Aerial Equipment part 3: Mats! 

Mats are VERY important safety tools when doing aerial. Many of the aerial studios I’ve trained at have 1 1/2″-2″ panel mat beneath the aerial points. For new or difficult tricks (especially drops) I like to pull a 4-12″ crash mat under the point. I have heard many differences in opinion on what size, type, or the safety of mats that are needed for aerial. I would love to hear in the comments what types of mats you use for training!

My opinion is: I LOVE MATS and the more mats I have the more confident I feel.

Please check out this link to more info about aerial mats: Simply Circus website mats section.

This is a run down on the mats that I have and use at home, where I bought them, and how much they cost.

Round 1:

When I first started aerial I also did some pole dancing. I bought a pole and a small pink panel mat for home use. I bought the mat brand new about 4 years ago off eBay. It is a MatsMatsMats.com mat. It folds twice and is 4×6′. I use it to stretch and it is a great little mat.

mats5

I also use yoga mats and I have a gray foam fitness mat that rolls up. * I just ordered a new yoga mat from Amazon because my little chihuahua had an accident on mine and…well…I just decided it was time for a new mat.
Screenshot 2016-02-27 17.00.15

Round 2:

When I bought my Lyra I wanted a mat that was a bit more robust than a panel mat. My instructor told me that in a gym she trained at they used bouldering pads as mats. I went home and Googled.

Mats are freaking expensive! Wow! (If you don’t believe me do some googling…)

Bouldering/rock climbing crash pads come in all sizes and costs. I choose a Mad Rock Climbing 5″ thick Crash pad.
mats3

  • It is black and 72″x44″ (6 ft x 3 1/2 feet) when laid out.
  • It folds twice into a 24x44x15″ backpack.
  • I choose it because it had good reviews and I could use Amazon Prime.
    Total $250-260.


Pros:

  • Largest portable crash mat on the market
  • I like the 5″ thickness (seems better than a panel mat to me)
  • It’s portable and easy to carry
  • The folds have Velcro coverings so you don’t step into a crack
  • You can sleep on in as a portable mattress if you want 😴
  • (It works great under my slackline…)

Cons:

  • It still seems small to me. I feel like to be completely safe I want 2 of these mats put side by side.
  • It is very firm but over time I think it will relax.
  • I hated the orange logo so I took some fabric paint to it.


These are some other bouldering crash pads I considered:

  • Black Diamond
  • ClimbX-XXX
  • Metolius

Round 3:

Now that I’ve gotten my 24 foot Ludwig Aerial Rig, I really wanted a big crash pad so I can start trying some more advanced skills. And again…

Mats are freaking expensive!

A lot of the 8-12″ crash/landing mats that are used for gymnastics/acrobatics/trampoline/martial arts are rectangles. One problem that I’ve had with aerial is that I pull a mat under me there is a length that is too long and one that is too short. I need to direct my trajectory so I land in the right place. Not a huge issue but it’s been an annoyance for me.

*Anyone else have problems with this, or is it just me?

I thought if I’m going to spend $$$ on another mat…I want it to be a mat that works for me. These were my requirements:

  • 6 foot x 6 foot (a square not a rectangle)
  • 12″ thick
  • Light color (the mat will be outside & the sun heats vinyl up quick in Florida)
  • Portable & easy to store (needs to fold once and have handles)

Then I did a web search and sent out quotes for estimates to 7 different suppliers. (Side note a few replied right away with estimates via email, a few I needed to call to get a response & a few never did respond.) It is worth while to shop around. The prices vary greatly as do the quality. This is what I found:

  • AK Athletics $625 free shipping, no tax. WINNER!!!
  • Resilite $530 + shipping $181 + tax $49.77 = $760.77
  • CoverSports $626.27 + shipping $135.00 = $761.27
  • MatsMatsMats $714.99 + shipping $331.60 = $1046.59
  • GreatMats responded they could not build to my requirements. *I was looking through their website and saw some tiles made out of recycled rubber like they have in some playgrounds…the bouncy kind…I was considering that under my aerial rig because I’m pretty sure the grass is going to die pretty soon. What do you think, good idea/bad idea?
  • RossAthletic & The Mat Warehouse did not respond. 😦

I went with AK Athletics because:

