Practising skills you have learnt in lessons, building strength with conditioning exercises and following online tutorials/classes are all things you can do when you have your own equipment.
No Studio, No Problem
There are soo many reasons as to why you may want your own aerial equipment. If you're lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend lessons at a good aerial studio, perfecting lower level moves and completing conditioning exercises between lessons can hugely help your progress! If you're performing you will need your own equipment to perform on and may find that studio lessons don't quite work for you to practise your performances. Or you may find that there just aren't any suitable studios near you. With so much uncertainty around when studios will reopen, if they will need to close again and what lessons will look like going forward, more and more people are choosing alternative places to train. These can include at home, taking a rig to a park, hiring a space or hiring a rigging point in a studio.
Whether you're choosing to train away from a studio temporarily, occasionally or permanently. And if you're training at home, taking your rig to a park or hiring a space to train, you need certain pieces of equipment.
As you're going to be off the ground, upside down and relatively high, the most important requirement for any and all equipment you use is that it needs to be safe! This equipment could quite literally be the difference between life and death, or at least unnecessary injury. Buying cheap from Amazon can be great for some things (I can't be the only one receiving way too many surprise/forgotten about deliveries at the moment!) but aerial equipment that is going to keep you alive is not one of those things. Your rigging is only as strong as the weakest point.
The best place to buy from to guarantee you're buying high quality equipment that is competitively priced, is from a brand that is reputable, trusted and recommended by other aerialists. When I first bought my aerial equipment, my instructor recommended I buy from Firetoys. I have now bought all of my equipment from Firetoys for years and I'm always impressed by the quality of the equipment, the variety of choice, customer service, competitive pricing and speedy shipping!
This is a list of the basic, essential equipment you will need to train aerial hoop and aerial silks away from a studio. I have attached links to the pieces that I personally use and recommend. If you decide to buy from Firetoys, my discount code uniqueaerialists will give you 10% discount!
Getting the correct size and type of hoop for you is important. An aerial hoop is made from metal, usually steel and they come in a variety of sizes. The easiest way to know the correct size is to sit on a chair, measure from the chair to the top of your head and add 10cm. Some people do prefer smaller or bigger hoops than their correct size so if you have a hoop at your aerial school that you really like then it’s a good idea to get the same size. I personally prefer a slightly smaller hoop, mine is 90cm.
You can get different types of hoop, the most common are one point, two point or tabless. Again, the hoop you have lessons on will probably determine which you prefer. The two point hoops are more stable so are generally better for beginners. The one point hoops rotate more so beginners can feel less secure in them. This is very personal though, I learnt on a two point hoop but much prefer a one point hoop so that's usually what I teach my students of all levels on! You can do different moves using the strops on both. A tabless hoop is the most versatile as you can use it either with one strop or two strops.
BONUS when you buy a Firetoys or Prodigy brand aerial hoop from Firetoys, you can receive a free Cork Massage Peanut, simply add it to your order! The Cork Massage Peanut feels so good to use between training sessions! Massage has so many benefits including promoting circulation, aiding flexibility, reducing inflammation and soothing muscle soreness. The peanut shape is perfect for self massage as it sits nicely either side of your spine and the shape makes it easy to control.
The length of silk you need will be double the height of your rigging plus 2 metres, this will give you enough fabric for the rigging and leave some silk on the ground, which is essential for wraps. For example, if your rigging point is 4 metres, you will need 10 metres of silk.
Aerial silks come in varying degrees of stretchiness. High stretch provides more give and bounce when doing drops, but due to the extra stretch it can be difficult to climb so a high stretch silk is suited to more advanced aerialists. Low stretch silks don't have much give in them, which means drops aren't quite as fun but they're easier to climb, low stretch silks are more suited to beginner aerialists. Medium stretch silks are in the middle, they will have some bounce but still be climbable for more beginner aerialists. Again the type of silks you like is personal preference and will depend on what you're used to training on, I train and teach on medium stretch silks.
