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Reaching New Heights at Kama Fitness
Published Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Karlene Linxweiler, owner and head instructor of Kama Fitness. Photo by Christine Carignan.

Entering Kama Fitness in Manchester’s millyard, the atmosphere is more reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil than a gym. Clients, mostly women, twist themselves in ivory and purple silks draped from the ceiling, stretching and flipping into various positions that test both stamina and strength in a workout that is more elegant than any treadmill.

They aren’t contortionists, acrobats or circus performers. On this particular day, there is a realtor and a nurse winding their way towards the high ceiling. They are among the many clients who flock to Kama Fitness to learn aerial yoga, aerial Pilates and aerial fitness.

Left: Kama Fitness client Cassandra Sullivan. Below: Jenna Carmichael and Sullivan on the silks.
Photos by Christine Carignan.

Karlene Linxweiler, owner and head instructor, started Kama Fitness in a barn at her home four years ago. “I went from two clients to 200 clients in a year and half,” she says. So she moved into a dance studio but outgrew that in nine months. At that point, she says it was time to quit teaching high school history and devote herself full time to her business.

At her current location, she has amassed about 1,500 clients, 100 of whom work out regularly. In addition to the aerial offerings, Kama Fitness offers traditional styles of yoga, barre, Pilates and dance.

Linxweiler fell in love with aerial workouts when she took a class six years ago. She eventually attended the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, Vt., run by former Cirque du Soleil performers, to become certified in the aerial arts. Her business, she says, has grown rapidly (and now includes three other instructors) through word of mouth and social media. “It makes people feel strong. They move in ways they haven’t moved before in their lives. Being upside down is liberating,” Linxweiler says. “You get an amazing workout for your entire body, but it’s pretty and aesthetically pleasing.”

Kama Fitness offers group classes, individual instruction and parties, and classes can accommodate beginners as well as those who are more skilled. “Our clients are not performers. They want a good workout,” Linxweiler says. “No matter your fitness level, you will find success.”

The aforementioned nurse, Cassandra Sullivan, says, “It’s a lot of fun. You don’t think you can do it until you do it.” The realtor, Jenna Carmichael, says, “It’s definitely addicting and eye catching.… It builds a different kind of strength than going to the gym.”

But Linxweiler is contemplating the future, as the building where her business is housed will eventually be taken over by Southern NH University. Kama Fitness will remain in the building until summer 2019. Linxweiler is debating whether to franchise or scale back and move back to her barn.

For more information, visit kamafitnessnh.com.

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