Safety and Rigging

Annual Third Party Rigging

and Safety Inspection

Date - April 2, 2022 

For more information about our third-party rigger please visit-

http://www.fightorflightent.com

All of our Aerial Instructors have had at least one Rigging training course. The best advice our studio has heard in regards to rigging is... You don't know, what you don't know. Education is key and information is always changing. 

Aerial Points at Home

Now more than ever, aerialists are looking for ways to get our training outside of the studio. Sometimes it’s a great idea and easy to accomplish, but more often than not, your home may not be suitable for an aerial point. Here are some things to ask yourself and look for when thinking of rigging at home. We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, and regularly work with professional aerial riggers and rope access technicians. We encourage you to reach out to us with questions, we want to keep you safe! Disclaimer: Aerial Dance PC, LLC  is not responsible for what you do in your own home. You are taking on all risk and liability by rigging and training at home.

How Much Force Can an Aerialist Generate?

A 100 lb aerialist can generate up to 1,000 lbs of force in a drop on nearly any aerial apparatus. Even if you’re not doing drops, the dynamic forces you create can be substantially more than your body weight. Let’s err on the safe side, and go with the maximum amount of force generated: 1,000 lbs. The ratio of strength needed for aerial rigging and equipment is at least a 5:1, preferably upwards of 8:1 or 10:1. This means your rigging point should be able to hold at least 5,000 lbs of force.

Another way to think about this: would you hang a car from your aerial point? The average car weighs nearly 3,000 lbs. If we want our aerial point to hold at least 5,000 lbs, you should feel comfortable (hypothetically) hanging a car from your aerial point.

Am I Ready to To Rig Aerial Equipment at Home?

Signs you’re NOT ready to rig at home:

  • If you or your child are in a beginning-level class

  • If you or your child have less than 1 year of experience in an apparatus

  • If your instructor hovers around you or your child while you’re practicing skills in class

  • If you or your child struggle to invert by yourself

  • If you or your child cannot remember skills or wraps and need a lot of reminders

  • If you or your child cannot describe the skill or wrap, or why it’s safe

  • If you are not prepared to invest money and time into making your home set up safe

Signs you’re ready to rig at home:

  • If you or your child have at least 1, preferably 2 years or more of experience

  • If your instructor does not hover or spot you or your child heavily through skills

  • If you or your child are frequently asked to demonstrate a skill for the class

  • If you or your child can describe skills or wraps, and what makes them safe

  • You are able to supervise your child whenever they are using the aerial point

Where Would I Hang My Apparatus?

Great rigging points:

Large steel or wooden structural beams. The key word is structural. It’s meant to hold the home or building up and is rated for substantially more forces than the weight of the house itself. Decorative beams are NOT suitable for aerial rigging. Consult the blueprints of your home for structural information. BUT, even if a beam is structural, it may not be able to hold the additional dynamic force of an aerialist. Contact a structural engineer or rigger to have your home evaluated. KEEP IN MIND: the structural components of your home are also holding your home up. Even if it’s structural, it may not be able to safely hold the additional force of an aerialist.

Portable rigs. A great option for aerialists who do not have a safe way of rigging in their existing home, portable aerial rigs are easily taken down and transported and can be set up anywhere with a large enough footprint. Purchase reputable aerial rigs from companies like Circus Gear, which test their rigs and have engineer certifications. Alert: because of the massive demand for aerial rigs and equipment at home, all of the reputable companies are sold out and have waitlists lasting 6 weeks or longer.

Certain concrete ceilings or structures. You’re going to have to contact a structural engineer for this one. 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 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.

NOT suitable rigging points:

Drywall. Drywall has no load capacity, and will instantly blow out when loaded with your body weight.

Ceiling studs. They’re only 2x4s, and are meant to share the load between multiple of them. To hold up your roof/ceiling/floor above, the 2x4s work together to hold that weight. Usually, 8+ studs share the load. A single 2x4 is not strong enough to hold an aerial point. Whether you bolt into a stud or wrap a sling around a stud, it’s not strong enough.

