Welcome to Get Circus Strong!
I’m Mike Denton. Friends far and wide prefer to call me Mike D.
I am a teacher, coach and strength & conditioning professional dedicated to helping circus artist-athletes of all levels move better and train smarter while they get stronger.
I’m pretty good at making a short story long (which I do here), but this is going to be the short version of the story.
I used to be a flying trapeze artist and instructor working at TSNY in Boston and Washington, DC. And then I hurt my shoulder in a show. As it turned out, that was the end of my flying career.
Before I learned that I would not be flying again, I had hatched a plan to come back stronger and better than ever. To design my comeback plan, I began a quest to learn how the very best athletes in the world train their shoulders for optimal performance.
Over the next several years following my injury, I took on several new responsibilities: I became the go-to guy for TSNY’s flying trapeze curriculum development (I was actually known as the logbook guy). In consultation with lots of people smarter than me (such as Cirque du Soleil’s Performance Science department), I developed the Instructor Training Program and the Instructor Fitness Requirements.
When it became clear to me that I would not be flying again, I decided that I would do everything I could to share what I’ve learned about injury prevention, shoulder health and overall physical performance.
The more I learn, the more apparent it has become that keeping your shoulders healthy requires that you keep your whole body healthy.
And moving well.
Circus arts are amazing and fun. Circus provides opportunities for self-expression and the discovery of new possibilities for each of us. And it all happens with a supportive and oft-times zany community of friends and soon-to-be friends cheering us on along the way.
Circus arts are also exceptionally physically demanding.
If you aren’t taking steps to strengthen your body and make sure you move well, the chances of you getting hurt go up.
But what does it mean to move well?
It means having a good balance of mobility and stability throughout your body.
It means having muscle stiffness and control in the right places and taking care of stiffness that appears in the wrong places.
And that’s what I’m here to help you with.
So where does this stuff come from?
For what it’s worth, I’ve been a teacher and coach for over 20 years. I’m also a pretty big nerd when it comes to athletic performance. In progressive strength and conditioning circles there are some amazingly intelligent people. Inspired by the mantra steal smart people’s stuff (thank you, Mike Boyle), I regularly look to the work of people like Gray Cook, Mike Boyle, Eric Cressey, Mike Reinold, Dave Tilley, Charlie Weingroff, Andreo Spina, Perry Nickleston, and others, along with a healthy dose of current scientific literature to learn everything I can about making everyday circus artist/athletes better.
In case you’re interested…
I’m a member of both American Circus Educators and USA Gymnastics.
I’m a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist with the NSCA and a Certified Functional Strength Coach (through Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning). I’m particularly proud of the CFSC certification because it is becoming increasingly clear to me that I got a truly world-class education from the MBSC team.
Because my shoulder rehab was progressing slower than should
reasonably be expected, I decided to learn more for myself. This lead me to becoming certified in the Functional Movement Screen (Level 1 and 2).
“The FMS is a seven-step screening system with three clearing tests, designed to rank movement patterns basic to the normal function of active people. By screening these patterns, you will be able to identify, rate and rank movement limitations and asymmetries” (Cook, Movement, p. 17).
Essentially, the FMS provides me with tools for assessing the kinds of movement limitations and asymmetries that, when left unchecked, lead to uneven wear on the body and eventually, injury. After recognizing faulty movement patterns, we can use corrective strategies to optimize movement and improve performance.
I took my pursuit of understanding mobility and injury prevention a step further with a certification as a Functional Range Conditioning mobility specialist. The FRC training methodology focuses on:
- Mobility Development,
- Joint Strength and
- Body Control
…which means you get stronger, more resistant to injury and become able to do cooler stuff in the air.
A huge piece of the optimal performance puzzle is nutrition. Performance nutrition is really more accessible than most people think. To help with that, I’m also a Precision Nutrition Certified Coach.
So why this site?
Recreational circus artist-athletes have discovered the joy and magic of circus. It’s a love unlike any other.
And recreational circus artist/athletes are exceptionally prone to injury.
My mission is to change the way we talk about strength and conditioning for circus. Building resilient, injury-resistant, strong bodies is the way forward. This site is my way of sharing what I know so that I can help people get strong. Circus strong.