Blog 1 ZigZag Circus and A Fire Breathing Workshop

Blog 1 2015 Fire Breathing Workshop

Did you know that Adelaide has an adult circus school? No? Well I don’t think many people do so to try and promote our very own Adelaide ZigZag circus I thought I would blog about it and here is the first blog.

My topic for the first one is a Fire Breathing Workshop that ZigZag ran just this last weekend. I went, it was awesome, but before I launch into that, a little about ZigZag.

The ZigZag Circus operates out of Glengowrie YMCA and Point A in Adelaide. They offer general circus classes, circus classes for people working on their acts, beginner and intermediate silks, acro balance and aerial yoga. They occasionally do very cool workshops like fire breathing and stilts. The prices are good, the trainers are high quality and safety is their foremost priority.

I’ve been going to adult circus classes now for about two years and I found this place with the original aim of helping my gym work. I think it took me two weeks to realize that I never wanted to do another circuit again. Circus training put the fun back into a work out.

In the general circus class we start with juggling. This is brilliant for eye hand co-ordination and getting your brain working, it’s also fun and relaxing, strange how one activity can do so many things. It’s also hard to get bored juggling, you can juggle scarves, bean bags, balls, rings or clubs. You can even try contact juggling which is that speccy thing David Bowie’s character did in the Labyrinth.

Then we warm up and that might be a game or it might be jumps on the mat or a few other movement type things. Then we do our stretches with a sprinkle of conditioning. I love the stretches and yes I’m a freak enough to enjoy the conditioning too. Conditioning involves exercises to make you stronger and I love getting stronger.

We might hang for a while after that usually for a minute. By hang I mean we find a rail and hang from it without our feet touching the floor. Then we go on to handstand practice and then we are ready to tumble.

For tumbling we do front rolls, backward rolls and salad rolls, no I’m just kidding on that last one. We do handstands and walking on hands and cartwheels and if you’ve never done this stuff it doesn’t matter. The trainer Alessandro can train people who know heaps or who are just starting. There are people doing flips and all sorts of speccy stuff.

Then Alessandro calls free skills and then you get to play. You may choose from, slack line which is walking on a rope, climb vertical ropes or climb silks, do diablo or balance on a globe, trapeze, trampoline, acro balance or do a dozen other circussy things. My only regret with these sessions is that I never have enough time to do all that I want to do. By the way the sessions run for two and a half hours.

All the while we are doing our general circus stuff the aerial people are high up in the air doing their silk stuff. They climb, they stretch, they tumble out of the sky, it’s beautiful to watch them. To one side the acrobats are doing crazy pyramid and balance stuff and at times it can be tricky to concentrate with all of this magic going on.

I can’t speak highly enough of the trainers. Kate and Natalie take aerial, they make learning fun and safe. Chris and Peter take the acrobats and they are unbelievable in how they can convince people to climb onto each other.  Nick gives me trapeze lessons and you’re not going to find a more patient chap than him. Alessandro is the head trainer and he consistently comes up with new challenging training methods, he keeps the training fun and he’s so good about the safety that you’re willing to do quite scary stuff because you know he’s already worked out the safety angles.  Ok that should be enough to introduce the ZigZag circus now lets talk about the fire breathing workshop.

The workshop ran for two days. Alessandro did the training, Chris did back up and photography. We had about ten participants and most of them had not had any experience with fire breathing, myself included. The training was very clever because you were led up to fire breathing step by step so that by the time you were actually ready to do the practical you were not quite as terrified as you may have been at the start. Mind you I was terrified all the way through. I’m not sure all of my workshop mates were. They looked pretty darned confident tackling the whole fire business.

We started by learning how to spit and I found that very challenging, I mean shoot me but I never spit, not ever. We then had a go at putting the fire breathing powder in our mouths and making sure we could hold the powder and still breathe through our nose. Then we could go out and join Alessandro with a lit torch and give it a go.

Ok so my turn came around and I had to stand there with Alessandro  out in the middle of the car park that we were using for the course. Alessandro lit the torch and I was supposed to get this powder to land kind of on top of the torch. My first couple of tries were little fizzes but it wasn’t long before everybody was creating fire balls and my goodness that was a rush.  Just imagine spitting on a flame and this huge fire ball erupts. It was amazing.

The first day of the workshop was learning how to make fireballs and then the second day was refining our technique, learning how to manage the equipment and some tricks and tips if you wanted to use this in a performance. The trainers didn’t recommend that we went out on our own to perform after the two day workshop but we were well on our way.

Can you imagine what it is like to be absolutely terrified of something and then doing it anyway? The feeling when you come out the other side is better than any other high I reckon. We all went and had Chinese food afterwards and I sat in that restaurant thinking I didn’t get hurt, I didn’t get burnt to a crisp.

There’s not that many situations that as an adult you can really test yourself and not have to go and climb a mountain or something to do it. We were able to do this workshop and still go to work on the Monday. I find it amazing that we can have these experiences in Adelaide and not have to go interstate for them.

If you’re interested in having fun in your work outs, finding out what your body is capable of or doing these workshops, the Zig Zag Circus has a web page and a face book page and is on Instagram so we’re not hard to find. You’ll have a ball I guarantee it!

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