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Exercise Awesome: Corde Lisse

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You always wanted to run away with the circus.

Corde lisse (CORD lee-say) fulfills that desire. “It’s recess for adults. You get to go back to the jungle gym days,” says corde lisse instructor at Frequent Flyers Productions Inc., Valerie Morris. Valerie has been practicing aerial maneuvers since 1996, has specialized in corde lisse for the past seven years, and has also performed in the circus.

With Valerie as my instructor, here’s the final breakdown from my first lesson.

  • Corde lisse: Without a safety net below, the body intertwines with a cotton rope to elegantly transition into various poses and maneuvers in the air. 
  • Why you should try it: It builds muscle and increases limberness as you get to feel like a kid again with all the monkeying around.  “When doctors say you need to do weight-bearing exercises, this would totally qualify. You’re holding up your own weight the entire time. It also requires flexibility, encouraging you to stay well-rounded as an athlete.”
  • Muscles used: “Our latissimus dorsi and rhomboids in between the shoulder blades keep the arms anchored into the back, allowing for stability in the air. Abdominals and obliques are always working, too. Otherwise, your lower body would move separately.”
  • Highlights: The swinging maneuvers combined with the elevated height make corde lisse vigorously liberating.
  • Calories burned: Approximately 105 per hour depending on the longevity of each climb (to get a more accurate account of measuring calories based on your weight, check CalorieLab).
  • Equipment needed: Rope that secures to the ceiling.
  • What to wear: Tight-fitting clothing that stretches past elbows and knees in length. I’d recommend Dri-FIT Nike Capris and a long-sleeve. The added length aids in the reduction of rope-burn, and the compressional fit will prevent unwanted sliding.
  • Hurdles: As a beginner, hands can feel a slight burn from constant clenching. After a few practices, they’ll adapt, and you’ll be escalating up the rope in no time.


Other Exercise Awesomes:


Dance Walking 


Stay tuned for next week’s post: be the hunter, not the prey. If you have an Exercise Awesome idea, let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to feature it.