People today have a growing awareness of the importance of personal fitness in maintaining one’s health. Because of this, several different types of fitness regimes have been rapidly arising in the metro, ranging from an assortment of up-and-coming sports, cross-training routines, and even dance and yoga variations. From the latter, three have been gaining traction over the years: the aerial arts of pole, hoop, and silks.
Although all three are forms of modern dance, they are also becoming steadily more popular as a more exciting form of fitness, particularly aerial silks, which is excellent for building core strength and flexibility, as well as toning upper-body muscle.
A long swath of fabric is rigged to a high ceiling and aerialists use the two hanging ends to create beautiful poses, not just in suspension, but also from the drops and turns which can be executed by manipulating the fabric. Increasing strength and flexibility are developed over time in order to perform more difficult tricks and skills in the air. For many aerialists, the best part of aerial silk is not just developing physical fitness, but more importantly, it is the boost of confidence and self-esteem in one’s capability of performing elegant tricks of increasing difficulty.
“[It requires] strength, grace and flexibility to dance effortlessly and beautifully in the air. It gives me a sense of adrenaline rush and freedom as I climb, wrap and drop. It makes me connect to my artistic side. It enables me to discover what my body is capable of. I feel beautiful and strong… There is a sense of accomplishment and gratification whenever I discover new tricks and drops,” shares Kat Lapuz on her favorite things about aerial silks. “It’s the challenge of satisfying that inner daredevil in me.”
Kat Lapuz is a professional aerialist who teaches aerial silk and pole fitness classes in several different studios across Metro Manila. She is currently training for her first international competition in Hong Kong, the PPS Aerial Performance Tournament 2014, where she qualified as a finalist under the Aerial Silk Professional Division this November 7, 2014.
The winners of the competition gain automatic entry to several other international aerial competitions worldwide, from Australia to China to Rome. “[Competing is] the best way to challenge myself to go beyond limits, to track my progress and discover more of what I am capable of. I want to become the best aerialist, and in order for me to do that, I have to challenge myself to go out of my comfort zone and learn from other great aerialists.”
“I have to master the art [of aerial silk], and that’s the reason I started to pursue it seriously,” Kat says. “Aerial silk was not that popular [a few years ago], and others would always have the notion that it was exclusively for the cirque. I want to prove them wrong and show them that you can excel in this art if you have the passion to do it. It was a great blessing I found Club Gymnastica, it was the perfect training ground for my silk addiction.”
The aerial arts are certainly not for the faint of heart, but there is major payoff for students who take the time to learn from the basics until they progress to the more advanced levels, as Kat did. “Some would always feed their mind with negative thoughts like ‘I don’t have the strength’, ‘I am too heavy’, ‘I don’t think I can do it’… Anyone can do it as long as you really want to just set aside all doubts that you have in mind,” she says.
Kat herself is proof that there is nothing too difficult that you cannot conquer it with time, effort, and a lot of hard work. Apart from teaching aerial classes and training to develop her own skills, she also works a full-time desk job as country head at a global financial services research and strategy consultancy.
Because of the gravity-defying aspect of aerial silk, it takes great amounts of strength and courage in order to be able to develop the necessary skills. “The body can achieve what the mind believes… It takes a lot of physical strength to reach the top but also a clear and powerful mindset to execute a drop or routine,” Kat shares. “If you let fear and doubts take over you, you won’t progress from your level.”
“I did not have any dance and acrobatic background but that didn’t stop me from exploring aerial silk. I couldn’t even do a pull-up or a split before. You will develop strength, grace and flexibility in time,” Kat assures. “You will never know what you are really capable of if you don’t give it a try. My aerial journey taught me that passion, dedication and determination are key in pursuing whatever you want in life.”
Photography by: John Tepaurel