Get Certified as a Circus Arts Leader and Lead Your Own Circus Arts Programs!

Get Certified as a Circus Arts Leader and Lead Your Own Circus Arts Programs!

Circus programs for kids in Nanaimo

Do you want to round out your repertoire with new skills? Do you love working with kids, teaching, and having fun? Are you a school teacher or educator looking to add some new skills to your toolbox?

Learn teachable circus arts and lead your own circus arts programs!

I teach a one-day Circus Arts Leader Certification course, available online or in person in the Nanaimo area, and you’re welcome to join!


The benefits of learning Circus Arts leadership skills

Circus teaches partnership. Through connection and trust, we can create wonderful things together. Circus emphasizes cooperation over competition. Circus arts are non-competitive and require collaboration, trust, and support of each other. When every individual shines, we experience true community.

While learning and leading Circus Arts, you can:

  • Expand your creativity, confidence, perseverance, and gain a positive sense of self while teaching life skills that give you a sense of success and recognition.
  • Promote health and physical literacy through diverse physical activity, motor skills refinement, and safe risk taking.
  • Build trust, collaboration skills, and teamwork by creating nourishing environments in which to challenge fears and develop positive personal relationships.
  • Integrate art into daily life by making it accessible to all.
  • Offer artistic gathering spaces in which to dialogue, dream, create and transform.
  • Engage both the left and right hemispheres of the brain, improving focus and concentration, and improve hand-eye coordination. Circus Arts are great for students with learning difficulties.
  • Reduce stress, express yourself, forget your problems for a while. Feel peace, excitement, and a feeling of flow.

In the Circus Arts Leader Certification course, you’ll gain confidence in your ability to juggle with scarves, balls, clubs, hula hoops, spin poi, diabolo, spinning plates, and so much more.

You’ll be filling your toolbox with lots of games and ideas for creating successful, fun Circus Arts programs. You’ll discover the best sources of equipment and how to build your own, and you’ll take away weekly class plans that you can adapt for different age groups.


The skills you’ll learn in this one-day course

If you’ve seen Cirque du Soleil, you’re probably thinking of these five main categories of circus arts: dance, acrobatics, aerials, manipulation of objects, and clowning (or theater). Let’s talk about the arts that I focus on in this Circus Arts Leader Certification.


Hula-Hoop NanaimoThis is the main category of Circus Arts in this course, the manipulation of objects. Think poi spinning, hula hooping, flower sticks, and juggling a variety of objects like scarves, balls, clubs, and rings. We’ll also do the Chinese yo-yo (diabolo), and plate spinning.

What I love about manipulation in circus arts is that the only limit is your imagination! I’ve seen people manipulate so many different props, and each prop requires unique skills and creativity. Besides the ones listed above, I’ve seen people using hats, cigars boxes, contact juggling, fans, staff, whip, levisticks, ignis pixels, yo-yo, knives, and kendama, to name a few.


We’ll explore balancing: balancing on a unicycle, and the toys that can help you get there, like wheel walkers, balance bikes, balance boards, and slacklines.

Theatre and clowning

So much fun and learning can be gained through theater and clowning! We’ll focus on elements of clowning such as role-playing, improvisation, storytelling, and building characters. To counteract the “scary clown” phenomenon, I often play a superhero. Maybe you’d like to develop your superhero character too! We’ll also explore a variety of games we can do with clowning.

Acrobatics and aerials

This is something that I tell my students right off the bat: If your goal is to learn acrobatics, it’s best if you take gymnastics classes, because it’s much safer to do in a gymnastics school. For aerials, like the trapeze and the rings, you need rigging. So, as a rule, I don’t teach acrobatics.

Once in a while I go to a school that has a small trapeze and I demonstrate some basic skills, but again, if you want to learn aerials, it’s best to find a place that’s suitable and safe.


If you really want to learn dance, I suggest that you go to a dance school. We do some dancing in the course, but more as a way of feeling a character’s emotion, or incorporating movement in games. In this course you’re not specifically learning how to dance.

Playing with fire

This topic will come up as you start leading classes, because people have seen fire juggling and spinning, and they might excitedly ask: “Can we light this on fire?”

