Hey! I'm Spencer, and I recently got the chance to live out my dream and train with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.
I wasn't particularly flexible, strong, or coordinated as a kid, so I was always fascinated by stunt performers and gymnasts. Since then, I've tried to become more in tune with my body.
So, when I had the opportunity to actually train with Cirque du Soleil, I knew I couldn't turn it down (even though I was scared that I'd break a bone and embarrass myself in front of everyone).
First up was Mystère, the quintessential Cirque show. The stage was massive, and just standing in front of 1,500 empty seats was enough to intimidate me.
Before learning my first routine, I went backstage to the green room and got fitted for the Spermato costume, one of the show's most iconic characters.
I changed out of my costume and went back to the stage where I was introduced to Dima, my trainer for the aerial straps.
After a quick warmup, Dima showed me some beginner moves. My first goal was to pull my body off the ground and gracefully twirl, but it was much harder than he made it look.
The aerial straps definitely took some time getting used to, but after a while my brain and body started to learn what worked best and how to properly move.
Spinning was the hardest thing for me to learn (but the easiest for me to feel dizzy and nauseated).
It was also a really intense workout, and I knew my body was going to be sore the next day (especially since I was already feeling it, and I had only been practicing for a half hour).
After another costume change, I was ready to try my hand at the Chinese pole act. This one was especially intimidating because there was no safety net to catch me if I fell.
This act involved four metal poles that performers would majestically jump, flip, and slide down. Help.
My first task was simple: just climb the pole. How hard could that be?
Each move was broken down into separate steps where we paused and posed on the poles. It was a true balancing act that tested my flexibility.
Getting into each move was a little strenuous and uncomfortable at first, but then things suddenly clicked for me. Now I was up for anything.
With that said, the absolute hardest part of the routine was trying to hang upside down.
To watch the full Mystère routine and to get a behind-the-scenes look, you can watch our full BuzzFeed video here.
The next show I trained with was R.U.N., basically an on-stage action movie with stunts, fight sequences, and special effects.
I met my two new coaches in the makeup room. They were trying to follow and memorize a 26-page guide to help achieve their character's final looks.
I needed to get into character before learning my first routine, so they handed me the makeup packet and a brush, and I was basically on my own.
I also spoke with the makeup designer, Nathalie, who was in charge of it all. She's worked with Cirque for 25 years and has created every look for the last 25 shows.
I re-grouped with my new trainers, Audrey and Gaetan, who were going to teach me one of the show's fight sequences.
Audrey and Gaetan demonstrated the routine for me, and then we partnered off to go through each step. I immediately realized how bad I was at stage combat. Here's a 30-second compilation of me messing up.
Eric, my coworker, also trained with us. He's a legit actor, so he was totally in his element. I was so envious of him.
After we had the basics down, we performed the fight sequences for R.U.N.'s stunt coordinator, Jean Frenette, so he could give us some last-minute tips.
We were ready for our final battle. For this one, Eric and I had to fight each other. I was 100% stressed.
To watch the full R.U.N. routine and to get a behind-the-scenes look, you can watch our full BuzzFeed video here.
My behind-the-scenes look into these Cirque du Soleil shows was a great reminder that the performers are professionals. Even though they make everything look easy on stage that doesn't mean it's actually easy to do. They practice these skills for several hours every day, and then they perform the live shows on top of that, so comparing myself to them (or anyone else, for that matter), is kind of nonsensical.
Also, it was really cool to see my progress in these challenges being represented as something other than a strict before-and-after photo. For my normal BuzzFeed fitness projects, I focus so much on gaining muscle or losing body fat, but celebrating my progress in other forms (like learning a new skill or routine) was super refreshing and gave me a new perspective on my fitness journey.