Flying High at Ferndale’s Aerial Dragonfly Movement Studio

Hour Detroit associate editor Emma Klug ascends in silks, learning the latest trend is not for the weak
Photograph courtesy of Anna Cicone Photography

nearly two feet in the air, I’m scrambling to untangle my legs from a heap of silk fabric while an instructor standing below me shares words of encouragement. My hands, raised high above my head, are gripped tightly onto the billowy fabric hanging from the ceiling. As I summon all of my upper body strength, I manage to rework my legs, then successfully wrap my foot around the silk, and push myself up a higher. “Do you think you can do it again?” the instructor asks. Acknowledging my level of exhaustion, I politely decline and lower down to the floor to catch my breath. Composing myself, I turn to the instructor and a friend, whose turn to climb the silks is up next. “Oh, my god,” I say, delirious but happy that I made it through even a quarter of the classic climb descent sequence. “That’s difficult.” 

In a beginner aerial silks class at Aerial Dragonfly Movement Studio in Ferndale, as I learned during a nearly hour and a half evening session, students start with the basics. This includes how to position your feet to stand on a 15-yard long silk, which is folded at the halfway mark and rigged; the aforementioned climb; and a variety of easier poses. 

Whether students have had years of applicable experience — for what it’s worth, I was once a ballerina and a cheerleader — or are just beginning their fitness journey, as a first timer, aerial exercises target unexpected muscle groups. “It’s not only about strength,” says Dari Pfeiffer, one of the owners and instructors at the studio, which also offers classes like pole, acrobatics, and strength and conditioning. “You’re [moving] your body in a way that is very different than you’ve ever moved.” 

Thankfully, the instructors at the studio are as helpful as they are skilled on the silks. In my class, I watched them spot fellow students, share exercise tips, and push others to their fullest potential. After a quick break from climbing, our instructor, eager to see what we had accomplished during the first half of class, asks: “Ready to go upside down?” This time, I willingly accepted the challenge. 

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