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FSU - Flying High Circus

As you think about ways to make exercise fun and engaging, how about running away and joining the circus?

The circus once meant sideshows and animal acts — with perhaps indifferent safety and ethical considerations. Today’s circus productions are generally focused on dramatic and other performing arts, a movement that gathered steam in the 1970s. Among the most magnificent of these acts are the remarkable feats of acrobats and aerialists — astonishing audiences from trapeze, ropes, wires, and silks as well as in floor routines that showcase their strength, balance, and grace.

It may come as a surprise to learn that some of this training happens at a state university — the Flying High Circus at Florida State. (There is another collegiate circus program, Gamma Phi Circus, at Illinois State.) The performing Circus is an extracurricular activity, and the students participate in all aspects of training and mounting productions. FSU does offer credit-granting circus classes but no degree in circus arts.

This photo is from a LIFE magazine photo series by Loomis Dean, who visited Circus training in 1952. You can see more photos from Dean’s series at Google’s LIFE Archive. You can see what the Flying High Circus is up to today at its Facebook page.

Circus schools operate around the country, often focusing on aerial acrobatic skills and ranging from after-school programs to professional training associated with specific production companies. Few of us seriously aspire to circus performance, but many metro areas have small schools and studios that give people of all levels an opportunity to practice and grow in acrobatics — something to consider if you’re looking for some fun classes to shake up your exercise routine!

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