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+ Circus Arts Fitness

Circus Arts Fitness Training is great for getting in shape and having FUN. I love it! Carrie Heller, Founder and Director, welcomed me into her 1,300 square-foot studio with 18-foot ceilings. The session began with an assessment of my level of strength, and I learned that people of all levels of strength can practice Circus Arts Fitness.

The warm-up was a combination of cardio, Chi Kung (a form of martial arts), joint warm-up and brief muscle warm up. Once we were up-to-speed” we rotated from one piece of equipment to another -trapeze, Spanish web, circus rings, juggling and balance boards - with cardiovascular exercise in between, all spurred on by some great music! The cool down was a relaxing series of stretches and deep breathing.

Before leaving we were given a strength training lesson as well as suggestions for at home workouts. I left Circus Arts Fitness training with a full body workout that left me feeling invigorated, excited, pumped, and looking forward to the next class.

-Allison Wonders Gars, CAI Circus Arts Fitness Student

+ Circus Arts Fitness for Kids

There is a special place in heaven for Circus Arts and their teachers. Rarely have I experienced so much kindness, love, and patience directed toward my children. My kiddos continue to eagerly anticipate circus class every Monday and everyone who works there is a shining example of humanity. I know that sounds hyperbolic but it's sincerely meant. Dude, they even took us to Cirque du Soleil. My children's lives were a little more magical because of it.

Carrie, the Owner, is always thinking about how to best encourage and challenge each of them as individuals. My daughter can't wait for circus camp this summer and my boy is so proud of his expanding tightrope walking and juggling skills.

If you want to experience some seriously groovy and heartwarming kid stuff, take them to circus class. One of these days I'll get around to surrendering to the love myself.

-D. O’Dell, Mother of two CAI Circus Arts Fitness Students


Spending time at the Circus Arts Institute during Winter Learning seminar studies gives our kids a unique opportunity to learn outside the classroom. The activities introduced at Circus Arts Institute help build self-control, self-esteem, communication and interpersonal skills, as well as brain balance - (crossing the midline).

Additionally, many of our students, mainstream occupations do not fit their personal goals/interest/learning styles so exposing our students to non-traditional jobs, like aerialist, is important for them to have confidence that they will be able to find a career that they love.

- Victoria Jones Fairley. M.S., Ed.D

+ Circus Arts Workshops and Trainings

I completed Carrie Heller's inaugural Circus Arts Therapy Training in Summer, 2010. She is a masterful trainer and supportive mentor. The training provided an excellent progression of experiential learning and concrete, specific preparation and feedback. I often refer to the excellent textbook/curriculum materials along with the diverse practical experiences we had. Carrie helped us feel like part of a "team" from day one; each trainee's background was respected and integrated into the learning. Carrie clearly has deep expertise and experience in both social work and training circus arts instructors, and she seamlessly weaves in the complementary expertise of parents, occupational therapists, and other colleagues in this training. Her deep respect for children, parents, and other community members (teachers, therapists, etc) was evident.

She provided concrete steps and skills for ensuring a safe, consistent, fun environment for healthy physical and emotional risk-taking and development. Her careful modeling and debriefing discussion sessions on how to build on the strengths and relationships among all of these folks definitely has enhanced my practice in organizing youth circus performances and supporting others in my area exploring the use of therapeutic and social circus arts. For example, this training prepared and gave me the confidence to respond to a request from my "day job" in violence prevention, and to develop a conference workshop for counselor/advocates on using circus arts in healing and community building. I was even able to collaborate with another former student of Carrie's to co-present this workshop, which received positive reviews, and was the first time I was able to formally bring circus arts into my "other" professional world -- and now my colleagues are asking for more!

In any case, the strides I saw so many of us make during those two weeks at CAT last summer – CAT trainees (myself included), children at the practicum sites, parents – it’s truly awesome to reflect upon, and a testament to Carrie's talent, thoughtfulness, commitment, and generosity in "passing it on." It was an honor to be a part of this program, and I highly recommend it.

-Marci Diamond, Aerialist, Acrobat, Actor 


Carrie Heller’s Circus Arts Therapy Training was one of the best experiences of my life. It combined both my love for the circus arts along with my love for kids and my career in Speech/Language Pathology. Her training gave me innovative and fun techniques to use with the children that I typically come in contact with on my caseload. In addition, her training includes specific behavior strategies to use with children that emphasize positive reinforcement, specific praise, choices, and consequences.

This was such a great resource as I started my career in the school system as a Speech Therapist working with children with various special needs who commonly have difficulties with regulating their behaviors. I recommend this training for anyone who has a passion for children and the arts. It is a wonderful experience no matter what your background is. Thanks Carrie as always for your mentorship and support!