  1. They were priced the best & had free shipping: $625
  2. They were the first to respond.
  3. I liked their customer service the best.
  4. 6’x6’x12″, Tan on top/Black on bottom, folds once, handles on the folded sides.
    Order was placed 1/18/16, shipped 2/1/16, received 2/4/16 (signature required)
    Screenshot 2016-02-27 17.10.12mats2

Pros:

  • This mat is super comfy. * I could easily fall asleep on it.
  • The vinyl is very soft to the touch.
  • It is thick and heavy. The perfect crash mat.
  • I had thought that I might choose something bigger like 8×8′ or 10×10′ but 6×6′ is perfect size for aerial use. *Although for hoop…the 5 inch Mad Rocks on top of my grass works just fine!

mats1

Cons:

  • This mat is LARGE! I cannot lift it by myself (I thought I’d be able to lift it with the handles…). It is easy to drag but not lift. My fiancé is already questioning where everything is going to go. Ugh! I have no where to store it.
  • The seam runs right under my aerial point. I’m afraid that it will come un-done over time. It already looking worn and the seam is pulling apart after just 4 uses. I believe I will use a yoga mat on top of it to try to reduce some to the wear that will happen to it. I will keep you updated.
    mats6
  • The vinyl got REALLY cold (too cold for bare feet when it was around 55 degrees out. I’m worried about how hot it will get during the hot summer days in Florida. Maybe my yoga mat will help. Or maybe I will need to get some type of rug for the top of it.

So far I’m very happy with how my private aerial area is coming together. It has been a great (& expensive) learning experience. Please let me know if you have any questions. And I hope everyone is having a safe and happy aerial time!!

**I am NOT an aerial instructor. I am NOT a professional. My ideas for mats and safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to a professional if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group is a great resource.

Aerial Rigging: kN? 

What the heck does “kN” mean and what does it mean to me as an aerialist?

kN confused me as I was beginning my aerial hardware/equipment research. I had to look it up and refresh my physics memory. *If I ever learned what kN meant when I took physics I definitely don’t remember it.

kN = kilonewton

Newton (N) is the international system of units (SI) for FORCE. Named after Sir Isaac Newton. One N is very small. A N is so small (at Earth’s gravity 1 N = a small apple) it is common to see forces expressed in kilonewtons (kN). When we see kN stamped on our hardware, it gives a measurement of what kind of forces it can withstand, or how strong it is.

This chart has helped me when looking up ratings and applying them to aerials:

kN (kilonewton) to lbf (pounds-force)

1kN = ~225 lbf
5kN = ~1124 lbf
10kN = ~2248 lbf
20kN = ~4496 lbf
30kN = ~6744 lbf
40kN = ~8992 lbf
50kN = ~11,240 lbf

Here is a simple calculator to convert kilonewtons to force pounds.

How do I calculate how much force I create as an aerialist?

This is a video of how much force an aerialist can create from just a simple drop.

This link shows how to calculate your weight and shock loads as an aerialist. It’s an eye opening read.

What does this mean to me?

  1. According to the link above there are a wide range of safety factors. You will need to decide which works best for you and your practice (*you may want a smaller SF if you are doing static motions with no drops, larger SF if you have multiple aerialists doing large drops, or different SF depending on if its for permanent equipment used daily vs temp. equipment used rarely):
    • 2,000-5,000 lbs (same as a car) = 9-22kN
    • Cirque du Soliel 10:1 SF (est. 900 lbs for in a drop) = 40kN
    • American National Standards Institute 7:1 SF (est. 900 lbs for in a drop) = 31kN
    • Professional artists standard 3:1 to 5:1 SF(est. 900 lbs for in a drop) = 12-20kN
  2. I can convert the ratings of my equipment into something more familiar to me. *Example: a carabiner with a 25kN label is rated to roughly 5500lbs.
    • My carabiners are 23-50kN (5,170-11,240lbf)
    • My swivel is 36kN (8,093lbf)
    • My aluminum rescue 8 is 45kN (10,116lbf)
    • My rigging plate is 30kN (6,744lbf)
    • My fabric is the weakest part of my rig at breaking strength around 2,000lbs. (With fabric it is more likely to tear before it completely breaks. Simply Circus Fabric testing)
  3. Knowing how my equipment is rated will also help me keep an eye on when it needs to be inspected and retired.
    *Sometimes I will practice a lot of static moves with slow fluid transitions. Other times I get in a “drops” mood and all I want to do is drop after drop. The drops are going to generate more force and more wear on the equipment.
    I should be inspecting my equipment more often when I’m creating more force on them. Consider how you are using your equipment and the forces you are putting on them.

