November 15, 2021
A teacher, charity worker and psychologist are among those taking part in the latest Introduction To Aerial course at Up Side Down Circus in Cardiff.
The programme, taught by experienced trainers Sam Smart and Hele White, is designed for complete beginners and you don’t need any experience in dance or gymnastics to have a go.
Rachel Walkridge, from Swansea, said: “I’d seen pictures of aerial on Facebook and Instagram and always wanted to have a go.”
She discovered her friend Scott Wilson-Evans was interested in the course too and they decided to come along together.
“When you see professionals performing, they make it look so beautiful and effortless,” she said. “I’m definitely developing some muscles! I have noticed feeling stronger.”
Rachel, 32, has particularly enjoyed aerial hoop and silks. She added: “Hoop looks so elegant.”
She met Scott, national communications manager with NHS Wales, through work. They lift share to Up Side Down Circus from Swansea.
Scott’s background is in ballet and musical theatre and he saw aerialists performing while he was working on cruise ships in the Mediterranean.
“I really wanted to try aerial,” he said. “I actually signed up for this course before the pandemic, but it had to be put on hold due to lockdown.”
The 30-year-old said his favourite part has been meeting people. He added: “Flying trapeze was epic and I fell in love with hoop!”
Five weeks into the programme, Scott said he was feeling fitter and planning to move on to the mixed aerial class.
Hannah Oxenham, from Splott, had previously completed the intro course, but had to take some time out from circus due to work and health.
“I was unwell and didn’t have the strength to do it, but I wanted to come back,” she said. “I’d never go to a gym, but I knew that here was somewhere I could exercise and feel safe.”
The 39-year-old, who works for charity Church Army, added: “The trainers are so supportive and create an atmosphere where everyone encourages each other.”
Kate Collard, from Bridgend, works as a teacher and wanted to try a new exercise class.
“I’d seen bungee dance and I was looking for a class that was aerial-based,” she said. “I was searching for aerial yoga and found this course. I love getting to try something different each week.”
Kate, 31, added: “I’ve 100% noticed a difference in strength and fitness. In the first week, I found silks really difficult, but last week I managed to hold myself upside down.
"It makes you feel so good when you achieve something for the first time. I'm definitely feeling more confident. I'd like to carry on with aerial yoga and mixed aerial."
Siana Fflur, 29, who lives in the centre of Cardiff, is a trainee clinical psychologist and used to teach and compete in pole dance.
She wanted to try something different after having a break and decided to sign up for Introduction To Aerial, which she said is similar to pol dance in some ways and different in others.
“Aerial hoop and flying trapeze have been my favourites so far,” she said. “Hoop is a challenge and I loved the adrenaline of flying. My strength is gradually coming back.”
Performer Gordon Tyler, 48, from Splott, runs Fiery Jack Entertainment and has many talents, including juggling, stilt walking and tightrope.
“I’m getting a lot out of the class,” he said. “There’s a really good atmosphere.”
By Liz Day