Learning to Fly

“Aerial fitness has an incredible capacity to change the shape of the body,” says Sumya Anani, owner of Learning2Fly, an aerial fitness center in Mission, Kansas.

At the center—which is housed in a geodesic dome structure tall enough to accommodate the strands of colorful silks that hang from its ceiling—Anani and her team of instructors offer a range of classes that includes aerial silks, aerial yoga and aerial conditioning. There are variations for different skill levels, body types and ages, with special classes for bigger bodies, children (ages 6 and older), parents and kids who want to exercise together, and people over 50.

In addition to strengthening the core, legs and upper body through a series of up-in-the-air poses, drills and climbs, Anani promises that an aerial workout also has the power to shape the mind.

When attending any class at Learning2Fly, participants must adhere to three “flight” rules:

1. Don’t use the word can’t. (“Except,” says Anani, “in the sentence,

‘There’s nothing I can’t do.’”)

2. Only speak and think positively. This means frustrated cries of

“I’m too fat” or “I’m not strong enough” are strictly forbidden.

3. Don’t compete with others. Instead, try to be better than you

were yesterday.

These sunny statutes may sound basic, and even elementary to some, but those who associate exercise with negative feelings of frustration and shame welcome the elevated outlook.

“When you help someone change the shape of their body, you’re also doing so much for their psyche,” says Anani. “You’re helping them believe in themselves, love themselves and be confident. If they come here, learn new things, participate in a better and more positive dialogue—they will start to do that in other areas of their lives.”

For more information on aerial fitness and to sign up for a class, visit