It’s no secret that downtown Riverhead is on the rise. Adding to the area’s allure for the past four years is Aerial Fitness, a two-story fitness studio with a distinctly Manhattan feel.
Founded by April Yakaboski, a lifetime fitness guru, Aerial Fitness offers a plethora of classes, ranging from what East Enders have come to expect: yoga, Pilates and cardio, to the more unique: ropes, TRX and, the namesake, aerial fitness classes.
A native of the East End, Yakaboski has been teaching for over three years, and she is at the helm of such classes as Cardio Kickboxing, Aerial Yoga, Hot Yoga Sculpt, TRX Sculpt, Power Hot Yoga and Athletes’ Recovery Hot Yoga.
As I run almost daily, I decided to try the Athletes’ Recovery Hot Yoga class, hoping to relieve tightness and strengthen the muscles that running abuses. Yakaboski confirmed that the class, which is new to Aerial Fitness, is designed to aid in the recovery process.
“Hot yoga is a great thing to incorporate into your fitness routine,” raves Yakaboski. “The heat warms the muscles, so the yoga is more gentle on the body.”
For obvious reasons, hot yoga—which also takes the form of Hot Yoga Sculpt, Hot Yoga Vinyasa Flow, Restorative Hot Yoga and Power Hot Yoga classes—is most popular in the winter. It’s performed in a room that’s heated to between 75 and 100 degrees. Aerial Fitness’ hot yoga studio is relatively new and is set up so that different mats enjoy different temperatures. Ambitious and seasoned hot yogis can sit under the warmer temperatures, whereas I, a self-proclaimed newbie, grabbed a cooler spot.
There are two distinctive types of hot yoga. Bikram yoga is a specific set of 26 postures and two breathing exercises. But vinyasa, which is what the Athletes Recovery class is based on, allows every session to be different. The core principle is the vinyasa flow, which consists of four positions: plank to chaturanga to up dog to down dog.
Outside of the flow, the sequence of warrior poses—Warrior I, Warrior II and Warrior III—and the type and duration of the stretches is up to the instructor.
“Athletes can combine yoga into their workout routine to give them the next level of training,” says Yakaboski.
Yakaboski emphasized that runners are typically pretty tight, and the lack of flexibility can lead them to tear or even break muscles. To that point, I was happy to learn that the Athletes’ Recovery class utilizes foam rollers, which helps to loosen up the IT bands. Runners are prone to tightness in this area.
The class also incorporates the relaxation of savasana, which is intended to rejuvenate the body after the hour-long session. And, Aerial Fitness employs Feng Shui to keep the energy balanced in all of the rooms.
Hot yoga is a perfect excuse to escape the chilly winter temperatures and give your body a much-needed recharge. Yakaboski recommends the Vinyasa Flow class, which is held numerous times throughout the week, for yogis of all levels. Hot Yoga Sculpt uses weights to tone muscles, in addition to the stretching. And Power Hot Yoga is based on a fast-paced vinyasa flow, making it most appropriate for intermediate to advanced students.
In addition to the hot yoga studio, Aerial Fitness has a designated downstairs space for, among other offerings, the aerial fitness classes. The silks hanging from the ceiling (think Cirque du Soleil) can be seen from the street.
As the studio has come to include a variety of different exercising options, Aerial Fitness also features a number of top-tier instructors—guaranteeing that there is a class time that works for even the busiest of schedules.