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Actually, Acrobats Don’t Eat All That Healthfully

Kevin Beverley of Cirque du Soleil shares his regimen.

Photo: Lisa Predko

Beverley, 29, spends much of the year on the road with Cirque du Soleil’s touring production of Volta, which touches down at Soldier Field from May 18 to July 6. (It’s the Chicago Academy for the Arts graduate’s first hometown stand since joining the prestigious troupe in 2016.) Here’s how the Grayslake native stays lean and limber enough to literally jump through hoops up to 10 shows a week.

Training routine

“Hoop diving — or, as we call it in Volta, shape diving — comes from a Chinese discipline. It was my minor in circus school, after dance trapeze. We do flips and tricks through hoops without touching them or making them fall. We work on it for an hour or two a week. It’s a lot of flips, round-offs, back handsprings. Outside of that, I work out three to four times a week, for about 45 minutes, primarily for injury prevention. For us acrobats, deep core exercises with just moving your legs a little bit can get stagnant, so I mix mine with ball and twisting exercises and squats and dead lifts — with light weights so I don’t tire out my muscles.”

Damage control

“Injuries are a part of our life. In my case, I have a bit of a bad lower back. In our physio room, we have a huge cooler full of bagged ice. I’ll put that on my back for 15 minutes if I feel a flare-up.”

Eating plan

“People think that we eat so incredibly healthfully, but it’s all about balance. I love cereal. My dad worked at Kraft, so I still always eat Honey Bunches of Oats — with almond milk because I’m lactose intolerant. I don’t drink coffee or tea; caffeine makes me shaky. So it’s always orange juice with breakfast. Cirque du Soleil has a kitchen with four full-time chefs who cook us amazing meals. Each one has a lean protein, veggies, and carbs — say, chicken with rice — and then I’ll force myself to take some greens.”

Warm-up drills

“About an hour and a half before I go onstage, I’ll put a hoodie on and find a space right in the middle of the tent to get into the moment. For 30 to 40 minutes, I do lower ab exercises, bridges, ball exercises, the Pilates dead bug. Those make all my muscles, including the ones in my back, loose and ready. After I warm up, I feel like a different person.”

Practicing imperfection

“As a kid, I never understood stage fright. I loved the attention. Now, being in a show with 2,800 people watching every night, it’s scary. What helps me is overpreparing, knowing exactly what I’m going to do if something goes wrong. The crowd is rooting for you: You hit the hoop and hear them sigh with you, then you go back and nail it and they go absolutely crazy.”

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