By JILL FALES / THE CURRENT
Have you been on the trapeze in your gym? No? Well that question may not seem odd in the not too distant future, thanks to visionary Doug Schulein of Costa Mesa. A year ago, Schulein introduced Aerial Fitness Orange County which offers classes in silks, lyra loop (hoop) and trapeze. He calls it the “most unique, intense and fun workout on the market today.”
Schulein, gym owner and expert in the fitness industry for two decades, says he created the aerial fitness program with the intent of bringing the awe of the circus and Cirque du Soleil to the general public, and to use these amazing techniques to help people get fit while having the time of their life. “Everyone wants to know what it is like to be that acrobat 30 feet high. Now, anyone can gain the strength, confidence and perform amazing tricks just like those performers,” Schulein said.
The classes, which are held in two of Schulein’s gyms – Back Bay Fitness in Costa Mesa and Athletic Club for Women in Newport Beach, are designed for all levels, abilities and body types. “We have seen clients who couldn’t climb the silks for weeks evolve into performance quality.” He emphasizes, “We work with each person based on their fears and abilities. People progress at their own pace, but the advancement for all is surprisingly quick.”
Schulein believes that when it comes to health and fitness, everyone needs to find an activity they look forward to. “Keeping workouts fresh and interesting prevents burnout and allows that time to be fun rather than a dreaded event.”
Student Ashley Dulien Carter began aerial fitness classes four months ago. She describes the workout as “anything but typical” and shared, “Not only have the aerial fitness classes changed my body dramatically, it has also changed my spirit. After having my second daughter nearly 11 months ago I kind of felt like I lost a little bit of who I was. These classes have definitely helped me regain not only strength physically but also mentally. The instructors are all amazing and very encouraging, and in finding these classes I feel a bit like I have found myself again.”
Schulein was a gymnast until he was 10 years old, when he began playing tennis. In 1989, he got a job at Club Med, Eleuthera, in the Bahamas as a tennis pro, but was immediately drawn to the circus arts they offered at the resort and the trapeze became his new racket. He became a circus instructor on the flying trapeze.
He returned to California in 1993, pursuing a career in the fitness industry. In May 2002, he took a vacation to Club Med in Turks and Caicos. At the base of the trapeze, he met his future wife, Juliet, who was also on vacation. She was a Rockette and Broadway performer, taking a week break from performing in a national tour of “Kiss Me Kate.”
The Schuleins own three gyms, which they refer to as boutique fitness centers, where every individual’s needs are addressed. “We know your name when you walk in the door.”
Juliet spends most of her time as a mother of their four- and seven-year-old sons, and credits her husband with running the business, but says she makes a good sounding board. “The aerial arts was all his idea. He’s always had a passion for the circus arts.” Although she teaches three high-energy zumba classes a week as well as private dance classes for adults, Juliet has found time to add aerial arts to her own personal schedule, promising, “Anyone can do the silks. All you need is an open mind to trying new things!”
Doug got the idea for Aerial Fitness Orange County in 2009 when he bought the women’s gym and saw the high ceilings. “I knew I wanted to do something special.” He was interviewing for a receptionist when Isabela Maia walked in the door. He saw her resume was filled with aerial performance and teaching, and the interview instantly changed to, “What should we do in here?” The aerial program was started four weeks later on June 1, 2011.
All are encouraged to attend the first Aerial Fitness Student Show, part of an Open House/Grand Re-Opening being held Sunday, June 3 from 12-9 p.m. at Back Bay Fitness, 2675 Irvine Ave., Costa Mesa. The student show will be at 6 p.m. Everyone will have the opportunity to get in and try out the aerial classes as well as have cocktails and watch amazing performances. There will also be demos of pole fitness and free BodyRoXX classes.
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