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Security first

Everything about security and equipment you can use.

The main rule you can apply here is always: if you are not sure you can do it, do not do it.

Note, professionals do not consider it safe to rig aerial equipment to the trees.

Moreover, it is highly not recommended for the beginners unless you are together with an experienced aerialist.

Please, read this article before proceeding.

As I cannot resist the temptation of doing aerial dance with nature and consider it beautiful and aesthetically appealing, unlike when on the professional metal constructions, I wrote this article not like a warning but so that to do my best to minimize the risks and give some good advice based on my own experience.

It is up to you to do your own research on specific items from my lists on security and equipment.

For location: check thoroughly that the tree you're going to climb and the branches you're going to use for training are strong and not sick (the latter is more difficult and can hardly be done without cutting the tree itself). If you are not sure, follow the main rule in the beginning.

You can find the trees I used for training, I usually leave detailed instructions on locating those, however, situation with them may change within time.

I'll try to make sure that the information is up to date. If you tried my trees or any other trees, feel free to leave a comment to this post, thus we can share the information.

For aerial hoop, in case of doubts, if the equipment allows you, you can hang the hoop lower for the first time.

When I hang the lyra for the first time, I always do a few dynamic loads or drops, trying to drag the hoop down with all my weight and jump on it up and down using more force than during the dance.

For equipment: Use only reliable certified equipment from the vendors you trust. Better always double triple check the reviews and trustfulness, safety first! You can find more information on equipment I use in this article.

When we are talking about rigging and safety of aerial trainings, if it is the studio or outdoors, there are a few measures we need to take into account.

  • the Breaking load of your equipment (counted in kilonewtons, kN) is provided by the equipment manufacturers. Though it is considered to be the safe maximum load applied to the equipment, in fact, it is a static load. As we are always in the move, we're doing the drops and using the equipment in let's say 'more stressful' conditions, we need to take into account the next factor.

  • The dynamic force you create (kgf - kilograms force). Note that the dynamic force you create when doing aerial, especially, when doing drops is much more than your body weight. For aerial silks it will be more than for the aerial hoop as the dynamic force for the silks drops is stronger. The dynamic force of an avergae professional aerial silks artists would be about 408kgf.

  • We also can use the breaking strength term along with the dynamic force. The minimum breaking strength for each item in aerial rigging should be considered as 10 WLL (Working Load Limit). WLL is provided by the equipment manufacturers. Though it is considered to be the safe maximum load applied to the equipment, in fact, it is a static load. Meaning the minimum breaking strength of every component must be at least 10 times the static weight it has to support. For example, static weight of me plus the hoop would be around 51kg. Therefore, the minimum breaking strength of the each sling, carabiner, swivel along with every other component in the rig, must be at least 510kg. There are a few more rough calculations you can make if you are a fan of numbers, check here.

  • manufacturers also give Safety Factor (SF) to the equipment. That's a widely popular term in multiple spheres. It is a proportion to protect against malfunction of the equipment. Common one is 5:1 or 7:1. Meaning WLL gives you seven times more strength than the breaking load – what it would normally take to break the equipment.

I'd recommend first of all checking the WLL, breaking load and dynamic force.

One kilonewton, 1 kN, is equivalent to 102.0 kgf, or about 100 kg of load under Earth gravity.

For your convenience, you can find the converter of kN (kilo Newton) to kgf (kilogram force) here.

Moreover, it is important to take into account the heights you use: the height between the tree branch and the ground, between the hoop and the ground, silks and the ground.

For choosing silks you can check this article.

Important: when training outside or travelling with the aerial equipment you usually do not use mat/matras like in studio, so, please, take it into account and be careful. Try not to fall.

Lastly, regarding the techniques used to attach the aerial equipment to the tree, I always use the simplest method which I consider the safest both for silks and for the round sling (loop endless sling or 'loopie') when we want to hang the aerial hoop: to tie the knot or the silks, you tie a girth hitch (cow hitch): circle one end of the loop around the object, pass the rest of the loop or the rest of the silks into the loop you created around the object and tighten.

Watch the video for clarity:


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