AFM’s October Field Trip Report: FitBlog exclusive

By Leah Fisher Nyfeler – October 25, 2012

It’s hard to believe we’ve finished another month of AFM Field Trips; every two weeks, the staff takes a field trip to a new workout/training/exercise location. October’s workouts were very different, though each was fabulous in its own fashion. First stop was Dane’s Body Shop (4227 Guadalupe) for the Core Fusion class; next was Four Elements Yoga & Fitness (314 Congress, Suite 200) to try out aerial yoga. We love getting out in the community and sampling all the cool, different ways that people in Austin choose to get their fit on. And we’re happy to give our readers real feedback from real people.
Here’s what the staff had to say about our October workout adventures:

Weston Carls

Dane’s Body Shop:

Putt, putt, putter was what my engine felt like before I took it into Dane’s Body Shop. The core class was great but tough. I learned some new cores exercises as well as total-body exercises. I know that, if I hung around Dane’s Body Shop for a while longer, my 4-cylinder would be supercharged.

Four Elements Yoga & Fitness:

I was so scared before this workout adventure. Aerial yoga wasn’t on my bucket list, but I thought how bad could something be as simple as a silk hammock. The instructor, Lydia, took us through beginner moves; we progressed to harder moves involving flipping, hanging upside down, and stability poses. After about 5 minutes, I started to have faith in the silk to hold me up and I began to find comfort. The end of the class was very relaxing for me as we closed our eyes and swung slightly in our silk cocoons. I’d recommend this class to anyone who likes yoga, a dancer, or someone who just wants to try something new!

Alex Earle

Dane's Body Shop:

Dane's Body Shop was definitely a fusion of fitness styles. It was refreshing to take a group class that combined such different exercises all in one session. Running, Olympic weightlifting, kettlebell work, and yoga were all covered extensively in a one-hour workout. And the best thing about it all is that all the exercises are explained thoroughly, and you go at your own pace and abilities!

Leah Nyfeler

Dane’s Body Shop:

I love love LOVED this workout. The truth of the matter is, I never know what to expect when we go on these fieldtrips, so I simply plan to do what I can, observe all of it, and have a blast. I’m not a huge indoor workout fan, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that we’d be both inside and outside, as the former garage’s bay door was up and the class spilled out into the sunshine. I also liked that we had sets to do as a group, though we did them at our own pace. We started out with a mix of kettlebells, floor exercises, and sprints (YES! Cardio mixed in with those weights!) around the block in various increments. That was followed with some Olympic weightlifting. We were divided into groups according to ability—and I must say that our instructor, Leann, did an awesome job of recommending the right amount of weight, reps, and group of training partners—and did several sets of Olympic lifts, something I hadn’t done before but instantly loved. The two women in my group were fun to work with and extremely supportive, which seemed to be the norm for the group. We moved inside for an absolutely killer set done for time, which involved several stations including kettlebells (Turkish get-ups, which are awesome and have since found a place in my gym workout), more running (yea!), and some core work. We transitioned from this to another timed workout; this is a little hazy, though I do remember burpees and thinking, “I really don’t think I can do any more ” while a woman watching encouraged us: “That’s it, ladies! Keep it going!” We finished with another on-your-own set that involved some yoga positions and stretching.
I was impressed with how much one-on-one attention I got in this group setting. Leann was spot-on with weight recommendations and group placements, and she even stepped aside to provide feedback when I asked for help with form. She did a great job of clearly explaining the sets and the exercises as well as demonstrating. I also got individual attention from Dane himself; he watched me do my Olympic lifts, offering needed correction and appreciated atta-boys, and Turkish get-ups, staying while I did several to make sure everything was just right.

There was a mix of ages in the class and some ladies in my demographic were seriously rocking the moves. It didn’t feel like a clique and I was sincerely welcomed in as a newcomer. This is not to say things were overly chatty; we were there to do a workout and no time was wasted, something I really appreciate in a group setting. I went home and checked the class schedule, as Dane’s Body Shop’s Core Fusion was a blast and something I’d do again in a heartbeat.

Four Elements Yoga & Fitness:

Sometimes you can tell a whole lot about a workout facility by how things go for the less gifted in the class. I’m happy to tell you that Four Elements takes great care of all their clients!

