Updated: October 04, 2012

Today's blogger: Marissa Stephenson, Shape's assistant fitness editor

Does mimicking Cirque du Soleil moves qualify as a workout? This week I found out. Three other Shape editors and I took an aerial dance class at the new Manhattan Movement & Arts Center. After a warm-up, our sweet-but-strict instructor, Ivo, led us through a series of mat stretches and had us practice handstands-a good prep, apparently for the moves we'd do later. Then it was stunt time: We took turns shimmying up two strips of thick fabric hanging from the 20-foot ceiling. (Shape's assistant managing editor, Kristen Maxwell, was a pro at this-check her out in the photo below.) For the next trick, we wrapped the fabric around our wrists to support our bodies and then flipped upside down. (Shape's copy editor, Juno DeMelo (she's in green in the photo below), had this move nailed in no time.)

My favorite part of the class was learning how to "fly." Ivo wrapped the fabric around my shoulders and waist, then I held the ends and raised my arms out to my sides. I ran until I built up enough momentum to lift my feet and let the fabric support my weight. With my right leg extended in front of me and my left leg behind me, I circled the room about three feet off the floor. I was flying (sort of)!

My taste of being an aerialist lasted only 90 minutes, but my upper body was sore for the next two days. So to those Vegas performers who do this for hours every day: I salute you.



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