PREPARING YOUR MIND & BODY FOR NEW HEIGHTS
Health & Fitness:
Tucked very unassumingly on Hollywood Blvd, in a back alley warehouse, Cirque School is like no other gym in town. Actually, founder Aloysia Gavre doesn’t like to use the G-word.
“I don’t like to say ‘gym.’ We’re a school or a performance space or a circus playground.”
And we’re definitely not talking about your parent’s old-fashioned circus. A former aerialist with Cirque du Soleil, and a veteran of the European and American tours of Quidam as well as O in Las Vegas, Gavre founded Cirque School with the motto: any body with any body.
Having heard stories of the demanding workouts at Cirque School, and after watching some of the students in action, I thought for sure that I would be the one awkward novice to disprove their slogan.
I opted for the 60-minute Aerial Fitness & Conditioning class which is a whole body strength-training workout that introduces you to a combination of aerial and Pilates exercises on the trapeze, fabric and rope. Students follow a circuit of exercises to increase strength in their core and upper body creating a solid foundation for other Aerial Tricks classes.
First we warmed up with exercises on the Swiss ball that immediately made me feel uncoordinated, but Rick and Elizabeth, the evening’s instructors, proved to be infinitely patient and adept at making everyone feel relaxed and comfortable. The dual instructors made sure everyone had enough attention to make for optimal instruction.
Working on rope proved extremely challenging, as you have to lift your entire body weight several times without using your legs. Talk about tough. What a burn! Believe me, I was feeling the ‘pain’ in my arms two days later.
For beginners, especially for anyone with zero gymnastics experience, it’s extremely challenging no matter your level of fitness. But if you’re looking to challenge yourself and give your body something absolutely new to do, wow, this is it! You’ll be hard-pressed to find something else as arduous, challenging and fun.
For Gavre, who was encouraged to do Pilates while working with Cirque du Soleil for injury prevention and recovery, it’s her desire to present Cirque training to everyone.
“My mission is to really get everybody to climb the rope and hang by their knees and have fun,” she says. “For some, it’ll inspire a passion for them to maybe become a professional or just to get fit and feel good.”
Fusing Pilates with aerial work and acrobatics in a safe environment, the ‘anybody with any body’ philosophy even held up during my workouts. By the second workout I felt more confident and comfortable. I still wasn’t an expert by any means but the session still proved challenging, which is what I wanted more than anything else, and fun.
“That’s the goal,” Gavre notes, “regardless of your size, age, weight, whatever, I want to make sure that everybody feels safe to at least to try it. What will stop people, and it’s not their age or weight, it’s the disbelief in themselves.”
Featured on “The Biggest Loser,” Gavre points out that size wasn’t an issue for the show’s contestants.
“They wanted it so badly that it didn’t matter that they were over 200lbs. Some of them were actually able to climb 14ft and get their whole body weight off the floor. That’s outstanding! Now, if somebody comes in here the same size but doesn’t believe that they can, then it’s not going to happen. You have to believe in yourself and also take a little bit of risk.”
I may not be ready to runaway with the circus any time soon but now I don’t have to. I can go to Cirque School, sweat, burn calories, challenge myself and reap the benefits of one of the most unique and entertaining workouts I’ll ever find.
Cirque School is located at 5640 1/2 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Call 424-226-2477.
Cirque School is located at 5640 1/2 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028.