What is the difference between Silks and Sling?
Silks is one long piece of fabric tied in the middle and hung from a rig point in the ceiling leaving two tails draped on the ground. This apparatus is what people traditionally think of when they think of circus silks. You can climb, wrap, drop, spin, and pose mid air. Silks can be challenging to learn because it requires quite a bit of grip strength and pressure tolerance to support your body weight. Despite its difficulty, silks are a beautiful way to express your creativity and gain strength.
Aerial sling, sometimes referred to as hammock, is similar to silks, in that it is a single piece of fabric that hangs from the ceiling. However, this apparatus has its ends tied at the top of the rigging to form a loop suspended below. Sling can be used for yoga, physical therapy, strength building, improving flexibility, spinal decompression, tricks, and more. It is the most accessible aerial apparatus out there, making it perfect for beginners, yet has a wide variety of options in poses, sequences, and drops for the aerialist looking for more of a challenge.
Both Sling and Silks are big builders of cognitive function and proprioception due to what is needed to wrap the fabric around the body. In both types of class, students will build strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and enhanced spatial awareness. Our goal in our aerial classes are to encourage students to have fun, gain strength, make friends, and feel empowered in our classes!
A note on Safety
All our hardware and fabric have been tested, are meticulously inspected, cleaned regularly, and replaced as needed by trained professionals. Every piece of equipment, from rigging plates, personal anchoring systems, swivels, rescue 8’s, rings, and carabiners are each rated to a max of 45kn . The floor of our aerial canopy is layered with a shock absorbing sprung dance floor, gymnastic mats, and large crash mats under each apparatus. Professional structural engineers created and inspected the building’s framework for our rig points. Our staff are at the very least CPR and first aid trained, as well as background checked, with many who are trained mandated reporters. Your safety is our utmost concern and we pride ourselves in holding that standard.
Speaking of safety...
Should I rig my own aerial apparatus at home?
information adapted from our wonderful circus community, personal experience, and love
The question of rigging aerial points at home comes up often. More and more people are purchasing equipment online with no knowledge or education in this field. And we totally get it! When we first started, we wanted nothing more than to be in the air, getting strong, being upside down, flying!
But here is the reality: Aerial can be very dangerous and until you are more experienced, having a set-up at home without supervision can be very dangerous and injuries happen. Let’s look at the many factors that you need to consider when looking at rigging aerial equipment at home.
Are you a beginner, using the internet as a guide, and training alone?
This is very risky!
Signs that you may be ready to practice without a coach include:
You are in a high intermediate or advanced class (at least 2 years of regular training with a coach).
You are regularly asked to demonstrate proper technique to others in class.
You fully understand and respect proper circus training and your responsibility in setting an example to others.
Things you can do instead:
Pull ups, Core exercises, Leg lifts, Planks, Handstands
Cross training in yoga, pilates, gymnastics, rock climbing, dance, etc.
Do you have the space for an aerial point in your house?
Minimum height you will need for a point used for fabrics is 16 feet
Do you have at least 6 unobstructed feet in every direction from where you want your point? People inevitably swing, even a little, and crashing into things will hurt.
Plan on a space capable of storing a large crash mat. (The bigger the better. Yoga mats are too thin)
#3: Building Structure
Does your home have the strength for an aerial point? Aerial arts can generate high shock loads, even on relatively small skills. You also need to think about protecting the rest of your house from the forces involved.
When installing an aerial point, you want to use the following specifications:
Aerial points should be rated for a 2,000 lbs WWL @ 4:1 DF for a single point,
exclusive of other loads in the support path.
This is not including the existing live load, nor is it acceptable to use snow load capacity for it.
A human body in motion on an aerial apparatus produces far more dynamic weight force than their actual body weight. If you were going to install an aerial point, you would need to pay a structural engineer to evaluate your home’s structure. If they said it is not sufficient to support what you are wanting to do, you would have to retrofit (AKA remodel) the entire structure of your home. Basically, your car needs to be able to bungee jump off of the point you choose, and not bring the house down with it. In any home built with 2x4 construction, this generally means a major construction project.
In many areas, the addition of an aerial point may have zoning implications and an aerial point is considered to be a commercial usage of property. Check with your local zoning board to make sure this is an acceptable use of the property.
Having an aerial point in your house adds a lot of insurance implications. Make sure you are prepared and ready for them.
Homeowners insurance typically does not cover aerial arts. As a rule of thumb, if your policy prohibits trampolines, they will not cover aerial arts.
In many places, your homeowners or renters insurance can be canceled for having an aerial point.
Some things you can do to help deal with the insurance issues include:
Adding the aerial point to your home policy. Some homeowners’ insurance companies will allow you to add an aerial point to your homeowners’ policy. This will often add a few thousand dollars a year to your policy, but be aware that they generally limit it to being used by the residents of the house only.
Getting a separate liability policy for it. If you have a policy that specifically covers your aerial point, you can notify your homeowners’ insurance of this, and they can exclude it from that policy.
For most people, the liability of an aerial point for the residents of a dwelling is fairly manageable. However, you need to think through the liability issues of non-residents using a home aerial point.
Some questions to think about include:
If a guest gets hurt, who is responsible?
What if your guest doesn’t have medical insurance?
#7: Ensuring Safety
If you have gotten through all of the above, the last and most arguably most important issue you will need to deal with is ensuring safety of the aerialists that use this point.
Please make sure you know:
How to properly rig aerial equipment and what type of equipment to buy?
What a safe rigging point looks like (and what an unsafe rigging point looks like)?
How to inspect, maintain, and know when equipment should be replaced?
How to rescue someone who gets tangled?
To always be supervised in case of emergencies
Ashley & Vance - Civil and Structural Engineering
Bend Rigging & Supply - local rigging hardware
Fabric Depot Co - Silks (tricot 40 denier - double the height + 6 feet for the tail on the floor)
Safety in Aerial Arts Facebook Group - a community of circus with vast wealth of knowledge from professional aerialists
***Please do not order from Amazon! Too many knock off brands which have broken mid act***
It sounds like we’re just trying to scare you to only pay for classes at our studio. Of course, we want people to come take classes because our teachers are really great and we have a blast while being really safe. But, the reason we are encouraging that option over putting up your own rig is that while aerial is so much fun, it is also a high risk activity, and our goal is to make sure that people are informed and stay safe while they are practicing, whether at Tula or elsewhere.
However, we are not the gatekeepers of aerial information, and want you to make your own informed decision. The choice to rig aerial equipment at home is not one to be taken lightly, but is ultimately a choice for you to decide, and we will absolutely respect your decision. Please fully consider all of what was stated above. This is our industry and business, and we want to make sure our students are setting a good example in the community through their safe practices, showing their respect for the training of Circus Arts and staying safe and healthy.