Aerial Arts of Utah lets everyone join the circus


Let’s be honest, you know you’ve always wanted to join the circus. Well, now you can; or at least learn the skills of a trapeze artist.

At a small studio in Salt Lake City, long streams of colorful fabric drape from the ceiling next to trapeze apparatuses.  Students  climb the fabric only to spin down toward the ground. Across the room, other students swing and flip on trapeze. Welcome to Aerial Arts of Utah.

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Aerial Arts of Utah offers classes teaching anyone how to swing, climb and twirl on a trapeze, ribbons of silk or even a lyra, a metal hoop that hangs from the ceiling.

Co-owner Deborah Eppstein is no stranger to sports and physical fitness. She runs ultraraces, triathalons and occasionally the 11-mile run to work. When she and co- owner Annie Kocherhan saw a New York troupe preform three years ago they wanted to get involved.

“Annie and I saw and fell in love with it. We thought, ‘We can do that,'” Eppstein said.

With in a year, they were co-owning the gym in addition to their respective day jobs of researcher and hair stylist.

“If I had discovered this when I was younger, who knows, I may not have been a scientist,”  Eppstein said. “Well, I probably would have been, but it’s always fun to do something different.”

While some students come from gymnastics or modern dance backgrounds, Eppstein said aerial arts are for anyone who wants to try.

Becky Higgins, 34, a resident of Murray, first got involved by attending an open house and has now taken classes at Aerial Arts for about a year and half. She is currently working on a trapeze routine.

For Higgins, aerial arts is an exciting way to exercise.

“It’s physical exercise in a way that doesn’t seem like true exercise, but you gain a lot of strength and flexibility,” she said. “You can progress pretty rapidly. It’s exciting to learn something and then be able to do it in a few weeks time and have that satisfaction.”

To those fearing they lack the upper strength, Eppstein said not to worry.

“You build that muscle. Start one push up at a time, one pull up at a time,” she said. “Even if you don’t do that, just working the silks will strengthen your muscles.”

Liz Stich, 31, artistic director at Aerial Arts, said the key is having determination to try. Strength, flexibility and confidence will follow.

“When I first started coming I couldn’t climb,” she said.” I wasn’t able to just get up there and climb. It takes a while to build that up. As long as you’re persistent it will come …  you just want to do more than you did last week.”

The reward: getting up in the apparatus and completing a new skill.

“There are lots of times when you get down and it almost takes your breath away,” she said.

The intro class is $135 for a 7-week course in trapeze and fabrics. A new round of classes start the week of March 19. Sign up online at The studio also offers single classes on Friday nights for $18.




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