Use the information above (kN/forces/ratings/calculations) to help make smart decisions about your aerial equipment. If you are unsure or confused, please ask for help and do more research.

NOTE: All carabiners (and other aerial hardware) have a kN amount etched into the spine. If they do not have an etching amount do not use them for aerial.

Other definitions:

  • Load definitions link
  • WLL = Working Load Limit
    The force that a object can safely lift without breaking.
    WWL = MBL (minimum breaking load)/SF (safety factor)
  • SF = safety factor also referred to as DF = design factor
  • Force = mass x acceleration

What are other things that you’ve found in your aerial or circus research/experience that has caused confusion or raised questions? There are other aerialist out there (like me) who have also been wondering the same things.

***I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas for saftey may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to professionals if you have questions. Facebook Saftey in Aerial Arts Group and Simply Circus site are a great resources.***

Aerial Equipment part 2: Buying a Portable Rig 

**I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas on safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to a professional if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group is a great resource.**

Just over 2 years ago (2013) I bought a new house. In my search for a house I was looking for tall ceilings or large trees (this was before I knew how difficult and unsafe rigging from trees can be). If you are thinking about rigging at home please read this article by Steve Santos.

My new home doesn’t have ceilings or trees able to rig on. I decided I needed my own rig. Two years ago I sent Ludwig, Damnhot.com, an email with a dozen questions about portable rigs and his rig. He answered me right away but soon I realized how expensive owning a house can be and it wasn’t time for me to buy a rig.

So 2 years later, my aerial training and knowledge has increased. I own my own hoop and fabric…then stars aligned: I came into some extra money, my Honey Bunny agreed a rig would look great in the backyard and he’d help me with it, and finally my schedule was making it difficult for me to get to the studio to workout. I also read this article by Delbert Hall about Portable Aerial Rigs. I want to share the info I’ve gathered in my search for an aerial rig.

*Now that I have my new rig and its up in my yard. I’m going to use it for a while and eventually write review blog for it. So far its great and I love the pulley… If you are considering a rig, get a pulley. It makes life SO MUCH EASIER! 

FINAL DECISION
Ludwig Portable Stand Alone Rig

  • 21 ft Quad Rig Copper Vein-$1780 (4ft header)
  • X4 -4ft extension feet ($160) (website says “$1920 if in stock” – it was in stock but I did not get this price)
  • X4 -more eyebolts (5 total= needed 4 more, $14 each, x2 trapeze & x2 corner for pulley, like in photo = $56)
  • X2 Tie-off cleats ($13 each =$26)
  • X4 extra screws ($4) (just as a precaution. There are more extra screws included)
  • $365+ $18 shipping (residential shipping to Tampa, FL)

TOTAL: $2409 ordered 1/9/2016, shipped 1/15/2016, arrived 1/21/2016

unboxingamy

Un-boxing! 16 6ft legs, 4 4ft feet, & 4ft header

These are a few reasons I decided on this rig:

  • Ludwig was quick to respond to all my questions. Very knowledgeable and was highly recommended. Plus a friend has one of his and loves it.
  • Stability of a quad vs tripod
  • Options in height: this rig can go from 7 to 24ft high & doesn’t need different size cables on the legs (it uses straps that can be tightened)
  • Footprint: at 24ft it still fits in my yard (19ft = 17×20′, 21ft = 19×22′, 24ft = 21×24′)
  • Powder-coating color options (my Fiancé was against this rig because it’s steel and he was concerned about rust. He really wanted me to get an aluminum one. I don’t always listen to him). I chose Copper Vein. *It is VERY dark…almost black.
  • You can get a pulley to change out apparatus.

10ft high (One 6ft leg & 4ft foot) my Lyra has 4ft spansets…at this height it might be useful with a very short pull-up bar or 4-6ft yoga hammock.

PULLEY

Next was the pulley system. I knew I wanted it so I could change apparatus easily and quickly put up and take equipment down. I didn’t want to leave my equipment outside because we have a lot of random rain in Tampa (plus the sprinklers come on at night).

Aerial Animals offers the entire pulley system at $260 + shipping $20 Total $280.
Ludwig also has a lot of info on the right and wrong way to install a pulley and recommends Aerial Animal’s pulley. The Aerial Animal’s website spells out what the system includes and Patti was quick to answer all my questions.

