It all started in 2012 when Circus WOW was without a home for classes and especially the aerials classes. Circus Monoxide was no longer able to offer WOW ‘mates rates’ and their commercial rate was not sustainable for us. The committee started looking for other venues. Gaetane Potard, a member who lived up the northern end of Wollongong, identified the Helensburgh gym as an option. Although quite north it was a good option as others, of our active members, were also located in the northern suburbs or would travel from southern Sydney areas.
There was considerable debate amongst the Circus WOW management committee at the time. A few of the concerns raised included the distance for some Wollongong-based members, the lack of public transport options, the potential for burnout for the training coordinator having to plan classes in Helensburgh while also trying to still have training options for women in central and southern parts of the Illawarra, and available trainers being spread more thinly. Despite these issues, the management committee took the leap to start circus classes in Helensburgh.
Tanya Edgerton was the owner of the Helensburgh gym, but was trying to sell it at the time. She was quite casual about WOW being there. Classes started with some acro and hoops. Then WOW’s management committee made the decision to get an engineering report with the prospect of rigging for aerials. This was completed, the big old building had exposed beams that where perfect for aerials and 3 points were identified. Two silk points and one trapeze. Gaetane very kindly lent us her trapeze, ‘Marcel’ and we were off and back flying!
Wendy Regan became the main trainer, she and Gaetane had plenty of local contacts, so we had new people starting with WOW straight away. We even did kids classes with Corey Pickett as trainer. That class was a big hit! Charlie Truscott also taught some classes. Tanya found a buyer for the gym, an energetic 29 year old named Benjamin Abeleven. The new owner loved what circus bought to the space and encouraged it.
Circus WOW had by now obtained a new venue at Switchfit Gym. More classes were being held there and it was decided by the management committee in 2014 to cease the Helensburgh classes. Charlie saw an opportunity to create another training studio and she and Ben purchased WOW’s equipment and The Burgh Circus was born!
What started out as 2 circus classes, in May 2015, has turned into a program with 50 kid’s classes that include Parkour, Gymnastics, Circus, Aerials, Dance, Drama and Adults Parkour and Aerials. Charlie and Ben, now married with a family are very grateful to Circus WOW for starting circus in Helensburgh all those years ago.
—Ellen de Jong and Charlie Truscott