The aerial yoga really intrigued me. I have a friend who loves to do this and I had the good fortune to interview a Cirque du Soliel performer who specialized in this gorgeous and demanding sport, so I was ready to learn! The first thing to get over is any fear that the silks will tear or come out of the ceiling. Lydia, our instructor, explained that they use performance-quality silks and actually installed steel beams when they remodeled their space, so unless I topped 1,000 pounds, I was safely suspended. The fabric is interesting and took a bit of getting used to; I kept thinking of alien pods while we were cocooned above the floor. We progressed through the basic moves and I enjoyed myself. There’s a lot of constant, small movement—the silks sway gently, depending on your body movements. Our instructor made it look so easy and effortless, but your core is quickly (and completely) engaged. I found my body trembling as we leaned back into a plank position with the silks under our arms, feet on the floor. There’s a little bit of irrational fear to address when you least expect it; during downward dog, I found I simply could not lift my feet and hands off the floor to swing, suspended at my hips. Lydia gently talked me through some modifications and I had some success. We progressed on to an upside down move. I got there—wow, that was amazing!—and I quickly realized that I needed to return to a standing position after just a few minutes of suspension. I’d gotten dizzy, which both Lydia and her husband, John (who also does silks), explained can happen fairly commonly. I sat out in the foyer where I could watch the class and John and I talked while I sucked on a piece of candied ginger and nursed a bottle of water. Both John and Lydia were pleasant and attentive and did an excellent job of removing any embarrassment I felt, encouraging me to come back in, do what felt good, and try aerial yoga again. I learned that even Lydia, whose moves were exact and controlled, with a lithe and impressive strength, had suffered from nausea when she first started. With that example in mind, I’d love to come back and try a gentler, more beginner-friendly class. If I worked downtown, this would be an excellent walk-to workout for a lunch hour. It is just super cool to see the fabulous moves that can be learned in a short time…and the body that can be achieved through practicing this disciplined and beautiful sport.

Jessica Lynn O’Brien

Danes Body Shop:

Out of all the places to get physically fit in Austin, I’d have to say that Danes Body Shop is my favorite. I love how they came up with a challenging, fun series of exercises that blend strength, endurance, and stretching all in one. The “fusion fitness” concept is new to me but boy oh boy, did I have fun! My body loved it!! The Core Fusion class was the perfect combination of everything I needed that day (running, weight lifting, team work, and core strength). I left the class feeling stronger and more energized. The coaches at the shop were extremely informative, helpful, and encouraging. I had just recently hurt my arm and, after only three weeks of healing, I was a little nervous about getting back into it. Rest assured they modified for my broken wing!! I was able to stay with the group and still get an awesome workout. My sore muscles the next day were a humble reward. Since everyone at the neighborhood “body shop” is super nice and laid back, I felt comfortable about letting my guard down. It’s not competitive and they play good music.

Four Elements Yoga & Fitness:

Four Elements Yoga & Fitness(downtown) is one of the most beautiful studios in this town. Its invitingly cool, clean atmosphere immediately put my busy “go go go” mind at ease. The aerial silks are something out of a dream. It was a real treat to take an hour out of my busy day to just stop, breathe, and feel good in my body. I had a lot of fun getting situated in my silk. It’s not your everyday yoga class—the silk prop allows you determine how gentle or intense you want your practice to be. The instructor, Lydia, was great about showing all levels and variations of different yoga poses. I don’t get to go upside down every day, so that part was the most fun for me. Not only was it fun but it also provided a nice deep stretch in my shoulders hips, core, and back. The inversions awakened every muscle in my arms and I felt it the next day. I can’t wait to go back and learn more.

