We tried a circus fitness class in Birmingham - but there wasn’t any clowning around

We visited a circus arts centre in Birmingham and enjoyed some great physical and mental fitness - here’s our review

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The first time I watched a circus as a child, the trapeze artists’ leaps into the air felt like death defying magic.

Years later, as a grown up when I watched cabaret for the first time, the performers displayed similar skills and upper body strength that was so impressive. The ease with which they pulled themselves into high places with no safety mats on the stage was magical. Curious about how it all happens, I headed off to a Circus class in Birmingham.

Just off Vicarage Road in Kings Heath, lies the All Saints Community Development Company where CircusMASH holds classes for the young and the adult. Founded by Joe Fearn in 2011, it has become the heart of Birmingham’s community circus.

Circus Mash offers classes in aerial silks, trapeze, aerial silks and hoop, as well as a mixed ability course offering all three and I went for a trapeze class, where people of all experience levels were present. Some participants have been learning for 10 years while some started just two weeks ago.

One participant, Ben, who joined three months ago, told BirminghamWorld how he became interested after watching a performance at Glastonbury Festival many years ago.

He added: “I looked up where my local circus place was, signed up and have loved visiting it ever since. I love it for the creativity, team work, and the physical exercise and getting stronger. Sometimes, it’s a bit painful and you get a few little bruises and grazes but it’s definitely worth it.”

Inspired by the participants and the amazing trainer, Raquel, I took a leap of faith and gave it a try. Firstly, I must point out that these classes are not easy and require a lot of upper body strength. Not having properly worked out since a medical procedure last year, my arms were out of practice and I failed to get myself off the ground without help.

Trainer Raquel demonstrates a moveTrainer Raquel demonstrates a move
Trainer Raquel demonstrates a move

The class is not just great for a full body workout, but also for improving your mental health - because all the lovely participants are helpful and cheer you on, even when you are a rookie just trying to hoist yourself up onto the bar. It might leave you sore for a few days, but the joy of being able to make art with your body is definitely worth it.

The large CircusMash sports facility is beautifully decorated with street art and equiped with safety mats, storage space and has a great playlist to accompany during the two hour class.

A six-week introductory course in aerial silks, trapeze, aerial silks and hoop, as well as a mixed ability course offering all three costs just £90 for each of the four classes for adults. You can also find more information on CircusMASH website.