First there was Zudio A in 2016, then Zudio B in the fall of 2017, then Zudio C in the spring of 2018. And now, owners Louise Stephenson and Dale Eaglesham are announcing Zudio AIR, a new offering of aerial courses, starting with Bungee Fitness, which will be the latest addition to Vankleek Hill’s Zudio fitness studio.

The project has been brewing in the minds of Stephenson and Eaglesham since they first saw a video about a new concept called bungee fitness almost two years ago. The videos showed people hooked up to short bungee cords suspended from a ceiling, gleefully flying through the air while working out. At the time, they loved the idea but were busy coping with the pressures of launching a new business.

“During the next two years, people kept sharing the videos with me, with joking notes of ‘Someday at Zudio?!’ It never seemed a possibility, because of the cost of the training; the licence and equipment costs were also prohibitive. And then one day, Nathalie Chénier, one of my Zumba colleagues and a professional choreographer from the South Shore of Montreal, posted a cryptic message on Facebook about a ground-breaking training coming to Canada,” Stephenson recalls.

“Something nagged at me to check it out, but I was busy and let it slip down my newsfeed. Then my friend and fellow instructor Nancy Lussier sent me a message about that same post. When I contacted Nathalie and found out she was hosting a bungee fitness instructor training at her studio, I knew I had to go for it. As far as I know, this is the first time a training was held in Canada, and there are still very few bungee fitness classes available in the world. In Ontario, I believe we will be the only facility to offer bungee fitness classes outside of the GTA and Windsor!” said an excited Stephenson.

She proceeded to sign up for the training with Grounded Aerial, a Philadelphia-based company with 18 years of aerial training experience and dedication to safety. The course appealed to Stephenson because it wasn’t part of a franchise.

“I was amazed to hear that fewer than 100 instructors around the world are licenced to offer these classes… and now I am one of them!’ Stephenson continued.

She wasn’t sure what to expect when she attended the rigorous instructor training.

“Did I have a blast? Oh, absolutely! Jolly jumpers for grown-ups – what’s not to love? But what I hadn’t expected was that it would be such a full-body workout! By the end of the second day of drills, technical information and teaching practice, I had gained confidence and a healthy respect for safety. The day after I completed the training, it seemed every muscle in my body was sore! But what struck me the most was that I was feeling total withdrawal from the endorphin high of the workouts. It’s the same endorphin high we experience in my Zumba classes, but it will appeal to a wide variety of participants, and men will love it just as much as women!”

Stephenson says she is looking forward to introducing bungee training.

“It brings back the sheer joy of bouncing in a jolly jumper and it makes you feel like you are flying. And then there’s the added element of making Joe Average feel like a skilled Cirque du Soleil performer,” she says.

She says there is an added benefit of not having to bear one’s own weight as it it takes a lot of pressure off the joints. On the other hand, it forces your core to do all the work, so for your first few workouts, your back may feel it! But then it will get stronger and you may actually get rid of back pain, Stephenson says.

You might wonder if you bump into people while you are floating.

Stephenson acknowledges that. “Yes, it can happen as you are getting used to it! You have to develop a “flock” mentality where you all move as one. It developed during the course of the instructor training, and by the end, we all moved as one, which was so exhilarating! It’s hard to describe unless you experience it!”

Is it very bouncy or a little bouncy?

“It’s not that bouncy at all, actually! More like: step-step-hop-FLY!! Or walk in an ever-increasing ellipse until your feet are off the ground… There’s a whole spiritual “letting go” aspect as well, where you have to trust the equipment and let yourself fall. Trust that you will be safe. Then float above the ground (float = hold your core oh-so-tight),” says Stephenson.

Now that she is trained and ready to lead others in bungee training classes, Stephenson says she and her partners are nearing the installation date. They have been researching the best-quality installation and equipment available.

“We’re consulting with circus rigging professionals from Montreal, along with engineers and contractors, to get ready for this exciting project. It’s a major investment, but we’re determined to see it through. Our hope is to be ready to present the program at our upcoming open house event, happening September 16, if all goes according to plan.”

After installation is complete, introductory workshops will be offered, followed by a regular schedule of three classes per week. Stephenson says that she will be giving the classes for now. Her colleague Nancy Lussier, who loved the concept also and took the training with Stephenson, will be joining her in January to offer additional classes.

But there’s more, Stephenson says.

“We are also planning to offer aerial yoga classes twice a month on Sundays, once our installations are in place. We are working to bring in a circus performer from Montreal who was trained in aerial yoga in New York City.”

“We are incredibly proud to be a bungee fitness pioneer – joining bungee pioneers in the GTA and Windsor – to help make Vankleek Hill an even more vibrant town, further putting it on the map as a thriving tourist destination! Visitors will travel from the city to come enjoy all that Vankleek Hill has to offer, from all-natural beer and home-made soaps, to corn mazes, escape rooms and bungee fitness!”

Stephenson has been expanding the roster at Zudio for several months now. To showcase the many offerings at her 144 High Street location, she has organized an open house on September 16, with 19 instructors giving free sessions all day to give people the opportunity to try as many different classes as they like. You can find out more about that event here.


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