Category Archives: STEP UP circus training

Week 2: Participants in the Tamasha, Upswing and Circus Space Training

Photo by Sarah Kameela Impey

Step Up Circus Training Day 6 by Milton Lopes

“First day of the second week: The Hoop
Unfortunately, I couldn’t be an active participant due to an injury I suffered this weekend whilst doing a show. It was enjoyable watching the class working on my favourite apparatus. After Vicky  asked us how our bodies were and getting positive answers, the class started with stretching  and conditioning  exercises. Then we had two and a half hours of people upside down hung by: one  leg and one hand shaping a  Half Angel,  two legs – one stretched  and one bent forming a Gazelle;  two feet and one hand forming the Mermaid and another shape where  you are hung only by the  ankles called …ankles.
Having done these shapes before I can say that the first time that  you do it, it is quite painful even when you are using your hands. It’s quite hard because you use bits of your body to grip that you don’t usually use so the skin gets friction burn from the iron hoop.
Whilst Vicky was teaching the moves individually the rest of the class was practicing what we learnt last week in the silks or practicing the moves they learned in the hoop.
What was great to watch, was the perseverance of everyone to try over and over again, trying to overcome their obstacles and their difficulties and never given up. Everybody seems so determined to learn more that even when they are resting they are doing conditioning exercises.
And everybody seems to learn so fast that today we learnt eight different positions. I guess we are having fun and very excited to be here. I am quite sure that some of us will carry on  training after these two weeks. I know I will. :)”

Photo by Sarah Kameela Impey

Step Up Circus Training Day 7 by Phoebe McIntosh

“As we come to the middle of the second week (and almost the end of the course- sob!) the aches we’ve been feeling from engaging never-before-used muscles has given way to one or two occupational grazes, bruises and strains. But, would we let that stop us? Of course not! We’re like the circus equivalent of rioting looters – determined, foolish and oblivious to pain  (but with morals, of course).

Today, like every morning, Vicki began by ‘checking-in’ with each member of the group to see how we were feeling. I like that we start the sessions in this way. Everyone becomes aware of how other people’s bodies are adjusting to the training, which may or may not be used as a measure for their own experiences. It also helps us to realise that we’re not alone in feeling a little sore here and there, and that the whole group is pushing through the pain and trying to progress a little further on each piece of equipment every day. Yes we CAN!

I’ve decided that launching straight into a game of ‘Tig/ It/ Tag’ (or whatever you call it depending on whether you’re a Northerner or Southerner) really is the best way to start a weekday! Talk about getting the blood pumping. And it’s not just any game of Tig- it Tag-it, oh no. We clamber, crawl, dodge, dive and roll until we get our hands on you! I’d love to see this made an obligatory method of getting to the office played between commuters – suits and all! This was followed by the whole group breezing through a few conditioning exercises (that’s right, we breezed-we’re hard core now) and then it was down to some hard graft on the hoop.

Because we’re working towards short, individual routines to present to each other on the final day, Vicki taught us a few extra moves that we may want to incorporate into our choreography, including a Back Balance and Front Balance into a ½ Angel. I was especially pleased that I managed to invert to get up onto the hoop on my first try today! Yay. This was only made possible by the fact that I’d finally stopped overthinking it and had “left myself alone” as my Drama Tutor used to say, and thanks to a little help from my friends – there’s nothing like a rousing chorus of “Go Phoebe” or “Come on, Phoebe’s Leg” from your fellow trainees to push you a little further than you think you can go.

As I write this (very sneakily from the computer at my day job) I can’t help but think that this training is making me stronger, fitter and physically more confident by the day and also, how nice it would be if aerial circus training were my new day job; the one I do in between auditions, the one which lets me scale silks, hang from hoops and bounce from bungees 40 hours a week!  I’m pretty sure that I’ll have a few withdrawal symptoms after Friday. But, if nothing else, at least I’ll have bigger muscles to parade around the office with and a real sense of achievement to send me on my way!”

Photo by Phoebe McIntosh

Step Up Circus Training Day 8 by Sabina Arthur

“‘YES WE CAN!’ has become the unofficial group motto as we work through the pain. We’re beginning to realise that this is actually true! The session started with a group check-in, and I noticed the increased energy, confidence and positivity from everyone as we went around the circle. This is hard work, but we’re all having a great time and our bodies are finally starting to accept what we’re asking them to do. Despite the injuries most of us have had to contend with at some point during the course, we’re starting to feel that we’re winning the fight.

Some of us are approaching aerial work from scratch while others have had some previous training, so we’ve all come to this with varying levels of experience and fitness. Today, after the usual gruelling hour of body conditioning, we mainly worked on the silks. We were taught three new moves: the roll up, standing splits and those who had mastered the invert got to try a new drop.

Everyone is working on their own personal struggles and progressing at their own pace, but we’re all feeling a sense of achievement for pushing ourselves, and appreciating the progress we’ve made in just over a week. While it’s frustrating when you just can’t get that move quite right, or stay in a handstand for a full 60 seconds, the whoops and cheers of this fabulously supportive group is a huge help.

The session ended with a well-earned massage in groups of three – we were all expecting more conditioning exercises so it was a welcome relief to just relax and let four hands concentrate on all those muscle aches and pains.

This has been an amazing opportunity to learn something completely new and I’m getting stronger and more determined with each day. I’m so glad that I was chosen to take part and will definitely continue to train when it’s all over.”

Photo by Sabina Arthur


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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