Ever dreamed of running away and joining the circus? If you want a taste of circus life before packing your bags, then the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) is the place to start. A training institute that is part of Swinburne University, it offers a bachelor degree in circus arts for those who want to make their career in the industry, but for those of us who just want to escape our desk jobs for a while, there are any number of short courses to choose from! Tumbling, hula hooping, trapeze, aerial silks – basically anything you’d expect to see in a circus!
Having done a few aerial silk and hoop classes in Sydney, I developed a love of being up in the air, upside down and making (or at least, trying to make) pretty shapes with my body, so the beginners aerial preparation course at NICA was a no-brainer for me. The instructors are former graduates of NICA and they’re excellent at explaining the various moves and techniques while also being incredibly patient and friendly.
The aerial prep course primarily goes through the basics of aerial silks and trapeze, with other apparatus thrown in towards the end of the term – we worked with aerial hoops (my favourite!) and ropes. The first few weeks are definitely challenging as you’re not only learning completely new ways to use your body, you’re also building up strength so that you can carry yourself up in the air to perform all these moves!
However, you do improve really quickly and it’s incredibly satisfying to be able to nail moves that you weren’t able to do just the week before – the photo above was taken at the end of a climb about a month into the term; in the first week of term, I was barely a foot off the ground. You can’t imagine how excited I was to get this high up the silks!
Circus has been the absolute best workout for me to improve my strength, especially in my upper body and core. Having to support my entire body weight in the air, while also twisting, flipping and contorting myself in unusual ways means that your strength increases out of necessity! This is far and way a much more fun way of working out – whereas in the past, I would have had to talk myself into going for a run or to the gym and then watch the clock until I’ve done my time, I can’t wait to get to NICA for a session and the time there passes ridiculously quickly.
So if you’re looking for something different to mix up your work outs and learn some new party tricks, check out the short courses on offer at NICA – the next term starts in a week!
National Institute of Circus Arts
39-59 Green Street (corner Green and Thomas Streets)
Prahran VIC 3181
T: 03 9214 6975