A common complaint about aerial is that it’s a very expensive hobby. That is often true, as the safest way to learn is by going to taught classes at a reliable gym, and their cost soon adds up. Learning on your own can be dangerous, especially when starting out. Besides, a home set up would also take a significant amount of money and space.
Below, I’ll explain why aerial classes are often more expensive than your typical fitness class. I’ll also suggest some ways to minimise your expenses and save money.
The Usual Gym Expenses: Rent & Maintenance
Firstly, one needs to cover rent and general maintenance, including cleaning. However, in a major city, finding a central location that is suitable for an aerial studio (high ceilings, good load support) and getting it ready can be especially hard.
Of course you also need to pay the staff, such as teachers and receptionists. Nowadays, it’s basically a requirement to also have a solid website, booking system and a social media presence.
All of the above is common to most fitness studios. Now, let’s talk about what raises aerial prices specifically.
Aerial equipment is not cheap (just look at the price of good crash mats!), and neither is rigging it securely, or appropriate insurance. Most studio will also provide a variety of apparatuses (silks, hoop, trapeze, etc).
Another reason for the price is that classes have to be relatively small. The ratio of students to instructors has to be low to ensure safety and a good experience for all. In other sports you may be able leave students to do exercises on their own, but if people are performing drops on silks, you can’t afford to do that.
For a more specific example, let’s compare this to a yoga class. For the sake of this exercise, I’m disregarding the cost of equipment, which is mostly a one-off expense.
Let’s say you have a room with size about 500 x 600 cm. In this space, you might be able to fit 6 aerial hoops, each with a crash mat (~200 x 150 cm), comfortably enough for everyone to move around. With a maxium of two students per hoop, you have 12 students. For that number you probably want two instructors to make sure everyone is safe. On the other hand, in that space, you could easily fit 20 yoga mats (170 x 60 cm), and one teacher would suffice. Hopefully the difference shown in this example helps you understand why aerial classes cannot be as cheap.
Keeping costs down as an aerialist
First of all, instead of paying for each drop-in individually, it’s usually more cost effective to buy classes in bulk via class packages or studio memberships. Look out for any introductory or seasonal offers.
One way to get the most out of your classes is to cross train, or essentially build up your strength & flexibility at home or elsewhere. Then you can really focus on maximizing your time on the apparatus to learn the technique and choreography.
Another is to supplement led classes with self-practice on hired equipment. A lot of studios offer that as an option, sometimes with a supervisor or sometimes without. For that, you will need to be able to set up your apparatus and know the basic moves. It’s not recommended to try risky new things on your own – instead focus on perfecting moves you’ve already tried with an instructor.