Decorative beams. Unsure if your beam is decorative or structural? If your beam is hollow, very thin, or only partially connected to the wall, it’s decorative and not suitable for an aerial point. Consult your home’s blueprints to help determine this.

Trees. We’ll do a whole blog post on rigging from trees, but it’s nearly impossible to tell if a tree is healthy on the inside without cutting it down. Tree branches snap all the time because of wind or snow load. Would you hang a car from a tree branch? See this article from Fire Toys about rigging from trees.

Pipes. Even thick pipes are not meant to be loaded with an aerialist.

Pull up bars. Pull-up bars are held on only by the door frame or molding, which is likely held on by just a few nails. While it’s okay to do pull-ups right side up on your pull-up bar, do not go upside down. If the molding holding the pull-up bar fails, you don’t want to be falling to the ground head first.

Insurance. Be aware, that having an aerial point at home can void your homeowner's or renters' insurance. If your policy doesn’t include trampolines, it will not cover an aerial point. Be prepared for litigation should your friend or your child’s friend get injured while using your home aerial equipment. Often, your insurance will not be enough if you are sued. Questions to ask yourself:

  • If a guest gets hurt, who is going to pay for the injury?

  • What if your guest doesn’t have medical insurance and gets hurt?

  • What if your guest loses work because of an injury sustained on your home rig?

  • What if your rigging fails while being used by a guest?

  • What if your rigging point is used by an uninvited guest?

  • How do you make sure that a resident of your home isn’t going to get hurt and suffer for hours before they are found?

Cost

Be prepared to invest a substantial amount of money into your home aerial setup. An average, engineer-tested and approved aerial rig costs about $2,000. If you have to retrofit your house to accommodate an aerial point, that will cost at least a few thousand as well. Here are is a list of approximate costs to expect when adding an aerial point to your home:

  • hiring an aerial rigger to inspect for $35+ per hour (this is often a more cost-effective first step, before hiring a structural engineer)

  • hiring a structural engineer to inspect $500+

  • aerial rig $2000+

  • retrofitting your the structure of your home $5000+

  • mat $450+

  • hardware (carabiners, rescue 8s, misc) $100+

  • trapeze $400+

  • rope $400+

  • silks $150+

  • lyra $200+

If you can’t afford an aerial point at home, a much more affordable option is to purchase more training time and lessons at your local studio. Open gym is available for both youth and adult students at Momentum, and is a great way to get help and spotting!

Synopsis

Momentum is not here to tell you what you can and can’t do in your own home. By creating this resource, we’re doing our best to educate our community on the dangers of aerial arts and aerial rigging so you can make educated decisions yourselves. In conclusion, here are our main questions for you:

  1. Do you understand the forces and movement generated by an aerialist? Do you understand the engineering and requirements of aerial points?

  2. Does your instructor feel that you or your child are ready to train on your own at home?

  3. Do you understand skills and wraps, and why do they hold you or your child?

  4. Does your home have a safe way to hang an aerial point, or a space to set up a portable aerial rig?

  5. Do you have an enveloping mat?

  6. Are you prepared to pay for the costs of installing your own aerial point, often $2,500+?

  7. Are you prepared to be sued if someone injures themselves using your aerial point?

  8. Is it worth the risk of your equipment failing and injuring you or your child? Is it worth the risk of you or your child performing a skill wrong and seriously injuring themselves?

We encourage you to reach out to us and ask us your rigging questions! We want to help keep you safe. Getting your own aerial point may not be a good option for you, but we are currently offering home conditioning classes where you can still stay in aerial shape while at home! Please let us know if you have any questions, and let us know how we can help you!

 

Extra Reading and Resources:

So You Want An Aerial Point at Home by Simply Circus

5 Rules of Having An Aerial Rig in Your House by Born to Fly

The Dangers of Rigging In Your Home by Monica’s Danz Studio

Installing Aerial Equipment at Home by Firetoys

Safety Information for Aerial Circus Equipment by Firetoys

So You Want Silks In Your Home by Akrosphere Aerial and Circus Arts