Find strength, flexibility and fun with aerial fitness.
Liza Rose, owner and head coach at Fly Circus Space, was born in a small town just over the state line in Texas, and she grew up in Houston and Austin. However, she had family in Louisiana and always had a fondness for New Orleans. She left Texas for New York City in 2001, and she bounced around a lot for the next 10 years, living in Los Angeles, Seattle and traveling abroad a bit. “I came back to New Orleans on tour with my contemporary circus company, ticktock, in 2011,” she says. “I knew then that I had to come back to the South, and I moved here in 2013.”
Rose grew up doing competitive gymnastics, and she later became a contemporary dancer and an aerialist. In 2004, she had a catastrophic neck injury; she wasn’t sure if she would ever perform again. She began looking for knowledge and modalities to heal and strengthen herself. She became a yoga teacher in 2005 and a personal trainer in 2008. She wanted to create a safe, smart, sustainable movement practice that would keep her functioning as a high-level artistic athlete. “Integrating dance technique, Pilates, yoga asana, plyometrics, dynamic flexibility and bodyweight training into my practice has allowed me to do just that,” she says. “Now, through [Fly Circus Space], I am able to share my practice to help others attain their own fitness goals — and maybe their circus dreams.”
She opened the studio in June 2016 as a way to transition into coaching full time. “Even if you don’t have dreams of joining Cirque du Soleil, you can still train like an acrobat for your own fitness,” Rose says. “I love seeing people accomplish what they thought was impossible, and grow into humans with a deep and solid connection to the body they live in. I love bringing this practice to ‘regular’ people. Circus has a way of meeting you where you are. I adore facilitating this part of my clients’ fitness journeys. I love people, and I love seeing the joy and confidence that this kind of fitness practice creates. I feel like I’m using my superpowers for good!”
Rose offers recreational aerial classes for adults that include static trapeze, aerial silks, aerial hoop, sling and corde lisse (aerial rope). She also has handstand class, flexibility class, aerial and ground conditioning, and ground acrobatics for adults. While there are advanced classes available, a good place for newcomers to start is the Wednesday night Intro to Aerial class. “We also have open gym hours where any current student can come train on their own, practicing what they’ve learned in class and conditioning to get stronger faster,” Rose says.
Fly Circus Space is unique because it is the only circus/fitness studio in Louisiana that is a member of the American Circus Educators Organization and the American Youth Circus Organization (serving ages 6 and up). “We adhere to their standards for safety, best practices and continuing education for our instructors,” Rose says. “We are careful to teach body mechanics and break things down appropriately for each student. Our class size is small (usually five to eight people), so instructors can give lots of individual [attention].”
As for her personal fitness routine, Rose trains about four times per week, for about three hours per day. Her training consists of a combination of aerial, hand balancing, flexibility and cardio. “Say it with me now: ‘Rest days are essential,’” she says.
ON STAYING MOTIVATED
“As a student of circus arts, you have the incentive of performances to keep you motivated,” Rose says. “We have seasonal student showcases at our studio, and pre-professional students are invited to participate in our monthly show, the Fly Movement Salon, at Café Istanbul. But even if you don’t ever want to perform, the cool thing about acrobatics is that the possibilities are endless. Your gains aren’t measured in pounds lost or lifted; they’re measured in gravity-defying physical accomplishments, and there is literally no end to the movement you can learn or invent. The potential for creativity and self-expression keeps us engaged in a way that is unique to circus arts.”
“My diet is mostly plant-based,” Rose says. “I do high amounts of plant proteins and green things; quinoa; sweet potatoes; yogurt; eggs; smoothies with fruit, greens, flax, hemp, chia; and tea or coffee of course. I also do supplements; I’m a fan of vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, raw zinc, probiotics and Cordyceps. When I do [eat] meat, it’s usually chicken or salmon. Red meat and sourdough bread are my guilty pleasures — and too much honey in my coffee. I do a 10/14 [intermittent fasting] diet [fasting for 14 hours and eating a balanced diet within a 10-hour window], and I rarely cheat; I never miss my glycogen window.”
“I have a young client that began working with me when she was just about 11 years old,” Rose says. “Her dad does aerial for fitness and she wanted to try it. She didn’t want to stretch; she didn’t want to condition, but she wanted to climb the silks to the very top so badly. She would whine and throw a fit and say, ‘I can’t!’ so much that we had to institute a push-up rule. Well, two years later, this little kid has grown into a beautiful, confident, strong 13-year-old who just performed her first aerial act at her own bat mitzvah — and she crushed it! Her entire extended family couldn’t believe the poise and maturity she demonstrated. We’re working toward new goals now, and she knows that focus plus work equals gains. She inspires me all the time.”
“There is no one size fits all workout,” Rose says. “What works for your best friend or your partner may not work for you. Get a trainer or coach. Find someone you have good chemistry with, who will see you and respond to your individual needs — not someone who gives boilerplate exercises and advice. Make sure that person is experienced and actively pursuing continuing education in their field. Being a fitness professional is both an art and a science, and trainers have to stay engaged with their own practice and on top of new information.”