-Brande Guzak, Speech Therapist


Being in the mental health field and working with children is a gift that I have in my life as a Clinical Psychologist. Carrie's training during last summer allowed me to interweave my passion for psychology and the circus arts. Her emphasis on the whole person and the integration of a theoretical background, combined with the intense hands-on opportunities, provides any curious and daring professional a unique experience to learn from one of the most talented and kindest human beings I have met so far. Carrie does not hesitate to give honest feedback during training. At the same time she provides you with the tools that you will need to approach children and adults from a fun, caring and sometimes therapeutic perspective.

Additionally, the way she selects the candidates brings a unique diversity to the table, where in a multidisciplinary setting you get to know different people with on big common love: the circus world.

A week in Atlanta worth every minute of it.

-Christine Gorigoitia, Psy.D.,


Check in with Carrie Heller at the Circus Arts Institute! My time at her Circus Arts Therapy Training Level One was well worth the trip from New York, and the information, friends, and nationwide contacts I got from it will stay with me for a long time. Though 45 hours in one week may seem daunting, by the time it's over you find yourself wishing the training could be longer. Carrie is informative, experienced, and energetic. Her program is organized for people from the two worlds that she has merged: circus arts and clinical social work. This means that people with more circus or more social work experience can sit, learn, spot, work, and laugh together in this one place. CAT helped me to recognize how much teaching experience I already have from working at a New York circus camp and it also gave me new skills/tools including reflecting, engine speeds, and specific lesson plans for beginner classes. All staff members at the CAI are friendly and talented and it was a pleasure to meet them. I greatly enjoyed working with my fellow trainees and I think we all had a great time.

-Jackie Morgen

+ About CAI Founder – Carrie Heller

I have watched Carrie do her magic” with children in individual, small group, and large group settings. The experience she provides is unique. She not only has a high level of ability in dealing with children directly, but she also has the ability to train adults to utilize her techniques to improve their abilities as well as provide new strategies in working with children, teens and adults.

-Allen Hy Rosenthal, D.D.S.

+ Carrie Heller’s Aerial Training Manual

Carrie Heller has worked tirelessly and selflessly to give the entire circus community a gift of practical aerial artistry. I refer to her book all the time to stay safe and review tricks before practice sessions. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to teach or learn static trapeze.

-Kevin O’Keefe Founder Circus Minimus and the American Youth Circus Organization  


Carrie Heller's book, Aerial Circus Training and Safety Manual, is a must-have for any teacher or student of the aerial arts. She has collected, organized and synthesized valuable training information for aerialists. I refer to it frequently when reviewing techniques or putting together new combinations for my low-to-the-floor trapeze classes. All of us in the aerial arts world” have needed this manual for a long time and are indebted to Carrie for finally putting it all together.

-Susan Murphy, Founder of Canopy Studio , Athens, GA


You have before you a safety manual with lifesaving tips on how to spot. Here is a how-to” primer covering all the basic moves and terminology. If you teach aerial work, if you perform or exercise on aerial circus rigging, if you are an aficionado or historian of such activities, this book is for you.

-From the Foreword to The Aerial Circus Training and Safety Manual by Hovey Burgess, Master Circus Teacher and author of Circus Techniques

We have used Carrie Heller’s book as a manual for our Trapeze Teacher Training workshops. The photos have been especially useful, and students and teachers alike greatly appreciate the support this book gives to their work.

-Elsie and Serenity Smith, Nimble Arts/Gemini Trapeze , Vermont

+ Circus Arts Therapy

Carrie Heller's Circus Arts Therapy takes people off the couch and into the circus in an exciting, physical application of therapeutic work that is innovative and effective. Circus is about taking physical risks. Psychological therapy is about taking emotional risks. Carrie's methods work with people who have never done a circus trick and those who can already flip, fly and juggle. I highly recommend Carrie Heller and her unique Circus Arts Therapy program.

-Jessica Hentoff, Artistic/Executive Director, Circus Day Foundation


Carrie has worked with the directors of Camp Winnarainbow since 1991. She designed and implemented our staff-training format, originated our methods of working with challenging campers and children-at-risk, and is the creator of our aerial arts program. Her book, Aerial Circus Training & Safety Manual, is the teaching and training guide for all of our Aerial Teachers and Program Directors. Her training methods are exceptionally effective as she incorporates a combination of experiential techniques as well as more traditional lecture styles of teaching. I can unequivocally recommend Carrie Heller as a trainer.

-Jahanara Romney, Director of Camp Winnarainbow

The benefits of involvement in circus arts to youth in need is well documented… from developing fitness, building self esteem, developing team work and trust, improving communication skills, and engaging in healthy risk taking, to assistance with focus, concentration, brain balancing, and sensory integration… the potential positive impact is impressive. And it is fun! An experience sorely needed by many of our youth. The positive results are cumulative and long lasting.

