Week 1: Participants in the Tamasha, Upswing and Circus Space Training

Photo by Dina Mousawi

Step Up Circus Training Day 1 by Jessica Andrade

“Good Morning Creative studios… and what do we have to play with? A rope that reaches the ceiling and a hoop which I can just about reach. Oh but the fun starts with an energetic warm up and some intense stretching which was well needed. I tell you what wasn’t fun, holding a handstand for 1 minute while my body was trembling, once I reached about 30 seconds all I could think was how much strength I will need for this course if this was the conditioning before we got on the equipment. The best part of the conditioning was holding the plank position for 1 minute and this time all I could think of was Mohammed Ali quotes to keep me going!

As we all gathered round the first bit of equipment, it felt like the first day of an American gym class as we all stared up at the rope. It was such an exhilarating feeling being able to climb the rope, sure it burns your feet and you use muscles you never knew you had, but when you heard the dong as you hit the top, you felt like the king of the world, until you have to climb down. After climbing the rope we learnt a foot lock, which is exactly what it sounds like, you lock one foot in the rope, yes it’s trapped, squeezed, locked. This is apparently a resting stop! After we squeezed our feet out of the rope we went onto the hoop.

This looks fun, just hold the hoop and kick your legs up and over! Only it’s a pull up to the hoop lift your legs through engaging your abdominal and leg muscles. Oh what a relief when you’re finally through. The coming down was a lot more fun than the pulling up and over. After practicing these moves on the equipment it was time for some more strengthening. Yay! What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger! Then a nice relaxing cool down. Definitely an enjoyable day in the studios. WARNING: The tricks and training do hurt, the professionals just smile through the pain.”

Photo by Dina Mousawi

Step Up Circus Training Day 2 by Dina Mousawi

“‘Ouch’ was the first thing I thought this morning as I reached to stop my alarm.  ‘Ouch’ was the second thing I thought this morning as I tried to get out of bed. I wondered what Vicki would have in store for us today!  When I got to The Energy Centre in Hoxton, it became apparent that all of us had various aches and pains from yesterday’s work.  After a warm up consisting of some very much needed stretches, it was body conditioning time.  Or should I call it the dreaded body conditioning time!!  Today we did body conditioning using the ropes and silks which I personally prefer. It was a bit like training on the job.

The ‘real’ work began after an hour or so.  We practiced the foot-lock we’d learned yesterday then went on to learn a hip-lock (which looked painful for the boys among us! ahem).  The most enjoyable move we learned was perhaps the silk splits.  Yes, it’s exactly as it sound…. splits up the silks!!
Tomorrow will be a real challenge with 2 days’ build up of muscle aches.  Bring on the hot baths tonight….”

Photo by Sarah Sharman

Step Up Circus Training Day 3 by Maya Sondhi

“‘That’s not really in your crack now is it Milton?’ has to be the quote that sums up today’s session. So as well as doing some more climbing, locking and catches on the rope and giant curtain (technical term ‘silk’) we also learnt some new tricks on the aerial hoop (a hanging hula hoop made of metal, so hurts if you bang your face – not that I’ve done that…yet.) One of the moves we learnt on the hoop was called ‘The Gazelle’ and the key to this is getting the hoop right in your arse cheeks.  At one point during my attempt I swear I could feel my insides.  Today I surveyed the room – someone was hanging from a silk all wrapped up, someone else was climbing up a silk, another was hanging upside down off a rope, some were stretching and a rather brave sole was walking across an even braver sole’s back…..WAY more fun than having an office job I thought to myself.  So, apart from another day of more pain and bruises in unimaginable places, it has been awesome…great atmosphere, great people…oh and the fabulous course director Vicki whose answer to every moan is simply ‘Just Do It’ …..and so we do!”

Photo by Sarah Sharman

Step Up Circus Training Day 4 by Sarah Sharman

“Here we are, Day 4 of training and we open the session with an AA style meeting. One by one we go round saying how we are. The general conclusion, we still hurt all over very much, but we’re dealing with it. It’s bearable, (if you don’t mind the groans when using abs and lifting your arms).

Today we were told to bring with us a few layers, but what we weren’t told was WHY? All was relayed when Vicky walked in with yards of rope. Today saw our introduction to BUNGEE!
And first up were myself and Cemmy. Vicky was not able to demonstrate for us as she had to take charge of raising us off the floor.
Stepping into the harness, we got strapped up. It felt somewhat like a nappy, a very painful one. Vicky made sure we were safely attached. OUCH!!! Thank goodness I’m not a boy.
To make sure we had the right amount of height from hitting the floor we had to try and sit down whilst trapped in and also fall forward as if we were going to land flat on our face.

Now safely assisted by a qualified instructor, it was time to get moving with a bit of running forward and backwards. Easy? Hmmm just a little bit. But what would happen next?
Now mastered that, we added a jump. WARNING! Do NOT look down! Keep your chest up and feel like an action hero. We were flying and it was AMAZING and to think this was just our introduction. I could have done this all day!

Photo by Sarah Sharman

Step Up Circus Training Day 5 by Siu Hun Li

“I like to think I’m quite fit and active. I like to think that I know my body quite well and all the various muscle types that come with it. I think I may have slightly underestimated the work that Vicki had in store for me. Bit of stretching then onto conditioning, a reoccurring theme for the week. I didn’t realise I had signed up to the army. I joke about it but this is vital for the rope, silk, hoop and bungee work we would be learning. Core strength and agility is vital but we would all have our own things to work on. Throughout the week I have been learning new techniques on these apparatuses I’ve seen in a few circus shows and always thought I’ll never be able to do that. But there I was footlocking on the silks, doing the hiplock (or attempting to), teardrop, gazebo etc. I was truly amazed at what could be achieved from me and the group in a week. I was discovering that we all had the ability to achieve what Vicki was showing us, it’s just that each person would discover best how to do it their own individual way. But there was one very evident thing I seemed to notice from each person as the week unfolded, determination. Strained faces, veins bulging, sweat pouring, breathlessness and absolutely not giving up was enough to make sure everyone was aiming to get the best out of this unique 2 week training opportunity. There’s only one dreaded thought that’s entered my head throughout the whole first week, the end of the course. After learning so much in a week and being able to take away with me such skills that I want to start swinging off lampposts it’s no surprise that it’s a buzz that you will not really be able to shake off. But let the violin come out later, it’s week 2 tomorrow and I will double that minute handstand!”

Siu Hun Li. Photo by Sarah Sharman


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