The circus may not be in town, but students at Gig Harbor Aerial Fitness are learning to climb, swing and lift their way to improved fitness.
Offering lessons on Corde lisse (soft rope), fabric, aerial hoop and trapeze, owner Pamella Inveen, 56, keeps a close eye on safety as she encourages her students to build their strength and learn aerial tricks.
“This is kind of a cool way to be fit,” Inveen said. “It is the ultimate interval training.”
Inveen keeps her classes small, no more than four to five students per class, so that each student gets individual attention.
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“It is a semi-private instruction,” she explained. “It’s fun.”
Therese Fritz, 38, has been a student of Inveen’s for almost two years, after discovering the aerial fitness class during an open house hosted by Inveen.
“It’s a whole-body experience,” Fritz said. “It really gets you to know your body all over again.”
Fritz started the class as a way to gain back her strength after having three children and found her self confidence growing along with her muscles.
“I was just hooked,” she said. “It’s been a labor of love.”
It’s a whole body experience. It really gets you to know your body all over again.
Therese Fritz, aerial student
Inveen teaches aerial fitness from her Gig Harbor home, having installed the equipment in the rafters of her 19-foot-tall living room.
“Everything is safe,” she said. “I’m very hands-on. I never take my eyes off (my students).”
Bonnie Ubben, another student of Inveen’s, has been taking aerial fitness classes for about three years as a way to both exercise and gain experience for her other activity: equestrian vaulting.
“I was finding another fun way to exercise to get ready for vault,” Ubeen, 19, said. “It has definitely helped my self confidence.”
The aerial fitness class helps strengthen muscles throughout the body, Inveen explained, especially in core muscles of the abdomen, leading to better posture. Students have also reported having more energy and better flexibility, with increases in confidence and self-esteem very common in returning students.
“It just all around makes you feel good,” Fritz said.
Class prices run $60 for private lessons and $25 for group lessons, with a minimum of two students, and lessons take an hour, with most students coming at least once a week.
“It seems to be addicting,” Inveen said. “You dream about it. You dream about the tricks you want to do. It’s ever changing.”
Inveen has been working as a personal trainer for more than 20 years and has been teaching aerial fitness for the last six years, having taken up aerial fitness herself at age 48 after attending a class in Seattle.
“I knew from that moment I’d be doing this,” she explained. “I thought I’d gone to heaven.”
(Aerial fitness) seems to be addicting. You dream about it. You dream about the tricks you want to do. It’s ever changing.
Pamella Inveen, owner and instructor
Gig Harbor Aerial Fitness is the only aerial school in the South Sound, with the next closest classes in Seattle.
Inveen is also the owner of Gig Harbor Yoga Fusion and welcomes students at all fitness and experience levels, with students as young as age 10 (her minimum age) to students in their 40s and 50s.
For those interested in seeing the aerial arts in action, Inveen’s semi-annual show will be held March 25 at the Urban Grace Church in Tacoma.
But Inveen encourages new and hesitant students to try out a class for themselves, promising to meet students at their individual fitness level and ensuring a safe and supportive environment for every participant.
“This space here is a loving, accepting space to feel very, very safe and loved,” Inveen said. “No divas walk in my door. And if you do walk in a diva, you don’t leave that way.”