-Annie Kelahan, LPC, A.T.R., BC

I discovered Carrie’s circus group by accident one day while surfing the web for activities that my twins could both do. At our first class, Carrie identified my son’s challenges within the first 10 minutes. After a long discussion with Carrie and then with my husband, we made the decision to try Circus Arts Therapy (CAT) group class as well as the Circus Arts Social Summer (CASS). Initially just "G" attended group, and then his sister "M" joined him after a year. We had previously tried multiple activities for "G", but they always would deteriorate into a struggle about attending class. I never had to convince either child to attend Circus Arts Therapy (CAT) group class - they were always happy to go see Ms. Carrie! "G" made great strides in his social skills while attending group as well as well as the Circus Arts Social Summer (CASS). The exercises helped him learn how to regulate his engine” whether he was in group, at camp, at home, or at school. "M" enjoyed learning the different circus skills, and both group and camp gave her a safe place to talk about the challenges of having a sibling with special needs. Our experience with therapy at Circus Arts Institute has been outstanding, and I highly recommend it to all families with children struggling with sensory differences. .

-Jennifer, "G" and "M"'s mom


+ Corporate Workshops

I am in advertising sales, and my company held a private event for clients last November. We had an introduction to Circus Arts Fitness, and set up various stations with exercises and other circus-style disciplines. Our guests varied from their 20s to their 40s, and everyone who attended raved about what a unique, fun bonding experience this event was. Michelle and Carrie made planning the event seamless, and their staff was very well-trained and patient (!) with a bunch of folks who have never done this kind of thing before. I’d highly recommend it for any type of teambuilding or corporate entertaining event. We are probably going to do another program with the CAI this year as well.

-Karen Resnick, Time Inc.

I work in a creative field and am constantly looking for new and interesting experiences that will help stretch my thinking. So when I recently participated in a half day team building with the folks at The Circus Arts Institute in Atlanta I knew I had found something unique. There were so many linkages to my work – from the warm-up exercises and juggling that force your left and right brain to work in harmony to the freshness of attempting tricks” on the Trapeze and Spanish Web – not to mention a fantastic workout! I loved it so much that I am now a regular student taking weekly classes. I would recommend it to any group who are looking for an experience that is both a great team building and also has the ability to really stretch your creativity.

-Clodagh Forde, Director Insights, Ideas & Creativity, The Coca-cola Company

+ Special Events

Just wanted to say thanks to your staff for doing an excellent job and creating a challenging, but exciting, atmosphere for my daughter's birthday celebration with the group of six teens. The exercises were all they were talking about for the rest of the day. It was definitely a success.

-Marty S., Happy Dad 

+ Filial Therapy Training

Understanding how to play with children is not a talent that we are all blessed with. My parents usually expected my sisters and me to play with each other. My mother’s and father’s interaction with us included visiting the zoo, museums, amusement parks, the pool, or historical sites, etc. They provided plenty of toys, but they never played” with us. I can see now that playing with my own child is an important part of child development. I really didn’t know that I needed to be more than a loving educator. The self-esteem, self-reliance, self-control and independence that my child is learning through Filial Therapy are priceless, and I am lucky to have taken the Filial Therapy class with Carrie Heller. It has enriched our lives tremendously.



My 14 year old daughter was diagnosed with ADD in second grade and Aspergers the summer after fifth grade. She really struggled with self-advocating skills, she lacked emotional control (both physically and verbally) and had low self-esteem. I turned over a lot of "stones" on the journey to find help. I was desperate to find something that would help her without requiring her to intentionally change or another medication or another evaluation.

Carrie's Filial Therapy class was a life changer! I was able to learn how to change the way I approached issues and how to spend time with her that made our relationship more positive, much stronger and more loving. Learning how to track and empathize taught her that she was understood. I helped put words to her feelings. She realized that I was listening to her and that others will listen to her. This helped her ability to self advocate. Learning to encourage versus praise taught her to be more confident and self-reliant. Carrie taught me how to set limits and avoid power struggles and this helped everyone feel more in control - focusing on behaviors and feelings made the communication more neutral and less personal. The real treat is what "special time" did for both us. She loved being the center of attention in a non-judgmental way - she loved it that I was just present with her and connected - I wasn't helping or correcting or advising or nagging! What a relief for me too!

Outbursts of some sort, used to be daily (at least). We only experience them now maybe one or two times a month and it's much more mild. My daughter is much more loving now and she can calmly explain her issues and respectfully disagree. I was skeptical about whether or not my daughter would benefit from Filial Therapy but I am a believer that a parent of a child of any age would benefit. The greatest thing is just having a greater awareness of our own feelings and ability to communicate with others. I'm still learning and have lots of skills to improve but I know my whole family is benefiting from what I learned from Carrie in FT.

Carrie, I can't thank you enough for the time and the tutoring. You have made such a positive change in our lives!