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In acroyoga, arms, legs, twists and spins create an 'effortless' connection

Joseph Gray lifts Juliette Lauer during an acrobatics routine, as Aaron Tremper, right, looks on at The Movement Sanctuary. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA   |   Times]
Joseph Gray lifts Juliette Lauer during an acrobatics routine, as Aaron Tremper, right, looks on at The Movement Sanctuary. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA | Times]
Published Mar. 22, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG - In an old warehouse across the street from St. Anthony's Hospital, Aaron Tremper lays on his back with his hands and feet straight up into the air. He is balancing Jessica DeLeo, who is spinning and twisting into yoga poses 3 feet above the ground.

They are demonstrating acroyoga, which pairs acrobatics with yoga. Tremper is the base, supporting the weight of a partner performing poses, known as the flyer.

DeLeo says the base uses a technique called bone stacking, which relies on alignment, and not muscles, to support the flyer. It's meant to feel "effortless," she says.

Tremper and DeLeo are co-founders of The Movement Sanctuary, a 7,000-square-foot warehouse in a former artists' colony behind a tire store. The building has 35-foot ceilings, giant murals on the wall and a multi-use deck. Aerial silks hang from the rafters.

The couple created a gym to combine different movement art forms in one space. They offer over 50 classes a week, including martial arts, acrobatics and flexibility.

Tremper, aka "The Acrodude," got hooked on acroyoga in 2013. A former swimmer, hockey player and mixed martial arts fighter, Tremper loved the physicality and communion. "It really brings people together, because you're instantly in somebody's personal bubble."

DeLeo is a yoga instructor and wholistic health coach, certified at both, who started acroyoga in 2012. Like Tremper, she likes the collaboration.

"It's touch, it's connection, it's interaction," she says. "It's something we zip right past in our very busy lives."

The Movement Sanctuary will host a partner acrobatic event at the Cinco De Acro Festival. The festival runs from May 4-6, with classes and demonstrations from over 25 acroyoga athletes and an after-party that Saturday.

Even though acroyoga has its roots in circus acrobatics, anyone can do it, DeLeo said. The sanctuary offers beginner classes, and you don't need a partner.

"This is a place to tap into your inner child, and there's tons and tons of laughter."