As I was researching her system. (I wanted to verify all the ratings) I found I could buy the components for less. I grappled with using Patti’s info and then not buying it from her but I wanted additional hardware and I saved over $90 by buying from other resources. Unfortunately, I’ve found with purchasing from other sources, I’ve had to do a lot of manual work: phone calls, pricing, looking at ratings, calculating shipping, etc. Then once I ordered, some of it wasn’t in stock and that delayed shipping. If you want it right away go with Patti.

*I will likely buy a trapeze from Patti. Hers are beautiful and have a ton of options.

*I’ve done some additional research on carabiners and am rethinking using the D-shaped 50kN biner for the top connection. I’m looking into a shackle or heavy duty Quick Link so the carabiner isn’t overloaded.

This is what I bought for the pulley: Fusion Climbing & Rigging Warehouse

  • Pulley Fusion Strux: $18.69
    Blue, single wheel, aluminum, 34kN, 2″/16mm, L 4.25×3.25″
  • Pulley Fusion Secura: $29.15
    Purple, double wheel, aluminum, 25kN, 2″/16mm, rope max <15mm, L 5.5″x3.25″
  • X2 Pulley Fusion Micro: $10.73 each = $21.46
    Orange, aluminum, 20kN, L 4.0×3.3″, rope max 11mm
  • Carabiner Fusion Tacoma Triple Lock: $23.80
    D-shaped, 1″ opening, 50kN, black
  • X4 Quick Link Maillion Rapide: Rigging Warehouse $1.70 each = $6.80
    WLL 700kg (1550lbs), 5/16″, steel
    (FYI: 7/16″ 2425lbs)
  • Static Rope New England KMIII Max: Rigging Warehouse $117
    100ft , 11mm/ 7/16″, Black/yellow, weight 5.8lbs, tensile 8,000lbs

Total for pulley: $216.90 + shipping $14.92 = $231.82
*Fusion’s shipping would have been around $16 for just the pulley hardware (I ordered additional hardware for myself plus they waived shipping for my order due to some miscommunications.)
*Rigging Warehouse’s shipping was $14.92. Rope was back-ordered and took about a week extra to ship (but they should have an entire spool now to cut from).

pulley2

Pulley set up. Note how the rope goes down opposite legs. Please read Ludwig’s notes on pulleys.

NOTE: The rope I ordered is black and yellow but the same make & model as Patti’s. Patti’s rope is black. Please consider that if aesthetics are important. I had a difficult time finding this rope in black…and finding it in 100ft lengths. If you know more about climbing rope than I do (I know nothing) then there may be another 11mm static rope that can be used equally well.

2nd NOTE: I would have preferred a pulley system that was black or a neutral color. This one is Orange/Blue/Purple. I think if my rig were being used to perform and aesthetics important I might have looked for another system. Or when I eventually need to replace parts I may change them out for something else. Anyone have other pulley suggestions: 

Other Portable rigs I considered: 

These are my personal notes and many of the rigs (including Ludwig’s) come with several different configurations and options that can increase or decrease prices.

Trapezerigging.com

  • ~$2750 (free shipping) for 18.5ft
  • Quad. Foot pads for concrete or wood floors.
  • Footprint looks extra wide. I could not find specs. (Update: The FlyWire article says footprint is 24×26′)
  • Aluminum
  • I heard this comes with a ladder for changing out apparatus. I’m not sure if its extra or not.

Circus Concepts

  • ~$1968.23 for 24ft (unknown shipping)
  • Tripod
  • Aluminum
  • A lot of extras: pulley, trapeze spreader, extra cables for changing heights, etc.

Suspendulum

  • ~$1499+250 shipping = $1749 for 20ft
  • Tripod
  • Extras: need different length cables for changing heights, carry bag (I think this is awesome!) (for all total $153.99)

Bobby’s Big Top

  • Check out the website and call/email for more info. This wasn’t what I wanted so I didn’t look that far into it. But you may like it!

 

Aerial Rigging: Carabiners/Quick Links/Shackles? 

Early in my aerial training one of my instructors asked me to “check a carabiner.” Sure, no problem. Look at it. Check! Make sure it’s locked. Check! Easy peasy! Now I try to make a habit of checking biners whenever I go up on equipment. Yes, I have found a few carabiners that were not locked, carabiners that were cross loaded, carabiners that are overloaded and carabiners that are stuck closed/open or damaged. As an aerial student it’s important to ask questions and learn about the equipment you are using.

