New class Contortion focuses on flexibility and the opening of tight muscle areas. This class will benefit everyone from yogis to functional training enthusiasts and give progression to all our aerial enthusiasts. "I was amazed at how much the body can move if only you know how!" says Jen Slater.
With its strong men pumping away at their iron and music pounding through the walls, feats of incredible cardio endurance and eccentric ring masters who conjure creative classes, entering a Gymbox always feels a little circus-like. But as I arrived at the Holborn branch for my first Contortion class, this vibe was stronger than ever.
We were the freaks that decided Thursday night was for working on our bodies, rather than seeking entertainment in the pub. And a collection of us were about to attempt the seemingly impossible and bend in new and peculiar ways. This was no yoga class, it was the greatest show in the gym!
"This is what we're aiming for by the end of the class," said the human pretzel (i.e. the instructor) who was effortlessly folded in a back bend. Her forearms were placed on the ground, toes touching her fingers, back arched high and one leg elegantly pointed toward the ceiling.
I slowly looked upwards and tested my flex by looking further towards the back wall. My neck had no more bend and it was clear that my back had none whatsoever. Our instructor was either being ambitious or was a miracle worker.
Spoiler: she was a bit of both.
With newly warmed joints, we set about opening up the parts of our desk-bound bodies that are seldom stretched. Lying on my shoulder with the bottom arm stuck out behind me, I was instructed to reach back with my other arm and clasp my hands together. The reality was more panicked fish on a boat deck, than tidy half 'T'. I was miles away! Until some magic from our instructor.
One small adjustment stopped me flailing on the floor and allowed my fingers to tickle each other. I was amazed at how much the body can move if only you know how. Similarly, in a partner back stretch I moved way past the point I'd expected to stop. Maybe I did have the ability to be bendy...
But, before I could consider running away with the circus, we moved onto the main event. Our goal contortion, demonstrated at the beginning of the class, was broken up into stages. Each allowed the supple-ly-challenged to stop when needed and work on that particular part of the bend. Whilst the gymnasts had fun tying themselves in knots, I was happy to keep wiggling into my crab-doing-a-headstand position and collapse into a tangle before lifting myself once more.
I'm not quite ready to squeeze myself into a lunch box, or attempt to lick my own elbow, but I was amazed at how little I seemingly knew about my own body. There is far more potential in there, I just need someone willing to unlock it.
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