Aerial silks kicks off fall sessions

The circus performance art is open to kids and adults at the Whistler Gymnastics Centre

Wanting to try a new activity before the mountain opens for another ski season?

Look no further than aerial silks.

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Hosted by the Whistler Gymnastics Centre, the circus performance classes are open to children, teens and adults alike.

The program was first offered last year by aerial silks instructor Danielle Duncan.

“I moved to Whistler two years ago and there was no aerial silks in town,” she said. “I started teaching back in Ireland for two years and I worked on a flying trapeze rig at a children’s summer camp for five summers … so when I moved to Whistler, I was looking to fill that void.”

An emerging activity often featured in Cirque du Soleil shows, aerial silks performers climb up and unravel down from long, hanging pieces of fabric.

“The objective is to climb up the fabric like a rope, and there’s a lot of wrapping yourself up in the fabric in a lot of different ways,” Duncan explained. “It’s like an art that takes a lot of physical ability as well.”

While the silks may look intimidating, Duncan makes it a priority to ensure her classes are accessible to everyone, with or without experience.

“There’s no one that’s ever left the class and said, ‘I can’t do this,’” she said.

The activity also functions as effective cross training for the many athletes that call Whistler home, Duncan added. “You are using a lot of upper body strength, but also a lot of core strength and a lot of balance,” she said. “You’re inverting, so you’re getting that really good spatial awareness, for people who like to do flips on the mountain. You’re improving your flexibility. Across the board, it ticks all the boxes.”
Adult beginner sessions run in four-week-long blocks and are normally held back-to-back, after which students can choose to progress to a more advanced class.

Beginner adult classes run Wednesdays from 7 to 8 p.m., while an advanced class trains from 8 to 9 p.m. Kids’ classes also take place on Wednesdays, held from 5:45 p.m. to 6:45.p.m.

While the latest adult session kicked off last week (Oct. 5), Duncan said it’s not too late for potential aerial-silk artists to sign up.

“It is dead season and I appreciate that there’s a lot of people moving around and coming in and out of town,” said Duncan. “If you missed the first week, it’s not a big deal because we always do a little refresher at the start.”

New this fall, Duncan is also teaching a teen aerial silks program that combines the high-flying activity with trampolining and tumbling. The class, aimed towards 13 to 17 year olds, takes place Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 9 p.m. “It’s a really relaxed environment and they can choose what they want to do,” Duncan said.

A four-week beginner’s session will cost participants $80, not including the $35 Whistler Gymnastic Centre yearly membership.

For more information or to register for aerial silks classes, contact info@whistlergymnastics, or check out Duncan’s Facebook page, Silks Whistler.

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