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Apex aerial yoga opens on a body-focused block of E Olive Way

Upside downward dog? (Images: Apex Aerial Arts)

As E Olive Way south of Denny bustles with food and nightlife activity, the upper blocks of the street have struggled to keep pace. However, a stable lineup of body-focused businesses should be an encouraging sign for Capitol Hill’s newest yoga studio, which recently opened at Boylston and E Olive Way.

Bridget Gunning, a dancer, aerialist and yoga instructor opened Apex Aerial Arts in March in the space formerly home to Vino Verite. “She’s developed a specific brand of aerial yoga,” said Goldie Jones, co-owner of the new studio.

The practice uses an aerial hammock to support the practitioner’s body while doing yoga poses. The hammock is adjusted to be at belly button height when standing, so no need to worry about dangling too high off the ground. Jones, who’s been a student of Gunning’s for eight years, said the extra support does not mean it is an easy workout. “You’re still really using your body,” she said.

Jones said the sling helps stretch out the spine, rather than normal poses, or day-to-day life, which compresses it. Jones said the practice has caused her to grow — physically — since starting the classes. “It give you a much more open, confident posture,” she said.

Classes have only four students, so instructors have an opportunity to work with those students closely. Pre-registration is required. Jones said there are no physical requirements for people who might be considering starting the practice, and Gunning tries to help new students, regardless of their level of skill or strength.

“I’ve seen all kinds of bodies,” Jones said. “People don’t have to be able to do a pull-up to start, but you will be able to by the time you’re done.”

For now, Jones said, the studio is focusing on yoga, but there are plans to add in aerial classes. “It’s something we’re working to down the line,” she said.

In the shorter term, Apex is working on a traveling demonstration. They received a 4Culture grant from King County to demonstrate aerial techniques to places around the county. Jones said they hope to start demonstrations by this fall.

The studio also hangs visual art, and will be open during for the next Capitol Hill Art Walk on Thursday. While there won’t be any demonstrations of aerial techniques during the art walk, Jones said there may be some the future.

Vino Verite left the Boylston space for Columbia City last summer, citing a lack of foot traffic to the shop. A few months later Zhu Dang announced it was closing across the street in a rare Capitol Hill restaurant casualty. The Northwest-inspired Chinese restaurant opened in the space left empty by another short-lived venture — the doomed The Social nightclub and EVO Tapas restaurant.

In a good sign for Apex, the E Olive Way block has sustained a lineup of body-focused businesses, including Evergreen Chiropractic, The Pin Cushion acupuncture clinic, and Superslow Zone Strength Training.

Apex Aerial Arts is located at 208 Bolyston Ave. E. For class schedules and pricing, visit the studio’s website.

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