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 a variety of circus arts: aerial silks, lyra (aerial hoop), trapeze, and sling (hammock). 

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.


Our Instructors

Michelle Spurlock

Owner, Aerial Silks Instructor

For the first half 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. In 2010, she tried aerial silks and felt truly powerful for the first time in her life. When she moved Alamance County in 2015 and found there were no aerial schools, she completed her Aerial Silks Teacher Training with AerialCLT. She found she loved teaching aerial arts so much, she gave up her career as a pharmacy professor to follow her passion and opened Upside in 2018.  

Alison Johnson

Aerial Sling & 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.

Alex Imán

Handbalancing, Flexibility, & Contortion

Alex Imán is a contemporary circus artist and coach, specializing in handbalancing, flexibility, and contortion. Alex has worked and trained with a broad range of coaches and sports medicine professionals, including Cirque du Soleil performers, choreographers from MGM Studios and Paramount Pictures, America's Got Talent artists, and more. Alex's teaching style focuses on empowering students to understand the correct technique required for safe and efficient progress towards their goals, as well as the anatomical principles behind the technique. Alex prioritizes creating spaces where all feel welcome, regardless of age, experience, size, gender identity, sexual orientation, or background.

Ashanti Jennings-Gray

Aerial Silks 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 and now spends as much time on the aerial fabric as she can! She is so excited to be part of the phenomenal Upside Aerial instructor family!

Christine McCoy

Aerial Silks Instructor

Christine discovered aerial arts in 2011, right before her 43rd birthday. 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 with Upside since they day they opened and is so happy to now teach there!

Gena DuBose

Lyra Instructor

Aerial arts, specifically Lyra (aerial hoop), has been Gena's passion since 2009. Though she was never a trained dancer, Gena uses her natural athleticism to bring her own style of movement and grace to her artistry. She has performed and taught throughout the East Coast and has traveled all over the country seeking out the best teachers to train with in everything from Pilates and yoga to Aerial Silks and Lyra. Gena is the founding artistic director of SOAR Aerial Dance, a Triangle-based performance company that bridges the gap between contemporary circus and performance art. 


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)