Anybody can fly at Atherial. The wellness studio located at 39th Avenue and Fox Street offers aerial fitness and yoga that’s accessible to every “body.”
“Our invite is that we’re open to everyone and all bodies to get in the silks and give it a try,” says Atherial co-owner and lead instructor Reba Melandra.
The studio’s classes are broken into three categories: Atherial Sweat, Atherial Flow and Atherial Breathe. While some people feel right at home at the barre or in the high-intensity courses taught during Atherial Sweat, others find peace in the restorative classes of Atherial Breathe. And while yogis take to the air during Atherial Flow, another group of frequent flyers have found comfort in the silks, as well.
In line with Atherial’s yoga for every “body” mission, Volo Adapt was created in conjunction with physical therapist Sara Schaffer as an adaption of the signature Volo Restore program, specifically for anyone with mobility restrictions. The program was designed to improve overall strength and flexibility and strengthen the mind-body connection.
“As a physical therapist by trade, I’m always looking for ways to create space,” Schaffer says. “I was starting to take aerial classes myself and get certified when I created the Adapt program five months ago.” Schaffer has seen tremendous benefits come from the Volo Adapt class, including spinal cord decompression, improvement in mood, and strengthening of joint mobility and flexibility.
“You think aerial fitness, and it’s only something able-bodied people can do, but it’s just not the case at Atherial,” says Tricia Downing, who was confined to a wheelchair when she started working with Schaffer to help customize Volo Adapt as it relates to challenged athletes. She tested out moves, provided feedback and reached out to her network. “We went to Atherial together one day and learned about aerial yoga, how to keep it safe, and once we started working with the silks, we started thinking about what body movements we could incorporate into the program," Downing says. "It’s been really remarkable to realize how much good stretching can do.”
Suffering from chronic pain, Downing had been trying different exercises over the years, searching for a way to bring back “natural movement” to her body. “All of my waking moments — as long as I’m doing something — are in my chair,” Downing explains. “After ten to twelve hours of that every day, your body starts to cave in on itself and it deteriorates in that position. I have so much more freedom and I’m totally out of my chair with Adapt.”
After Volo Adapt classes, people often tell her they feel “free and light,” Melandra says. “Sarah Schaffer, our in-house physical therapist and lead teacher for Adapt, understands the body, understands movement transfers. With her guidance, we are getting participants out of their chairs and empowering them.”
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But Adapt isn’t just for those with spinal cord injuries. "Adapt just means to change to the circumstances,” Downing says. “This class and this studio are very inclusive. Atherial is open to everyone, any kind of shape or any kind of weight movement. Both owners, Reba and Bre, are really open-minded women who want everyone to have a place in their yoga studio. Not every fitness professional has that open of a mind, but at Atherial, they say they can make this work for anybody.”
And every body. For a full schedule of Volo Adapt classes and other Atherial offerings, visit Atherial Fitness.com.