CAMDEN— Remember when you were a kid and could swing for hours on a swing or hammock? Sometimes you’d flip over and lie on your stomach and do the “Superman.”
Turns out, that child-like play was fantastic for building up one’s core muscles and balance — and now we have an adult version of it in Camden.
Tucked in on the backside of what once housed Tibbett’s manufacturing on Virginia Ave is an inspired boutique fitness studio called The Balanced Body Studio, which opened in October, 2017.
In the main glass-enclosed studio, a metal crossbeam has been retrofitted with anchors to hold seven light-weight hammocks reinforced with rock-climbing gear. AntiGravity Aerial® is a hybrid art-and-athletic form combining yoga with acrobatic arts, founded by a Broadway aerial choreographer and former world-class gymnastics specialist, Christopher Harrison. Recall when singer-songwriter Pink nailed the 2010 Grammy performance singing while twirling upside down on a silky hammock — that was Harrison’s AntiGravity hammock and choreography.
Christopher Harrison, a Broadway Aerial Designer is the founder of the Suspension Fitness and Aerial Genre.
Jacquie Chamberlain, a Camden resident and instructor at The Balanced Body Studio, is the only licensed AntiGravity aerial instructor in Maine. “When I lived in Manhattan, I was trained as a Level One Teacher at Christopher Harrison’s AntiGravity Aerial Headquarters Studio,” she said. “Here, The Balanced Body Studio is the only studio north of Boston certified in AntiGravity Fitness to teach students.”
To get going, Chamberlain attaches a stretchy, 9 x 12 silky fabric to the caribiners affixed to daisy chain loops. “People always worry if the hammock will hold their weight, and I can assure you, this hammock is weighted for 1,000 pounds,” she said. “Technically, a baby elephant could fit in one of these.”
The hammock can be positioned just inches off the floor to used for yoga poses or it can be raised up to three feet for AntiGravity Aerial exercises. “It’s moving and stretching in a new way,” she said. “It’s extremely relaxing.”
Chamberlin makes it look effortless as she swings, flips upside down and swooshes through the air. The biggest challenge is trusting yourself. Even though you’re only three feet off the ground, the anxiety is that you’ll somehow slip and fall. But with Chamberlain’s easy guidance, one becomes confident within seconds.
“I’ve never had anyone fall out,” she said. Deliberate hand placement and adjusting the right amount of fabric under one’s hips or waist is the key to gaining confidence in this art form.
Like many freelance specialists in Maine, Chamberlain makes her living as an event producer, while offering monthly classes on the side. As a former dancer and current yoga instructor, she was drawn to this form of exercise, not just for its strength-building, but because it’s just fun. “Where else can you just sit and swing like you used to do as a kid?” she asked. “At the same time you’re building up your core and getting a better workout.”
She said she would love for people who want to try it drop in on one of her classes. The studio can also be reserved for small groups of friends who want to try the workout together.
To stay on top of Chamberlain’s future classes and workshops, like her Facebook page or email her for a private class.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org