Apart from lion taming, circus acts are great fitness options for kids who love thrills and don’t mind a few spills — into a safety net, of course. Big-top staples such as aerial arts and acrobatics (which seem more like play than work) target core muscle groups, improve balance and increase flexibility. Take your class clown to one of these highly trained instructors to master circus stunts safely while building self-trust, self-discipline and confidence.
If your child is suffering from growing pains, a few yoga poses on the aerial silks at Diana’s Yoga Studio could help ease the pressure on your little one’s bones. During an aerial yoga class for all ages, kids will safely transition through poses like Superman, inversions and warrior 1, 2 and 3, which create space in the body and decompress joints. With three instructors to each of the seven silks, kids remain safe and secure while bending, twisting and flipping in the silk hammock. Register weekly.
Cost: Members, $20 drop-in or $65 for a group of four; Nonmembers, $30 drop-in or $95 for a group of four
When: Saturdays 12:30–2:00pm
Where: Grand Prairie, 817/909-6544
Carissa Laitinen-Kniss and Khristen Pahler, co-owners and instructors at Twisted Bodies in Denton, wanted to create a space where kids could develop body awareness, body ownership and a healthy sense of self-worth, all while learning aerial maneuvers. Each Wednesday evening, kids ages 8–12 learn to master tricks on an aerial apparatus that changes weekly: mermaid and birdcage pose on the lyra hoop; foot locks and figure-eights on the silks; stands and inversions that build power and control on the sling; and bends and turns on the fireman-like circus pole. In addition to strength training, conditioning and stretching, kids learn to trust themselves and their instructors and even get a small education in anatomy and physiology. (And you’ll learn to trust the Born to Fly-certified teachers keeping a watchful eye on your young acrobat.) Register early in the week to claim one of 12 spots for the upcoming Wednesday session.
Cost: $75 per month
When: Wednesdays 6–8pm
Where: Denton, 940/514-1170
In January, Altitude Fitness owner and instructor Tricia Lauerman is moving her aerial arts studio just two miles east to a brand-new facility equipped with 18-foot-high ceilings, a dedicated silks room and a robust aerial program for kids. Until then, kids ages 6–12 can attend weekly aerial arts classes at the studio’s Main Street location. During each one-hour session, students warm up their muscles to hang, pull, balance and swing, then rotate between aerial silks, the aerial hammock and the lyra hoop. Each station has two instructors who help kids get a leg up on the apparatus. Fall classes have already begun, but new students can start anytime; through the end of November, first-time registrants get half off their first class.
Cost: $80 per month; $25 one-time registration fee
When: Wednesdays 5–6pm
Where: Frisco, 214/494-0580
No circus performance is complete without the body-contorting, spine-bending, graceful tumbling of acro dance. Instructors at the Plano Dance Theatre teach tiny dancers the acro basics during the twice-weekly Tumble Weeds class for ages 3–5. Kids build strength, flexibility and balance as they learn to tumble and perform tricks on mini balance beams, mats and stall barres. The schedule is flexible too — purchase a six-class punch card and attend classes when convenient. Ages 5 and older have their own weekly acrobatics class to perfect basic acro moves like cartwheels and walkovers while adding handsprings and upside-down stunts to their repertoires. Beginners can start anytime; the class runs year-round with ongoing registration.
Cost: Tumble Weeds, $65 for six classes; acrobatics, $65 per month
When: Tumble Weeds: Wednesdays 5:15–6pm and Saturdays 9:45–10:30am; acrobatics: Tuesdays 5:45–6:30pm
Where: Allen, 214/287-7816
Kids ages 8 and up can get their wings at Skyline Trapeze, where instructors teach the basics of circus flying on an outdoor trapeze rig. During the two-hour class, first-time flyers learn safety procedures and flying etiquette before stepping up to the swing. As students grow comfortable on the swing (and dropping into the net), they can attempt position tricks like hanging by one or both knees, inverted splits, straddles and back flips — or they can just fly. Flyers must wear tight-fitting tops and bottoms that cover the back of the knee; jackets, sunscreen and water are also highly recommended. Book online.
Cost: $55 weekday evening; $50 weekday matinee; $60 weekend; $10 one-time registration fee
When: Classes available Wednesday–Sunday
Where: Addison, 214/771-2406
Karen Palmer, professional dancer and master instructor at Vertical Fitness Dallas, helps boys and girls ages 9–16 gain healthy self-esteem and self-trust as they learn acrobatic moves on the aerial silks, aerial hammock, lyra hoop and trapeze. One-hour sessions each Monday afternoon focus on balance, body awareness and partner work, and small class sizes allow instructors to keep a close eye on the action, so beginners have nothing to fear. Enroll anytime.
Cost: $25 per class or $200 for 10 classes
When: Mondays at 4:30pm and 5:30pm
Where: Dallas, 972/679-1020
As you might guess from the name, Lone Star Circus offers a full slate of circus performance lessons to kids ages 3 and older of all skill levels. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, high-flyers in the kids circus class practice life skills such as teamwork, responsibility and self-discipline as they take on the challenge of aerial silks, lyra hoop and trapeze. For girls who’d rather fly across the mat, world-renowned dancer Vita Bachman teaches rhythmic gymnastics, an art form in which dancers manipulate props like ropes, hoops, balls, clubs or ribbons. And the one-hour juggling and clowning class moves through a 10-week rotation of different circus acts requiring focus, mental and physical agility, and rigorous exercise. Each week, kids can try their hand at a new skill: juggling, pratfalls, comedy routines and more, plus one-on-one sessions in stilt walking and unicycling. For all classes, enroll in a 10-week series or pay a la carte; first-timers are encouraged to drop in before committing.
Cost: Prices start at $20 per class
When: Times vary by class; see website for full schedule
Where: Addison, 214/206-1449