Fitness on Trial: Circusfit at Gymbox

What is Circusfit?

Aerial classes, like Circus Fit, are resistance-based, to focus on strengthening and toning. The fun factor at Circus Fit is that you get to hang upside down while you’re getting fit.


Gymbox, Old Street and Westfield Stratford.


A range of memberships are available.

Length of class:

1 Hour

Best for:

Strengthening and toning

My Verdict:

Since trying aerial yoga a while ago, and on the recommendation of some friends, I’ve been keen to try more fitness activities involving hanging upside down. Not because I have some Fifty Shades style fetish, but because it’s a surprisingly fun way to shake up your fitness routine.

Fortunately for me, since the explosion of Crossfit and the creeping popularity of strength-based workouts over cardio, there are an increasing number of these classes on the market. The basic principle is building muscle can keep you trim, because muscle continues to burn calories long after your workout is finished. Sounds good to me – anything to avoid the huff and puff of a cardio session, right?

I don’t remember aerial yoga being all that physically challenging at the time, but I do remember feeling like I’d been run over, for a couple of days after the session. I’m hoping for the same maximum impact/minimal effort ratio, today. Seeing Hester, the class instructor, shimmy up a rope, I feel quietly confident – it looks easy.

The thing is, having presumably spent quite a bit of time shimmying up and down ropes, Hester is enviably buff, and so for her this is pretty easy. For me, someone with the upper body strength of a 10-day-old kitten, it’s trickier to master. I can kind of do it, but it helps when one of the co-instructors (who is also pretty buff) holds me partially-aloft. The next thing I try is simply hanging from the rope by my arms, and trying to pull myself up to standing, from the floor. This couldn’t seem easier, and yet it’s practically impossible. So I try sitting on the floor and just pulling my butt off the mat. Even this is a challenge.

On the aerial silks – the same as those used in an aerial yoga class – I’m effectively trying to do a back flip, but using the rope to take my weight and minimise the risk of head injury. I’ve done this with some success before, but now I find myself trying to shift my weight over myself and getting caught, mid flip, on my back like an upturned tortoise. It’s not a great aesthetic.

After a couple of attempts, I master the technique and I wonder what all the fuss was about. There are trapezes, too, a high one that I’m to climb onto via another rope adjacent to it, and hang upside down from. I’d love to, but I’m just too scared once I get all 3 feet off the ground. The lower trapeze is a different matter though, and I feel as at home as a vampire bat, here.

I suspected it was going to hurt the next day and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a tough workout, and I found it a little frustrating that I couldn’t do more. It’s certainly different from your average body pump class, and if the class regulars are anything to go by, it’s definitely keeping them trim.