Updated: Apr 21
As a kid, my parents had me enrolled in nearly every ball sport you could think of: basketball, softball, volleyball, soccer— none of which really resonated with me. So, in my 20s, without an activity to be passionate about, it should come as no surprise that I struggled to maintain a healthy weight. It wasn’t until sometime into my third decade (while I was going through an emotionally turbulent divorce) that I wandered into a group fitness class for the first time. I immediately fell in love with exercise classes as a way to activate the endorphin rush, something I needed terribly during that challenging time of my life. I loved it all: spinning, barre, cardio pump, but I especially fell in love with Zumba®. I promptly got my certification to teach Zumba, and it wasn’t long before I expanded on my newfound love of dance and created my own high-energy dance brand called “Dance Nation,” which was based around pop, hip-hop, and electronic dance music.
Around the same time Dance Nation was gaining popularity, I tried an aerial silks class at the Flathead Gymnastics Academy (Kalispell, MT) for the first time and thought it was the coolest thing ever. Unfortunately, the instructor was only here in Montana teaching classes for three months, so to learn the aerial arts after she left, I was limited to a self-guided practice. It was a very challenging thing to teach myself, and although I love a good challenge, I also jumped on the opportunity to take classes whenever I traveled. I even had one memorable lesson from a performer from the world-renowned Cirque Du Soleil! I trained often and I trained hard. In the fall of 2012, the owner of Flathead Gymnastics invited me to start classes back up— this time, as the instructor.
Because the fitness classes radically transformed my life during a time when I really needed movement medicine, I started dreaming of opening my own fitness studio so that I could empower others the way that I had been empowered. But I wanted a place that was focused on more than just cardio and weight lifting. I wanted to create a space to meet other like-minded women: women looking for opportunities for growth and strength in their life; women who might be dealing with similar issues of depression, body image issues, doubts, or fears; women who wanted to focus on self-nourishing movement as a means to unlocking their fullest potential. I wanted to create a female-oriented wellness community that would transcend fitness.
In 2015, I manifested my vision when I opened doors to the Levitation Nation Aerial Studio and started offering aerial fitness classes to the Flathead Valley. Our certified instructors and aerial performers teach unique classes on pole fitness, aerial silks, and aerial hoop, but we offer more than just classes. Levitation Nation is a safe space for women to explore movement and creativity; a place where there is no judgement; an opportunity for growth, sisterhood, and connection. (Shameless plug: We absolutely welcome total beginners in all of our classes!)
And while I am passionate about our female-oriented aerial studio, there is no denying that incredible bonds happen in other fitness communities as well. Anywhere you find group fitness, you will find that inspiration and motivation are boosted when shared amongst fellow community members. Boutique studios (specializing in any fitness modality) are great for those looking to connect with a crew because the small size offers an opportunity to not only create a close relationship with the trainers, but clients can also easily connect with each other.
Participants of Levitation Nation’s classes have been known to speak about how the community “lifts each other up” and “helps each other overcome self-imposed barriers.” Looking back, I realize now my parents got that from basketball and softball as well. The truth is that all movement communities transcend fitness because they help you engage in and stay connected to your life. So, if you are in need of a paradigm shift in your life and you haven’t yet found your movement community, I implore you to try the class; play the game. Because the game you are playing might not be a simple game of soccer— it is often the game of life. When you play, stay open to possibilities and deep connection; and simultaneously, you will stay open to finding a community that will help you on your path to building an extraordinary life.
Article by Mindy Cochran. Mindy is a columnist for "Montana Woman Magazine." Her column "The Real Levitation Experience" shares expertise for elevating health & wellness that she has acquired through her certifications as a personal trainer, nutrition coach, and life coach. Mindy is also founder of Kalispell’s Levitation Nation Aerial Studio, where the catchphrase “fitness is fun” is embodied alongside a culture of movement & women empowerment. For more about Mindy, please visit: https://www.levitationnation.org/mindy.