KINGSTON — For a few seconds, it seems certain you'll slam headfirst into the person next to you. In that moment, the springy piece of elastic tether definitely doesn't seem enough to stop someone from tumbling hard into a wall or, worse, another dancer.
But instructor Kay Houser knows better. She's the only certified instructor of Grounded Aerial Bungee Fitness in Tennessee, after all. So she stands in front of the class in her own decked out harness, leaping gracefully and suggesting midair that her students join in on how flying feels.
"It's really, really fun," she says. "People are a little timid at first. As you really start feeling like you're trusting your bungee, you know what to do then you're starting to let go. It's such a free, weightless feeling."
The confident students who've been to Topflight in Kingston a time or two also know better. They lean hard into their bungees, allowing their feet to dangle just inches from the ground before springing into graceful airborne turns.
The newer students are more hesitant, giving a few enthusiastic jumping-jacks before settling back into the newness of their harness.
"After the first week you can see them letting go. Doing the moves bigger," Houser said. "They're a little bit afraid at first because they feel like they might fall. By the second week people say, 'I feel like a kid again'."
Bungee dance is one of the newest workout trends trickling into the gyms across the country. Combining elements of dance, yoga, Pilates, and aerobics, the workout is a graceful and exhilarating experience for the students who get to experience it. It's not just dance reworked onto a bungee, though. Bungee dance throws in some unique moves like Peter Pan leaps or Bungee Jumping Jacks.
Houser got her bungee dance training through Grounded Aerial Bungee Fitness in Houston after seeing a video of it on YouTube. While she doesn't have any sort of gymnastics or ballet background, she knew she'd found her passion within minutes of getting strapped into the harness.
"I left training and was surprised to realize how bummed I was that I wouldn't be able to do it again for several weeks," Houser said. "It's truly an addictive workout."
It's also harder than it looks. That, all fun and flashy Sweep Turns aside, keeps her students coming back. Bungee dance, she says, is that rare workout where students smile throughout and don't realize the sweat they've worked up.
Now, it's hard for Houser to listen to a song on the radio without thinking, I can't wait to try that on the bungee.
"The more I practice and learn, the more I want to do it," she says. "It's truly an addictive workout."
To take part in Houser's bungee classes yourself, contact her at 865-376-0909 or connect with her on Facebook.