Silks are also available in different widths and textures. Silks that are wider are less painful when wrapped around feet and other body parts, so are good for beginners first getting used to the feeling of the silks, they can be more difficult for people with smaller hands to hold. Silks that are of shiny material look amazing under stage lights and make slack drops smoother, but they can be more difficult to grip with both hands and in the backs of knees so high sheen silks are generally suitable for more advanced aerialists.
BONUS when you buy a Firetoys or Prodigy brand aerial silk from Firetoys, you can receive a free Cork Massage Peanut, simply add it to your order! The Cork Massage Peanut feels so good to use between training sessions! Massage has so many benefits including promoting circulation, aiding flexibility, reducing inflammation and soothing muscle soreness. The peanut shape is perfect for self massage as it sits nicely either side of your spine and the shape makes it easy to control.
A figure 8 is used to hang your silks, which you will then attach to a carabiner.
You'll need strops to hang an aerial hoop. For a one point hoop you will need one strop, for a two point hoop you will need two strops. You can either choke the strop directly onto the hoop, or attach a carabiner to the tab on the hoop then attach the strop to the carabiner. I choke the strop(s) directly to the hoop as this is more comfortable when doing strop or some top of hoop moves.
These vary in lengths, ideally it’s best if the strop is long enough that you can do moves on the strop and also moves hanging under the hoop. Depending on your ceiling height this is not always possible so pick what moves you prefer to practise to decide the length you need the strop to be.
You can also use a strop around your rigging point to hang the hoop or silks from.
Carabiners can be used to link the hoop or figure 8 to the strop, or the strop to the rigging point, or the strop to a swivel. A strong carabiner is an aerialists best friend and you can never have too many, I find them everywhere!
A swivel is one of my absolute must haves! A swivel is attached between two carabiners and enables to hoop or silks to spin. Being able to spin means you can hold a beautiful move and the audience (or instagram!) can see every angle, this can be the difference between seeing a gorgeous shape and staring at someones crotch! You can play with your music to help create a certain mood and use a lovely slow, flowy spin, or a quick dynamic spin. Using a swivel is really handy when you're trying to get pictures, as someone can turn you to face the right direction, or if you're on your own you can create a slow spin to get a screenshot of every angle. It's also great being able to look in the mirror as you're training!
The best swivels for aerial are lightweight, so it doesn't add too much weight to your rigging. It should be small so it doesn't add too much length to your rigging. It obviously needs to be strong so it won't break while you're up in the air! And it should be well made so it has a smooth spin and won't start juddering or sticking while you're spinning.
The new Prodigy Aerial Swivel is one of the best and won't break the bank! It is small, only adding 7cm to your rigging, lightweight at only 74g and super strong with an MBS of 30kN! The two parts of the body are machined aluminium and the core section and ball bearings are stainless steel, perfect for a smooth spin!
A big, thick crash mat is super important. We often forget that aerial arts can be quite high risk. It only takes a tiny slip of concentration to fall so having a mat underneath you could save you from a broken arm or worse! A 20cm deep crash mat is about the right thickness. A thin pole or yoga mat definitely won’t save your head if you fall. Even with all the safety precautions, accidents can still happen so it’s a good idea to minimise the risk as much a possible.
As aerial hoops are made from metal, it’s very common to tape/wrap the hoop using adhesive tape. This enables you to wear leggings and long sleeved tops when you use the hoop and still be able to grip. Tape provides the hoop with some protection from being scratched. It also comes in all colours so you can have any colour to suit you! Below is a video on how to wrap your aerial hoop. The downside of tape is that it can stick to clothes and can give you lovely friction burns!
I won’t go too much into rigging as there are so many things to consider when rigging safely. If you are hanging your equipment in your house/garage or you're hiring a space, you need to hire a professional to install and weight test whatever you are hanging it from. Alternatively A-frames made specifically for aerial are available. These are great for outdoor training or if you have nowhere to hang the equipment from.
This great guide provides more in depth information on rigging Installing Aerial Equipment At Home
How is your training going at the moment? xx