Night Owl Circus Arts



Aerial Silks w/ Craig
Today 12:15 PM at ATG
3 spots open
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Aerial for Kids w/ Lauren
Today 4:30 PM at ATG
3 spots open
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Beg Trap/Lyra w/ Jen
Today 5:30 PM at Azure
3 spots open
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Int/Adv Silks w/ Jen
Tonight 6:30 PM at Azure
4 spots open
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Aerial Silks w/ Lauren
Tonight 7:15 PM at ATG
4 spots open
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Beginner Silks w/ Kayla
Tonight 7:30 PM at Azure
5 spots open
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High Lyra w/ Lauren
Tonight 8:15 PM at ATG
4 spots open
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Tumbling w/ Seth
Tonight 8:15 PM at ATG
6 spots open
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Beginner Silks w/ Kayla
Tonight 8:30 PM at Azure
5 spots open
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Int Silks w/ Drake
Tomorrow 9:30 AM at Azure
5 spots open
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Aerial for Kids w/ Lauren
Tomorrow 4:15 PM at Azure
2 spots open
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Aerial Silks FAQ

I want to take a silks class, but I have no upper body strength! Is that ok?
We get this question ALL the time. You're not alone. And yes, it is completely ok! The vast majority of new students that we get in our classes don't have a lot of upper body strength when they start out. We start off with easy moves that don't require a whole bunch. We keep our class sizes very small, so that we can personalize our lessons plans for each student, and everyone can progress at their own rate. A lot people are intimidated by the idea of trying out an aerial class. But I promise, you can do it!
I want to take a silks class, but I'm scared! Is it safe?
Our classes have a very strong emphasis on safety. There is, of course, an element of risk to any physical activity, but we take safety very seriously, and minimizing risk is our top priority. All students work over an 8-inch crash mat at all times. All beginner moves are done very low to the ground. As you become more advanced, we will slowly start taking moves higher as you get comfortable, but we never push anyone to do this before they're ready. We also encourage students to be an active player in their own safety. That means, if we ask you to do something that you don't feel safe doing, then don't do it, and talk to your instructor about it. If you are halfway through a move, and find yourself feeling unsafe, then come on down. That's always OK in our classes! It's also always acceptable to wait for us to come and spot you before you do something. Our instructors typically walk around the room throughout the class spotting everyone one at a time, so if you don't want to do it by yourself, just wait and we'll come around and help you. There are certain moves where we'll specifically ask everyone to wait for a spot. We keep our class sizes very small, so that we can personalize my lessons plans for each student, and everyone can progress at their own pace, and we can spend a lot of time with each student.
I'm afraid of being embarrassed. Everyone's going to be better than me, aren't they?
We get this question a LOT, so rest assured that other new students in the class with you are probably thinking the same thing! We work with each student individually, so it doesn't matter at all if people are at different skill levels. We strive to create a non-competitive, judgement-free, positive environment in our classes. Never compare yourself to other students; everyone learns at a different pace, and that is completely OK and normal in an aerial class! This is exactly the reason that we keep most of our classes on a drop-in basis instead of a series; it allows each student to progress at their own pace, and not worry about "keeping up" with the other students.
I'm overweight. Is that ok? Will those silks hold me?
Another question we get all the time! Let's get that second part out of the way: Yes, they will hold you! The silks themselves have a breaking strength of around 3,000 pounds. So no, there is no "weight limit" on our classes. That's not to say that being overweight won't affect how quickly a person is able to progress in an aerial class; the class is inherently and unavoidably more difficult for anyone who is overweight. To give some very loose guidelines, if you have a BMI over 45, or a body weight over 300 pounds, aerial classes might not really turn out to be your thing just yet. That being said, we keep our class sizes very small so that we can work individually with each student, and everyone can progress at their own pace. The best advice I can give you is, just come try it out and see if you like it! The moves we do in the first few classes, while I don't want to say they're "easy", they are intended to be attainable for just about anyone with some practice and determination.
What age ranges can take your class?
On the lower end: Our kids class is open to ages 7-14. Our adult classes are open to ages 13+. Students in the range of 13-14 have the option of either class. The majority of the students in our adult classes are in their 20s or 30s.

On the upper end: There is no firm age limit. As a general guideline, we don't encourage people over 70 to take our classes, but we even say that with caution; there can definitely be exceptions. It largely depends on the condition that your body is in. If you have a lot injuries, osteoperosis, or severe arthritis, our class is most likely not for you. But if you're very healthy and fit, you can start our class at any age! You'll definitely want to talk with me about any injuries you have. For more info regarding injuries, see the next question:
I have an injury, medical condition, or disability. Can I take your class?
Call us, let's talk! We definitely try our best to work with people who have injuries, medical conditions, or disabilities. We're not doctors, so if you ask us whether it's safe for you to take our class, the answer is usually: I'm not qualified to answer that question. You should ask your doctor. But, pending their approval, come try it out! Definitely talk to us about your injuries first though. In some special cases, if you call us, we'll set up a time when we can meet privately at the studio, and we'll give you a little 10 minute "free preview" of some of the stuff we do in class, for the purpose of evaluating whether these classes will be good for you. Regardless of whether you do this, or take a regular class, we make our absolute best effort to work within anyone's physical abilities, and we keep our class sizes small, which allows us to work with each student individually at their own pace.
How long does it take to get "really good"?
This is a very difficult to answer, mainly because everyone is different. Also, everyone's definition of "really good" is different. There are two main factors that tend to largely determine how quickly you will progress in aerial arts. The first factor is how frequently they take classes. We typically recommend students start out with once a week in the beginning, and progress to twice a week fairly quickly once they start to get comfortable with things. If you come to our classes once a month, you're very likely to find progress slower. You'll find yourself having to re-learn a lot of basic moves each time you come in. On the other hand, if you come in twice a week, you will progress much faster. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with taking class once a month - it just entirely depends on what your goals are. The second major factor in how quickly a student progresses is whether they condition and exercise outside of our classes. Things like yoga, pilates, weight lifting, rock climbing, gymnastics, dance, and martial arts are excellent ways to build strength, flexibility and endurance - but not the only way! We'll show you some exercises in class that you can do at home without any equipment, and if you can even dedicate 15 minutes a day to doing these exercises at home, that will make a huge difference! Our conditioning class is also a great way to build strength, and will help you progress much faster.
I'm a man. Aerial Silks is for ladies, isn't it?
Silks are for everyone! This seems like a good place to introduce myself. My name is Craig Lewis. I'm a dude. That's me, on the right. →

