A Cure for Cabin Fever?
How to Get Out While Staying In this Winter.
Gina DeFreitas of Elevation Aerial and Circus Arts gets a common reaction when she shares her profession with new acquaintances. “They say, ‘That’s awesome,’” DeFreitas says with a laugh. She is a circus performer, aerialist, dancer and acrobat.
DeFreitas, 37, teaches circus arts classes in Wilmington. During nine-week sessions, children learn various elements of circus performing, ranging from juggling and tightwire walking to hula-hooping and aerial aerobatics. Students even pick up the basics of how to be a clown. “It’s super fun and super different,” DeFreitas says.
Grown-ups also can get a taste of circus life. DeFreitas offers adult courses in aerial silks, trapeze and performance, in which students learn fundamentals of circus arts.
She attributes a growing interest in the circus arts to the power of pop culture and social media. “It’s more in the public eye,” along with being very pretty to watch, she says. No experience is necessary. “I teach whoever comes and wants to learn,” DeFreitas says.
A former resident of East Boston, DeFreitas has studied dancing in New York City and spent a year at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, Vermont. She spent several years performing in theater productions and dance troupes, and traveling with various circuses before returning home to Massachusetts, where she is able to share her knowledge with a new generation of students.
Vertical Dreams in New Hampshire provides a different kind of antidote to cabin fever. The indoor rock-climbing gym has locations in Nashua and Manchester, and it’s quite common for staff to see a mix of ages come through the doors. The youngest climbers are 5-years-old. Others are in their 70s.
In addition to the climbing wall, where participants use a rope and are assisted by a belayer, there is a boulder area where climbing is done without a harness. Bouldering tends to draw more experienced climbers.
Climbing gyms are rising in popularity due to exposure through extreme sports, according to Lee Hansche, a manager and head guide at Vertical Dreams. Climbing is a sport that’s “very equal for men and women,” he says.
When winter hits, indoor climbing is an activity families can enjoy together. It’s not unusual to see birthday celebrations on weekends. Salem, N.H., mother Caitlin Silver recently held a party in Manchester for her 7-year-old twins, and says it was the perfect spot for her children. “They’re active,” she says. “They like to move.”
For Rachael Cianci, 17, climbing is an outlet like no other. A ballet dancer as well, Cianci says she was introduced to the sport through her brother. She now works at Vertical Dreams. “I like the discipline, the sportsmanship, the partnership,” she says. “There’s really nothing like it sportswise.”
If clowning and climbing aren’t enough, bouncing is an option at Launch Trampoline Park in Methuen, where you’re encouraged to get up and move. If you had the chance to launch yourself onto a giant air bed, why wouldn’t you? The trampoline park spans over 15,000 square feet within a 30,000-square-foot facility. Beyond the expansive trampoline jump area, guests can get a workout on numerous inflatable objects, dodgeball courts or at one of four basketball dunk lanes.
Attendance at trampoline parks is growing, and from the perspective of Daniel Rechel, marketing/sales manager, it’s partly due to the desire of parents to spend time together as a family while doing something physical and cost-efficient.
Though the average customer ranges in age from 6 to 16, college students and adults can be found in the dodgeball courts or on the trampolines, Rechel says. A weekly “Toddler Time” allows jumpers who are age 5 and younger to come in early for a special session in the main trampoline area. Members of this group have their own space at all other times. Young guests also love the 15 minutes of “Blackout” time each hour, when the park goes dark and the black lights come on, Rechel says.
And then there’s the “Meltdown.” According to Rechel, there’s always a line of customers eager to try their hand at staying afoot on the infamous wipeout-style inflatable. “It’s a whole lot harder than it looks,” he says.
If you are eager to take up a new activity, New England Movement Arts (NEMA) in Burlington, a nonprofit facility, offers classes in aerial yoga, fencing, karate, tumbling, ballet and belly dancing.
NEMA is seeing a spike in adult ballet classes. This reflects a nationwide trend, according to Michael Chang, a co-founder of the organization. Barre classes are also popular, he says, and interest in aerial yoga classes is also on the rise. “Aerial yoga steps up yoga a notch,” Chang says.
A free-form type of workout, aerial yoga is a combination of traditional yoga on the floor and yoga poses using a fabric hammock or sling suspended above the floor. Unlike traditional workouts, according to Chang, the only resistance in aerial yoga is from the opposite side of a participant’s body. “It teaches you about opposition,” he says.
As the organization’s youth rhythmic gymnastics and ballet program also expands, NEMA is aiming to add an annex onto their building in order to construct the high ceilings necessary for the activity.
Rhythmic gymnastics combines dance and ballet with gymnastics, as participants toss balls, ribbons, hoops and other items into the air, sometimes 20 feet or so, Chang says.
With options to bounce, boulder, tightrope walk or hang suspended from the ceiling, winter is a great time to develop latent superhero skills while avoiding the blustery winds and freezing cold.
Elevation Aerial and Circus Arts
New England Movement Arts