Matt Salmi:

Dane’s Body Shop:

Dane’s Body Shop has a rustic, no-nonsense appeal. Working out there feels unencumbered and natural, such as Sly Stallone appeared in “Rocky IV” when he was lunging through the Siberian snow with a 2×4 across his broad shoulders or grinding through leg raises in an Old World barn while his rival was indoors connected to heart monitors and a myriad of machines that made Drago seem part machine himself. (Of course, our buddy Sly was anything but natural in those days.)
And at Dane’s Body Shop, although old fashioned in its appeal, workout classes are of the recently popular hybrid variety. The idea is to combine several of many disciplines into one 60-minute, scorched earth workout. Our challenge was “Core Fusion,” a blitzkrieg of difficult maneuvers that included just about everything from an upright row, dead lift hybrid movement to sprinting through an alley past a slumbering homeless man lying against a dumpster, a unique and unexpected hurdle.
The pace is furious, some more “core fusion adept” participants completing far more reps in the allotted time than others. In the back of my mind (and I’m not a scientist so I don’t know) I wondered if going without rest allows the body to make sufficient strength gains. But there were enough fit bodies rocking through the instructor’s commands to convince me they were on to something. So I forged ahead, rarely utilizing equipment beyond a simple kettlebell.
Some of the movements were quite complex and required an amount of muscle memory not present with the first timers. Without frantic pace the fusion classes lose a bit of steam, so having to slowly build muscle memory amid organized chaos probably rendered my “Turkish get up” less than ideally beneficial.
For Austinites who are tired of a monotonous, laborious resistance training or cardio-respiratory routine, fusion at Dane’s Body Shop is an exciting and perpetually challenging workout that could satiate your fitness appetite if you enjoy group workouts that are heavy on instruction and light on conventional equipment.

Four Elements Yoga & Fitness:

Located in a gorgeous studio loft on Congress Avenue, Four Elements Yoga & Fitness offers Austinites a unique path to health, physical and otherwise, in an invigorating yet tranquil setting. Boasting all natural lighting by architectural design, the dual-roomed studio was flush and radiant, the bamboo floors resplendent in the midday sun.
I discarded my shoes and cautiously approached one of the, perhaps, dozen silk hammocks gently hanging from the ceiling. This was aerial yoga. As I silently conceded that this may rip me in half, I climbed in a turquoise hammock, wrapped it around myself completely, and enjoyed a private moment of serenity.
Then the movements began. The sheer amount of strength required to perform some of these maneuvers is staggering. I found the hammock more akin to a gymnastics apparatus than an elevated yoga mat. Lydia, our instructor, said aerial fitness accounted for almost her entire physical regime over the last five years. While I thought aerial yoga would develop flexibility, endurance, and balance, Lydia clearly had the strength of a serious gymnast or power lifter to be capable of performing the astonishing skills she demonstrated.
When I wasn’t worried about shredding a hamstring, the swinging and flipping were thoroughly enjoyable. I did leave with my equilibrium off a bit from the constant swaying and my own proclivity for hanging upside down.
Later, I was simply exhausted, honestly drained. The silk hammock brought a new and staggering challenge to my lifelong pursuit of fitness.

Sarah Schneider

Four Elements Yoga & Fitness:

I wasn't sure what to expect when I learned we would be doing Aerial Silk Yoga for this week's Austin Fit Fieldtrip. The gymnast in me couldn't wait to flip and glide through the air with the ease of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat, but the realist in me was actually quite afraid. Luckily our instructor, Lydia, was well aware of all of the AFM-ers' beginner statuses and did a great job of easing us into the awe-inspiring fitness practice. We began by familiarizing ourselves with our individual colorful hanging fabrics by doing simple yoga stretches while suspended inside our silk "cocoons." A couple of forward folds and a pigeon pose later, we were back on our feet, this time reaching up and grabbing hold of our fabric for support as we some chair sits and leaning planks. Before I knew it we were ready to go upside down. There were about three or four moves we learned which required inversion, and I can safely say I managed them all without falling on my head (success!). I really enjoyed exploring what I was able to do with the silk, although some of the inverted moves weren't the most comfortable considering your entire body weight is being pressed into a small band of fabric and your blood supply is pooling in your head. Overall, however, Aerial Silk Yoga was a great experience. All I kept thinking about throughout the class was how I'd like to return with my friends so they could experience it for themselves. For anyone who hasn't tried Aerial Silk Yoga but has always been curious (like me), I encourage you to give it a shot; it's definitely one of the most unique types of yoga I've ever encountered!

Are you interested in having Austin Fit Magazine take a field trip to your workout or practice? Send an email to with the name, time, and location of the class as well as your contact information in order to find out how you can include the AFM staff in your group fitness fun.


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