Amy Chirico is a Born to Fly mentor specializing in business and marketing. She is the owner of AerialCLT, an incredible studio that continues to flourish with high attendance and retention rates. She now operates out of a 10,000 square foot facility as a result of this growth. In this interview, notice that Amy doesn't reference her business accomplishments - she is incredibly humble.
Amy's ability to implement efficient systems, invest in a team of instructors over the long haul, and grow a business from the bottom up makes her a true stand-out in our profession. If you have questions about studio ownership and the business side of the aerial arts, please pick Amy's brain through our mentorship program!
Q: What is your current role in the field (i.e. teacher, studio owner, etc.), and in what city are you based?
I am a studio owner and instructor in Charlotte, NC.
Q: When did you start training in the aerial arts?
I began my aerial training in 2010. My love for movement began in 2006 with my first yoga class.
Q: What motivated you to start aerial training?
Embarrassingly enough, my first exposure to aerial was in Las Vegas when my friend convinced me to go a topless show with them. There was an aerial act on silks and it captivated me, I had never seen or heard of aerial before. When I got back home to Charlotte, I googled and quickly found that aerial classes were already offered in my city - how did I not know this before?! I took my first class and as the story goes, the rest is history.
Q: What keeps you going today?
Today, it is my students that keep me going. I don’t have a tremendous amount of interest in performing anymore (got my fill of it, I don’t believe I’m a performer at heart!), so these days my training is about my love of movement and keeping my teaching content relevant for them so that they are able to take their aerial training wherever they want to go.
Q: How has your teaching evolved from when you first began?
The biggest thing that has changed from when I first began teaching is that now I have a much more complete and well rounded understanding of progressions, how to determine level appropriate skills, what tends to work and what doesn’t work depending on the student I’m working with.
My degree is in music education and I had been teaching music for 7 years when I first started teaching aerial, so I would say my “teaching chops” were already pretty strong. My biggest hurdle was learning how to best teach this new content that is the magical world of aerial arts. Of course I have become more settled in my teaching style since beginning to teach aerial, but that naturally happens no matter the teacher or subject.
Q: What are your primary interests as an instructor/teacher trainer?
Wrap theory really gets me going. The importance of understanding your wrap can’t be overstated! Teaching a student how to understand the skill they are in allows them to become a more independent and self assured aerialist. This empowers students to take charge of their safety in the air no matter if they are in my classroom or a classroom on the other side of the planet.
My eventual goal is to get every one of my students to no longer need me. I can’t keep teaching new trick after trick forever! At some point, it is time for students to leave the nest and find their own voice in the aerial world if they are inclined to do so. All of the wrap theory, progressions and body knowledge I teach in class go to support this goal so that my students are strong, beautiful and safe aerialists who can explore their apparatus with confidence and ultimately give back to the aerial world.
Q: If you could choose just one thing, what would you like for people to know about teaching in the aerial arts?
The greatest investment you can make in yourself as a teacher is in your own education. Make it a priority to learn about healthy body mechanics and anatomy, not about learning all the new and fancy tricks (this can come later). You will be able to take your students so much farther if you understand why and how the body works. Plus you will be able to prevent injury and grow stronger, more flexible students much faster. Think of “the tricks” as secondary. Give your students knowledge of their body first, knowledge of their apparatus second.
To begin your mentorship with Amy, visit her profile on our mentor page.
Our authors include our Master Teacher Trainers as well as Born to Fly™ Certified Teachers.