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Monday, Aug. 31, 2015

Flying For Fitness

Aerial Expressions adds new element to yoga

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Aerial Expressions adds new element to yoga

Susie Stevens, owner of Aerial Expressions in Shreveport, brings a new form of fitness to the Shreveport- Bossier City area.

As a former gymnastics coach, dance, fitness and yoga instructor, Stevens saw the need for a change of pace from the typical workout routine.

“I’ve taught for 23 years in the realm of fitness. I just wanted to do something more, and aerial is something I had seen online, but it just wasn’t in this area yet,” Stevens said. “We started really small, just basic skills for about two years, but we had some people progressing really fast. We moved to a bigger facility just over a year ago.”

Aerial yoga is a type of yoga which combines traditional yoga poses, Pilates and dance with the use of a hammock-like fabric hung in a studio.

“The reason they call it aerial is that we do more yoga close to the floor – your basic yoga poses are done with the fabric, so it lets your poses go a little deeper and be more supported,” Stevens said. “Maybe a pose that someone has been struggling with on the floor or that you want to make a little more intensive, using the fabric can assist that.”

The benefits of aerial yoga are substantial. “It’s amazing for the back, especially in the inverted poses,” Stevens said. In addition, aerial yoga can improve alignment and pain relief, encourage body awareness, increase flexibility and joint mobility, and inspire positive life changes.

“We have had students that work out all the time, but they are always surprised because they’re using muscles they’ve never used before – they’re lifting and climbing, but it’s doable. Eighty percent of it is technique verses strength and learning to use your lats and not just your arms.”

Stevens received her aerial training through Aircats in Boulder, Colo., and takes continuing education classes to stay current and expand her knowledge.

Aerial Expressions offers classes from a beginner level to advanced.

“We have all ages of adults, and we now have performing companies. We have a senior performing group and also a junior novice group. They are just amazing, and they love it and have fun,” she said. “We try offer enough different varieties of class that someone could come in off the street and not know a thing about aerial, or even yoga – because it’s not just yoga, it’s a few yoga poses inverted – but we offer something for all levels, all ages, all abilities. People can work at their own pace, so if they’re a few inches off the ground doing their strength and conditioning and flexibility work or head high where they are climbing all the way to the ceiling and learning full routines, either way it’s a great opportunity for fitness.”

Stevens is passionate about helping others achieve their fitness goals. “The strength challenge is so much fun to watch people grow from no upper body strength to saying, ‘Look, I can climb!’ I love teaching; I thrive off of their energy and having them feel good about themselves and gain confidence is amazing. We have such great students.”

She offers private group classes for anything from children’s birthdays to bachelorette parties. Youth classes are also available. “Our youth classes are really neat – some children find their niche in dance or gymnastics, but some kids say, ‘I’m too tall’ or ‘I’m too lanky’ or ‘my coordination isn’t there,’ but they get into aerial and they can do it, because it supports their body. To see these kids get excited about moving – oh my gosh – it has been amazing,” Stevens said. “I’m blessed to have a job that I’m passionate about, and my passion is helping people. I love watching the smiles or helping them overcome a challenge. It produces quick gains – you will see [a difference] in a few weeks. They trust their bodies.”

–Mandy Byrd

Book a Class:

Aerial Expressions is located at 1240 Shreveport Barksdale Highway in Shreveport. To find out more about aerial yoga or to reserve a class space, go to www. aerialexpressions.com.

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