"I want a silk at home!"

This is something I hear a lot in classes. While I'm SO excited to see others impassioned by circus, the amount of DIY rigging out there can be a dangerous land to navigate. So I'm expanding a post I made in the Cirque Dakota student group into a blog post to explain my thoughts on a home practice.

DISCLAIMER: This is not me calling out anyone in particular. I've had numerous people bring this up over the years, and I decided it was time for a more public statement about my feelings. My students know I preach safety every chance I get.

Real Talk, and not a fun talk time. As circus arts gains popularity in the region, you will hear of more and more people getting their own equipment and setting up their own practice space. I get it. Classes are expensive.

But PLEASE, please, please, do not risk your safety for the sake of a little extra practice time. *Disclaimer: I don't endorse it.*

That said, if you plan to set up a silk, know the load limits of what you are attaching to. That means hiring a structural engineer. The silk itself is not necessarily the dangerous part [although you should order from a supplier that knows their stuff, not just a fabric store or Amazon]...it's whatever you are hanging off or drilling into. We create more force than you realize on the fabrics. Would you hang a car from it? No? Then it's probably not strong enough for an aerial point.

Homes are not built for human loads. Unless you hire an engineer to help design a structurally sound system to support 10x your body weight, you're going to be hard pressed to find an existing residential building that can accommodate a silk. Do NOT just drill an eye-bolt into a stud.

It is often cheaper to get a portable rig in the long run rather than the renovation project that will likely be required for home rigging. (My portable rig was $2500 for reference). That's a small price for your life.

And trees are just a huge no-no. Yes, it's pretty. But it's a living thing, and unless you are an arborist and a rigger, you don't know whether that branch will drop on you. It is not worth the risk. For more on this topic, check out this awesome blog post by Laura Witwer.

Below is an excellent document called "So You Want an Aerial Point at Home." It details more of the load capacity requirements and other things like liability you'll have to consider. (FYI: Aerial points are worse than trampolines regarding home insurance and will often void the entire policy).

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Also check out the Facebook Group Safety in Aerial Arts. It's a good resource if you have questions, but be warned, it's full of safety nazis and rigging experts that will tell you "DON'T DO IT" but you'll also get some helpful advice and reasoning. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but just something to be aware of.

If you are dead set on getting a silk for at home practice, shoot me an email and I'll try to get as much helpful information as I can.

That said, I don't endorse at home training. Even for professionals, but especially for students just learning. We all know how easy it is to get stuck. And if you forget a wrap in a new drop, there aren't eyes on you to alert you to the danger.

I cannot stress this enough: NEVER train alone. Ever. No matter how advanced you are. I always have someone in the gym with me should anything happen.

I say all this not to be a mean control freak, but because I don't want to see anyone hurt. Get a pull up bar at home, and skip the liability. Get some scraps of fabric and hang it over your pull up bar or a playground to work on your grip strength. There are plenty of ways to progress in your training without bringing the house down...literally.

TL;DR: Don't rig at home, but if you do, know what you are hanging off of, do your research, and train safer/smarter.