by Quynbi Ada November 18, 2019 13 min read

How to take flight with Portable Aerial Rigs

Have you ever dreamed of having greater independence as an aerial artist, but haven’t made the leap quite yet? Do you aspire to greater heights with the above-ground practice you’ve just discovered, or have grown to love so much? At Uplift Active, we know exactly what that kind of dedication feels like. 

Our goal is to help you fly your aerial dreams. Whether you’re a mistress of the silks, a trapeze master, a gymnastics enthusiast, an aerial yogi approaching nirvana, or a Lyra enthusiast, we have the tools and expertise to assist your discipline. 

In this article, you’ll find helpful information on how to choose and purchase one of the most important pieces of equipment in an aerialist’s career: the portable aerial rig.

Aerial Rig History

Aerial arts are an incredible union between astounding athleticism, art, and physics. Aerial rigging as we know it today emerged from the tradition of nautical rigging, borrowing time-tested truths for an exciting new application.

Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

What is an Aerial Rig

An aerial rig is a free standing structure used to suspend aerial arts equipment, like aerial hoops, aerial straps, aerial silksyoga hammockstrapeze, and much more. Aerial rigs are most often made of strong metals like aluminum, stainless steel, and magnesium alloys, but they also can be made of wood or bamboo.

Aerial rigs are usually either semi-permanent structures (tethered or reinforced to one location), or portable (which can be packed up and moved from one location to another). 

Whether you are just starting out with your aerial yoga practice or if you’re already a seasoned professional, purchasing a new portable aerial rig is almost as big of a thrill as it is to dance in the air. 

One of the biggest benefits of owning a portable aerial rig is that you can take it anywhere, which can save a lot of money in rigging costs over time. Think about it - you can take your aerial rig just about anywhere and have a safe and reliable place to hang aerial equipment! 

But before you make this valuable investment, be sure you have all the information you need to enhance your practice, your studio community, and your dreams.

A Brief History of Aerial Rigging

The first aerial rig originates from the Dues ex Machina, used in ancient Greek and Roman theatres of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. Loosely translated from the Latin as “god from the machine”, the mechanism may have been a first for flying human beings onstage. 

An actor portraying a god or a goddess would appear from the sky via an early crane device, or machene, descending to the awe and delight of the audience. Centuries later, aerial artists are still eliciting that same reaction! The plot device later expanded to encompass any surprising twist that resolves a storyline.

In Shakespeare’s day, it’s likely that sailors were hired to rig the elaborate sets from legendary playhouses like the Globe Theatre. Influenced by their experience sailing the high seas, the wisdom of the water was taken to the air with amazing results.

Like all good ideas, the aerial rig has evolved to arrive at an exciting point in time. The popularity of circus arts has soared in recent years, with more people than ever taking to the air all over the world. Many artists in the modern aerial world may pay homage to the revolutionary concepts that gave rise to our art.

Aerial Rig Benefits

It doesn’t matter if your practice is grounded at home or across the ocean. Having your own rig gives you much greater independence as an aerial artist. If you want to fly virtually anywhere, a portable aerial rig for silks is the best way to go. 

When your practice gets serious (as it does so quickly for many of us!) you'll discover that your rig will pay for itself within just a few uses. For many professional aerialists, the rig will pay for itself in full in a single performance. 

And as a devoted aerial yoga practitioner, think of the money saved on classes and private lessons when you can DIY in the comfort and security of your own home. If you’re a studio owner needing to accommodate extra students or wanting to take a rig to the park for a demo or performance, a portable aerial rig is the best way to go.

There is truly no feeling like the sweet taste of self-sufficiency when it comes to having a rig you can build yourself without the hassle of dealing with someone else’s terms. At Uplift Active, we believe that as long as you are clear on the basis of safety and take good care of your equipment, you can fulfill your airborne dreams with independence and style.

Another perk to having your own rig instead of rigging into an existing space is its main selling point: portability.

People change residencies all the time both for home and business. Say you have gone to all the trouble of doing your homework, checking references, hiring a structural engineer, and then paying that person to install a point or two in your home or commercial building. And then you decide to move. 

Then what? 

Will you leave the overhead point for the next resident's discretion? Do you hope for the best possible scenario in your next location, and then begin the rigging process all over again in your new place? 

To put it lightly, the real estate market can be a challenge for those of us who are passionate about aerial arts. With your own rig, the answer is simple: just take it with you! Owning a rig will transform your practice, career, and/or studio business.

Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

Photo by @aangielicious

How to make an Aerial Rig

The best way to make your own aerial rig is to create a custom truss system. This can allow flexibility to build a rig to fit your unique space and needs. 

However, bear in mind that it can be dangerous to make your own aerial rig and we suggest consulting with a truss expert if you are going down this route! Keep in mind that you will be hanging your life from this apparatus, so you want to make sure it’s been tested thoroughly and made professionally.  

You can play with many classic apparatuses such as low aerial silks, static trapeze, yoga swing, hammock (sling), and aerial hoop (Lyra). Other ideas include aerial net, short conditioning straps, and smaller hanging apparatuses like a tiny hoop. 

Each set up is unique depending on what type of aerial rig that you have. You may require tools to install screws for some models. 

It can be dangerous to set up an aerial rig - there are heavy pieces that can fall, pinch, or injure if not assembled correctly. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions in great detail. The Uplift Active portable rigs assemble with tension pins so there are no tools or hardware required.

How to choose the right type of Aerial Rig

When it comes to aerial rigs, you’ll run across two main styles: the quad or the A-frame, and the tripod. They both can be adjustable or non-adjustable in height and can be set up indoors or outdoors as long as there’s enough room and it’s a suitable environment. Both support a variety of apparatuses, although one will give you more height over the other.

The quad or A-Frame is generally stronger and more stable, as it has more legs to distribute its weight load. It allows for an unobstructed view for your audience members and for you. Its style lends itself to a header bar so that you can take advantage of its full height, instead of sacrificing precious air space overhead to your rig’s connecting point. Some A-Frame aerial rigs for sale can support a pulley system or fly system.

A tripod style aerial rig will tend to be lighter. It’s possible for a single person can set one up on her own. There is a distinct aesthetic appeal that is achieved with a perfect tetrahedron shape. However, the tripod can only handle about 75% of the load that a quad or A-frame can take.

Where to buy an Aerial Rig

Buying an aerial rig is a big investment and an even bigger responsibility. It’s important to get the model that’s just right for you and for anyone else who will use it.

We offer two high-quality, sturdy aerial rigs for sale, each capable of accommodating a number of different apparatuses. They differ slightly in header bar design and accessories. And unlike some aerial rigs for sale, ours are highly portable and very easy to use.

Uplift Active Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

The Height Adjustable Portable Aerial Rig is ideal for portable aerial play, including Aerial Fitness, Low Silks, Aerial Yoga, Static Trapeze, and Aerial Hoop. With its adjustable top bar connectors, you can quickly and easily swap out one apparatus for another to train multiple disciplines in a single session. Simply attach your carabiner/s directly into the top bar. This feature truly makes rigging an absolute breeze.

Made of super-strong and lightweight magnesium alloy, you can pack up and tote your rig to virtually any place your airborne career may take you. Just make sure you know the ceiling height if you’re using it as an indoor aerial rig, and the rig’s footprint (4.4sqm-8.9sqm) for all uses. Its adjustable height stands between 5’ (152 cm) and 11’ (335 cm) when fully extended. 

Weight Capacity for this rig is 600KG, with a safe load at 120KG (265lb user weight) at a 5:1 ratio for regular aerial use. This model is NOT intended for drops, doubles work, or swinging maneuvers.

Equipment included in the Height Adjustable Portable Aerial Rig:

  • Top Bar Cross pipe:  1pcs 1.4meters
  • Expansion Pipe Legs: 4 pcs 1.6meters. (The size in between each height hole: 15cm) 
  • Tension D Bolt: 12 pcs.  
  • Stabilizing belt: 2 pcs (Black)
  • Top Bar Connector Ring: 2 pcs (Silver)
  • Wrench (Figure 7 Shape): 1pcs
  • Triangle Plug: 2pcs
  • Anti-skid silicone pads: 4pcs (Assembled on the bottom of the feet) 
  • 2 Carrying Bags (optional)

    Uplift Active Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

    This rig ships worldwide, with only a few exceptions.

    Our rigs are sold standalone, so if you don’t already own an aerial apparatus, check out our Aerial Silks set or the Yoga Hammock set.

    These portable rigs are simple to set up, take down, and transport virtually anywhere, which means the possibilities are nearly limitless. 

