First timer’s guide: aerial arts & circus fitness
This circus lark isn’t as tough as it seems. Within an hour’s taster session at SkyLab’s tucked away studio in Chalk Farm, I managed a ‘man in the moon’ on the aerial hoops and a ‘Russian climb’ on the silks. It’s difficult to describe exactly what that means but, believe me, you should be impressed.
Before the session I wasn’t sure if this was a basic circus skills class or an out-there fitness class. I still wasn’t sure afterwards but I’m glad I went and I’d recommend it to anyone seeking some sort of circus/dance/fitness mash-up.
LIKE A HOOP, BUT CERCEAU
We started on an aerial hoop, which is basically a metal hula-hoop suspended from the ceiling. In the biz it’s also known as ‘lyra’ though you probably know it by its French name, ‘cerceau’, right?
Pop a crash mat underneath and swing yourself upside down so your feet go over your head, touching the bottom of the hoop above you. Lever yourself up and soon enough you’re sitting in the hoop. Like I said, it’s quite difficult to describe. Basically you pretzel yourself into something that looks fabulous.
‘I think a lot of people who do this have a background in circus or dance but more and more people are just doing it as a fun workout,’ the instructor Joe told me. There were four of us trying out the free taster – me and three women at least 15 years younger than me.
UP, UP AND AWAY
Every time Joe set us a new challenge – ‘hoist a leg over’ here, ‘pull yourself up’ there – my three classmates each did it with ease. Then came the middle aged Heffalump to have a go.
Done right, this is graceful, acrobatic and beautiful to watch. When I was doing it? None of the above. But I can see why people might take this up.
‘Silks’ are soft stretchy things hanging from the ceiling that, believe it or not, we each learned how to climb. Remember that rope in P.E. that hung from the school gym ceiling that only one kid in your year could climb? After this class, you’re that kid.
We ended with a warm down and Joe’s warning we may feel sore in the morning. He didn’t say which morning. Four days later my shoulders are still killing me. But thanks Joe, I did it.
Circus skills – aerial hoops and silks
Skylab Studio, Ferdinand Street, Camden, NW1 8EU
Suitable for all
From £15 a class
Taster is one hour