Starting a new hobby or routine can feel overwhelming, to say the very least. The financial commitment, the fear of failure, PLUS the idea of being the “new person” at a gym are enough to deter a lot of us. It’s a lot easier to settle in on the couch for a good Netflix binge than to take the leap and start something new. At the same time, we all have that wild voice inside...that crazy, unhinged, free spirit deep in our subconscious that is yearning for more. Maybe you’ve been perusing Instagram for a while admiring videos of Aerialists and Acrobats thinking “Hmmm...that looks fun”.
I started watching videos of Circus performances online many years ago, daydreaming about twirling through the air. I knew I wanted to learn these unique skills but I had ZERO upper body strength and no idea where to start. I had the insecurities of a middle school pre-teen; thoughts telling me there was NO WAY I’d be able to do the things like the people in the videos and I should just stick with what I was doing. I may never join Cirque… but I did go from not being able to do a single pull up to being able to lift my butt over my head numerous times a day (we call it inverting)! It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t overnight, but what I gained is worth way more than looking good in a swimsuit (which was also a side effect of Circus).
If you’ve been on the fence about trying Circus, Aerial or Pole Dance- here are 8 signs you’re ready to start.
You’re bored with normal gyms
If the idea of joining a chain fitness gym or lifting weights bores you to tears or feels so uninspiring you’d rather eat a 6 pack of Macarons and lay in bed (I’ll be honest I still like to do this), CONGRATULATIONS! You’re ready to try a circus class! At a Circus gym or studio, you’ll mainly be using your body weight or someone else’s (if you take an AcroYoga class), as your weight lifting equipment.
You don’t enjoy working out
If you’ve never been able to commit to other fitness regimens or you find it hard to stick to a consistent schedule- CONGRATULATIONS! You’re ready to give circus a try! For me personally, I’ve never enjoyed running or typical cardio workouts. Before I started Circus training, I had no motivation to do cardio or strength training. After starting circus, I wanted to do everything I could on the ground (ab work, pilates, pull ups, etc) in order to feel strong in the air. This worked for me mentally, because the ground conditioning was only one aspect of training versus being the entire focus. It was the means to an end goal. I was spending an equal amount of time playing in the air, working on tricks, and doing conditioning on the aerial equipment and SUDDENLY- ground conditioning was bearable!
You like being led through a workout
You enjoy a qualified professional teaching you movements, working with you and giving you personalized instruction. What’s better than getting specialized attention for your skill set and doing it with a group of amazing people who will keep you laughing and smiling?! (The answer: MACARONS). But really, many of us are more motivated to show up to a structured class, than wander into a gym and try to figure out how to correctly use all the crazy machines. The anxiety of having to decide what muscle groups to focus on, which exercises to do, and number of reps is relieved by attending a group class. I can’t tell you how many horror stories I’ve heard about weight lifting injuries and other fitness mishaps that could’ve been avoided with proper instruction. In a circus class, a highly trained teacher will lead you through a proper warm up that prepares your body for the activity you’re about to do. Your teacher will also know whether you’re ready to safely execute certain moves based on your current strength and flexibility. In addition, a circus instructor has years of experience, knowledge and knows how to SPOT the tricks you’re learning. That means they physically know how to catch you from falling out of a trick and prevent you from getting injured.
You want to get stronger AND build muscle
Without a doubt, if you want to get strong, Circus Arts will whip your booty (and arms, legs, core, etc) into shape! Bodyweight exercises not only increase balance and flexibility, but they create lean and FUNCTIONAL muscle. Ever see that guy at the gym that looks like Hulk? Of course you have, WELL, he may be super strong and have nice looking muscles but I guarantee he has trouble putting his seatbelt on and getting his jacket off. What’s the point of strength if it isn’t functional and flexible? Which leads us to the next point!
You want to become more flexible
While you will definitely build strength and muscle taking circus classes, you’ll also work on your flexibility. You don’t need to be flexible to start circus training but you best believe it will challenge your hamstring, back and shoulder flexibility in a super fun way! Many circus tricks and poses involve splits, straddles (middle splits), and backbending. Don’t let this scare you, I’ve seen tons of adults begin their circus training with little to no flexibility and BELIEVE ME, they have all made major progress!
You thrive in a positive and safe environment
Many of us avoid typical gym settings because we feel judged, unwelcome, or clueless at best. Most of the circus gyms I’ve been to, including ACA, have a positive and welcoming energy about them. We encourage people to listen to their bodies, chase their goals, and have fun while doing it. Another big emphasis is SAFETY! We take every precaution possible to make sure each student has a large crash mat when they are practicing, a skilled teacher supervising their movements, and an education about injury prevention. Besides physical safety, there’s a feeling of emotional and psychological safety present that you don’t find in chain gyms. People are supportive and they care about your journey.
You like being part of a community and meeting new people
Who doesn’t love making friends?! It’s almost guaranteed that once you become part of a circus community, you’ll gain friendships you never imagined you’d have. There’s a diverse and eclectic mix of humans that have decided to make Circus Arts their passion. By day, our adult students are med students, lawyers, nurses, doctors, therapists, scientists, waitresses, parents, bodyworkers and more!
You like setting goals and crushing them
If you’re ready to set new fitness, strength, or flexibility goals- DING DING DING!! You’re ready for circus! There’s nothing better than feeling challenged by a skill then crushing it a few weeks, months or years later. Even if you’re not the type to set goals and strictly abide by them, circus will teach you discipline. This discipline can translate to other parts of your life as well (sure did for me! Now all my bills are paid on time! Hooray!).
Whether you want to perform or pick up a new part-time hobby, trust me- you’re probably ready to start! The only thing holding you back is that tiny violin and naysaying voice in your head. So suck it up, buttercup (it’s a saying in the circus community, promise), save your last macaron for a post-class #treatyoself AND get your booty to a circus gym near you!
Aerialist pictured in cover photo- Moriah Pedro
Got questions? Interested in certain blog topics or videos? Email me at ArkansasCircusArts@gmail.com