Are you looking to try something completely different? Trying to find a place to get some exercise, have some fun, and learn new skills at the same time? Well, we think we may have found what you've been the place--SANCA--it's The School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts, and we've never seen anything like it in the Seattle area before http://www.sancaseattle.org/. SANCA is a gym for people to come once or visit for years to learn about the flying trapeze, juggling, walking the tightrope, unicycling, climbing fabrics--pretty much if you can imagine it, you can figure out a way to do it at SANCA.
Our Arrival--The Flying Trapeze
We took I-5 to the Georgetown exit to get to SANCA in South Seattle. If you haven't been to Georgetown, it's an industrial area mostly made up of office buildings and warehouses. We followed our directions and after several turns found a giant white tent that read, "SANCA" on the side. We had arrived-- well almost. We headed into the white tent and discovered one big open space where people were practicing the flying trapeze. Students would climb up a 25 foot ladder onto a small platform, grab hold of a suspended bar and take off into the air. The student would then transfer from their bar to another person swinging on a trapeze across from them. When all was said and done, they'd let go, fall, and the net below them would gently cradle their landing.
The red dot in the picture is a woman on the flying trapeze around 25 ft in the air--she will flip and then fall into the net below
What They're All About
"Wow, what an intro to SANCA," we said to each other. We'd been so captivated by the trapeze that we'd forgotten to let anyone know that we had arrived. That's when we learned that this was not main building of SANCA; so we made our way to the gym very close to the tent where we found a small shop, offices, and lockers for people's gear.
This is where we met Jo, the founder of SANCA. She told us that she started taking an adult gymnast class about 10 years ago and she learned the incredible ways she could stay in shape mentally and physically through the circus arts. That's when the Seattle Acrobatic and New Circus Arts was born. SANCA is run as a non-profit organization and they work with people of all ages, skills, and abilities. They encourage families to attend classes together and they've even worked with people who are blind, with paraplegics, and with people who have autism. Basically, if you want to take part, SANCA will help make it happen.
Jo is a nurse practitioner by background and is very dedicated to helping youth all the way to adults stay healthy in fun and enjoyable ways. To give you and idea of SANCA's size, they have nearly 750 students participate in classes every week, and an additional 250 people come for one-time classes like the Flying Trapeze class or the Join the Circus for the Day class each week. A few students will go on to join larger circuses, such as the Montreal National Circus http://www.nationalcircusschool.ca/en/home, but most people who attend classes do it as a hobby, sport, or for exercise.
The SANCA store in the main office of the gym; just a glimpse of what's to come
The day that we were visiting, they were putting on their annual SANCAthon fundraising event to raise money for their youth scholarship fund. The money helps youth from low-income families attend classes at SANCA. These youth have the opportunity to stay in shape, create and reach goals, and learn skills such as patience, persistence, and teamwork. These abilities can be applied to dozens of spheres throughout their lives and help them grow in many ways.
To raise money for the SANCAthon, organizations, such as Children's Hospital, pledge a certain amount of money if the instructors and students of SANCA complete different challenges. One challenge was to perform a marathon's worth of cartwheels--that's 26 miles and 385 yards. Another was to have people climb their 20 foot tall rope the number of feet it would take to get to the top of Mt. Rainier--that's 14, 411 ft. Another challenge was having people do 50 catches of one another on the flying trapeze within two hours. All of these challenges were so captivating to watch.
Find Your Kind of Fun
We were impressed walking around SANCA to see all the different activities that go on there. Maybe you can find a couple here that suit your fancy too:
At SANCA you could climb a rope, juggle, be creative with the fabrics, stand on a globe ball (see the image below), hula hoop, do flips on the trampoline, walk the tightrope...
Just look all the activities you can do at SANCA--we loved how lively it was in the gym
...or you could walk the tight-rope with a hula hoop, do cartwheels, swing on the suspended swing, try out the balance-beam, learn to spin plates, unicycle...
A woman testing her tight-rope abilities by hula hooping on the rope as she walks
...climb onto your partner's shoulders, and do a handstand off of his hands...there's so much more, but the list would become too long if we kept going. The best part is, you don't have to have superpowers to do any of it. Jo made it clear to us that you just need the willingness to try and to keep trying.
Jo and her partner, Chuck, demonstrating the mid-air handstand
When we asked Jo, what this novel experience--at least to newcomers--is like for her week after week she replied, "It feels more like a privilege to get to help people. We have a lot of fun."
What This Means For You
There are many ways to try out SANCA http://www.sancaseattle.org/. Here are a few:
- Try out their Join the Circus for a Day class to see if this is something that grabs your attention
- If you're looking for an adrenaline rush the Flying Trapeze class is for you
- To get more involved and become a regular at SANCA, sign up for one of their on-going classes--their instructors are phenomenal
- If you are looking for a gym for your kids to take classes, this is the place for you--it's affordable and there are dozens of possibilities
Things To Know:
- SANCA is in the Georgetown industrial district of South Seattle
- SANCA is for people of all ages and abilities; they are happy to work with people who have special needs
- Their classes are a great work-out and highly affordable
- They offer scholarships/work-study for youth as well as adults
- You are bound to learn many new skills at the Seattle School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts and have fun learning them
Choose your circus event and get started having fun
What a great way to stay in shape, rain or shine!
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