Acrobatic aerial silk courses offered at the Aerial Annex of Madjax

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MUNCIE, Ind. – Lindsay Fuller will tell you that starting a small business is terrifying. She should know; she did it three times.

“I’ve always wanted to have something for myself, something that I could be creative with,” Fuller said. “But yeah, it’s still really scary.”

Entrepreneurship is perilous, an act that requires serenity in the face of often unknown risks. A study conducted for Bloomberg estimated that eight in 10 startups fail in their first 18 months.

A suitable metaphor for delving into a new venture might compare the waterfall to a suspension 20 feet above the ground, unsecured and inverted, hanging from what amounts to a sturdy sling. In Fuller’s case, however, this comparison serves better as a job description.

Indeed, since 2019, part of his business acumen includes knowledge of the circus show. In January, after a long delay due to COVID-19, Fuller opened the Aerial Annex at Madjax in downtown Muncie where she offers classes in the acrobatic art of “aerial silks.”

Silk, also known as “aerial contortion,” “aerial fabric,” and a host of other nicknames, is a strength and flexibility routine that resembles an outdoor ballet where practitioners twist and flutter around. of a soft nylon tape.

“It really intrigued me when I saw it… it’s exercise, but you can put your personality into it like dancing,” Fuller said. “But there really was nowhere you could do it locally if that interested you.”

Instructor Sam Copus leads a small group in an aerial silk class at the Aerial Annex in the Muncie Madjax.

In 2019, Fuller was in a unique head space where the idea of ​​enjoying an aerial silk boutique, fitness center was not so foreign. In fact, Fuller and his business partner, Charity Rees, had already found success with a similar venture in 2018. The duo launched Aerial F2F at Anderson, a fitness studio that began offering niche workouts based on cords. elastic bands.

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Fuller, who worked as a nurse for 10 years before becoming a business owner, said the success and expansion of Anderson’s site had “changed his life” and allowed him to foray into the market of Muncie with aerial silks.

“It’s cool what we’re able to provide now… to be able to bring new experiences to places in the state outside of Indianapolis,” Fuller said.

But she said it was likely that no fitness studio would exist without an opportunity that was offered exclusively on stage, in front of a live audience, a place well outside her comfort zone.

To jump

In 2018, Rees and Fuller attended Madison County’s first-ever Pitch Night, an annual ‘Shark Tank’ style competition where potential entrepreneurs present small business ideas to a jury with the goal of receiving a cash prize provided. by Vesuvius Coworking Inc.

“Rees had practiced bungee workouts at a class in Arizona and we had done all of that research, but had no idea what we were going to do with it,” Fuller said. “We found out about Pitch Night through the newspaper and… it was really scary, but we went ahead and submitted our idea.”

Twenty-two shots were counted, six advanced to the final round and, after the duo demonstrated bungee training, Rees and Fuller took home $ 8,000.

“After we won, it was like… OK, now we’ve got to do something about it,” Fuller said. “It helped us take the plunge.”

Pitch Night, almost literally, set the stage for the creation of Aerial F2F, Honey Badger Cafe (Fuller Cafe, reopening May 19) and the Aerial Annex in Muncie.

Students participate in an introductory aerial silks course at the Muncie Aerial Annex.

Fuller said community support has always been the deciding factor in whether she can make those leaps of uncertainty. More critically, she said support continued when the pandemic struck.

“We were just getting started, took a loan of $ 100,000, and then all of our sites had to shut down for two months… with limited capacity after that,” Fuller said. “One of the main reasons we went through these months is that our customers chose to continue paying their membership fees even when they couldn’t enter.”

Fuller said she was close to signing a lease for Madjax’s airline annex when the first COVID-19 quarantines were made official in March 2020. That year, while her silk fitness center air floated in limbo, Fuller honed his skills.

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Fuller, Rees, and other instructors turned and stretched on silks alongside several performances by the Indiana En Point Ballet in Noblesville.

“It was really exciting that they even asked us to do it… it was like we had hit a benchmark,” Fuller said. “It meant a lot that they were willing to trust us to be a part of something they worked so hard on.”

On the other end of the choreography spectrum, Fuller and his team provided halftime entertainment at a Delaware County championship wrestling show.

But Fuller said his biggest performance to date comes on Friday, May 7, during the Eighth Annual Track Rescue Event at the Muncie Civic Theater.

The Aerial Annex team was an easy choice for this year’s circus-themed fashion show, which will raise money for the Muncie Animal Rescue Fund.

“I’m always nervous before shows… I feel like I get more nervous as I get older,” Fuller said. “All you can do is practice, practice, practice, and try not to forget to have fun.”

Fuller said she and other instructors from the Air Annex would perform three- to four-minute routines while adoptable models and dogs strut the runway.

‘A fun way to train’

Remarkably, given his resume, less than two years ago Fuller received the aerial silk instructor certification from the Circus Arts Institute in Atlanta, Georgia.

CAI has been training circus performers since the early 1990s and has shifted some of its efforts to certifying classroom instructors for fitness purposes in recent years.

CAI Founder and Director Carrie Heller said aerial silks are quickly becoming a national exercise phenomenon.

Instructor Sam Copus leads a small group in an aerial silk class at the Aerial Annex in the Muncie Madjax.

“It has exploded in popularity over the past decade,” Heller said.

She said the muscle and flexibility required for aerial silks makes them naturally adaptable as an exercise routine.

“The most important benefit is that it’s a fun way to train,” Heller said. “Flyers are some of the strongest people you will ever meet and getting stronger is a benefit for most, as well as the increased self-esteem that usually can come with success by learning aerial skills.”

But Fuller insists you don’t have to be at Cirque du Soleil, or an athlete for that matter, to participate in a class at The Aerial Annex.

“A few people see something on YouTube and want to try it as high up on the silk as they can get, but our emphasis is on safe progression,” Fuller said. “You don’t have to step more than a foot off the ground to do an aerial silk exercise if you don’t want to.”

Aerial Annex instructor Sam Copus, who started out as a fitness center member at Aerial F2F, has been leading newcomers through the safety and introductory skills lists since January.

“For someone like me who is bored of exercising regularly, this was a great option,” said Copus. “Anyone can do it, and you get the added benefit of being able to eat like a high school kid with all the calories you burn.”

Instructor Sam Copus leads a small group in an aerial silk class at the Aerial Annex in Muncie's Madjax

Copus said the members work at their own pace and level of comfort and are never forced to attempt some of the higher flight maneuvers she and Fuller have practiced as part of their runway rescue routine.

“I’m only afraid of heights when I’m doing things outside of the aerial silks … when I’m playing I’m less afraid of heights and more afraid of what the ground might do to me,” Copus said. . “I guess when you put in the time you feel that confidence and you feel more in control with the silks.”

Copus said anyone interested in taking an introductory aerial silks course can register on the facility’s newly published site, theaerialannex.com.

Fuller, who gave up a steady job to pursue a career in aerobatics, swears she is “not an adrenaline junkie.”

“Three companies are enough, I do not intend to create another one.” Fuller said.

She said she hopes that coming out of the pandemic, she can help develop in Muncie the support system that has kept her afloat in Anderson. So far, Fuller has said she’s happy with the opportunity Madjax has given her.

“Everyone’s been really great,” Fuller said. “It’s a beautiful collaborative space full of creative people and we maybe don’t create art on canvas, but I think it’s an atmosphere that we fit into.”

Jordan Kartholl is a photojournalist at The Star Press. Contact him at 317-217-8681, [email protected] or on Instagram at @thestarpress.



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