    When you order with Uplift Active, you will also receive access to our expert support team. We are here for each stage in your process as an aerial artist, from answering initial inquiries about silks for beginners to taking orders for replacement parts for your trusty aerial rig.

    If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us today. We are here for you!

    How to Rig Aerial Rigs Safely

    Becoming the proud owner of a shiny new aerial rig is certainly a thrill. But remember that safety always comes first. Follow a few basic rules to maximize safety.  

    • Always adhere to your rig manufacturer’s recommendations. When in doubt, look up your questions or ask a trusted rigger. 
    • Remember that our aerial rigs for sale are not to be used for swinging style work.
    • Never exceed fitness equipment working loads.
    • Never train alone.

      For additional reading material and training resources, check out ETCP rigging educators Delbert Hall and Brett Copes.

      Top 5 Aerial Rig Workouts

      1. The Butterfly Pose + Ankle Inversion

      The Butterfly Pose and Ankle Inversion are two poses that fit perfectly together. They are a beginner-friendly approach to getting up off the floor and upside down. 

      • Begin on the floor with the fabric in front of you.
      • Step into and stand on your hammock. Bring your feet together and lower yourself down with your knees on the outside of the fabric.
      • Then, bring your shoulders in front. Make sure your hammock is around your ankles.
      • To invert, grab the fabric in front of your hips and gently fall forward, adjusting yourself for comfort. Arms can hang or cross each other toward the floor. 
      • Come out of the sequence by reaching behind and pulling yourself back up to the Butterfly.
      • To conclude, stand on the floor and lean back into your hammock to rest and recalibrate to your upright position.

      The Butterfly Pose is a wonderful position to relax, practice meditation and stretch your hips. Inversions can help to elongate and decompress your spine.

      2. Beginner Inverted Aerial Yoga flow

      This simple Inverted Aerial Yoga Flow is for beginner-level aerial yogis but can be enjoyed by those of all levels. 

      • Come to your basic inversion (see above).
      • Clasp your hands behind you and stretch out your chest.
      • Release, then walk your hands in front of you on the floor to extend this stretch.
      • Carefully release one ankle and bring the other down toward the floor in a bent position. Relax here, and then switch sides.
      • Release both ankles, hold on with your hands, and come upright.
      • Find your position as you lean back into your hammock to "reset" your body.

      This mini-sequence is a lovely stretch for the front body. Your chest, torso, and quadriceps will feel the benefits, along with your hips.

      3. The Vampire Pose Tutorial

      The Vampire Pose may sound scary. It's actually a beginner-friendly pose, and the finished posture makes quite an image.

      • Shake any folds from your aerial hammock.
      • Gather 5-6 fistfulls of fabric and sit.
      • Spread the hammock beneath you with a little excess fabric at your feet. When you lay back, the fabric will be at your neck and completely covering your shoulders.
      • Hold on above you, bend your knees, and flip over.
      • Straighten your legs. The fabric will support your shins and your torso will face the floor.
      • To come up, tuck into a ball and come upright.

      This pose is a delicious stretch for the front body and shoulders, and it's great for building strength and trust in yourself!

      4. Aerial Yoga Hammock/ Yoga Swing - Aerial Yoga Gear 

      Poses for the Aerial Yoga Hammock or Yoga Swing are endless. But it needn't be overwhelming. Here are a few beginner-level postures to get you started.

      • Try an assisted Child's Pose by kneeling on the floor behind your hammock. With your hands holding the bottom of the fabric, stretch forward.
      • Take your Warrior Poses into the hammock. From the floor, place your leg through the fabric, resting your knee, and lean forward.
      • Bring your Half-Forward Bend to the air by using the hammock as a support for your leg as you fold.

      Familiar yoga poses take on a new life in the air. Your body and mind will benefit from these new stretches by giving your muscles a gentle stretch and making more space between joints.

      5. Aerial Yoga Tutorial for Back Relief 

      Aerial Yoga Poses for Back Pain Relief can help to ease the physical pressure we carry with us. These beginner/intermediate moves are a great place to start.

      • Try a forward bend assisted by the aerial hammock. Stretch your arms in front of you while holding with your hands.
      • Practice your Downward Dog supported by the aerial hammock at your hips.
      • For Chair Pose, hang on overhead while you come to a seated position.
      • Place the hammock behind your back and lean backward for a gentle backbend.
      • A Single Leg Bend can be accomplished by "dressing" one leg in the opened hammock, then lean forward. Repeat on the opposite side.
      • Come to rest in an inversion to elongate the spine. First, wear the hammock like a backpack. Pull up slightly with the arms, and lean back.
      • After an inversion, practice a gentle lean out to reorient yourself in space!

