We are well into Spring and at the beginning of April, which means that we are due for another edition of Aerialist of the Month! This segment features inspiring students and professionals in Edmonton’s circus community and this month we are featuring Firefly student Ruth Broderson. Ruth has been taking classes with Firefly for over a decade and her positive attitude, delicious baked goods, and incredible work ethic have made her a beloved and important member of our community. Ruth is also a Director on our Board and frequently volunteers as stage crew for our shows (she recently did some excellent work helping to make the magic happen at Panache Pt. Deux!).
When she’s n0t keeping the organization running behind the scenes, Ruth is always a pleasure to run into at the studio! Her positivity and kindness radiates to the other students and staff, and she always has an interesting anecdote to tell about something she’s working on or has accomplished in class! Ruth is an inspiration to all of us at the studio, as she is someone who is motivated simply by the will to stay fit and strong, rather than by complicated tricks or “Instagrammable” photos (in fact, we had to take a few circus photos specifically for this blog entry since she didn’t have any!). Go Ruth!
We had the chance to catch up with Ruth and ask her a few questions about her fitness and circus journey, and if she has any advice for people nervous to start theirs:
When and how did you get started at Firefly?
At the beginning of 2006, I saw a tv show where a woman went to a circus class in Halifax to become more fit. I thought that it would be so much fun so I looked into it here and found Firefly. I took a Taste of Circus class, loved it and signed up for the April conditioning class. Unfortunately no one else did and the class was cancelled. I was so disappointed so I talked about it all summer to everyone I knew, hoping to get enough people to sign up that the class would be taught. When I signed up for the fall session, both a choir friend and a golfing friend signed up and now we offer 4 conditioning classes per week. [Editor’s note: these classes are now FULL on a regular basis; Ruth is a real trend-setter!]
Describe your weekly fitness routine, inside and outside of Firefly.
I was not an active person until I was in my 30s. As a child and youth, I was involved with music and acting but never took any dance or gymnastics classes or played on any teams. When my husband wanted to play soccer again, he would go out for a run in the evening. After a few weeks I asked if I could come with him even though, or perhaps because, I was a size 16 at the time. He agreed and since then I have become a runner. In January I ran my 3rd half marathon and actually set a personal record. So now I run 4 to 6 times a week, golf 2 or 3 times a week in the summer and take 2 or 3 Firefly classes a week.
How do you balance fitness with the rest of your life?
If I didn’t have to exercise to be healthy and strong, I wouldn’t but I enjoy wine, cheese and chocolate so I have to move. For me, fitness is less a passion and more a responsibility. I have a family member who suffers from diseases that restrict her ability to exercise. I feel that if I can, I should. She’d do anything to be as healthy as I am but there’s little she can do so I can’t just sit around if I’m able to do more. My other motivation is the future. My 86 year old mother just got back from a month in Phoenix where she walked a mile every morning. If I want to be able to do that when I’m her age, I have to move now.
Do you have any circus goals?
For many Firefly students, the development and performance of a routine is a priority but not for me. I take classes for the development and maintenance of muscle strength. Our classes develop functional strength. We work our upper body and core muscles while on the trapezes and verticals and those are the muscles that keep us from falling on icy sidewalks, help us pick up children, carry groceries and swing golf clubs. As a woman in her 50s, I also have to be aware of calcium loss and bone density decay. The best way to avoid these things is to do weight-bearing activities. I can’t think of a better weight to lift than my own. Besides, I’d get so bored in a gym lifting weights.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get fit and/or start their circus journey?
I would say that if you want to try something, do it. Don’t let shyness or embarrassment at what you can currently do keep you from attempting something new. When I took that first Taste of Circus class, I went by myself but decided before it began that I wanted it to be a positive experience so when someone else did well at an activity, I encouraged and cheered them on. Everyone else joined in the spirit and we all had an amazing time. I’ve continued this practise in all my classes. This is something I love about my conditioning classes. People of all skill and fitness levels can take them. There is always someone in my class that is stronger and can do more than I can but there are also complete beginners and we can all be inspired by each other. I recently shared a class with a student who was challenged by everything she tried but she didn’t get discouraged because she has a goal and told me she is stubborn once she decides on something. I could use a mindset like that sometimes.
Well thanks so much for the peek into your journey and for the great advice Ruth! You are such an amazing asset to Firefly and we are so happy you’ve stuck with us over the years. It looks like you are crushing your goal of staying fit so keep at it and we’ll see you at the studio!