Strength, confidence, flexibility and fun … these are just a few of the wonderful benefits kids will gain from doing aerial arts. We met Ballito instructor and Grade R school teacher, Donna Jade Kruger, to find out more.
Aerial arts is a form of fitness, similar to dance, that builds your core strength and flexibility. It’s sort of like gymnastics … only it’s in the air! There are two types: silks (a piece of fabric suspended from the ceiling) and lyra (a hoop hanging from the ceiling).
Donna, a qualified remedial teacher who grew up in Ballito, started teaching aerial silks and hoop to children and adults two years ago. Her business is called Flipside Aerial.
“I’ve never really been a ‘gym’ girl and always preferred unusual forms of fitness. I love trying new things. I did MMA fighting for a while and soccer. While I was living in Cape Town, I went to a pole dancing class with a friend and absolutely loved it!”
Donna says she was blown away by her own upper body strength and couldn’t believe the confidence she started gaining from doing pole. “I’ve never considered myself very sporty and was a bit of a ‘band geek’ at school,” she laughs. “Like many women, when I first started doing pole I was amazed at my own strength and the things my body was capable of doing.”
When Donna moved back to Ballito in 2016, she joined a pole studio where they also did silks and lyra. “My instructor Sheila encouraged me to try it out and I was hooked.”
When Donna’s instructor moved away she decided to do a teacher training course and open her own studio in Ballito. She now teaches children, ages 7 upwards, as well as some adults.
“The pole dancing and aerial community in KZN is really great. It’s not competitive and we all support each other. I believe everyone should give it a try!”
A typical aerial class is one hour long and starts with a warm up and stretch. “Then we do some conditioning – core and upper body strength – before focusing on the moves they’ve learnt and some news ones. We usually do a short routine and then they have free play time. We finish off with a cool down.”
Like most things, Donna says, it can come with a bit of pain and it is not easy when you start. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Aerial gives you a full body workout and includes both cardio and strength training. When it comes to kids, it’s excellent for building their core and upper body strength, as well as their coordination and focus. “It’s also amazing for their mental health as it builds body awareness and confidence. They are always so proud of themselves when they see how capable their bodies are. ”
And what kid doesn’t love the idea of hanging upside down from the ceiling? Safety is of utmost importance to Donna, who says the ‘teacher’ in her comes out if anyone doesn’t follow the safety rules. “The best part is seeing young girls support and cheer each other on. Instead of competing against each other, they root for each other. We become like a little family.”
This year, Donna is hoping to enter her students into a few competitions. They will also work towards their annual year-end showcase where they can show off their skills to their families.
As she teaches Grade R at Umhali Preparatory in the mornings, Donna’s classes take place in the afternoons and she teaches students from most of the schools in the area.
Details: @flipside_aerial, 072 234 0074
Text: Leah Shone