      Many of us suffer from back pain. But if you have an aerial yoga setup on a portable aerial rig, you can practice these simple exercises to help ease the discomfort. Before you begin, always make sure your aerial apparatus is hung at the correct height, and remember to breathe!

      Uplift Active Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

      Photo by @itsrobynwitha_y

      Aerial Rig FAQs

      Uplift Active customers are highly unique individuals with a sharp eye for detail. Here are some of the questions you ask most often!

      Will it fit in my room/studio/gym/backyard?

      A portable Aerial Rig will fit in your room/studio/gym/backyard if the product description comes within the constraints of your space.

      Can I fit a portable rig in a car?

      Yes, you can fit the Uplift Active portable rigs in a car (sedan or larger). However, other rigs may be larger so be sure to check your measurements in advance!

      Can I bring an aerial rig on an airplane?

      Most airlines will accept oversized cargo, but you will need to check with the specific airline’s baggage rules. Aerial rigs are often considered oversized (and possibly overweight); it doesn’t mean that you can’t bring it, but it may be subject to a surcharge. Each airline handles this differently. 

      How much does a freestanding rig weigh?

      Portable Rigs weigh between 70-200lbs, depending on how big they are. The Uplift Active portable rigs are approximately 70lbs. We caution against any rigs that are lighter than this, because they may be too lightweight to be sturdy to movements.

      How tall does a portable rig need to be for aerial yoga?

      For aerial yoga, you will need a minimum of 8-feet, and even at this rigging point, there will be some limitations on poses available. At lower heights, you can still practice conditioning and low swing poses.

      How tall does a portable rig need to be for aerial silks?

      The height required for aerial silks depends on what you plan to use it for. 10 feet is a good minimum height for aerial silks, but conditioning and some poses can be achieved at lower heights.

      How tall does a portable rig need to be for aerial hoop/lyra?

      For aerial hoop, a portable rig can be used at lower heights but at least 8-10 feet is recommended.

      Can I use a portable rig in my backyard?

      Yes, you can use a portable rig in a backyard, park, festival, or other outdoor setting.

      Can I leave a portable rig outside?

      If you leave a portable rig outside, it will be exposed to the environment and prone to increased wear and tear. We recommend storing inside for longevity.

      What is the best type of aerial rig?

      The best type of aerial rig depends on your needs and what you plan to use it for!

      Can I fit a portable rig in a car?

      Yes, you can fit the Uplift Active portable rigs in a car (sedan or larger). However, other rigs may be larger so be sure to check your measurements in advance!

      Can I use a swing set as an aerial rig?

      Typical swing sets are not tall enough for aerial arts. For aerial yoga, you will need a minimum of 8-feet, and even at this height, there will be some limitations on poses available. 

      Can I bring an aerial rig on an airplane?

      Most airlines accept oversized cargo, but you will need to check with the specific airline’s baggage rules. Aerial rigs are often considered oversized (and possibly overweight); it doesn’t mean that you can’t bring it, but it may be subject to a surcharge. Each airline handles this differently. 

      Will my portable rig move or sway when using it? 

      Yes, a portable rig may move slightly when being used. This is normal and expected - the legs are designed to absorb shock. However, if the top bar or legs remain warped after use when no weight is applied, the rig has been damaged and should not be used; contact the manufacturer for assistance.

      So what are you waiting for!

      So where do you want to take your trusty rig? Will you pack it up and hit the road or will it live in your spare room? Do you plan to fill a raw studio space with a dozen of these beauties or take it out of town for a performance? Wherever your adventures take you, remember to give your trusty rig a name! ;)

      Discovering a passion for aerial arts is a lot like falling in love. But you can forget about all the drama that sometimes goes with an LTR. When the time comes in your career as an aerialist that you are ready for the big time, an aerial rig is your best bet. Find the best aerial rigs for silks, hammock, and aerial hoop right here at Uplift Active. There are installment plans and financing plans available so you don’t have to pay everything upfront.

      Are you ready for your own aerial rig?  Check out the Uplift Active Aerial Rigs today to launch your dream into the air!




      Quynbi Ada
      Quynbi Ada

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