Veterans of suspension training can take their workout a few notches higher, quite literally.
Silk Suspension combines suspension training, Pilates and aerial art while hanging from parachute fabric with safety cables.
Developed by the Pilates Academy International in New York, Silk Suspension provides a more challenging regimen because it uses more grab handles to hook the hands and feet at different levels. Since half of the workout exercises are performed off the ground, you have to work harder to balance on the straps or the fabric while exercising specific body parts.
As in most suspension workouts, you must brace your core muscles, including the inner thighs, all the time. The stable core becomes the center of gravity and support.
“Your feet are on the handles, so what you’re stepping on is not stable. You’ve got to hold up your body in space. This is when your weaknesses are exposed,” says Camille Joson, assistant program director for education at Options Inc.
Usually when exercises are performed on the ground, the weaker muscles tend to be ignored in favor of the stronger ones. When these exercises are executed in the air, muscular imbalances start appearing. The body tilts. To gain strength and balance, you must resist tilting.
“If you don’t hold yourself together, you will spill,” warns Joson.
Stabilize the core
She says that suspended exercises as simple as the squat and push-up not only stabilize the core and buttock muscles, but also strengthen the inner thighs and the arms.
Joson adds that the cradle, which supports stomach and hip muscles, provides more security. Pilates abdominal exercises become more effective in the air since there’s no pressure on the lower back to balance yourself.
Florencio Eugenio, Options Studio owner and education and program director, explains: “In the gym, you tend to overactivate muscles that are already strong. Most of the time, people work out just to look good, but do they need those exercises? With Silk Suspension, you discover your weaker links.”
As an antigravity workout, it activates dormant muscles and helps develop the appropriate muscle firing patterns. Moreover, it can build durability and strength by adding more body weight resistance without adding pressure on the joints.
He points out that Silk Suspension aims for reactive stability: “When you’re in an unstable position, automatically your postural muscles and core start firing up to help you balance.”
Silk Suspension is ideal for rehab patients as it works on the forces of compression (or pushing) and tensile strength (or pulling) on both sides of the muscles. For instance, exercises that utilize compression are suitable for dislocations, while exercises using tensile force can help arthritis.
Says Christian Almeida, physiotherapist and assistant program director for education at Options Inc.: “In an injury, the stabilizers or the muscles attached to the joint are the first to get hit. These exercises target the local stabilizers with the forces needed to work out these muscles. In the long run, postrehab clients will become more stable.”
Dancers and athletes
He adds: “In conventional rehab, you tend to focus on one specific part. Here you also treat the other parts of the body that may have caused injury. For instance, we’re not just taking care of the hips, but also the surrounding muscle groups —the pelvis, back and knees—that may have affected it.”
Silk Suspension can be enjoyed by dancers and athletes seeking to enhance performance as it improves body alignment and muscular balance, and increases flexibility.
“Every muscle group is integrated. When you’re focusing on your arms, you’re also working on your legs and abdominals without thinking about it. Instead of overfiring or underfiring your muscles, Silk Suspension trains you to exert the right amount of power,” says Eugenio.
For stressed-out office workers slumped all day, some exercises, such as the “Superman” pose, open up the chest and back. As an anti-aging exercise, Silk Suspension provides hanging inversion postures to improve blood circulation and defy the gravity of sagging muscles.
“There are moments on the hammock that bring out the inner child in you,” says Eugenio.
Silk Suspension classes will be offered in December at Options Makati, Unit 103 G/F Nobel Plaza, 110 Valero St., Salcedo Village, Makati City, tel. nos. 5533314 and 5851404; Options Studio Greenhills, 2F 101 Connecticut cor. Missouri St., Greenhills, San Juan City, tel. nos. 7227530 and 0917-5807530; Podium Mall, Ortigas Center, tel. nos. 6953263 and 0917-5293307; and Options Studio The Fort, 2201 NAC Tower, Lot 3 Blk. 2 Center, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, tel. no. 0917-5420460.