What people need to know is that fire props are specialized. Working with fire is pretty technical, and the props are made to handle contact with fuel and fire. People don’t know that, so it’s good to be able to explain it to them.

If you want to learn about fire spinning, you’re welcome to send me a message and we can talk about it, but that’s not the path we’re taking in this Circus Arts Leader Certification.

All the tools in your toolkit

What I like about having such a variety is that you’ll have a lot of ideas and skills to draw from when you’re teaching kids or adults. You might not come to love all of the skills that you learn, but you’ll have learned the basics at least.

Maybe you’ll love hula hooping, but won’t be so keen on poi spinning. That’s okay. You’ll develop your own toolkit and you’ll be pulling your own favourites out of your bag when you’re leading Circus Arts. That’s why every leader is unique!

Don’t feel any pressure to get good at all of these skills. It’s really just the play and learning that we’re going for.

Circus Arts Class Nanaimo

Training your body and mind through play

I’m fascinated by the way the circus arts train our bodies and minds.

When I did my Medical Exercise Specialist certificate, one of the tools that they were recommending for people with shoulder injuries was a rope and ball. Patients would spin the ball at different angles and heights to rehabilitate their shoulders. This blew my mind, because when you spin poi, you also put your arms and shoulders through circular motions at different angles.

I had never suffered from shoulder injuries, and always felt like I had a strong back and shoulders. So I was fascinated to realize that spinning poi might have contributed to that. The same thing can be said for hula hooping: Not only is it fun and entertaining, but it’s really good as a core exercise.

You can say the same thing about so many of the circus arts. I have a friend who’s a psychologist, and she helps clients using eye movement therapy.

She did her Masters thesis on how eye movement patterns are affected by juggling, because if you think about it, in daily life, our eyes are often focused on one thing, or we go from left to right, sometimes moving our eyes up and down a little bit.

But when we juggle, we’re looking up higher, and our eye movements are different from our normal day-to-day movements. I thought that was an interesting concept and exploration to take on.

I’ve heard that in some cultures, jugglers have been seen as people who could help change and cleanse the energy in a space. I really like this idea. When I used to perform at festivals or celebrations, I would deliberately set up a feeling of playfulness and a positive vibe before (and during!) the show.

The Circus Arts Leader Certification course lets you explore and gain skills that have so much benefit for your body, mind, and spirit.

Circus arts really activate different parts of your brain. People might start out saying, “Oh, I can’t do that,” but they will be amazed at what they can do when you lead them through the fun exercises that lead to the circus skills.

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my Circus Arts leadership training.

This certification is recognized by Canfitpro and provides you with 4 CECs for PTS and FIS.

Be sure to check out this blog post too: Play Time! Why Circus Arts Are Appropriate for Everyone

Learn more and register for the Circus Arts leadership training here.

Questions? I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Play Time! Why Circus Arts are Appropriate for Everyone!

Play Time! Why Circus Arts are Appropriate for Everyone!

Play Time! Why Circus Arts are Appropriate for Everyone

“Play is the highest form of research.”
– Albert Einstein

Why Circus? Learn About Circus Arts

Historically, the circus has been a place where anyone and everyone is welcome, and the possibilities of human potential are expanded. The circus comes to town and becomes the central gathering place, a community hub and a source of inspiration. Circus is a gathering of the others.

As a hybrid of art and sport, circus comprises a myriad of disciplines: dance, theatre, acrobatic, rhythm … as a result, it not only includes people of varied skills and abilities, but actually requires this diversity to be whole. When practicing circus arts, trust, coordination and communication skills are experientially developed and risk-taking curiosity is played out in a safe and controlled environment. The non-competitive yet physical nature of the form makes it a unique and beneficial outlet for all ages.

Circus arts are a disciplined form of movement that is equally appealing to people of ALL ages and abilities! This type of training improves spatial awareness, coordination, self-esteem, physical fitness and trust. Working to meet goals is highly satisfying; everyone is part of a creative process when they join together to develop small group acts.

You can learn the basics of circus: beginning tumbling, handstands, juggling, hula-hoop, poi, spinning, diabolo, slackline, balloon sculpting, hand-to-hand, group pyramids, make-up and choreography. Through group activities, children learn the most important aspects of performing: leadership and communication skills.

We live in a culture that encourages us to experience disconnection from our bodies, our instinctual selves, each other and the world around us.

