It’s no circus to train for the circus

2016-03-29 06:00
Observatory’s Phelelani Ndakrokra’s trains vigorously to be able to perform his Cyr wheel act for the Zip Zap Circus.  PHOTO: Gregor Rohrig

Observatory’s Phelelani Ndakrokra’s trains vigorously to be able to perform his Cyr wheel act for the Zip Zap Circus. PHOTO: Gregor Rohrig

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A warm up jog of 2 km, skipping, jumping, 75 squats, 50 pull-ups, 50 sit-ups and enough push-ups until he can’t feel his arms – and that is only the first hour of Phelelani Ndakrokra’s daily training routine to keep fit at Zip Zap Circus School.

While most people are amazed by impressive circus acts, few realise just how much hard work goes into preparing one’s body to perform so effortlessly.

“Hours are spent training for a couple of minutes in front of the audience,” Phelelani from Observatory says. “The payoff is when you’re in the air for those ten minutes entertaining the crowd. Their gasps of sheer enjoyment and applause make all the bruises, bumps and long hours of training worth it.”

Twenty-year-old Phelelani is one of Zip Zap Circus School’s professional performers and trainers who must be in top condition for the corporate and public shows put on throughout the year.

These shows are a small fundraising tool for the non-profit organisation which teaches circus skills at no cost to children from high risk communities, offering them an opportunity to dare to dream and make their dreams a reality. “Our professionals are a source of inspiration for the youngsters at Zip Zap,” says Brent van Rensburg, co-founder of the Zip Zap Circus School.

Phelelani’s daily warm up is followed by over an hour of intense training on one of his two speciality acts; the Cyr wheel and straps, both of which require extreme upper body strength. “I don’t need to do weights in a gym, I just hang on the straps with my hands above my head, then I pull my body up all the way until my hands are beside my hips – up and down at least ten times,” he says, explaining how he prepares before practicing even more complicated acts.V For more information about the Zip Zap Circus School and when Phelelani will be performing again, visit or call 021 421 8622. Circus enthusiasts can also help the school by making a donation at

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