Ever dreamt of running away to a circus? This is the next best thing
Now that we no longer have to chase our own food, I’m constantly amazed by the way humans choose to keep fit.
Treadmills, for example – what an odd invention. Can you even imagine the pitch meeting? “I’m looking to fund a machine that won’t let people go anywhere, do much of anything or get any fresh air or stimulation of any kind. They’ll walk on the spot and expend energy for the sake of it. What do you think?”
There are other, more artistic options. Like aerial acrobatics. This pursuit is more the Lady Gaga to your treadmill’s Margaret Thatcher. If you’ve ever taken in a Cirque du Soleil show, you’ve seen it done.
It basically involves wrapping your limbs around lengths of fabric bolted to the ceiling and then climbing up those lengths in increasingly imaginative ways. When done right you look like a lithe and sensual squirrel. When done poorly you come across as a moron, hog-tied in your own bed sheets. I won’t ruin the ending by telling you which one I was.
I started by signing up for the 90-minute beginners’ class at Wild Spirit Productions in Sydney’s Botany. Maggie Kelley is head honcho here and took our class of eight willing apprentices. If Jessica Rabbit and Pink had a love child it would be Maggie. She’s all red hair and toned limbs, minus the air of intimidation.
What I hadn’t anticipated is that we’d spend 45 of our 90 minutes doing warm-up stretches. At the time it felt like pointless busy work. It became apparent the next morning, however, that without those stretches I wouldn’t have been able to wipe my own rear. I’m not exaggerating. You will use muscles you’ve probably never used unless you’ve had sex in space. And even then…
I quickly discovered I was the Rob Kardashian of our merry troupe. At one point I got my right foot so knotted up in my silk I had to just hang upside down until Maggie untied me. She was very patient – demonstrating each move before we tried it in pairs. It’s all quite choreographed and not at all like the scrambling-up-a-rope-in-gym-class I imagined it would be.
There are names for each climb, too. There’s the French: it’s dance-y and pretty, but slightly ineffectual. Then there’s the Russian: it’s gutsier and gets you where you’re going.
In the end, it was easier than I expected. The learning curve is steep but satisfying and by the end of it, we were all doing backflips. What a time to be alive.
I admit the whole thing left me hurting more than Donald Trump after a John Oliver roast, but I’d choose this over running down my next meal. Unless that meal was piping-hot and waiting at the end of a stationary treadmill… We squirrely circus folk aren’t silly.
What: Aerial silks.
How much: $34 for a 90-minute class.
Where: 1/42 William St, Botany; wildspiritaerialarts.com
I loved: That you could get adept at this art very quickly – and that’s an excellent quality in a hobby.
I question: How long you have to keep at it before you’d be allowed to wear feathers. I mean it… I’d like a time stamp on that.