As I was writing this blog, I found these videos from Vertical Art Dance. Please take a few minutes to watch them. I learned I was currently making rigging mistakes. I’m heading back to make some new purchases and update my hardware. I need to stop relying so much on carabiners and think about using Quick Links and shackles more often.

Aerial Rigging The Carabiner Talk Part 1

Aerial Rigging The Carabiner Talk Part 2, Overloaded Carabiners
*I have been overloading my spansets for my lyra into carabiners.

Aerial Rigging: The Carabiner Talk Part 3, 3 Way Loading
*I have been 3-way loading my lyra spansets onto one carabiner. I knew it wasn’t ideal but I didn’t know it was a bad mistake.

Why is this important? Remember the Ringling Hair Chandelier accident? It was due to an improperly loaded connector. Review the article and some of the comments. Then look around at what is being used at your studio or your own set up and ask questions. Is it safe? Is there a better way to rig it? Why did they/you decide to rig that way?

Here are some tips about connectors for aerial rigging:

CARABINERS

  • Before use, carabiners (and all connectors) should be inspected. Damaged or worn carabiners/connectors should NOT be used. Visually check for any stress. Look for bending, corrosion, excessive wear, or cracking. The locking mechanisms should have smooth operation. If it doesn’t take it out of service and don’t use it.
  • Carabiners need to be oiled (& cleaned) regularly. Sometimes locking biners stop working just because they haven’t been oiled.
  • Screw down, so you don’t screw up! It may not be a huge deal in aerial, especially if you are using auto lock biners, but it can help keep screw gate carabiners locked if there is anything that might rub on the screw gate and unlock it. Examples: a hand grabbing the biner, a knee locking around it, a rope/spanset rubbing against it, or even vibrations loosening the the screw. This video explains in a bit better. Not much of an issue with auto lock biners but its not a bad habit to get into for all biners just in case. *If you don’t know the difference between a screw gate and an auto lock carabiner please watch the above videos again and read the Simply Circus link below.

Carabiners are designed to take a load only along the major axis:

  • Do not cross-load a carabiner. Loads should only be placed lengthwise along the major axis. If a carabiner is loaded widthwise it could fail especially with a drop or abrupt change in motion. They are a lot less strong widthwise (up to 70% less).
  • Do not overload a carabiner. Review Video Part 2 again. Spansets can easily overload a carabiner. Rigging a silk directly to a carabiner will also overload it.https://rescueresponse.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/RoundSlingBinerBreak.jpg
  • Do not 3-way load a carabiner. Review Video Part 3 again. I’ve seen this a lot in rigging. So much that I thought it was normal. But its not. It is a mistake in rigging. See above pictures of rigging a double-point Lyra. Have you rigged this way? Which way is the best?
    Riggers have been lucky only because they use a large safety ratings (2000-5000 lbs). It is a better idea to use hardware that is designed for 3-way loads (an anchor shackel or a Quick Link).
    This is an interesting video that shows testing tri-loading carabiners. Its focus is on slacklining, not aerial, but its still good info.
  • The D-shaped carabiners are usually stronger than the oval carabiners…but only if the load is verticle down the long end of the carabiner. *I’m re-thinking how to rig the pulley on my outdoor rig I was going to use a 50kN steel D-shaped biner at the top but now I might look for a Quick Link or shackle so its not overloaded.

Please read this reference on carabiners from Simply Circus: Carabiners.

There are tons of places to buy carabiners. I’ve purchase mine from Aerial Essentials and Fusion Climbing. I like the sleek black coatings that they offer. They are more expensive than the regular stainless steel biners.

*I’ve been buying steel (vs aluminum) carabiners because I believe they will last longer than aluminum. I am planning to write a blog about that debate.

SHACKLES

I have heard/read that many professional riggers are recommending using shackles instead of carabiners. Especially if it is a permanent connection. Carabiners are designed for quick/temporary connection.

