OGDEN — With a little guidance from the instructor, I reach high to grasp the handholds. My back is supported by a hammock of fabric, and I am suspended in the air.
I reach, pushing my muscles to their limits, and finally take hold of the dangling straps. With my hands now secure, I raise myself up out of the hammock and pull my legs into a backwards somersault and find myself staring at my reflection in the mirror — suspended like Superman, 4 feet above the floor.
Straps and fabric around my wrists and ankles connect to the ceiling to hold me there. It is an awesome backstretch and a full body workout — as well as a pretty cool feat on a Tuesday evening.
This happened during one of the Fly Gym classes now offered at French Kiss Fitness in Ogden. Owner Meagan Goodson invited me to try the new workout trend that she introduced to her studio in November.
Goodson has provided dozens of unique fitness and dance options in Ogden since 2006 and at her Syracuse location since 2012. She hopes to attract new clientele with the Fly Gym classes, designed to accommodate all fitness levels and people with disabilities.
Introduced to Fly Gym at a fitness convention in Chicago, Goodson was immediately hooked. “Six years ago, I saw pole dancing and it made me so excited, I got butterflies. I have never seen anything that got me as excited until I saw this,” she said.
She was drawn to the workout, which involves slings of fabric and straps suspending participants in the air while they perform flexibility, strength and balance routines.
As she learned more about the class, she discovered that it is also used as therapy or a workout alternative for those with limited mobility.
Goodson introduced her stepfather, Marty Nielsen of Clinton, to the class because he has mobility issues.
“I am a disabled guy and I thought it might be some good therapy,” Nielsen said. He was pleased to discover that it gave him an excellent core workout, as well as working muscles in his legs that he hasn’t used in a while.
Nielsen, 52, suffers from a spinal disease. His back has been deteriorating for the past 15 years, but things worsened two years ago, requiring him to undergo multiple back surgeries.
Now, he sometimes uses a cane and says balance is an issue. The slings helped stabilize his balance so that he could complete the workout.
“It is a really good class for beginners and people at a more advanced level to help increase core strength. I haven’t been that sore after a workout since I played football in high school,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen’s back surgeries left metal plates in his back, making some portions of the flexibility segment more difficult. However, he said, the instructor helped him make adjustments, and he was able to take it at his own pace.
In November 2012, the studio received a loan, allowing it to offer new programs and expand existing facilities.
Goodson’s most popular class — pole dancing — was expanded from eight poles to 14. She also purchased enough Fly Gym equipment to accommodate nine participants per class.
By offering classes like pole dancing, aerial silks, yoga, hip-hop, Zumba, Pilates, flexibility, belly dancing, kick boxing, jazz and meditation, Goodson said her studio has attracted a loyal following of women who are open to styles of fitness that vary from the mainstream.
She hopes the new class will appeal to an even broader clientele and include people like Nielsen.
So far, the classes have been a hit, and Goodson has added more to meet the demand. “I knew that people would see it as new and fresh,” she said.
Kaelynn Dean, of Roy, has been attending classes at French Kiss Fitness since March 2012. She has tried nearly all of the classes offered and said that Fly Gym is already one of her favorites.
Dean describes Fly Gym as a great total body workout that is not drudgery. “You are excited to go to this class,” she said.
Jeannine Ufford, who lives in Syracuse and works in Ogden, has been attending classes at both the Syracuse and Ogden locations since January 2012. She was familiar with pole dancing studios in the Oregon cities she lived in, and was excited to find something similar when she moved to Utah a year ago.
Attending the classes has helped her make new friends. “It is great camaraderie. I have met people from all over. This is a good place to feel comfortable in your own skin. It is good to come together with other women and feel awkward together and also to feel confident together,” she said.
The Fly Gym class is available at French Kiss Fitness, 2440 Washington Blvd, Ogden. Anyone is welcome to attend a first-time introductory class for $7.50. Contact the studio at 801-394-3185 to make a reservation.