Fresh Air

Class at AIR® aerial fitness
Class at AIR® aerial fitness

Shama Patel’’s AIR® Aerial Fitness has literally turned Charlotte’’s fitness community upside down. Combining yoga, pilates, ballet and high intensity interval training, AIR® puts a unique twist on more traditional exercises to make them challenging, different and fun.

Who founded AIR, how did they start this business, and when did AIR open?

Shama Patel is the owner/founder of AIR®. AIR® opened its first location in Chicago in September 2013. Since then, we’’ve opened four additional locations including two more in Chicago, one in LA and one in Charlotte.  Charlotte opened in August 2014.

How did the concept of aerial fitness come about?

AIR® began when Shama left her career as an attorney and opened Flex + Fit in Uptown Charlotte in 2011 (now sold). Flex + Fit offered specialty workouts and healthy cooking classes; there, Shama created an aerial program having been inspired by aerial silks traditionally used in circus performances.  

What draws people to AIR®?

AIR® sculpts and tones faster than any fitness program on the market.  AIR® ties in elements of the common, everyday workouts like yoga, pilates, ballet and high intensity interval training, but puts a unique twist on the exercises to make them challenging, different and fun. That’’s the great part, you’’re getting the best pieces of every workout, integrated with silk hammocks and each instructor’s unique teaching style, which makes for a killer workout that is super effective.

What makes AIR® different from other fitness businesses in Charlotte?

AIR® is a one-of-a-kind workout. Each class is different, and our elite instructors each have a unique style and skill set. By providing variety and intensity, our clients leave feeling exhausted, challenged to their fullest, but wanting to come back for more. We pride ourselves in excellent customer service, knowing each client’s name when they walk in the door, and we provide a community they consistently want to return to.

What are the benefits of participating in AIR®?

There’’s the obvious- weight loss, a toned and sculpted physique, and increased energy level. Then there’’s the sense of accomplishment, whether it’s overcoming a fear or mastering a new trick. We give our clients something to work towards, and once they hit that goal, we continue to challenge and motivate them.

How does an AIR® class work from beginning to end?

Here’s what you can expect for your first class: a quick introduction from the instructor (this includes making sure no one has any specific injuries, etc.) which leads into a warm up stretch. Sometimes you get a little yoga, sometimes it’s mat stretching. Then we move into the core work which usually involves AIR® planks, AIR® crunches, you name it. Instructors provide step-by-step instruction along with modifications so each client is working to their own ability. We build in cardio bursts in order to get the heart rate up and calories burning, mix it up with some barre work either at the ballet barre or on the fabric, of course throw in some more core work, and finish up with a stretch at the end. Clients always stick around for a few minutes after class to snap photos or work on tricks.

AIR® looks intimidating because the aerial moves appear very complex. How do you get people to try such a new and unique exercise?

Great question. We constantly have to remind potential clients that we are a fitness based workout incorporating exercises from your everyday workout (i.e. planks, push ups, squats, jumping jacks) with the use of the fabric as a prop. We recommend all first timers start with AIR® Foundation, and arrive 15 minutes early for their first class so the instructor can spend some one-on-one time with them and make sure that they are comfortable and understand the basic modifications. In addition, we’’ve started offering a monthly event called AIR® Social (free!) every second Thursday from 6:30pm-8pm. Our partner businesses come in and offer their products/services, we serve light bites and wine, and invite our members and non-members alike to come in and try it out. It gives our new potential clients who may otherwise be afraid to try it a chance to come in, sit on a fabric, talk to the instructors, and see what it’s all about.

How has AIR® been received in the Queen City?

So great! Charlotte has a great fitness community, and AIR® has been very well received as people are always looking to try something new.

What has been the biggest challenge and greatest success in Charlotte?

[On challenges] To get people out of their comfort zones of Yoga and Barre and rather, to take their fitness to the next level with something that looks very intimidating at first glance but in reality, is actually pretty easy to pick up.
[On successes] Results for our clients. This is why we exist – to make a difference in the lives of our clients.

How can someone get started?

We offer the first class free with promo code AIRCHARLOTTE, and we offer a unique option for private events. All private events are customizable, whether it’s bachelorette, birthday or corporate team building. We also offer a New Client Special: 1 month of unlimited classes for $100.

For more info contact Kerri Flanigan by email at or by phone at 312-288-9614 or 704-249-6757. Visit Air or stop by their location at 1043 Providence Road, Charlotte.