The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that the oldest definition of the verb “to play” is “to pay attention.”

In a state of play, we experience the present moment. What can take many months of meditation to achieve happens instantly in play. We can use this as a roadmap home.
When we play, we are inside our bodies. When we are inside our bodies, we experience connection. Connection is everything. Connection heals.
Circus skills take work; you cannot fake them. They establish habits of discipline, patience and perseverance. Exercise happens naturally in play. Circus is a practice of concentrated play.

The more we concentrate, the more fun we have.

Practicing circus arts increases concentration and a sense of calm by working both hemispheres of our brain. When we focus and center ourselves, we are surprised at how wonderful we can be in our bodies. Circus allows us to suspend judgment and experience gratitude and joy within ourselves.

Circus is a practice of joy, only requiring a desire to play, to push past your self-perceived limits.

What Do We Learn Through Circus Arts?

Circus teaches partnership. Through connection and trust, we can create wonderful things together. Circus emphasizes cooperation over competition. Circus arts are non-competitive and require collaboration, trust and support of each other. When every individual shines, we experience a true community.

  • Expand creativity, confidence, perseverance and a positive sense of self while teaching life skills that lead to experiences of success and recognition.
  • Promote health and physical literacy through diverse physical activity, motor skills refinement and safe risk taking.
  • Develop powerful creative voices rooted in awareness and inclusivity.
  • Build trust, collaboration skills and teamwork, by creating nourishing environments in which to challenge fears and develop positive personal relationships.
  • Integrate art into daily life by making it accessible to all.
  • Offer artistic gathering spaces in which to dialogue, dream, create and transform.

Make sure you check out my Circus Arts Leader Certification, online or live:



What is mindfulness and why should you practice it in your daily life?

What is mindfulness and why should you practice it in your daily life?

Mindfulness is all about existing in the present moment by, letting go of judgements, fears, regrets and expectations. It is the ability to be aware of the present, go beneath the cloud of emotions to clearly see the truth of what is happening.

The untrained mind is often described as the “monkey mind” because it is constantly being distracted, moving from one thought, emotions or bodily sensation to an other. The mind is stuck in the past and or thinking about the future without really paying attention to what is happening right now. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that brings you back to the present moment.

You can start practicing mindfulness by allowing yourself to do nothing. Spend some time alone, sitting quietly and focusing on experiencing the world around you exactly as it is. Embrace emotion, thought or bodily sensations by allowing them to pass by like the weather. Stop trying to control them, just observe with them equanimity, and try not to judge what is happening.

Practicing mindfulness is really useful when you want to lose weight. Why? Because instead of putting food in your body while watching T.V. or some other distraction, you are being fully present to how the food tastes and feels in your body. You can be present within and be aware of whether you are eating because you are hungry or to push down some emotion that is rising up, like sadness or loneliness.

Mindful eating” encourages healthier eating habits, helps you lose weight, and helps us to savour the food we eat. “Eating becomes a succession of moments of mindfulness that might include the sight and smell of the food, the physical sensation of your arm being raised to your mouth, the sound of the food being chewed, the taste of the food, and even the thought, “This food is good.”Mindfulness enables us to make wise choices.”(Source:

  • It helps you sleep better.
  • It makes you a better person, by making us more compassionate
  • It helps us even when we’re not actively practicing it.
  • It changes the brain and may be protective against mental illness.
  • It could help people with arthritis to better handle stress and fatigue.
  • It can make your grades better;
  • It helps us to tune out distractions, improve our memory and attention skills
  • It increases density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy.
  • It lowers the stress hormone cortisol
  • It boost our immune system and ability to fight off illness
  • It is good for our moods, increase positive emotions
  • It is reduces depression, anger and hostility

The cultivation of mindfulness has roots in Buddhism, but most religions include some type of prayer or meditation technique that helps shift your thoughts away from your usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life. Mindfulness practice involves accepting whatever arises in your awareness at each moment. It involves being kind and forgiving toward yourself.” (Source:

One of the best anchors to help you come back to the present moment is your breath. Where ever you are, pause, and take a fews deep mindful breaths. And remember, a thousand miles journey starts one breath at a time!

