AntiGravity Fitness is a fitness company founded by Christopher Harrison in 2007 and based in New York City, specializing in hybrid aerial fitness techniques that combine silk hammocks with yoga practices, Pilates, ballet barre exercises, and traditional strength training techniques into different exercise curriculums. Harrison first developed the initial program, AntiGravity Aerial Yoga, based on backstage warm-up exercises through which he would lead his athletes as director/choreographer of the performance troupe AntiGravity, Inc. Since 2007, Harrison has developed seven proprietary fitness programs under the AntiGravity Fitness brand, currently licensed in fitness centers in over 40 countries. AntiGravity Fitness also operates instructor training programs as part of their licensing agreements, certifying others to teach AntiGravity Fitness techniques.
In 1991, Christopher Harrison founded the acrobatic troupe AntiGravity to choreograph a performance for the New York Marathon. In the following decade, they performed in hundreds of live shows, corporate events, and advertising campaigns. Then in 1997, AntiGravity performed during the opening ceremonies of the Femina Miss India pageant, and Harrison, while unable to perform due to injury, cites this time in India as his first exposure to yoga and a major influence on the development of aerial yoga and what would become AntiGravity Fitness. Later, during a retreat at Club Med, Harrison and his performers came across a gazebo with hammocks hanging from the ceiling. After experimenting and developing a few flips, they hung up similar hammocks in their New York City gym. Harrison states that they soon discovered that “hanging upside down for a minute would take all the kinks out.” The hammocks soon became a regular part of their warm-up routine. In 2007, Harrison launched AntiGravity Fitness which focused on aerial yoga. By 2012, the chain had locations in China, Indonesia, Russia and Brazil. In June 2014, the first AntiGravity fitness studio, Fighting Gravity Fitness, opened in Virginia. The following October, the first AntiGravity yoga studio opened in Pennsylvania.
AntiGravity Fitness’s first licensed technique was named AntiGravity Aerial Yoga, which Harrison credits as the catalyst of the growing aerial yoga genre. AntiGravity Fitness currently teaches eight programs of different levels under their trademarked name, based on various exercise techniques: AntiGravity Aerial Yoga, AntiGravity Fundamentals, AntiGravity Pilates, AntiGravity Restorative Yoga, AntiGravity Suspension Fitness, AntiGravity Kids, AntiGravity AIRbarre, and AntiGravity 1on1.
AntiGravity classes are led by instructors trained in the programs, and typically last for 75 minutes. Before classes start, hammocks are adjusted to the individual heights of the students, and each lesson begins and ends with guided meditations inside the hammock, referred to as “Womb Pose.” Students are then led by their instructor through a series of motions and poses adapted for the hammocks from yoga, Pilates, ballet, and other exercise techniques, typically focusing on flexibility and core development. One cornerstone of AntiGravity techniques is the concept of “zero-compression inversions.” During the inversions, students hang upside-down, supported at the waist and hip by the hammock, relieving pressure from the neck and spine and increasing blood flow to the brain. Christopher Harrison and some students credit these inversions with a temporary increase in body height of up to an inch or more.