6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

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

00:00 17 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 www.cloudaerialarts.co.uk

More from Style

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Lloyd Blackpool BMW is celebrating after the family owned retailer won the prestigious ‘BMW Retailer of the Year’ award, the highest accolade chosen and presented by BMW UK.

Read more
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Lancaster mum is spinning a good yarn about wool produced from the county’s sheep, as Paul Mackenzie reports.

Read more
Thursday, January 12, 2017

Laurita Siauniene came to Lancashire from Lithuania looking for a better life, but never imagined owning a flourishing fashion firm. Rebekka O’Grady reports.

Read more
Thursday, November 3, 2016

Sparkle this season in sophisticated pieces from award-winning jewellers Banks Lyon, of Lancaster.

Read more
Monday, October 17, 2016

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

Read more
Thursday, October 13, 2016

The city centre is rapidly gaining a reputation as a centre for cutting edge pampering.

Read more
Spas Luxury Break Manchester
Thursday, October 6, 2016

Prince Charles sent a personal letter of thanks to an Ulverston couple for the walking sticks they made for him and Camilla

Read more
Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A couple who went searching wildlife in South Africa came back with a new fashion brand.

Read more
Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tally Bookbinder and Collette Casey are now bringing their expertise to Saddleworth

Read more
Thursday, September 8, 2016

Just stepping into reception at the QMS Skin Spa at the Lowry Hotel is a tonic, writes Louise Allen-Taylor

Read more
Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Northern Quarter is Manchester’s coolest area and a fitting location for this month’s shoot which features some directional designerwear

Read more
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Mairead Mahon embroiders a story about the great sewing revival gripping the region.

Read more
Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Get ready for spring with inspiration from our exclusive fashion shoot at Bartle Hall

Read more
Friday, April 1, 2016

A Lancashire Life fashion exclusive at Aintree with our top female jockey Katie Walsh

Read more
Liverpool ONE

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Lancashire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search