The TRUE Cost of Aerial

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Today I really want to talk about the HIDDEN costs of running aerial classes.

As I prepare for my rigging checks and changes at the Whitstable Sports Centre this week, I recall a Facebook comment a short while ago.

“£13 per session? Who can afford that each week?”

While sadly, the cost will always be prohibitive to some people, how many interested parties actually stop and wonder just what it is they are paying for? And if one class costs £5 when another, seemingly similar, is charging £15, then what is the difference?

Perhaps it would be useful to share just a few things that feed into the true cost of offering private sessions to the paying public.

ITEM (for a 6-week course)DIRECT COSTS
New Aerial Kit£852.53
Hall Hire£112.00
Insurance£63.46
Teachers’ Fees£210.00
TOTAL£1,237.99
Course of 6 people£206.33
Per session£34.39

Now of course, these are only the new DIRECT costs. Nothing has been calculated for the administration, preparation, training, experience, or risk involved. If the tutor is someone brought in, rather than the studio owner/manager, then no fee is allocated to them in this scenario. And yet the course is sold at £15 per session.

Naturally, I would hope that the course is sold to capacity. If it isn’t, then additional risk is incurred by the organiser (me in this instance) to carry the financial burden. The teacher will ALWAYS be paid – when working for me!

Those beady-eyed amongst you will of course note that the investment in equipment should be divided amongst other courses that will use it in the future. So what percentage would you like to change it to? All aerial equipment has a limited life-span. Aerial fabrics for example, usually 300 hours or 3 years. This calculation features only the new equipment, not that which is already in situ such as the systems from which to rig it in the first place.

Let’s now look at another question raised recently: “What is the going rate for aerial teachers atm?” Debate ensued on a private Facebook group, as people shared their experiences of good to bad and shocking.

How do you put a price on your own worth? Are you on the minimum wage? Should anyone with a specialist skill be working at that financial level, on the job they have trained to do? Should everyone who teaches aerial, regardless of their own experience, training and knowledge be paid the same? Personally, I don’t think so. I invest enormously in continuing my own training, investing in myself, so that I will always have more to pass on to my students – and it’s not always in aerial. Rigging; BSL; Disability Access; First Aid; Youth Training etc. are all hugely beneficial. I have no company manager to send me on supported training, although I have been fortunate recently to receive support from the LUTSF and ACE; time to write the applications is of course unfunded, and you are certainly not guaranteed success.

As with all business, there will be an element of supply and demand.

If one teacher will work for £10 per hour, they may remove the possibility for you to charge £20. Do you take the lower fee, begrudgingly? Or do you walk away and say, “No. I am worth more than that,” and await the right opportunity to arise? It has taken me a long time to realise that walking away is not a weakness. It is a strength. Don’t give your hard-earned skills away for nothing. And then choose the projects you want to do. Perhaps the financial reward is lower in some instances, but the social, political, emotional rewards add value in other ways. It’s got to be your choice.

When booking your next aerial (or any other) class, all I would ask is that you consider a few things.

  1. Why do you want to do aerial?
  2. What value will it add to your life?
  3. Do you want to learn and train in an environment that considers safety, access, child-protection, staff support, risk assessment, insurance etc. appropriately?
  4. Do you want to learn and train with someone who has a proven track-record, or with someone who has only attended a few recreational classes themselves?
  5. What is your life worth?

Thank you for reading. Do share your comments and thoughts with me. I’d love to have other people’s perspectives. Are you a tutor? Are you a participant? Are you dreaming of running your own studio one day?

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