Located right off I-40 in Burlington, NC (halfway between the Triangle and the Triad), Upside Aerial Arts & Fitness offers group classes, private lessons, parties and performances in aerial silks, lyra (aerial hoop), and pole. 

How We Began

"Up in the Air" is a short documentary created by Elon University students about Upside's owner, Michelle Spurlock, and how aerial arts changed her career and life.

Our Mission

Children are constantly encouraged to climb, dance, play and explore.  But have you ever noticed how this stops when we grow up? Our main option as adults is the gym. Dance classes, playgrounds, and creative body movement classes for adults are difficult to find. At Upside, our mission is to change that. We think adults should be able to climb, dance, play...and fly! And what better place to get our of your comfort zone than one with a strong sense of community: where adults of any age, size, color, fitness background, sexual orientation or gender identity are welcomed and supported.

Michelle 2019 Carousel Festival Monicas
Michelle Spurlock

Owner, Aerial Silks & Yoga Instructor

For much of her life, Michelle suffered from debilitating asthma, preventing almost all physical activity. She became a yoga instructor in 2004, finally having found something that allowed her to breathe and move. When she tried aerial silks in 2010, she felt truly powerful for the first time in her life. But it also opened up a whole new world of creative exploration. When she moved to Alamance County in 2015, there were no aerial schools. She couldn't imagine her life without it! So she completed her Aerial Silks Teacher Training with AerialCLT. She found she loved teaching aerial so much, she gave up her career as a pharmacy professor to follow her passion and opened Upside in 2018. She has studied with Amy Tynan Chirico, Mandy Elledge, Cheetah Platt, Waverly Jones, Molly Graves, Rebekah Leach and Rain Anya.

Ashanti Jennings-Gray

Aerial Silks, Pole & Lyra Instructor

Ashanti began her aerial journey as an Upside student in 2017. A lover of health, movement, and teaching others, Ashanti has been a personal trainer and pole dance instructor since 2015. She has also trained in belly dance, hoop, ballet, and burlesque. After discovering the beauty and challenge of aerial silks, she completed her Aerial Silks Teacher Training with Upside in 2019. She was introduced to lyra during an Upside workshop with Gena DuBose, and she discovered she loved that too! So she completed her Lyra Teacher Training with Gena in 2020. She is so excited to be part of the phenomenal Upside Aerial instructor family!

Kelly McCarthy

Aerial Silks Instructor

Kelly is driven by a desire to share knowledge and develop community. In 2013 she jumped at the chance to try aerial silks having enjoyed watching Cirque Du Soleil as a child. Since then she has spent thousands of hours training as an aerialist and studying aerial movement theory. Her practice and instruction is informed by her previous career as a massage therapist as well as her time as a caregiver. Previously, she was an instructor and studio manager at Triangle Circus Arts. In 2019 she completed the Born to Fly Level 1 Aerial Teacher Training with Constance Palmer. Her primary apparatuses are Aerial Silks & Rope with additional training in low-flying trapeze, lyra, and sling. Kelly specializes in aerial sequencing, act development, and strength development for aerialists.

Alison Trapeze Arlynn Zachary photoshoot
Alison Johnson

Trapeze Instructor

Alison began dancing at age 12 and went on to earn a dual degree in Dance (specializing in Contemporary) and Child & Family Development from the University of GA and a Masters in Public Health from UNC Charlotte. She gained most of her professional dance experience as a main company dancer for Caroline Calouche & Co where she expanded her skill set to include aerial sling, silks, duo trapeze, and partner acrobatics. Her goal is to combine her public health knowledge and passion for the arts and work in arts-integrated public health outreach programming.

Christine 2019 Spring Showcase
Christine McCoy

Yoga, Strength & Cardio, and Aerial Silks Instructor

Christine discovered aerial arts in 2011, right before she turned 43. She immediately fell in love with how it made her stronger and more flexible, but didn’t feel like working out because it was so much fun! Christine completed her Aerial Teacher Training at the New England Center for Circus Arts in 2014 and her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training through Life Power Yoga in 2016. She has been training on aerial silks with Upside since they day they opened! When the studio had to close due to COVID-19, she began teaching online classes for Upside in Yoga and Strength & Cardio. Even though the studio has re-opened, these classes developed a regular following, so Christine continues to teach them! She is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Exercise Science.

Our Instructors


Circus for Change

As part of our mission to cultivate a space where everyone feels welcome and supported, we created a resource page dedicated to challenging social injustice. Check it out:

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Contact Us



2241 Hanford Rd #103

Burlington, NC 27215

(inside Envision Wellness)