A little over two years ago, Eric Heitzman saw a video that he thought looked “so incredibly cool.” The video was of someone using a Cyr Wheel, an acrobatic apparatus invented for the circus that consists of a large aluminium or steel with a diameter approximately 4-6 inches taller than the performer. The performer stands inside the wheel and grasps its rim, causing the wheel to roll and spin gyroscopically, while the performer executes acrobatic moves in and around the rotating wheel. It was then that Heitzman knew that he had to have one.
The Queen Village resident got his wheel in the mail, assembled it, and stumbled upon an opportunity to learn how to use it at the Germantown Circus School in Germantown. Cyr Wheel classes aren’t a regular part of the school’s curriculum, but there was a visiting teacher there at the time that Heitzman took a class with.
Philly Happening ran into Heitzman and his Cyr Wheel near Paine’s Park on the Schuylkill River Trail. Heitzman was gyrating, rolling, and spinning, attracting a crowd. People were taking photos and asking questions. At one point, he stopped to teach a couple of young kids how to use it. This is what Heitzman does to have fun and also to share the coolness of the Cyr Wheel with the community.
I try to do it in the city and get people excited about it,” Heitzman said. “It’s so cool. I’m addicted to it. It’s like your own personal amusement park ride!”