Jane Bryan teaches people how to fly.
Well, not literally.
Bryan opened her Linglestown arts studio Artz N’ Motion in 2009 to share her passion of the aerial arts with the community.
“I love movement,” she said. “I fell in love with the circus and the high-flying trapeze when I was little, and then when I got the opportunity to do it, I was like, ‘I have to share this with everybody. I want everybody to learn this because it’s so much fun!’”
Bryan even wanted to join the circus at age 19 after doing gymnastics. However, she was young and afraid of leaving behind everything familiar. Then, in 2004, she discovered Cirque du Soleil, the Canadian-based circus arts troupe. After finding a studio in Philadelphia where she could learn, she was on her way to becoming an aerialist.
“I was not necessarily able to join the circus, but I was able to let my dream come true,” she said.
I Did That
Bryan has a long background in movement-based sports. She did gymnastics for seven years, dance, color guard and cheerleading before falling in love with aerial arts.
Aerial arts, which originated in France, is when a performer uses silks or nylon fabric to perform aerial acrobatics. It includes components of cardio, endurance, flexibility and strength training. Often a difficult workout, Bryan tailors the classes, which include beginner and aerial one and two classes, to the level of the student.
“A lot of people are like, ‘I don’t really have a lot of upper-body strength so I can’t do this.’ But you really can, because I’ll teach you how to use your legs,” Bryan said. “And we do conditioning. It’s a full body workout, and it is endurance.”
Tamara Palmer, who has been attending classes at Artz N’ Motion for the past two years, said that she was sore when she first started classes.
“I felt good, but I felt sore in places I didn’t know I could be sore in,” Palmer said. “It took a couple of weeks to start to build up strength. Jane’s programs are very good about not pushing you beyond your limit while getting your body conditioned.”
Classes are for all ages as Bryan currently serves people ranging from 5 to 74 years old. Students start slowly, with beginner classes, before moving on to more challenging techniques.
“It just boosts your confidence so much, especially if you’re afraid of heights,” Bryan said. “You get to experience that, ‘Wow, I did that, and I got over that fear.’ That just brings so much joy to me. I love it.”
Palmer described classes as therapeutic, saying that the sport has helped her with back pain.
“I feel healthy,” she said. “I have a degenerative disc in my back. It has alleviated so much of my back pain, so much so that I’m actually able to run again, which is something that I haven’t been able to do for several years.”
Beyond helping students build muscle, Bryan also tries to build community in her studio. She often starts with a warmup before gathering the students in a circle to stretch and introduce themselves, helping new students feel more comfortable.
“There’s a lot of encouraging the other students, clapping each other on,” Bryan said. “I want to build a community of people who want to encourage each other and learn this awesome sport.”
Although swinging and flipping on a nylon fabric 25 feet in the air might seem daunting, Palmer encourages everyone to overcome their fears.
“It’s really for anybody and everybody,” she said. “Even if you think you can’t, you will, and Jane knows what to do to get you there. So, I do encourage people, if you’re curious, come try it. You’ve got nothing to lose!”
Artz N’ Motion is located at 493 G Blue Eagle Ave, Harrisburg (Linglestown), in the CrossFit gym. For more information, including class schedules, visit www.artznmotion.com.