CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Lancashire Life today CLICK HERE

Performing circus tricks is the latest fitness craze hitting the North West

PUBLISHED: 00:00 17 October 2016 | UPDATED: 09:22 19 October 2016

Maria Stutt on the Aerial Hoop

Maria Stutt on the Aerial Hoop


Rebekka O’Grady might just run away with the circus after unleashing her inner acrobat on a trip to Cloud Aerial Arts in Manchester

Maria Stutt providing an aerial demonstrationMaria Stutt providing an aerial demonstration

It’s difficult to not be inspired by the recent Olympic sporting achievements of Team GB in Rio de Janeiro. Even I, a self-confessed fitness-phobe, decided to step out of my comfort zone and try something new – a circus class.

I knew I wasn’t exactly going to become the Simone Biles of the circus world when I signed up for class at Cloud Aerial Arts, but I figured it was a good place to start my plan to get fit. After all, aerial hoop, silks, acrobalance and trapeze sounded a lot more appealing than a jog around the park.

Established in 2013 by Maria Stutt, the circus training centre holds around 20 classes each week in three different venues (Manchester, Burnley and Stockport), and has fast become one of the most popular destinations for aerial classes in the North West with over 700 people signed up.

The Sky Loft in Manchester is also home to the Big Rig, an impressive 18ft high and 23ft long aluminium structure which cost over £6,000 to produce and was created by a specialist rigger in Glasgow. Introduced earlier this year, the structure will allow even more classes and workshops in a safe environment.

Maria, who was originally a legal secretary, developed her love of aerial from training in pole dancing in 2009, when a few girls in her office persuaded her to come with them to a class.

‘I loved it. After a year I saw a company was holding auditions for people to do hen parties, and I thought I could teach that. Soon after that friends were asking me to teach them, and I realised I was having more fun doing pole at weekends than I was in my full time job.’

Teaching one hour of pole lessons earned Maria more than one day as a legal secretary, so she decided it was a natural transition to leave that career behind and pursue one in the arts of aerial.

As I flapped about on the aerial hoop in the Manchester Sky Loft, trying to position myself into a ‘Man on the Moon’ without injuring myself, it was quite comforting to hear that my instructor wasn’t always as flexible and graceful as she is now.

As Maria explained in our one-to-one class, it’s a full body workout and takes time to build the muscle and upper body strength to haul yourself up into the many different positions. While you’re busy having fun hanging upside down, you don’t realise all the muscles you are toning up – until the next day that is.

‘It’s not like the gym. You don’t feel like you have to drag yourself here,’ explained Maria. ‘Most students do more than one class a night, as it is fun to do with friends. People return as they get a sense of achievement when they’ve been working toward a specific move and they accomplish it, so they then want to strive toward the next one. Even for me, I’ve been doing pole for seven years and I still want to learn more.’

This desire to perfect a challenging position couldn’t be truer. On the trapeze, I became so close to achieving the ‘Gazelle’ move but I just couldn’t quite secure my leg around the rope. I was so sure that after another class I would have it in the bag – and it’s this drive that makes you forget you’re working out.

It’s also a huge confidence booster as you master moves you never thought possible. I forgot my fears of falling off and I was more concerned about pushing the boundary of what I could do next.

Who knows, if journalism doesn’t work out I might just find myself auditioning for the circus – but most likely as a clown. w

One session at Cloud Aerial Arts is £8 but you can block book for a discount. For full details, visit

More from Style

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Sparkle this festive season in these luxurious pieces from award-winning jewellers Banks Lyon, of Lancaster, Kendal &

Read more
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Everyone from princesses to supermodels and film stars are getting carried away by satchels made in Liverpool, writes Mairead Mahon

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

It was full steam ahead for the ultimate pre-Christmas pampering experience at The Spa Hotel at Ribby Hall Village, as Emma Mayoh discovered.

Read more

After she struggled to find chic clothes that fitted well, a mum from Ormskirk has launched a clothing business aimed at real women.

Read more

How a derelict farm near Hawkshead was tranformed into a holistic retreat.

Read more
Thursday, August 30, 2018

This is ‘me time’, with a star on top!

Read more

Doors have re-opened at Harrogate’s ‘pamper palace’ after £300,000 restoration work.

Read more
Thursday, July 5, 2018

As the weather hots up give your look a modern boho twist

Read more
Monday, June 11, 2018

This Ribble Valley gem is home to creative people and imaginative retailers who make it the perfect place for a day out.

Read more

Overseas royalty and fashion designers have fallen in love with a not so humble Lancashire horse blanket made on the moors above Darwen.

Read more
Friday, May 11, 2018

It’s true what they say: seeing is believing, and that’s certainly the case when you discover the impressive range at The Spectacle Factory

Read more
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spring in 3 words? Feel good fashion! But how do you create the ultimate Spring capsule wardrobe? The foundations of our wardrobes. Here are the top picks from Stringers for staple items that you can buy now and simply style up or dress down for that effortless look throughout the seasons.

Read more
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

More and more people are turning to hypnotherapy to help with a range of issues. Roger Borrell spoke to Caroline Dawe

Read more
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Garstang is an unlikely hotbed of cannabis use but locals are taking to this interesting - and legal - plant

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Property Search