By: Jason Sheppard
You don’t have to be Supergirl to lift off the ground anymore thanks to a new program in St. John’s which combines circus athletics and exercise – one which is sure to take off.
It’s summertime in NL, which means hanging out at barbecues, hanging out in the park and hanging out in the pub for a cold one. But what about hanging out 20 feet above the floor? Well now you can do that thanks to a new local program – bungee fitness.
Danielle Aubut of St. John’s, recently opened Cirque’letics, a studio which incorporates bungee fitness – a mix between dance and your typical step-class – while strapped in to a bungee harness which lifts the participant high off the ground and soaring through the air.
“It’s like a Jolly-jumper for adults,” Aubut explains to The Herald. “If you didn’t get to experience a jolly-jumper as a kid, you can now come experience them as an adult.”
Aubut, a professional circus arts coach who graduated from a school in Vermont in circus arts, is also a certified gymnastics coach and personal trainer. In addition, she holds a Bachelor of Education degree, and has participated in several international circus competitions including a few in Hong Kong. “I worked and traveled all over the world and just wanted to come back here and start a circus community,”she says.
Bungee fitness is a fairly new concept in North America as its origins hail from Thailand. From there, it flourished in the U.S. before making its way to Canada. It has crept up in Montreal and Toronto but this is the first time it’s ever been in Atlantic Canada. Aubut says this program is starting up in Halifax as well, but right now, they operate the only one.
“We started this program because we focus on circus arts, but we found people look at that and say ‘wow, you’re flying 40 feet in the air. It’s so death-defying, I could never do that’, so we wanted to have a program that would lead people in a little bit closer where they then can say ‘wow. That looks awesome.’”
Aubut believes that it doesn’t matter if you’re 16-years-old or 60 – once people come in and they see bungee-fitness up close, they realize that ‘okay, I know it’s something that I could do’.
Aubut also sees the bungee-fitness classes offered at Cirque’letics, as a way to provide motivation to people who want to get their exercise in a new and fun way.
“People get bored going to the gym – you pick the heavy thing up, you put the heavy thing down – this is not that,” she insists. “We wanted to bring something different and add a new element to exercise and this is what the bungee does. If somebody is dealing with knee or joint issues for example, now they’re supported. There’s less of an impact for people who find jumps really hard. This gives them that little bit of confidence.”
Every week, the instructors present a new dance choreography where they say anybody can join at any time. Aubut describes it as a mix between a typical cardio workout and dance choreography. “We just run a new song and we do the choreography and we teach the skills to go along with the dance.”
Their classes are small with five or six people, with Aubut teaching the classes alongside Melissa Ralph, an RNC officer who also has a background in gymnastics and dance. Between the two they teach the bungee program – something she describes as “super exciting.”
For safety measures, participants are strapped into a full harness system with a bungee pack and the studio is equipped with a portable truss system, specifically meant for what they’re doing so that people can hang off safely. Aubut insists that because her background is in circus, she takes safety measures to the extreme. She says the feedback from people has been phenomenal.
“We just started so we’re still kind of figuring out how to run the classes best. So far people really, really enjoy it. We had a girl who was really nervous about it but as soon as she was in the right set-up, she had a great time.”
Aubut says she is going to see how the program grows before exploring tailored programs such as teens-only and even classes for younger kids.
“We wanted to bring this program in for everybody. We wanted something that was fun but not intimidating. That was the lead-in for this program. We’re not a gym where there’s 50 people around. We’re very small, very hands-on, with certified people. We want it to be as non-intimidating as possible.”
For more information visit www.cirqueletics.ca or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org