I'm the owner and founder of NOCA, and teach many of the aerial silks classes myself. Demonstrating a masculine, strength-based aesthetic on the silks is something I'm passionate about! I realize that the stereotypcial image of aerial silks is of a feminine, flexibility-based performance art - which it certainly can be, and that's beautiful and wonderful! But please know this: Silks does NOT have to have that aesthetic! Do a YouTube search for "male aerialist" and you'll find tons of strong men doing incredible acrobatic aerial performances, all while looking manly and awesome. Some men end up shifting eventually from silks to an apparatus like aerial straps, trapeze, chinese pole, or corde lisse. While we don't yet offer classes in these apparatuses here, you can still start out with the silks and you'll be able to make the transition very easily down the road at another studio, because the skills are extremely similar. So yes, our classes are great for all genders! Come try it!
What are the class rules?
You can view the class rules in the New Student Handout.
What should I wear for class?
There is one important requirement: No metal parts, such as zippers, buttons, clasps, etc. Very small piercings are ok, but larger piercings must be removed because they can get caught in the silks. If you have an exposed surface piercing, you should wear a bandaid over it.
Other than that, skin tight clothing is definitely recommended - something that will stay in place when you hang upside-down. Most people prefer to have clothing that covers the backs of their knees and armpits, but this is not required. Tights, yoga pants, or unitards work great. As you become more advanced and start working on drops, you will need to avoid clothing made of synthetic materials, which can melt. This is not an issue for beginners, although we do find that cotton clothes tend to give more friction on the silk than synthetics, which is good for beginners; but again, that's personal preference.
What is open gym?
Open gym is a time for our students to freely use the equipment to practice skills on their own which they have learned in our classes. Open gym is a lot of fun, and it's a great way to progress your skills, and make new friends! To attend open gym, you must have taken at least 4 NOCA aerial classes. Teaching during open gym is not permitted - it's intended as a time for practicing moves you already learned from us. Trying moves you saw online is also, as always, not permitted, as it can be very dangerous. Also, you must be trained on the specific apparatus you want to use. Ie. if you've only taken silks classes, you can't use the lyra at open gym. You must be approved by an instructor for each apparatus.
Do any classes have pre-reqs?
"Aerial Silks", "Beginner Silks", "Adult Tumbling", "AcroYoga", "Aerial Yoga", "Flexibility", and "Conditioning" have NO pre-reqs - anyone can start taking them with absolutely no previous circus experience, or even any athletic background. "Lyra" requires that you're able to invert on the silks first. For some people this might happen on day one in silks, while others may take months or years to be able to invert - and that's ok! Talk to your silks instructor about this if you're not sure what this means. "Choreography" and "Open Gym" both require a handful of aerial silks classes under your belt before you sign up - just enough to where you have some basic moves and vocabulary to work with. 'Int/Adv Silks' is where we start working on drops. Your silks instructor should let you know when you're reaching the point of being ready for the intermediate / advanced aerial silks class.
Can I get my own silks and set them up at home?
We very strongly discourage this for many safety reasons. First, there is a high level of training and experience that is necessary before you should consider training aerial arts without the direct supervision of an experienced aerial instructor. Aerial arts are very safe when practiced correctly, but can quickly become extremely dangerous if you don't know what you're doing, and it takes longer than you think to learn all the hidden dangers. Also, homes generally don't have the proper construction to support aerial rigging. Homes are constructed out of 2x4s, which are extremely strong in compression, but can easily break under the dynamic tension forces we create with aerial arts. Aerial rigging is a highly technical and specialized skill set. It is NOT the same skill set as rock climbing, entertainment rigging, overhead lifting, construction, or structural engineering. If you rig in your home, you're going to need to first consult with a structural engineer, and then an aerial rigger. Typically you'll be faced with a major construction project, and it's not going to be cheap or easy. You're far better off spending a tenth that amount of money on classes to better your skills in a safer environment at a professional aerial studio such as NOCA. For a much more in-depth discussion of the topic of home aerial rigging, take a look at this PDF from Steven Santos of Simply Circus.
Do we get to perform?
Night Owl Circus Arts does have a performance company! We do periodic student showcases at our Johnson City location, and we also book paid off-site professional performances periodically. We guide our students through the process of creating a routine and preparing for a performance. It's an amazing experience! Let your instructors know if this is something you're interested in working towards.

If your question wasn't answered here, give us a call or text at (423) 782-6479!