An Acrobat’s Guide to Staying Fit Over the Holidays

International acrobat extraordinaire, Julie Cameron, shares her tips for walking the tightrope of fitness and indulgence this Christmas.

Acrobat or no, we’re all familiar with the daring tightrope act of trying to remain fit during the Christmas season. Between celebratory tipples, communal feasts and summer getaways, it can be difficult to find time for exercise.

Acrobat Julie Cameron performs
Acrobat Julie Cameron performs

Internationally renowned acrobat and founder of Couture Air, Julie Cameron, knows better than most what it’s like to stay fit amid an absence of routine. As a former Cirque du Soleil performer, the behind-the-scenes aspect of her performances involved maintaining a high level of athleticism while on the road.

We sat down with Julie to get her professional tips for staying fit and healthy during the silly season.

Can you describe an average day in the life of an acrobat?

Balancing on one arm on a giant revolving mirror ball or hanging 42 feet high on one leg is a pretty normal state for an acrobat. The art of what we do is making it look easy. But, like everyone, we have days where everything seems like an uphill battle. The life of an acrobat on tour with Cirque du Soleil, performing the same show and act 10 times a week, is very different to the life of a freelancer. In order to maintain high-calibre performances at least five days a week involves extensive stretching for contortion and aesthetic, climbing the aerial silks to maintain strength, and doing handstands to maintain balance.

Acrobats perform at The Star Grand Foyer
Acrobats perform at The Star Grand Foyer
Does this routine change much over the Christmas period?

The holiday season for us can be the busiest time of the year. While most are slowing down, we tend to be quite busy with lots of shows around Christmas and New Year. It’s always nice when you see the hard work done in the preparations pay off.

How do you keep fit in the off-season?

Our off-season is around July. It’s a good time to check in with our body and really focus on technique. After working hard all year it’s also important to have a break. Mental strength and courage are so important when performing high in the air, sometimes we don’t realise how important rest is.

What are some tips for staying fit when you are time-poor?

I try to exercise first thing in the morning to get it out of the way. I try not to overcomplicate it. It’s helpful to have a plan and to keep it simple so you don’t waste time. With the warm weather, I take up the opportunity to have a quick jump in the ocean at least three times a week. Planning meals ahead is a big one for me as I would eat chocolate breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could. It’s so hard when there are so many yummy chocolates at this time of year. Over-indulging should be forgiven!

Aerial Acrobatics at The Star Sydney
Aerial Acrobatics at The Star Sydney
Do you have any advice for staying healthy while away from home?

While on holiday, I realised that my body can cope with a few weeks off from doing physical exercise, but I didn’t realise how fundamental stretching is. Finding time to stretch is key! I also try to find a nice spa with a sauna to have a good sweat. Getting rid of toxins always feels great. While on the road I struggled with acne. A good skin routine while travelling is important, and stay away from dairy if you can.

Are there any fitness apps or resources you use?

Yoga has been part of my life for the last five years. My husband and I used to own a few yoga studios in the eastern suburbs. It is so great mentally and physically. I love vinyasa yoga as you have the chance to achieve so much in one class. The class starts slow and builds up to a peak pose, working the entire body. There are so many online platforms now. As a yoga teacher I loved the classes on Glo.

Another satisfying fitness resource is being able to know your heart rate and the distance travelled while exercising. I love the Apple Watch that my parents gifted me. It’s a great Christmas gift idea and can help you set new healthy goals for 2021.

Lunar Performance by aerial acrobats
Lunar Performance by aerial acrobats
As an acrobat, is there any other health or fitness advice you can share?

Be kind to yourself. We all have our ups and downs. Even as finely tuned acrobats we still have our off days. Our bodies change throughout the year, too, and this can be hard when we rely on our body for work – but we are humans, not robots. Being healthy is about balance; it’s about your whole wellbeing, not just the physical aspect.