To be fit enough to be shot out of a cannon, many would imagine the need to spend hours in the gym and have a diet closely controlled in terms of calories, protein and other nutrients.
But circus member Skyler Miser, from one of America’s few “canyon flyer” families, revealed that the preparation is actually less strenuous than people think.
The 20-year-old doesn’t spend many hours in the gym and, when she visits occasionally, she performs only low-impact movements, such as squats, to build strength in her legs.
More important to her, she told DailyMail.com, is yoga, which Miser practices for 30 minutes a day to improve her flexibility and avoid injuries when shooting a cannon.
As for diet, he said he just tries to “eat healthy” and consumes “a lot of protein shakes.”
The image above shows Skyler Miser, 20, from Indiana, preparing to be fired from a rocket (shown in orange).
Miser has been working in the circus since he was 18, following in the footsteps of his parents, who are also ‘human cannonballs’.
The 20-year-old is a star of the Ringling Bros Circus, a show that travels across the United States performing acrobatics. She acts as the “human cannonball”, where she is shot from a giant cannon during her act.
To do this, he climbs into an eight-foot cannon and, amidst the sound of a drum roll and shouts from the public, uses a ‘secret mechanism’ to launch himself out of the device.
Miser said it flies from 0 to 50 mph in less than half a second, shooting up to 35 feet into the air (as high as a three-story building) and traveling more than 110 feet before landing on a giant airbag.
As he soars, keeping his body tense, he also does stunts like cartwheels to further impress the audience.
She told DailyMail.com: ‘It’s a bit stressful. You only have one chance to do it right.
And he added: ‘(Blowing up a cannon) is like being on a roller coaster. (That’s) how I describe it to people.
‘(But) you have to make sure you’re very tight as you take off.
“It’s hard to describe unless someone has done it before.”
Before he could perform in the big show, he trained for months to learn how to be a human cannonball with his parents, who are also professional cannonball pilots.
They taught her the best stretches and yoga poses to do, including pigeon pose, low lunge, and bridge pose that activate the hip flexors.
This is important for acrobats because it strengthens their muscles (which are involved in almost all movements) and increases their flexibility, which helps minimize the risk of injury.
They also taught him the best way to hold his body after being thrown from the cannon – always straight and flexed – to avoid injury.
He also learned from his mother to meditate for five minutes right before his performance to “calm my nerves.”
She said: “You only get one chance, literally, because you can’t just jump back in and fly out.”
“So you really need to make sure you’re well prepared to have the opportunity to shine.”
Her entire act is performed without any safety equipment, such as helmets, shoulder pads or mouth guards, which Miser said would slow her down.
Despite his high-flying stunts, he only suffered minor injuries, including some blows to the nose.
Doctors have asked her to wear a nose guard, but she continues to refuse.
His father, who is also ejected from a rocket, has suffered more serious injuries, breaking at least 18 bones during the two decades he has performed due to bad landings after being shot by the cannon.
Before his routine, Miser said he warms up by dancing with the other performers at the show’s opening.
Then he runs for a few minutes and stretches to prepare for his act.
Warm-ups are important because they increase blood flow to the muscles and heat, helping them become more flexible and absorb the force of the cannon shot.
Two hours into the show, it’s time for their act, the Ringling Rocket, which serves as the final piece.
The above shows Mrs. Miser flying through the air after being shot by the cannon. She said she travels about 110 feet and 35 feet in the air.
Perform stunts as you fly through the air, without any safety equipment, before landing on a large airbag.
Before Miser made his debut a little over two years ago, he had always dreamed of performing in the big ring.
He grew up in the small town of Peru, Indiana, about two hours from Chicago.
Throughout her childhood, she watched her parents perform the human cannonball act and said she was left with an “itch” to be a cannonball flyer like them when she grew up.
And she added: ‘I’m a bit of a thrill seeker. I grew up watching my parents do this and live this lifestyle, so it’s what I always wanted to do.’
Her father allowed her to try the cannon act once at the age of 11, where she was shot with a test cannon that her father had built before it was shipped to be used in the United Kingdom.
Then they kept her away from the canyons, wondering if she would focus on another passion and worrying that the machines would stunt her growth.
But when she turned 18 and was still passionate about being a gunboat, her parents spent time teaching her.
Miser estimates she has been shot from a cannon 300 times so far, but said her goal is to break the world record for a human cannonball.
The current record is held by David Sr. Smith, who has been shot 9,000 times.
Her father, named Brian, is a little closer than her to achieving this record: he received more than 7,000 cannon shots.
He now travels with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus, which was the best-known traveling circus in the United States during the 20th and early 21st centuries.
The show is currently in Greensboro, North Carolina, and will travel up and down the East Coast of the United States through May.
They will then fly to Columbus, Ohio, and tour various locations across the United States, including Texas and California, before concluding in Charleston, West Virginia, in December.