Have you ever wanted to run away and join the circus? It’s not too late! But perhaps you should try a few circus skills classes before you pack your bags. Circus Oz offers a range of courses in all things circus-y, including tumbling, hula hoops, contortion, and trapeze.
For two Thursday evenings in January, I braved the ‘flexibility and contortion’ class, a two-week short course for adults. I was introduced to a variety of individual and partner stretches, and tried arm balances and contortion poses. Contortion? Do you recall poor Regan going down the stairs in a backbend in 1973’s The Exorcist? Well… we did that. Sans stairs. It must be said, it is extremely difficult to send the rather basic ‘move this way’ message from one’s brain to one’s hands and feet when one is upside down and back to front. However, some gentle coaxing from my trainer — and tapping on my stubborn appendages — finally helped to get the message through.
Now you may be thinking, ‘Whoa – that class is not for me!’ It is, in fact, advertised as ‘suitable for beginners through to aspiring or trained contortionists’. Despite this, I was extremely grateful for my five years of yoga experience. Had I arrived at this class with no experience in strength and flexibility training, I may have baulked at the directive: ‘Front splits – three minutes – go!’
Having said that, my trainer, Zeb, a highly skilled circus performer and Cirque du Soleil veteran, was clearly used to working with individuals with varying levels of ability. He was able to modify the activities according to the different capabilities of the students in my small group.
Is it time to learn to do a handstand, or conquer your fear of heights? Or are you looking for a new way to maintain fitness and flexibility? Circus classes are certainly a unique way to get to know yourself better and test your own limits. I plan to go back for more backbends. You know what they say: If you don’t bend, you break.
Anna E. is a Melburnian bike-rider, coffee-drinker, and dog-lover who is always up for trying new experiences. You might find her balancing on a slackline, training for a triathlon, or building a terrarium.