What to eat before and after a workout? Eating right food right time

What to eat before and after a workout? Eating right food right time

What Do I Eat Before And After A Workout?

Most people tend to have the same questions when it comes to diet and exercise, and specifically when it comes to diets and workout:

  1. How can I lose fat and weight?
  2. How can I tone my body?
  3. How can I have more energy throughout the day?
  4. What should I eat before and after a workout?

Eat The Right Food At the Right Time

The topic of this post will be about eating the right food at the right time. Eating properly before and after a workout is essential for burning calories from fat, keeping your energy up, building lean muscle and speeding recovery so you can train again. There are many opinions as to what you can eat before, during and after your workouts. It’s important to realize that these are general guidelines. We all have different digestive systems and it also depends on what kind of workout you’re doing and how long your workout is. Know that what you put in your body (nutrition) is as important as what you do with your body (exercise). This post is about food, but let’s not forget the importance of staying hydrated properly during the day. Make sure you keep your body hydrated with water.

The Importance of Eating Before Your Workout

Some people believe that working out on an empty stomach can burn more fat; research shows the body burns the same amount of fat whether you eat before or not. However, you can actually cause muscle loss if you regularly work out on an empty stomach. Here’s why:

When you’re hungry, your body goes into survival mode and draws protein from muscle instead of from your kidneys and liver, where the body normally looks for protein. When this happens, you lose muscle mass, which can ultimately slow your metabolism and make it harder for you to lose weight. Plus, if you exercise on an empty stomach, you’re not giving yourself the fuel you need to power through an intense training session. Not giving proper fuel to your body before a workout is like ‘driving a car on empty.’ You also might not have enough energy to maximize your workout and you limit your ability to burn calories.

What to Eat Before Your Workout

The best pre-workout food contains some form of complex carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates are digested faster than fat or protein, and this is important, as eating too much fat or protein or even a large-carb meal within two hours before a workout will drive blood flow to the stomach, not the muscles. Carbohydrates are rapidly used up during a workout, leaving fat as the fuel the body will burn once the workout gets started. Avoid saturated fats and even a lot of healthy protein — because these types of fuels digest slower in your stomach and take away oxygen and energy-delivering blood from your muscles. The key is to consume easily digested carbohydrates, so you don’t feel sluggish. Here are some of my favorite snacks to keep me energized during my workout without weighing me down.

  • Banana with almond butter (2 tablespoons)
  • Multi-grain crackers (10) with hummus (3 tablespoons)
  • Apple and walnuts (1/4 cup)

The Importance of Eating After Your Workout

During exercise, your body uses the fuel stored in your muscles known as glycogen for energy. After workout, your muscles are depleted of their glycogen stores and broken down. Eating (or drinking) something that combines protein and carbohydrates 30 minutes to an hour after your workout refills energy stores, builds and repairs your muscles that were broken down, and helps keep your metabolism burning strong. Research shows that your body’s ability to refill muscle stores decreases by 50 percent if you wait to eat just two hours after your workout compared to eating right away after your workout.
H3 – What to Eat After Your Workout
According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine, consuming protein and a little carbohydrate is best immediately after exercise. Here are the foods I eat after my training sessions to help speed up recovery, maximize exercise benefits, and help maintain lean muscle to aid in weight loss.

  • Protein shake made with half of a banana, one scoop of protein powder, almond milk, and hemp seeds (excellent protein source)
  • Salad with roasted chickpeas (1/2 cup), light olive oil, and vinegar
  • Sautéed or steamed vegetables (1 cup) with non-GMO tofu (1/2 cup)
  • Quinoa bowl (1 cup) with blackberries (1 cup) and pecans (1/4 cup)
  • Sprouted multi-grain bread (2 slices) with raw peanut butter (2 tablespoons) and honey
  • Burrito with beans (1/2 cup), brown rice (1/2 cup), guacamole (2 tablespoons), and salsa
  • A quarter cup of sliced grapes mixed into half a cup of cottage cheese
  • A quarter cup of blueberries mixed with half a cup of yogurt
Inspiration Person: Caity Howell losing 80 lbs and becoming Personal Trainer

Inspiration Person: Caity Howell losing 80 lbs and becoming Personal Trainer

Why do I want to feature an inspirational person in my newsletter?

