FREDERICTON – Fun and gym. Two words that I’ve never put in the same sentence. At least, not in a positive way. But at The Aerial Den Fitness at 880 Hanwell Road, fun and fitness go hand-in-hand.
The fitness centre offers anti-gravity hammocks and bungee fitness classes for all fitness levels. The centre just opened in late April, but Melanie Lyons, founder, co-owner and instructor, began her business in 2013.
Lyons, who used to have an office job, says she felt her brain wasn’t being used in the way she wanted it to.
“I like to get up and move, I didn’t like sitting there until time to clock out, it just wasn’t for me,” she said.
She felt she needed something different to do, so she got a personal training certificate. It opened doors for her and she went on to teaching bootcamps. She had 30 women in her class.
“I didn’t mean to make it a job…It’s one of those things that you don’t want to question, you just do,” she said.
Before opening the centre, she taught at her house’s basement in Keswick Ridge, NB.
She says she decided to open the centre because she wanted her house back.
“I took over my husband’s man cave and put gym equipment in there,” she said with a laugh.
Heather Henry, co-owner and instructor, says the space provided an opportunity to have a “boutique gym feel,” which is what she and Lyons had envisioned.
Henry and Lyons became business partners in May. Before, Henry had been working in the medical field for twenty years and had been Lyons’ trainee since 2013.
“I may go back to that in some capacity, you never know, but it wasn’t the place for me at the time, and this just gives me a fun spot to be,” she said.
Henry, who also has a management background, looks after the business side of things and is starting to teach bungee training. Lyons is the main trainer.
Henry also plans hikes for the clientele. They will be going to Mount Carleton in October and Machu Picchu, Peru, in June next year.
Lyons says the clientele she created with her fitness business at home has followed her to The Aerial Den Fitness, and that they enjoy the format with the hammocks and bungees.
“The clientele here is very positive, fun; everybody is smiling when they are in the hammocks or the bungees,” she said.
Each class has a maximum of seven people.
“[We wanted] to have a good instructor to client ratios, and that people feel like it’s theirs and it’s cozy and they can come sit on the couch and have a coffee and talk to you before and after class, you know,” she said.
I tried the Low-impact Bungee Class myself. Lyons hooked up a harness around my waist and through my legs. Then, she hooked the bungee to a wood structure on the ceiling. The bungee acts as a resistance for your body weight. That means you can sit at a 90-degree angle in the air and not fall because the bungee supports you.
“The bungee takes body weight away, so it’s less pressure on your joints, on your knees, on your hands, on your waist. You’re able to run and fly and come back, you’re able to do push-ups on your toes when most people can’t. It allows you to keep perfect form the whole time,” said Lyons.
The 45-minute class started with a warm-up. After the warm-up, the real deal began.
Exercises included push-ups, butt-kicks, among others. My favorite part of the workout was performing a sequence where I had to run, step twice, and then jump in the air.
For a second there, I flew. I felt as if I was a cat jumping over a long distance.
And then, like a yo-yo string attached to my back, the bungee pulled me back.
Sandy Brewer, one of the women in the class, has been training with Lyons for four and a half years. She says Lyons’ customers are a community.
“We do hikes, we do outings, we pull firetrucks, literally. I am so much stronger than ever and I’m almost fifty years old,” she said.
She believes working out with Lyons has also helped with confidence.
“You can do anything you want now, that’s how I feel,” she said.
Both Henry and Brewer agree that Lyons’ classes are never the same and keep you interested.
“Where else can you fly?” joked Lyons.