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International Aerial Yoga 'Masters' Launch High-Flying Chelsea Studio

By Mathew Katz | November 27, 2012 12:33pm

CHELSEA — After 13 years of swinging, twisting, and stretching while suspended from ceilings around the world, Shelly Bomb is bringing aerial acrobatics to Chelsea.

The longtime veteran of AntiGravity, an aerial performance company, opened up Holding Space, an aerial yoga and pilates studio at 49 W. 24th St., giving students top-quality training at an affordable price.

AntiGravity Yoga — a unique workout created by competitive gymnast and later Broadway dancer Christopher Harrison — was originally designed for professional athletes, but now it's moving to the masses.

Bomb and her partners K.D. Diallo and Jill Drapo Harvey, are some of the world's only AntiGravity Yoga Master Trainers. That means their students are normally teachers themselves. 

"In the whole world of AntiGravity Yoga, there's only three master trainers," said Bomb, who's performed at the Grammys, President Barack Obama's inauguration and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

"We've got the performance and teaching experience — and the fun element of this comes from the performance."

Aerial yoga combines acrobatic arts and yoga, using a hammock suspended from the ceiling to deepen participants' yoga stretches while they flip upside-down and build strength — all with minimal stress on the body. The trio behind Holding Space have taught internationally, with teacher trainings set for Moscow, Greece and the Cayman Islands in the coming months.

Fitness fanatics and yogis have embraced the high-flying practice over the past few years, and it's spread across the city both in gyms and dedicated aerial yoga studios.

Since Holding Space launched in mid-November, it's had a wide range of recruits, including endurance athletes looking for some recovery time and seniors hoping for a safe way to stay fit. The studio's restorative yoga program is aimed at both groups, Bomb said.

"They slide right in," she explained of particpants' ease in taking part in the practice. "A lot of these poses, if you do them on the ground, they'd compress your spine and your neck."

By hanging upside-down — or going into "inversions" — fitness buffs can expand their entire spines, a move yoga trainers say helps relieve back pain and muscle fatigue.

Along with restorative classes and aerial pilates, the studio also offers a "Flying Fitness" class made up of quick movements meant to get students' heart rates up, along with a "Slow Flow" class that sees them holding postures for longer periods of time.

Classes at the new studio are $20 each, though the price comes down if participants buy a multi-class pass.