At SANCA you won’t find lions, tigers or bears, but you will find unicycles, aerial fabrics and a high flying trapeze. This is, after all, Seattle’s own “School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts” and it’s the perfect place to break out of your old gym routine.
“We have something to offer for everybody, no matter what level of fitness you come in at,” SANCA founder Chuck Johnson said.
Spinning inside the large German wheel or walking the tightrope are both understandably intimidating, but SANCA classes will start you at the very beginning.
“We focus on both emotional and physical safety, so when people come in we make sure that they are comfortable with what they are doing,” Johnson said. “We build all of our progressions in really small steps, so that at the end of the day you’ve succeeded in the bigger skill that maybe you couldn’t have done when you walked in.”
Take the trapeze, for example. SANCA instructors teach students aerial basics on the ground before anyone ever swings through the air. Then students are harnessed into several redundant systems to ensure safety, and progress from simple trapeze swings, to knee hangs and finally to a catch.
“We break things down into small enough pieces that are not dangerous, so students feel successful,” Johnson said. “Then we add a little bit, and we add a little bit more to it and pretty soon students are flipping on the trampoline or flying through space on the trapeze.”
Along with the flying trapeze, SANCA offers a wide variety of circus arts classes that combine fitness and fun.
Develop balance, agility and coordination with juggling, tight wire, unicycle and German wheels classes, and improve your core strength with hula-hoop sequences. Add intense upper body work with aerial classes that include climbing and performing tricks on aerial fabrics, static trapezes, aerial hoops and ropes suspended from the ceiling.
Kick up your cardio routine with a trip to the trampoline, which, according to Johnson, offers a great interval training workout.
“It’s a very anaerobic exercise,” Johnson said. “People think it’s aerobic but you can’t do it for very long because you get totally winded. It uses the entire body because you’re using your core and your legs to stabilize, and you’re in the air and its fun.”
And since the circus arts feel more like recess than a workout, it’s an activity every single member of the family can enjoy.
In fact, Cristal Peterson bought her husband enrollment in a juggling class for Father’s Day, and after seeing how much fun he was having, enrolled herself and her kids in classes.
“It’s fantastic and you don’t realize your getting such a good workout and you’re having so much fun," Peterson said. "I love it."
Many parents like Alisa Beiber appreciate that SANCA allows kids to be active while offering alternatives to highly competitive activities and organized sports.
“It’s a chance to be challenged, but not pushed in ways that you don’t want,” Beiber said.
SANCA provides a place for both kids and adults to gain self-confidence. They do this through creating achievable progressions and supporting participants to push outside their comfort zones with activities like the trapeze. According to Johnson, that self-confidence is something everyone takes with them long after they leave the gym.
“The thing I hears the most from returning students is ‘because I was able to do something I didn’t think I could do here, now when I try something out in my job, or I think maybe I can’t do it, I try it anyway,’” Johnson said. “I hear that all the time, it’s pretty amazing.”