What’s Going On: Jump for joy as Bungee Fitness adds some tethered fun
Clients say it’s the kind of fitness class out-of-shape or never-in-shape people could love, or those with joint problems.
“I told my kids, ‘Now I know how it feels to be in a baby bouncer,’” said Amy Jalili of Norwich who admits to having been out of a workout routine for years.
“It doesn’t feel like a workout, then all of a sudden you’re sweating,” added Magin Belliveau of Montville, an Electric Boat electrical designer who is a member of the Shoreline Roller Derby team that competes at the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut.
Belliveau and Jalili were talking about new Bungee Fitness classes that just started a few weeks ago at Aerial Arts Fitness in Jewett City (www.aerialartsfitnessct.com), behind the Slater Mill complex.
The classes have been such a hit, said owner Jennifer Pierce, that she’s about to move the whole Bungee Fitness operation into another space within the mill building, bringing her businesses’ total square footage to about 6,000. In a separate building in back of the mill, Pierce and about a dozen other instructors teach a variety of other aerial classes, including pole work, hoop work and hammock exercises.
For two years running, the studio won top fitness studio in the region, according to The Day’s readers’ poll. Pierce, who bought the business a year and a half ago from original owner Angela Chabot, said she has about 3,000 people in her database, and 200 on the wait list for Bungee Fitness.
Jocelyn Rosado of Groton, a Pfizer Inc. research scientist, said she makes it out to the studio three times a week. Previously, she had tried Crossfit and running, but both grew boring after a while.
“This is so much fun,” she said. “There’s no judgment here.”
“Low impact is the grabber,” added Belliveau, who is trying to convince fellow roller derby competitors to give it a try.
Pierce said her studio is the only one in the region, and likely in New England, to offer Bungee Fitness. The next closest studio is in New York state, she added.
Pierce got the idea for Bungee Fitness from a Sling Bungee studio in Edmond, Okla., that she saw on Facebook. She quickly got certified in teaching Bungee exercises, and got jumping on a new exercise bandwagon.
Out on the studio floor, Pierce is a bundle of energy, playing energetic music as fellow Bungee exercise fanatics swooped around while snapped into a harness that allowed them to make daring moves without fear of falling.
“We’re going to learn one more fly, and it’s my favorite,” she said toward the end of one session. “It’s kicky-leg ... like a scissor kick.”
Others tried to replicate the martial arts-like move.
“It’s harder than it looks,” Pierce said.
Then, when Belliveau got the move just right, Pierce shouted enthusiastically into her headpiece microphone, “Yes, Magin. Yes, yes, yes.”
At other times the clients were told to squat, do the Superman, where people swooped through the air like a caped crusader, and the dolphin, which invoked a diving posture.
“You don’t know how much arm strength you’re using till you go home,” Belliveau said.
“Your muscles are sore (the next day), but there’s no pain,” added Kelsey Humble of Griswold.
Most of the clients who showed up to a 12:30 p.m. class on Wednesday, Nov. 8, said they had heard about the new Bungee craze through word of mouth or on Facebook. Pierce said she has one client from Tolland who drives an hour to attend the class, and several come from Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
The key to her studio, said Pierce, is that it has developed into a community. About 90% are women, and some are in their 70s. Pierce, who has a massage therapy background, offers about 50 classes a week at her studios.
The studio started by introducing pole exercises 11 years ago that were somewhat controversial because people associated them with pole dancing tied to strip clubs. But the exercise took off, and the studio slowly has added other variations on the aerial theme, and Bungee is the latest.
“We’re always growing, always changing,” Pierce said.
“It’s different,” said Jalili, the Norwich client who has found a new way to exercise. “I was looking for something different. ... To go to the gym now would be boring after this.
“The more you do it, the better you get,” she added. “They’re awesome here.”
Lee Howard is The Day’s business editor. To reach him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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