  • Shackles are a lot stronger than carabiners
  • 2 main types of shackles: Anchor/Bow shackle can connect 2 or more rigging pieces together while a Chain/”D” shackle is designed to connect components in a straight line. See the Simply Circus link below for more info and pictures.
  • Shackles will decrease the amount of height lost when using a carabiner (average shackle is 3″ vs 5″ carabiner).
  • For aerial you can use a screw pin shackle that can be moused/locked in place with a zip tie after they are screwed tight. (You could also use metal wire to mouse it.)
  • UPDATE: Load only in one direction on the pin of a shackle. Use the bell to collect the legs of a bridal. (In other words: when 3-way loading, put 2 loads on the bell and 1 load on the pin.)
  • My fiance calls them “bull nose” As in: “Amy, why are you using carabiners when you should just get a bull nose? They are safer for you.” (I had no idea what he was talking about. Until now)

Please read this reference on shackles from Simply Circus: Shackles. This link has a ton of information with pictures of different shackles, how to inspect & clean and even how to mouse a shackle.

You can buy shackles MANY places. This is an example of all the different types at Rigging Warehouse.

QUICK LINKS

I’m just learning about Quick Links (or screw links). I didn’t even know what they were up until about a month ago.

  • Quick Links come in several different shapes. Depending on your need, you may want to use a triangle/tri-link/delta/square Quick Link to attach spansets to a swivel for a double point lyra (instead of 2 carabiners into a swivel-see Part 3 video above)
  • To avoid overloading a carabiner with a spanset, consider using a Quick Link (again I refer back to the videos above). Review the Quick Link shapes to see which may be the best fit.
    Update: Delta and tri-link Quick Links are for vertical use only. They are wider to be used with webbing.
  • Link to Petzl Maillion Rapide technical info
  • Ratings are significantly lower when cross-loaded. (Ex. a Quick Link that is rated 25kN on major axis can be rated 10kN on minor axis)
  • When tightened with a wrench Quick Links can be considered a permanent connector.

I am attaching several links that have more Quick Link information:

Aspiring Safety Products:  This has Quick Link ratings and a description of why and what they use particular shapes.

You can buy Quick Links at MANY places. This is an example of all the different types at Rigging Warehouse. I’ve read that many people recommend Maillion Rapide Quick Links because they have very good reliability.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on connector use and aerial rigging?

*Interesting solutions to “fix” tri-loading carabiners and spansets (or Quick Links) from a slackline point of view. Remember to consider the ratings on the spansets when putting them into different shapes: basket, chocker, etc.  Triloading 101

Aerial Equipment part 1: Buying a Lyra

***I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas for safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to professionals if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group and Simply Circus site are a great resources.***

Originally buying my own equipment wasn’t in my plans. I really didn’t need my own equipment. …but I fell in love with a special lyra.

Last year I took a class at Circus-Arts in Polk City, FL. I practiced on a hoop and we bonded. Csaba had made it himself…a one of a kind. It was the perfect size, shape, and movement for me. I loved it. It stayed in the back of my mind for a long time. Throughout year I attended classes there about once a month, one day I asked him if he would make another for me… or if I could buy that hoop. A few weeks later, I was a new owner of my very own aerial hoop.

It cost $250. Very reasonable price for a hoop. Plus I didn’t have to pay shipping.
*I am finding shipping is a HUGE expense when it comes to buying aerial equipment.
Csaba tried to give me a couple of spansets but I wanted shiny new hardware. (In hindsight, I should have taken those spansets …because although spansets are each fairly inexpensive, when you start buying a few in several different lengths, the price adds up.)

Next, I needed to figure out what hardware I wanted to complete my set up. I would need at least 2 spansets, 2-3 carabiners and a swivel. I knew from being a part of the Safety in Aerials Facebook group that I needed hardware that would hold up a car (2000-5000 lbs).
*A Cadillac Escalade weighs 5,949 lbs.

Where do I find that type of hardware? First, I asked my instructors. Then I went to the most likely websites…ones that sell aerial & circus stuff. These are some of the sites I found but there are many others:

I also went to climbing and rigging websites:

  • Sapsis Rigging -the website is a bit difficult to search but keep at it or call them to help
  • REI (I have not had good luck with specifics from them)
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • Gear Express
  • Rigging Warehouse – its a bit of a process to get registered & order
  • Bill Jackson’s (The only climbing gear store I know about in Tampa Bay)

I’m analytical and enjoy list making and comparisons. I priced everything and looked up ratings. Then I took the info and made charts. All of this was somewhat confusing for me. I’m a newbie to rigging and I wasn’t quite sure what all the terms meant. I couldn’t always find ratings or know if it was OK for aerial. I think this is normal for a lot of aerialists but it meant I needed to keep doing research.

