Flying high at the Philly Circus

When you were a kid, did you ever want to run away with the circus? I know I did. I finally got my chance at age 27 at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. I knew the day would be a lot of fun, but I had no idea I would get a great workout, too!

I didn’t know if they were going to throw me around on a trapeze or even try to shoot me out of a cannon! I am absolutely terrified of heights and in my head I kept going over different ways to politely say, “There is no way I’m doing that.”

As my friend, Kerri, and I walked through the doors of their beautiful facility, I took a quick survey of the gym. There were definitely high ceilings and trapeze, but no nets. You can’t throw me in the air without a net. Once the anxiety subsided, I got excited. This is the circus; it’s supposed to be fun.

We met our instructor, Niff Nicholas, who has been with the Philly Circus studying aerials since 2007. She took us through some basic warm-ups to work the muscles we would be using during the class. The warm-ups were mostly stretching and light cardio to get our blood flowing.

Making it look easy

Niff began by showing us how to climb the rope, making it look easy as she scaled to the top in about five seconds. My hands instantaneously shook. It was awfully high. Once I made it to the top, how would I get down? Turns out, my worries were pointless. I have zero upper body strength, so I could barely get off the ground. I climbed a few feet before I plopped back down to the mat.

The trapeze was also difficult for me. I couldn’t lift myself up to swing my legs over the bar. The fabrics were a little easier. I could hoist myself onto a knot and flip my legs over so that I was hanging upside down. Kerri, however, was able to do many tricks and did a great job doing them. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ran away with Barnum and Bailey®!

Practice makes perfect

Niff explained that many new students come to class without having the upper body strength to perform the tricks on each aerial apparatus. This made me feel better. Niff showed us conditioning exercises like pull ups on the trapeze bar and an ab roll with the fabrics. Two days later, and I am still feeling the pain! But don’t worry, as I mentioned in my previous blog, it’s a good pain!

The Philly Circus showed me that I need to work on building up my strength. I am so much more determined to condition myself. Even though I wasn’t able to perform every trick, I still got an awesome workout. You don’t even realize it because it is so much fun. If you don’t believe me, watch the video.

In a few months, you will find me back at the Philly Circus swinging on the trapeze…well, maybe not swinging, but definitely hanging upside down!

If you think you have what it takes, there are adult workshops every Sunday where you have a chance to try out the rope, fabric, and static trapeze with other beginners. But there are also conditioning classes and sessions that introduce you to the aerial equipment for youth and adults, so there is fitness fun for the whole family! Don’t forget, fans of our Facebook page also get $25 off a regular adult session class at Philly Circus!

Is there a circus act you’ve always wanted to try?