STEP RIGHT UP! For Circus Fitness
Circuses are magical places filled with artistry. And the bodies of the performers too are works of art. Circus goers marvel not just at the illusions, tricks and skill of aerialists and trapeze artists but also the sculptured beauty of their bodies.
“Those breathtaking flourishes of circus performance — suspension, weightlessness, flips, tricks and inversions,” Kerry Tice says, that are seemingly reserved only for performers, are not. Every day Tice and myriad others help mere mortals fly.
“All of it becomes manageable, attainable with the help of the aerial hammock,” says Tice of Circusoul. “As you gain skill you lose fear, and this is the magic of both the circus and the hammock: the return to a fearless, fierce curiosity about human potential.”
Aerial yoga practitioners not only feel like performers, they are changing their bodies with a total body workout. Virtually every part of the body is engaged and required to move and stretch which helps to tone, define and re-define muscles while strengthening the core and increasing flexibility. And, according to Health Fitness Revolution, aerial yoga helps the body function better as circulation improves and re-activates our digestive and respiratory systems. Plus, aerial yoga, silks and trapeze arts are good for your mind by helping people de-stress and find balance.
Kerry says he began practicing aerial yoga after a back injury where he “received so much relief and healing,” that he was inspired to create a class, a yoga hammock, and then an aerial yoga teacher training program.
“Most of us remember visiting the circus and wondering what it would be like to be the star of the show, front and center, moving through an art that took years to learn. Aerial yoga classes put you front and center and bring the aerial arts to a level of accessibility almost anyone can try,” Kerry says. “As you gain skill you lose fear and this is the magic of both the circus and the hammock: the return to fearless fierce curiosity about human potential.”
Circusoul has “evolved into a nationwide network of yogis in flight,” and Kerry has been traveling to United States. training instructors.
“It’s my mission to share aerial yoga with the world and unlock that special part of each us that wants to suspend disbelief and get upside down,” he says.
And he encourages people to give it a try: “Many people think that they are not coordinated enough or strong enough to practice aerial yoga. They fear falling or simply embarrassment. But aerial yoga builds flexibility, strength, coordination, and above all, a lighter mind, as the hammock helps you explore basic and advanced poses in a safe space.”
Circusoul also offers AcroYoga, which combines “the wisdom of yoga, the dynamic power of acrobatics, and the loving kindness of healing arts.”
Sam Mellor of Sarasota Warriors says it’s the aerial silks/aerial arts is a “total mind-body workout as well as being incredibly therapeutic.” Sam says clients come, witness the beauty of the art and “want to be a part of it.” Soon, she says, they realize it’s at first demanding and difficult, but she adds, “I watch them put 110 percent into it and I see a huge look of triumph as a pose is achieved. I see demons slain everyday through aerial silks. This art doesn’t just teach people how to physically be strong.. this art teaches you how to overcome. This art teaches you to recognize your weaknesses, stare them in the face and move beyond them. Not only do you move beyond but you get an amazing sense of achievement and a magical “high” that comes with this art. It’s like major dopamine release here.” So physical fitness is just one part of the benefits from a circus style fitness regimen.
“I feel so proud when I see my students, they have blossomed into such strong, beautiful and confident women. It gives me a huge feeling of peace and satisfaction knowing that I was able to positively influence their lives in and out of the studio,” she says. “It’s been such a beautiful journey so far watching them grow and release the power within.”
Aerial Arts/Trapeze, Lyra
Marina Luna has been teaching and performing aerial arts for more than a decade. She took her first trapeze class more than 10 years ago and “it took over my life.” In a good way. She works with vertical rope, aerial hoops (lyra), tissu and static trapeze and has performed across the U.S. and the globe and currently performs as a with two different duos; one, Whip & Air which combines aerial hoop with bullwhip artistry and LunaStorme, a “sensual lyra act.”
“I have taught all levels and ages on multiple aerial apparatuses and seen a common thread of joy and dedication,” Marina says. “There is something inherently rewarding and instantly gratifying in carrying oneself up a rope, or turning yourself upside down.” And incredibly beneficial to the body and the mind.
Marina asked her recreational aerial silks students what they most like about aerial fitness and the answers ranged from building core and upper body strength, improved memory, the camaraderie and support of the class structure and all said they enjoyed “being challenged, feeling safe to try something new and potentially dangerous, increasing flexibility, literally and figuratively.”
“Being in the air, on whatever apparatus, requires one to be fully present and aware. Aerial fitness builds body awareness, particularly in regards to proprioception; the perception of movement and spatial orientation,” she says. “And, I think, in a world that puts increasing emphasis on virtual interactions and technology-driven activities, it’s important to be in one’s body, to push one’s endurance, to challenge inner fears, to encourage novel ways to learn, and to enjoy others with a drive to do the same.”
Run Away With the Circus
Kerry Tice encourages people to give aerial and acro-yoga a whirl.
“Come as you are and the practice will leave you lighter and longer. We guarantee at least one giggle and are never surprised at the waves of laughter that often fill our classes,” he says. “There is an everyday magic in suspending and inverting your own perceptions. If you haven’t given aerial yoga a try, I ask you simply… Why wait?”
Take it from a student of Tice’s who said that while she was trepidatious about taking an aerial class, she sooned described it as a “great experience.”
“Suspension at first was scary, but we quickly became comfortable, relaxed and stretched beyond what we could imagine,” says 56-year-old Becky. “The teacher was amazing. My daughter turned me on to this, and my timid sister was blown away.”