Leslie Friend will be the first person to tell you that what she does is dangerous, but it's also a real thrill and great workout. She teaches aerial silks classes, best known as the acrobatic art form of Cirque du Soleil, at two different locations in Cleveland, the Studio Cleveland
and Sokol Greater Cleveland
"It utilizes every aspect of the body: core strength, balance and flexibility," says Friend. "Most importantly for most people, it builds confidence. A lot of people have a fear of doing stuff off the ground, and this builds up their confidence."
Aerial silks athletes climb and perform acrobatic maneuvers on nylon fabrics that are rigged to the ceiling. Friend starts class participants low to the ground, and as they advance in ability, she allows them to climb higher into the air to perform tricks. She's never had an accident, although participants sometimes do get tangled.
"We've had to build a tower of mats to reach them," she says. "We always tell people, 'If you're ever in doubt, back yourself out, lower yourself to the floor.'"
In Friend's classes, silks climbers can reach heights of up to 20 feet in the air. They entwine themselves in the silks to perform spins and hang upside down.
Although aerial silks classes are growing in popularity, there still are very few places in Ohio where you can even try it. Friend's classes have become so popular this year that she's introduced software on her websites allowing people to sign up in advance.
Classes typically cost between $15 and $20, with discounts available for five-class packages. All of the classes are open to beginners as well as more advanced aerial silks athletes.
Source: Leslie Friend
Writer: Lee Chilcote