Some considerations before you rig aerial equipment at home:

 

1. Construction. Houses are not generally constructed to hold a dynamic load. 2x4’s and 2x …(anythings) are not sufficient for rigging. Generally, wood is frowned upon in general (yes, this includes trees) for rigging.

 

2. Rigging. You probably have not taken an aerial specific rigging class or hired a rigger who specializes in hanging humans. If so, you (or a rigger) would know how to calculate the weakest point of your rigging and how to inspect, maintain and select your system with a clear understanding of the loads and forces that are at work. You will also learn how equipment should be selected and why a $25 swivel (excuse me, rotational device) or whatever someone selling bargain equipment on the internet is calling it, might not be something you want to trust your life to. No, really. Spend some time considering what the consequences of saving a few dollars on equipment might be. Many terrible aerial accidents are rigging related. They are also the most preventable.

 

3. Mats. Most people are not willing to deal with having an appropriate mat of minimum 8” skill cushion. They are expensive and bulky to store. Folding panel mats are not appropriate for learning and practicing aerial skills. Mattresses are not skill cushions.

 

4. Coach. You probably don’t have a trained aerial coach at home to be watching you or your child. There are lots of hidden dangers that can lead to serious traumatic injury or even repetitive stress injuries. YouTube does not count as a coach. Even professionals (including in other less dangerous sports- think of the Olympics) have coaches. It is important to have another set of *trained* eyes.

 

5. Danger. Aerial is dangerous. Inherently dangerous. Part of your professional instructor’s job is to keep you working in skill progressions that keep you safe and working towards harder tricks that are appropriate for your current strength and skill level to prevent injury. It is a little bit like why we eat vegetables and not just candy. Other people have faced severe injuries and even death doing these activities: a good coach brings much of the knowledge and history that has been learned from other people’s mishaps so you are taking more informed and calculated risks.

 

6. Coachability. Your professional coach will have a harder time teaching you (or your child). Here are some of the reasons why:

a. You (or your child) will probably spend hours creating bad habits that cannot be undone in your hour or 1 ½ hour class. How moves look and how they feel are often two entirely different things.

b. You (or your child) will get really strong but only in the ways that you like to work and not holistically. Eg- only working on favorite side, only a couple of moves that you really like.

c. Unless you are really disciplined, you (or your child) will probably lose lots of flexibility (see above about getting really strong). I have seen it happen over and over again where the amount of strength building time exceeds the amount of stretching that needs to be done to maintain movement.

d. Your child now sees the apparatus as a toy and often will not take their classes, class structure and the class rules seriously.

e. Classes are designed to have a warm up, stretching, a well-balanced set of activities and conditioning for the benefit of the participant. Most adults do not have the discipline (or vision) to design and adhere to this, let alone a child.

f. Your coach will now need to tailor your curriculum so they are not teaching you a skill that they think you may try at home before you are ready and injure yourself.

 

7. Liability. Your insurance likely will not cover any incidents related to having this type of equipment in your home. The insurance that covers aerial arts is very specific, very expensive and only offered by a few companies. These are not part of a homeowners or even an umbrella policy. Keep this in mind when you or your children have company over. If your equipment is not secured, a guest may injure themselves and you will be liable.

 

Silks and other aerial apparatus are fun and exciting to learn. The “dream” of having them at home and accessible at any moment is a fantasy and a phase of discovering aerial arts. Professionals who are experienced in the industry will never promote “at home” rigging as an acceptable idea for beginners. There are times when a professional has an obligation to tell you something that you don’t want to hear and home rigging is often exactly that situation. It is not to deprive you or your children of fun or the joys of aerial arts but instead to point out that there are too many ways it can go wrong and instead of helping a student progress, it can actually do quite the opposite.

 

If you are interested in learning aerial arts, it is more beneficial to ask your instructor what types of supplemental activities can help you (or your child) to master the skills you are learning.

Tera McBlaine

Monkey Aerial Arts