I want to feature people like Caity who have crossed my path and touched my life, inspiring me toward greatness. Too many of us fail to see greatness in ourselves. Somehow, it doesn’t seem to matter what we have achieved; we often need others to point out to us how we excel. People display “greatness” by their attitude, their lifestyle, their choices, their actions… I want to recognize the people in my life who lead by example.

How did I meet Caity?

I’ve meet Caity when I went to the Can Fit pro-convention in Vancouver in November 2015. We travelled together and shared stories. I went back to the same convention this year, as I was sitting on the ferry I noticed her, she was sitting in the row next to me. We reconnected, shared the travel time together again. Caity is a nurse and teaches group fitness classes part time at VI fitness. She is inspiring with her commitment to exercise, health and fitness. She has been on the road to transform herself and has lost so much weight. Enjoy reading.

What motivates you to exercise?

Knowing how great and strong I’m going to feel once I start. Even on days that I really don’t feel like exercising, it just becomes that thing you do, like eating breakfast or brushing your teeth, and you feel like something is missing when you don’t do it… Sometimes I just need to remind myself how happy I’ll be and how good I’ll feel, and it usually works.

What activity/workout do you prefer?

I love doing any kind of exercise with friends, I’m very competitive and I love having someone next to me to make me push harder. But I also love getting into the zone and lifting some heavy weights on my own.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Losing 80 lbs and completely changing my life from lazy and unhealthy to fit and motivated and becoming a personal trainer! Then going through a divorce, new relationship, gaining weight, and eventually finding balance between healthy body and healthy mind.

What is your superpower?

Picking up heavy things then putting them back down again! Oh, and being such an awesome motivating trainer/fitness instructor/teacher!

What is your favourite cheat treat?

SUSHI!!! Or anything with chocolate

What is your favourite dish/recipe?

I dunno… Everything? I just like food

What are your goals and dreams?

I am currently considering working towards the goal of competing in a bikini/fitness/figure competition. I’ve been building this muscle for so many years now, it’s about time to shred down and uncover it all!

Advice for a newbie?

Find something you love to do, and it no longer feels like work, it’s just something that you enjoy. And surround yourself with like-minded people!! Support is so important.

Inspirational Person: Tricia Klein from overweight to Obstacle Course race

Inspirational Person: Tricia Klein from overweight to Obstacle Course race

Why do I want to feature an inspirational person in my newsletter?

I want to feature people like Tricia who have crossed my path and touched my life, inspiring me toward greatness. Too many of us fail to see greatness in ourselves. Somehow, it doesn’t seem to matter what we have achieved; we often need others to point out to us how we excel. People display “greatness” by their attitude, their lifestyle, their choices, their actions… I want to recognize the people in my life who lead by example.

How did I meet Tricia?

I’ve met Tricia during the Can fit pro-conference at the beginning of December 2016 in Vancouver. I took a partner movement workshop and she was my partner for the full hour of the workshop. I am so glad we connected because we had lots to share. She was recovering from a surgery and I was recovering from the accident I’ve been in. We were perfect partners for each other, lol. I had noticed her Vancity obstacle course race tank top and was totally intrigued by it. We shared some stories and thought that she would have some inspirational story to share with others. She is a great role model to everyone. Enjoy reading.

What motivates you to exercise?

In elementary and high school I was the overweight/obese kid. When I started junior high I had no interest in participating in PE and as such manipulated my mother and my doctor in to writing me notes to say I couldn’t run so I couldn’t participate. In fairness I had torn ankle ligaments when I was 11 that were never rehabbed properly but that should not have completely stopped me from participating, particularly by the time I hit the age of 14. Subsequently I was kicked out of PE in grade 9 near the end of the year, during the small games unit, which was a unit that actually interested me. I was an honor student otherwise, so being kicked out of class didn’t sit well for me. This motivated me to do something about my health and fitness (at 14).

Not long after being kicked out of PE, I began to go to a local gym and started training to try and get in to the Military. Although I didn’t fully join the military I did train myself just enough to pass the fitness test. I taught myself how to exercise through observation. Back then Personal trainers weren’t a thing, you joined a gym, and they gave you a circuit and sent you on your way. I fell in love with being at the gym. So for me my drive to exercise began by failure.

