In 1991, Christopher Harrison, a New York-based dancer, acrobat and choreographer, founded the AntiGravity acrobatic group troupe for a performance at the New York Marathon.
Harrison and his globetrotting troupe later stumbled across hammocks hanging from a cabana in a hotel where they were performing and used them as a way of warming up, winding down after a performance or stretching it out safely after long journeys.
Fast-forward to 2007 and Harrison was looking to combine his aerial skills with a concept that would relieve pressure from the neck and spine, and increase blood flow to the brain while actively working muscles. If the combination worked for him and his troupe, why not for those who sit at desks or spend a lot of time travelling?
AntiGravity® Fitness is born
Harrison launched AntiGravity® Fitness in 2007, which first encompassed Aerial Yoga and has since moved on to AntiGravity® Pilates, Suspension Fitness, Kids, Decompression, Absolute Abs and AIRbarre, among others.
The word spread quickly and there are now more than 200 licenced studios around the world teaching this health-boosting method, gaining gushing reviews from celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and providing many an Instagram pic. It’s now regarded as the most sophisticated and professional aerial workout in the world today.
But what does AntiGravity® have to do with jet lag, the dreaded result of crossing time zones and the subsequent mismatch between our external and internal clocks?
How AntiGravity® Fitness combats jet lag
Exercise is already widely considered an effective method to reduce the impact of jet lag, but when you’re tired, limbs can feel heavy and your general system sluggish. Furthermore, stiff joints and muscles could result in injury if you hit the ground runningand overdo it.
The ideal solution? A low impact way of recovering physically and mentally, and AntiGravity® Decompression fits the bill perfectly. Ultimately, all AntiGravity® classes utilise what’s known as the silky Harrison Hammock to provide a workout that allows you to stretch and strengthen without over-stressing joints or compressing vertebrae. The hammock acts as your support system as you learn to invert and hang suspended in the air.
The classes are not all about inversions, however. The Decompression class, for example, utilises stretches and contraction, so you do feel like you've had a gentle workout.
“Hanging upside down means we can basically allow our spinal column to revert to a neutral position and re-lubricate our spinal discs. You are instantly rejuvenated because you’re sending fresh blood and oxygen to the brain.” —Flex AntiGravity® trainer Rebecca Jean Wong
Ultimately, suspension releases tension on the bones and muscles, increasing flexibility and deepening your practice. With less strain on your back while doing the exercises, it eases tension in the spinal cord and hip joint. And anyone who has sat on a plane for 15 hours knows how appealing this sounds.
Flex AntiGravity® trainer Rebecca Jean Wong explains: “Hanging upside down means we can basically allow our spinal column to revert to a neutral position and re-lubricate our spinal discs. “What you feel is kind of like a natural caffeine rush. You are instantly rejuvenated because you’re sending fresh blood and oxygen to the brain.”
Basically, you’re resetting your circulatory system, so that when you stand up, you’re rebooted. So it seems that when you’ve been flying, the best way to combat the dreaded lag is to go flying.
And take it from me—AntiGravity® is a licensed, professional method. Other ‘aerial’ offerings may not expect the rigorous training that is required for trainers in AntiGravity®. If you choose carefully, you’ll feel safe, look great and have a lot of fun in the process.