'It gives me a real boost' - online classes offer fun and fitness during lockdown

March 8, 2021 

From meetings with your boss to the weekly family quiz and your friend’s birthday drinks – it seems like everything is happening on Zoom right now.

Unfortunately, we can’t teach flying trapeze via video conferencing (we wish we could!) but we can help to keep our community members fit, flexible and connected as lockdown continues.

Up Side Down Circus co-founder Tammi Brown said the aim of the online sessions is to get everyone “circus fit” and ready to return to training when the space is able to re-open.

She added: “Our online classes will make sure you are given all the skills to feel more comfortable with your strength when you join us again.”

Two classes are currently running on Zoom – fitness, with focus on cardio and strength, plus Pilates and injury prevention.

Chris Moore running the Zoom fitness class

Co-founder Chris Moore, who is running the fitness class on Mondays between 6pm and 7pm, said: “The aim of the class is to keep people’s fitness and spirits up for when we are able to re-open.

“We want people to know we’re here for them and make sure it won't be such a shock to the system once we are able to get back into training.”

He explained each session starts with a five-minute chat, to give class-goers a chance to catch up, followed by a 15-minute warm-up.

The exercises last for between half an hour and 40 minutes, then there’s a cool-down and a few more minutes to chat at the end too.

Zoe Selby at online circus fit

Zoe Selby, from Cardiff, has been taking part in the fitness class with her husband Mark. As a Co-op store manager, she is a key worker and has been working hard throughout the pandemic.

The 32-year-old, who normally attends flying trapeze classes, said she was missing the social side of circus when the training space had to close, as well as the fitness aspect.

“Mentally, the online classes have helped massively,” she said. “Circus was my happy, safe place where I could let go of the day-to-day. As a key worker, I really need that.

“The circus fit classes give me a bit of that. Chris is a really supportive instructor.”

Zoe Selby and husband Mark at circus fit on Zoom

Adam Poole, 30, from Roath, has also been joining the online fitness class. He usually attends aerial yoga and circus fit at Up Side Down Circus.

“I really miss the space,” he said. “It's like a safe space. When you're feeling low or you feel out of place, you feel very accepted in Up Side Down. You kind of feel you’re among like-minded people.”

Adam, who works as a community inclusion officer at Cardiff Central Library Hub, added: “I’m absolutely looking forward to returning in person, but the Zoom sessions have been a great laugh.

“They’ve been a fantastic way to keep in touch with the other awesome circus people. For me, it's less about health and exercise and more about socialising in this case.

“The classes have been a great help during the lockdown and have given me something to look forward to throughout the weeks.”

Laura Davies in the online fitness class

Laura Davies, 37, who lives near Newbridge, Caerphilly, has been taking part in the fitness sessions too. She has been affected by a close family bereavement during the pandemic.

“I lost my father during the first lockdown,” she said. “The Zoom classes really helped me get through that time. They gave me something to focus on and they took my mind off everything for an hour or two per week.”

Laura, who works for the International Baccalaureate Organization, normally trains on flying trapeze and describes it as “my absolute favourite thing”.

She said: “The online classes have undoubtedly helped me during lockdown. I enjoy getting to see and speak to people that I would normally be in classes with.

“This lockdown has been tough on everyone and getting to see the others gives me a real boost and helps to remind me that this isn’t going to last forever.”

Laura added: “Of course, it’s also good to try and keep some element of strength training going so that when we finally get back, hopefully it won’t quite feel like starting from scratch! Without the classes, I wouldn’t have the self-discipline to train at all.”

Chris' fitness class on Zoom

The Pilates and injury prevention class is with trainer Libby Mears from 6pm to 7pm on Thursdays.

She said the classes aim to build fitness, prevent injury and improve core control. They involve a mixture of Pilates core exercises, plus flexibility and strengthening for the upper and lower body.

Libby previously worked as a national trampoline coach and at Trapeze School New York. She trained as a Pilates instructor during lockdown and is now working to qualify as a sports massage therapist.

Chris said: “You don’t need any previous experience to attend the classes, as we go over all the exercises and demonstrate them.”

The trainers also offer alternative exercises if a class-goer is finding anything too difficult or has a particular injury or area they want to work on.

The team are hoping to add more online classes to the timetable, so please email info@upsidedowncircus.co.uk if you have any requests, such as a flexibility session.

Each session costs £5. To sign up for the Monday fitness classes with Chris, follow this link. To sign up for Thursday Pilates and injury prevention classes with Libby, follow this link.

By Liz Day 

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