We’ve all been there – several hours into a long-haul flight, a little tight around the knees, a little cramped in the shoulders, a little tired and tetchy … what you really feel like is a workout, right?
Okay, not so easy in economy, or even business. But airlines are increasingly aware of the need to keep their customers well in the air, with advice about posture, movement and hydration a normal part of the experience.
Air New Zealand has gone a step further by partnering with global group fitness leaders Les Mills to bring genuine fitness expertise to the skies. The exercises have been specially crafted to be done while seated (or lying down in business class) and include a variety of muscle activations and stretches designed to counteract the inevitable physical responses to air travel, particularly on long-haul flights.
“These movements are simple enough that anyone can do them, but also very effective in alleviating the symptoms associated with travel,” says Les Mills Creative Director Diana Mills. “My job requires me to travel frequently, so I understand the importance of staying active while in the air, in order to be as fresh and relaxed as you can be once you disembark.”
It's not about turning the plane into a gym, she stresses. “This all about demonstrating low-impact, carefully designed stretching and relaxation techniques. So no, we won’t be asking passengers to start doing burpees and tuck jumps in the aisle!”
For those interested in the science behind this, the inflight exercises are a form of what is known as “Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation” or PNF – flexibility training involving the stretching and contracting of targeted muscle groups.
Their primary function is to help people feel relaxed and calm – to achieve a deep sense of relaxation using mind and body connections. There are two sets of stretching and relaxation techniques for different cabin classes; one for stretching out to sleep and the other to fire up your core, both set to calming, original music.
Of course, there is limited personal space in an airline seat, so being respectful of those around you is important. The techniques were specifically designed for that environment, including where to direct your gaze when turning to stretch left or right.
Air New Zealand’s Les Mills inflight workouts are available on all Air New Zealand international flights and free to all passengers, with adaptations for economy and business classes.