SWIVEL & BINERS

I ended up ordering hardware from Aerial Essentials because I felt that they had a good website, I knew of other aerialists who have their hardware, and they listed all the ratings in a way that was easy for me to understand. However, now that I’ve done more research, I’ve looked back at their website and have questions about some of the biner ratings and what I received. *2/1/16 Aerial Essentials updated their website & is consistent with what I received.

I bought 3 carabiners thinking I may need one for each spanset connected to the swivel then one to connect to the rigging a point. I also thought about buying a spreader plate & a 4th biner because that would keep the carabiners and swivel from being double loaded. That is probably the best and safest set up but I thought it would take up a lot of room since I was trying to conserve my ceiling height.
*Now that I’m writing this I think I may buy a spreader plate and set it up this way for my aerial rig since height won’t be an issue.* 

Currently, I use 2 carabiners & a swivel. I put both spansets in one carabiner. Attach it to the swivel and then a biner to the rigging point. It’s nice to have an extra carabiner just in case. I also wanted to feel/see the difference between the auto lock & screw gate so I bought both. The auto lock is D shaped. 

UPDATE: 2/1/2016 After doing more research on carabiners (see my carabiner post), I’ve learned that this rigging of a double point Lyra is a mistake. Use of spansets in carabiners will overload the carabiner make it dangerous. Carabiners were not designed for that type of use. Also, tri-loading a carabiner with 2 spansets and a swivel is bad. I’m purchasing some Quick Links or shackles and a rigging plate and post more updates. 

  • X1 Swivel black, aluminum (with stainless steel bearings): 8,000lbs/36kN (Brand Fusion) -Aerial Essentials $45
  • X1 Carabiner black, steel auto lock  (4.5×2.5″): 50kN (Brand Fusion Tacoma, etched 50kN) – Aerial Essentials $17
  • X2 Carabiner black, steel screw gate  (4.5×2.5″): 25kN (Brand Fusion Ovatti, etched 25kN) – Aerial Essentials $15

Total: $98.10 with shipping.

SPANSETS

My Lyra is a tabless, trapeze/straight top, 36″ tall and about 39″ wide.

I needed 2 spansets for it to use as ropes. Searching the Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts forum, I found that Liftall Tuflex is a common brand sling used in aerials.

NOTES:

  • There are many brands and types of spansets out there. Being a newbie to aerial rigging I stuck with what I have seen/used and what was recommended. Common names if you’re searching online: spanset/Span Set/sling/roundsling/stage sling.
    *My Fiance, who is a metal worker/contractor, had no idea what I was talking about when I said “spanset” but I showed him a picture and he called it a sling.*
  • Spansets are usually color coded depending on weight ratings. Violet/purple and green are what I have seen used with Aerial rigging and were recommended by my aerial instructor. I decided green spansets would be good for my use. Mostly because I’m trying to be super safety conscious & I liked the higher ratings.
  • It’s a good idea to keep the labels intact on the spanset otherwise all warranties are void.
  • Also, regular inspections are necessary. Each spanset should come with instruction/warnings about how to inspect them. (I keep a notebook with dates of inspections along with all the specs and purchase dates.)

I priced a dozen different websites before purchasing. I wanted green-rated spansets with black covers and found a recommendation for Sapsis Rigging on the Facebook Safety Group.

Sapsis has several “in stock” spansets and also they will also custom-make sizes if you call and request them. They also were the best price I found for green-rated/black-covered. Unfortunately, the size I actually needed for the studio was not a size they had in stock. And I didn’t know it until I actually rigged it at the studio. I was impatient … I ordered green 4ft ones off of Amazon (Goodness, I’m addicted to Prime!). If you know what size you need you can get away with buying a few spansets. But I like having my options…I bought 8 in four different sizes.
*I called for 4.5′ black-covered spansets and they quoted around $19 each.

