a woman inverts on a trapeze

Where the Heart Is

*Pictured here: An advanced-level Sky Candy student practicing her trapeze skills on her home rig point, which was installed by a professional rigger, with a crash mat underneath and a buddy in the room.*

Dorothy Gale tells us there’s no place like home, but when you’re practicing aerial skills, we respectfully disagree. While we understand the desire to be in the air 24/7, training circus at home is not the best choice, especially for new aerialists.

Why Can’t I Rig in my Home?

Next time you’re in the studio, look up. See those big steel beams our equipment is rigged from? Do you have those in your home? We’re going to guess no. While steel beams aren’t the only safe place to rig, they’re a good visual reminder of how strong your home rig point needs to be. The generally accepted standard for a safe working load limit is 2000 pounds. Basically, if you wouldn’t hang your car from your rig point, you shouldn’t hang from it either.

If you’re not familiar with terms like working load limit or safety factor, or you don’t understand how a 150 lb aerialist could generate 2000 lbs of force, that’s a great reminder that there’s a big part of circus arts we don’t cover in class — rigging! Training on your own doesn’t just require you to know skills like pullovers and footlocks; you also need to know how to handle your equipment, including how to rig it, maintain it, and safely store it when not in use.

But Can I Get a Portable Rig?

The short answer is yes, there are portable rigs available. However, we do not recommend training on your own for new students. It’s a great way to create bad habits or injure yourself. At the beginning of your training, you need an experienced instructor watching your form, spotting you through skills, reminding you to wrap your thumbs, tuck your pelvis, correct that messy wrap before moving on. Other issues to consider when purchasing a portable rig include where you’ll put it up and store it, zoning and insurance concerns, and who can access it (i.e., how do you keep the neighborhood kids off of it). A rig is a huge investment (in the thousands of dollars range), so it’s not a purchase to be taken lightly. We appreciate your passion for your new hobby, but we recommend investing time rather than money: perfect your skills in the studio before considering home training.

What If I Really Am Ready?

You might be ready to train on your own once you’ve reached high intermediate or advanced level (like the student pictured above) and can perform skills without your instructor regularly cueing you or correcting your form. In this case, you must abide by the golden rules of home training: never train alone, always use a mat, and don’t train skills you haven’t been taught. Never train alone is a no-brainer — you need someone who can help in case you get tangled in your apparatus or seriously injure yourself. Don’t train skills you haven’t been taught means that you take that awesome Instagram trick into the studio and show it to your instructor first instead of trying it on your own. There might be more to it than meets the eye. Finally, just like we do in the studio, always use a mat when training.

But I Just Want to Get Stronger!

We support your endeavor! Get yourself a pull-up bar, some hand weights, a resistance band. There are so many conditioning exercises that don’t require an apparatus and a rig point. Ask your instructor how to strengthen your upper body and core at home. Practice inversions on the ground (it’s probably the first place you learned them!) Condition your heart out. You have our blessing.

We’re so happy you want to practice and perfect what you’re learning in class. We encourage you to ask questions about training safely outside the studio. Our answers might not always be what you want to hear, but we promise to always keep your safety at the top of our priority list.

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