How hard can it be to hang a length of material from the ceiling? It's basically a set of curtains rigged from a carabiner right? Errr.. no. Whilst it might look like a simple enough operation, there's a bunch of things to consider before you dangle yourself upside down from your living room ceiling.
If the truth be told, we're not advocates of rigging from home. That's not just because we want you all to come to our classes, it's more because there's a bunch of stuff that can go wrong if you're not fully up to speed with how it all works. But if the last 2 years of lockdowns taught us anything, it's that everything is possible from home, so if you're going to do it, you might as well do it safely and properly.
Firstly, we should reiterate that Aerial is dangerous. You know that already, but it never hurts to remind ourselves of the basics every now and again. Rigging your own aerial equipment is equally dangerous unless you've been taught how to do it properly. So please please do not attempt to rig your silks if you have not been shown and have not had your rigging points checked out by a structural engineer or professional rigger.
We're not going to get into setting up aerial points on trees. That's a whole world of pain and a big fat no-no as far as we're concerned. Though I will say that if you want to set the rigging social media forums alight with feedback and comments, just post a delightful picture of yourself posing whilst hanging from a dubious looking tree branch...
Whilst your childhood swing set that's been rusting in the garden for the last 10 years might look like a perfect candidate for some home rigging... please resist the temptation. It's built for swinging and kids to play on. Sure, it might have withstood the aerial antics of a ten year old, but it might not take the same forces now. It just feels like a risk we'd rather not take.
Vaulted ceilings in your super spacious living room? Or a large chunky beam in your ceiling that 'looks like it could take your weight'? These are both possibles. But it's still not as straight forward as all that. Firstly are the beams decorative or structural? Structural beams are designed to take a significant load - usually more than the load of the house itself (and usually what is referred to as a snow load). Decorative beams are... for decoration and are NOT suitable for rigging off.
If you've ascertained that your beams are structural. The next step would be to consult a structural engineer and get them down to take a look. Even structural beams might not be designed to take the dynamic load of an aerialist, and don't forget, if these beams ARE structural, they're also holding your house up. And you wouldn't want for it all to come tumbling down over the head of a Curly Wurly would you?
The physics bit: As a rough guide, static loads are simple, non moving weight calculations. Dynamic loads are forces that are created when the weight moves. We work on the principle that an aerialist can generate a dynamic load of x10 their weight. We also work on the basis of an aerialist weighing around 100kg. You do that maths... but it works out at a dynamic load of around 1 tonne.
But enough of the science lesson. Back to suitable rigging points. If you've got certain concrete ceilings or structures available, these could work, but again, you’re going to have to contact a structural engineer to be 100%. While it’s possible to install a point in concrete, a structural engineer needs to examine the type, density and load capacity of the concrete. Installations will look like deep, glue in or weld in bolts (rated for aerial, of course). This is not a common housing construction method, and not a common rigging method - so proceed with caution.
If you're hellbent on doing aerial at home, the best method that we'd recommend is a home rig. Something that is designed specifically for aerial, and comes with a Certificate of Conformity and some reassuring engineering certifications and paperwork - ideally from a reputable company. Some are pretty pricey, but it turns out you can put a price on your own safety. And this is it.
There's a bunch of suppliers out there who produce home rigs.
We buy a lot of kit from firetoys
. They are safe, reputable and the equipment comes with a certificate of conformity. They are also very lovely people, and have given us a discount code for all you "aerialaddict
" that gives you 10% off your purchases.
If you've got some decent outside space (or live in a warehouse) and are looking for something to train aerial silks, then then Firetoys' Big Rig
is awesome. It's a precision-engineered aluminium rig with three rigging points.
It's designed for two people, and can be easily assembled and disassembled without tools. It can be set up at one of two heights – 5.5m rigging point height or at 4.5m rigging point height. Best of all, it reduces down to fit in the back of (most) estate cars, and can be assembled in 10 minutes - and disassembled in 5 minutes.
Something smaller? Maybe for something like Slings, Aerial Yoga or Aerial hoop? Firetoys also have a smaller rig available. The Prodigy Aerial Yoga Rig (Gen.4)
. At the highest setting, it is approx. 2.9m (9’6”) tall.
Like it's big brother, this can be assembled at varying heights, including one of around 2m, which will be low enough to fit inside any house. With a quick and easy set up time of around 10 mins, it's possible to set this one up on your own - though please never train aerial on your own. That goes without saying.
Other contenders include X-Pole's A frame. It is designed to be a portable aerial rig for Hammocks, Silks, Hoops and Flying Pole. The height is adjustable from 2.45m up to 3.48m in height, and weighs in at around 35kg making it very portable and transportable.
One company we've been fortunate to work with is Circuspex. They designed our rig in our Union St studio, and they also offer a couple of 'off the shelf' aerial products that might fulfil your aerial dreams.
The Home Rig Type B is a tried and tested solution. A steel rig, that is designed for use at home or as a portable training/demonstration rig. assembly requires no tools and can be erected by a single person. The top beam is capable of taking 2 persons on hoop or static trapeze for low level fun and experience.
The rig sits at 3m high and ideal for use in clubs or schools where the need is to experience the aerial equipment at a safe and controlled height.
So there you have it. A brief introduction into how to rig - and mainly how not to rig from home. Whilst it might look simple enough to shimmy up to the room and pop a carabiner through a hook - please don't. It's just not worth it and there's a whole heap to it that isnt immediately obvious. And besides, if we all did that, we'd miss seeing your lovely faces in class. So come on down and let's train safely, and with supervision.