Liftall EN60X4 Tuflex sling: Verticle 5300/ chocker 4200/ basket 10600lbs:

  • X2 1 ft green: Sapsis (black) $7.83 each
  • X2 3 ft green: Sapsis (black) $10.17 each
  • X2 4 ft green: Amazon (green) $15.13 each
  • X2 6 ft green: Sapsis (black) $17.20 each

Sapsis (+shipping $14.48) $84.88 + Amazon $30.26 = $115.14

OTHER STUFF

I also bought some athletic tape for the lyra so I can recover it when needed (the gray isn’t my favorite color). I couldn’t decide on a color so I bought black and pink and also gray just in case I wanted touch up the current tape. Maybe I will make a blog when I re-wrap it for the first time.

  • Mueller M-Tape Canister (3 Rolls/Pack) Black (1.5′ x 10 yds) Amazon $11.62
  • Mueller M-Tape Canister (3 Rolls/Pack) Gray (1.5′ x 10 yds) Amazon $11.62
  • Mueller M-Tape Canister (3 Rolls/Pack) Pink (1.5′ x 10 yds) Amazon $11.62
    Total: $34.86

When I finally rigged everything and put the Lyra up in the studio the black coating on the carabiners and swivel rubbed together and makes a creaking noise. I sent an email to Aerial Essentials asking if it was normal and if there was a fix. They recommended using graphite to lubricate it.

  • L-300 Powdered Graphite Lubricant 21.oz: Amazon $6.21

My first jump into owning my own aerial equipment cost me: $504.31

***This is the what I choose to buy & some of my reasons why I chose what I did. It may not be the safest or right choice for you.***

NOTES:

I could have searched and found the hardware cheaper (the black coating costs extra, buying directly from manufacturers costs less) or not bought one carabiner and only bought one set of spansets  …I could have done it for about $360 total (maybe less).

But I’ve already brought my Lyra to a workshop where I needed different size spansets. I also lent some hardware to friends for a NYE performance. Now, I’m going to need the 6-foot spansets for my new outdoor rig (Yep…that will be another blog subject). I am using all the equipment I’ve bought. And have plans to buy more.

This is just the beginning when it comes to aerial equipment. I also need mats. Mats are necessary for aerial safety. Mats are freaking expensive!! (Future blog subject!) Aerial is not cheap. Expect to spend money if you start buying equipment. Plus you still will need to find a safe place to rig it (Future blog subject!). Luckily, I have a few awesome aerial studios that will let me rig from one of their aerial points. Plus, I’m getting a portable aerial rig of my own soon.

lyra

This was my Christmas card on my new hoop and hardware.

Aerial Introduction

I was born to be upside-down. This blog will be about my path to follow my aerial/circus desires. It will be about my practice (aerial hoop, fabric/silks, trapeze), about my health, and anything else that grabs my attention (my dogs, flexibility, weight, handstands, hooping, etc.)

IMG_0174

Gymnastics was my outlet as a kid and through college. It was my passion. My love. I thought I wanted to coach or open my own gym. Then graduation and reality struck. I was hired by a great medical device company and I coached at night. As I moved up in my company I lost the time and energy to coach. I made new friends. They convinced me to try softball, volleyball, and finally kickball. I was the girl who would tumble on and off the field. I’d get bored. I wanted to be upside-down.

Amy Windorski © Tigz Rice Studios 2012

Amy © Tigz Rice Studios 2012

2009 I found hooping. It was fun. It was dance. There was a flow with the hula hoop. And it was tricky! For a few years I immersed myself with the hula hoop. I ended up at a Hooping retreat in the mountains of Colorado. One of the instructors, Spiral, was a circus trained artist. She showed me hooping in a new light. She could handstand like no other and she performed on a hoop in the air. I wanted to do that. I wanted to be upside-down.

I found an aerial studio about 45-50 minutes from my home. I took my first aerial class Sept 2011. I was 34-years old, about 30 lbs overweight and out of shape. It was challenging. I remember more than one class that I left discouraged and in tears. I kept at it because it combined all the things I love: learning new tricks, performing, hard-work, flexibility, and strength. Plus I just wanted to be upside-down.

image

Lately, my situation changed with the studio I’d begun at and I’ve changed studios. I’m currently at crossroads with my training. I’ve gained weight again and have injuries. I’ve made some good (great actually) friends who are opening new studios in my area so I know I have places to train. However, my full-time job has hours that make it difficult for me to get to the studio for regular classes or open gym. I want to train when I can fit it into my schedule. I need to take what I do know and practice it and perfect it and make into routines. I do aerial recreationally but it is what keeps me sane.

My solution has been to start acquiring my own aerial equipment. This blog will be about me finding myself through aerial/circus.