These days I recognize the need to exercise for my own mental stability, if I’m unable to get in some form of training due to life my mood drops. And this is easier said than done, I’m a mom to a crazy 3.5 year old boy, have a full time job, partner and also personal train and teach group fitness. For this reason I try to set goals throughout the year of what my main focus is so I can capitalize on my time when I have it.

What activity/workout do you prefer?

I honestly am one of those people that love all activity, but my big thing right now is Obstacle course racing. I found it in 2012, had a brief time out when I had my son in 2013 (now 3.5) and now I’m a full on OCR addict (I train for it, travel for it and coach it). The beauty of OCR is it requires you to train your body in so many different ways, through trail running or hiking, playground fun, strength days in the gym, crazy interval training days with burpees (I really do like burpees), flexibility and mobility. I truly do believe that OCR athletes are some of the fittest (and nicest) people you will find.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Wow now that is a tough one. Over the last few years I have really seen a huge jump in my fitness level and have accomplished things I couldn’t even do as a kid. There are 2 things that stand out for me at the moment.

The first is when I finally got my first hand stand, and then when it escalated to be able to step in to a handstand. Like I said I was a big kid, I couldn’t do monkey bars, handstands, forward or backward rolls as a kid. So a couple of years ago I began taking a gymnastics class that was held at my gym, and after months and months or trying and many tears I finally got my first handstand. It’s now something you’ll find me doing regularly at the beach, in the gym or at local parks when out playing with my son. My goal now that I can do it, is to not lose it.

Second, due to injuries I never thought I would be able to run, particularly nothing longer than 5k, in fact I’ve had medical professionals try to tell me I wasn’t built for running. I’ve since completed 2 half marathons, 2 Spartan Beasts (25 plus km) plus about 30 other obstacle course races and other smaller road and trail races. My most recent race in Seattle has been probably my biggest accomplishment and most emotional. I had taken the year off of intense run training due to injuries to focus on obstacle technique. I recognized my fitness/cardio was struggling so with one month left before my final race of the season, I took that month to really kick my butt in gear prior to an upcoming race. My goal at this race was to qualify for the Obstacle Course Race World Championships. I chose to race in the open division which only had a window of top 5 in your age group to qualify. Well not only did I hit top 3 in my age group, but I was 11th place out of 168 people. So from being the kid who got kicked out of PE to almost placing top 10, that’s amazing!!! And something I’m still struggling to believe. When I crossed that finish line I burst in to tears, I had no idea at the time how well I had placed but I knew for me I had just raced my best race ever. Later as the results came in, and the accolades from my coach and friends started to flow my tears kept flowing. I did it!!! I had broken my own personal stereotype of being the fat kid who couldn’t run.

What is your superpower?

Vibe readerJ I tend to read people really well. This translates in to having a very strong ability to teach and educate naturally without me being aware I’m doing it. Apparently I’m very clear and easy to understand. (these are comments from clients and those people that I train along side with).

What is your favourite cheat treat?

Chili lime chicken is an absolute favourite, plus yam fries with chipotle dip (home made with veggeanise)

What is your favourite dish/recipe?

I’m generally gluten free/dairy free so when I’m really splurging it will be pizza, I LOVE PIZZA!!! And beer J

What are your goals and dreams?

This year I’m qualified to run in the Obstacle course race world championships so my first goal is to get my grip and upperbody strength up to hopefully keep my band (you are given a band at the start of the race, if you can’t complete an obstacle you lose the band. You still earn a medal upon completion but the big deal is keeping your band).

Otherwise I’m just venturing back in to the fitness industry on a work level, a lifelong dream would be to run my own training facility.

Advice for a newbie?

Find something that you enjoy! There are so many different activities out there, don’t get roped in to signing up for something that you won’t find fun, you just won’t do it. On top of that, find a like-minded friend or a trainer that can help you get started.

“I was honored to have been asked by Veronique Rioux to be apart of her inspirational people blog. I met Veronique through a partner workshop at the Canfit pro conference this year and was blown away by her energy. For those on the island (Nanaimo area) be sure to check out her classes, if I was local I would 100% be attending all the various things she has to offer.

And for those that dont know me that well. Here is a bit of background of where I came from with regards to my health and fitness, where I’ve gotten to so far and some goals for this year.”