myself up for AirBarre at Swet Studio, ready to find out. After completing the AntiGravity Fundamentals class—which teaches the basics of aerials, including plenty of decompression inversions—I was ready(ish) for the main event.

There were plenty of on-the-ground pliés, relevés, squats, and pulses that will look familiar to barre veterans, except that they use the silks for balance instead of a ballet barre. But you’ll also do inner thigh exercises while hanging upside down, deep stretches using the silks, and aerial balance poses, such as the all-too-aptly-named Nutcracker. The result is a hybrid of standard barre, aerial yoga, and Yin yoga.

Is the workout as good as a regular barre class? In the traditional sense, no. While certain sections are very physically taxing—pulsing in a relevé squat for what seems like an eternity comes to mind—some of the moves require a decent amount of demonstration, so there’s a bit more standing around time than usual. More emphasis is also placed on stretching and decompressing, rather than total muscle exhaustion.

That said, aerial barre will work your muscles in totally new ways, and comes with its own unique set of benefits. Proponents of aerials say they help relieve pressure on the spine and discs; stimulate circulation and send blood to the brain; and refresh the endocrine and digestive systems. They also make you feel like an acrobat, albeit an uncommonly clumsy one, so there’s that.

AirBarre may seem intimidating, but I lived to tell the tale despite having completed exactly one aerials class, approximately two years ago, before signing up for AntiGravity Fundamentals. The instructors also do a great job of accommodating the wide, wide range of skill levels in the class, and fellow students are very supportive.

In short: If you’re scared, don’t be. The silks await.

Swet Studio, 480 Tremont St., Boston, 617-670-0631, swetstudio.com.

Inversion

Instructor Jennifer demonstrates an inversion.