Monday, 7 January 2013 09:00

Testing 1-2-3 Testing 1,2,3: Jukari – Fit to Fly

It’s no secret that I love a good cake, cookie, tart or pastry. But there are some rules to having an extreme sweet tooth, and one of them is regular fitness (the other involves a solid electric toothbrush). But like so many of the population, I have had my fill of the typical gym scenario. Dirty mats, sweaty scents and meatheads asking if I need help can get pretty tired, pretty fast.

So, in my continual quest to find a form of exercise that doesn’t bore me or leave me crippled, I found Jukari. A quick Google search brought up some wonderful links for things like calamari and Ferrari, so I figured that they wouldn’t have chosen such a cool name for something lame. And that’s how I ended up dangling in the air for the BK community and the pursuit of skinny jeans. AGAIN.

Jukari isn’t new, but it remains a diamond in the rough of the fitness world with limited studios offering it up. The brainchild of Reebok and the gravity defying performers of Cirque du Soleil, the program utilizes a trapeze to have participants leaping, swinging and “flying.” In fact, the class I attended was called “Fit to Fly,” but there is also a “Fit to Flex” variety (one thing at a time, folks). Located dead center of the King West Fitness Studio in Toronto, students are drawn to the suspending ropes like toddlers to a swing set. And for people unlucky enough to only have a spectator view, those who have the hang of it (get it?) are giving the studio a show comparable to what I imagine Cirque du Soleil’s warm up consists of. Minus the costumes.

The hour long lesson begins with a warm up, complete with up tempo music, grip instruction and unintentionally sexy bending and stretching. Then, it’s time to get the upper body prepared for the beating it’s about to take. Varied air push ups and pull ups test the biceps and triceps of any weight lifter. Once warm and when more than a “zumba” class worth of sweat has dripped off of the class collectively, it’s time to really work out! We learn to walk and run in circles with the trapeze, what I imagined looked like an urban maypole to spectators. This is the part where your work out becomes more of a group activity, as weak links (aka slow runners) will cause collision. I recommend you choose your class placement by finding a neighbor with a matched skill level, or even better, no neighbor. I’ll admit to running and skipping without abandon, only to be reminded of my surroundings. What? I was really having that good of a time.

We continued prancing, slowly working our way up to leaping and eventually, full fledged jumping. And just when we thought our arms would give out, it was time to add foot straps and get down on to mats. This part was much more familiar to me, but still challenging. Surprise surprise, planks and butt lifts are that much more difficult when suspended. Still, focusing on not making an ass of myself was a happy distraction and I made it through. Our vibrant and bubbly instructor finished the day by letting us literally sit and swing on our bars. If only that were enough to get us all fit!

Like all new classes, I walked away full of endorphins, ready to face the following day of struggling to wash my hair or reach top shelf items. There’s a real accomplishment in feeling sore from a hard day’s work, but Jukari was much more exciting than hard. Put away your pilates magic circle and reach for a completely different piece of hardware, your body and mind will thank you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a trapeze to install and a Cirque du Soleil audition to practice for. See you in Vegas!

Try it for yourself at King West Fitness.

By: Eva Severed