Welcome to the ‘Meet our instructors’ series – every month we’ll introduce you to each of our instructors so you can get to know them a little better (if you haven’t already).

This month, we’re talking to Maisie who regularly teaches the beginners and improvers aerial hoop classes at the studio. We’ll be finding out a little more about what makes her tick.

So, Maisie, let’s start off with an easy one, how old are you?
I’m 21, 22 in August if you want to buy me a present *hint hint*.

When did you start training in aerial arts?
My first lesson was in October 2016 during my second year at university so that’s nearly 3 years ago now!

What was the first aerial discipline you tried?

My first discipline was aerial hoop. Unlike a lot of aerialists, I don’t have a dance or gymnastics background but I do come from quite an active family. I’ve always played lots of sports but nothing long term so this is the first thing I’ve become dedicated to.

What other aerial skills do you have?
I’m currently training and teaching (beginners) aerial sling. It’s still new to me but I’m enjoying the learning process. I’d definitely like to try other aerial disciplines such as silks in the future.

Which is your favourite aerial art?
Aerial hoop without a doubt! It was my first taste of aerial so I think it will always be my number one. What I love most about aerial hoop is the comfort of knowing where the hoop is at all times in relation to my body. I also love how it’s YOU who has to move around the equipment rather than moving it around yourself like in aerial sling for example.

What other skills do you have?
Ooh, I have a degree in geological science. I’ve always been a keen boulder-er and I belly danced for 3 years…I bet you weren’t expecting that!

How long have you taught at Leeds Aerial Arts?
I taught my first ever beginners course in April 2018 if I remember correctly so I’ve been teaching at Leeds Aerial Arts  for just over a year now- although it feels as though I have always been here!

What made you want to teach?
A regular office job never appealed to me. I couldn’t sit still in an office all day and a strict 9-5 routine doesn’t excite me. I love people and I love aerial hoop so I thought I’d give it a try – turns out I love teaching too.

What’s the best bit of advice you can give a new aerialist?
That’s a good question. I think my advice to all aerialists, new and old is to have fun with it! All through your aerial journey you’ll try tricks you find super hard and your mate might get it first try. You’ll have good days where you nail every new move first time and bad days where you might fall off once or twice. It’s easy to get caught up in a bit of self-depreciation sometimes and it took me a year to learn to pike so keep persevering. Finally, learn to laugh at yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously or compare yourself to others…Do it because you love it.

What’s your hidden talent?
Um…I’ve managed to burn rice more often that I think should be possible?? Oh, I can do pull-ups hanging off just one finger on each hand…I hope that counts.

What’s your favourite thing about Leeds Aerial Arts?
I love that LAA is like a second family to me. There is a max of 12 students per class so everyone gets to know one another really well – students and instructors alike. I love that everyone is so supportive of each other, it’s a super nice environment to train and teach in.

Why should people come along to train with you?
I make classes quite light-hearted and I’m not afraid to make fun of myself. I’m not crazy bendy or insanely strong so I feel like I can relate to my students more without being intimidating. I’d like to think I’m quite good at reading people and adapting my teaching style to the individual. I’m good at giving gentle encouragement to people who need it but that doesn’t work for everyone. Some people work better with a bit of tough love to get them motivated.

How has aerial changed your life?
This is going to sound a bit soppy but aerial really has changed my life! I love learning what cool stuff my body can do and pushing past my limits. It’s made me appreciate myself and my body much more in recent years. Aerial gives me a space to let off steam and a place to get creative. And, probably most importantly, I’ve met some awesome people and made some really good friends. I feel super lucky to have this job!

We also spoke to some of Maisie’s regular students to find out what they think of their lessons. This is what they had to say:

“ All aerial hoop classes are fun, but Maisie takes this to a whole new level. After a long week at work I see Friday nights with Maisie as my playtime, and she is always more than happy to embrace this;  joining in with our (less than good) singalongs, showing us animal-walk warm-ups she teaches in the kids classes, and forever letting us take her off the lesson plan if we have an idea or want to try something we have seen on Instagram. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t working hard or building strength though. I have smashed so many of my aerial goals under Maisie’s wing and she is always there to encourage you, support you and celebrate with you when you nail something. She is more than just a teacher, she is every budding aerialist’s own personal cheerleader!”

“Maisie’s classes are fun! She adapts what we do to fit the people in the class, making sure we can all do something that challenges us enough without being soul-crushing.”

“Maisie is such a great teacher – she knows how to push you (when you are more than capable and just being chicken) and when to build up your confidence to do the harder moves and flows. She is always open to taking suggestions for what we want to do it class and adapting each one so everyone gets the most out of each class. Maisie has endless patience for explaining how to do things in a million different ways until it clicks and suddenly you find yourself doing it! I couldn’t recommend her enough, she has made my experience of aerial and aerial hoop the best it could be!”

I like being taught by Maisie because she’s down to earth and a little kooky. She tries to be creative and allows us to explore our own creativity as well. Just last lesson she was trying to teach us how to do the worm! She has a great sense of fun and that’s good as sometimes I can take myself too seriously.

“Maisie was born to be an instructor – not only is she super strong and talented but she’s welcoming, supportive, encouraging, attentive and she teaches with the perfect balance of pushing you to be the best you can be, without taking the fun out of it, She’s also brilliant at getting you to be creative and no matter what mood you go into one of her classes in, you always come out feeling amazing!”

If you’re thinking of joining Maisie or any of our other instructors for an aerial hoop lesson, you can book your lessons here.