To be fit enough to be fired out of a cannon, many would imagine a need to spend hours in the gym — and have a diet closely monitored for calories, protein and other nutrients.
But circus member Skyler Miser — from one of America’s few ‘cannon flier’ families — revealed preparation is actually less strenuous than people may think.
The 20-year-old doesn’t spend long hours in the gym, and when she does occasionally visit, she performs just low-impact moves like squats to bolster strength in her legs.
More important for her, she told DailyMail.com, is yoga, which Ms Miser practices for 30 minutes a day to help her flexibility in order to avoid injury when fired from a cannon.
As for diet, she said she just tries to ‘eat healthy’ and consumes ‘a lot of protein shakes.’
The above picture shows Skyler Miser, 20, from Indiana, preparing to be fired out of a rocket (shown in orange)
Ms Miser has been working in the circus since she was 18 years old, following in the footsteps of her parents who are also ‘human cannonballs’
The 20-year-old is a star in the Ringling Bros Circus, a show that travels across the United States featuring acrobatics. She performs as the ‘human cannonball,’ where she is shot out of a giant cannon during her act.
For this, she climbs into an eight-foot cannon and, amid the sound of a drumroll and shouts from the audience, uses a ‘secret mechanism’ to launch herself out of the device.
Ms Miser said she flies from 0 to 50mph 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 she soars — holding her body taut — she also does acrobatics such as flips to further impress the audience.
She told DailyMail.com: ‘It’s a bit nerve-racking. You get just one shot to get it right.’
She added: ‘[Flying out a cannon] is like being on a rollercoaster. [That] is how I describe it to people.
‘[But] you need to make sure you are really really tight while taking off.
‘It is hard to describe unless someone has done it before.’
Before being able to perform in the big show, she trained for months to learn how to be a human cannonball with her parents — who are both also professional cannon fliers.
They taught her the best stretches and yoga poses to do — including pigeon pose, low lunge and bridge pose that activate her hip flexors.
This is important for acrobats because it strengthens their muscles — which are involved in nearly all movements — and boosts their flexibility — helping to minimize the risk of injury.
They also taught her the best way to hold her body after being launched from the cannon — always straight and flexed — to avoid injury.
She also learned from her mother to meditate for five minutes just before her performance in order to ‘calm my nerves’.
She said: ‘You get just one shot literally because you can’t just go back in and fly out again.
‘So you really need to make sure you are well-prepared for your chance to shine.’
Her entire act is done without any safety gear — like helmets, shoulder pads or mouth guards — with Ms Miser said would slow her down.
Despite her high-flying stunts, she has only suffered minor injuries including a few bumps to the nose.
Doctors have asked her to wear a nose guard but she continues to refuse.
Her father — who also gets fired out of a rocket — has suffered from more serious injuries, breaking at least 18 bones over the two decades he has performed because of bad landings after being shot from the cannon.
Before her routine, Ms Miser said she warms up by dancing with the other performers at the opening of the show.
She then runs for a few minutes and does stretches to prepare for her act.
Warm ups are important because they boost blood flow to the muscles and heat, helping them to be more flexible and to take the force of being shot from the cannon.
Two hours into the show, it is time for her act — the Ringling Rocket — which serves as the closing piece.
The above shows Ms Miser flying through the air after she is fired from the cannon. She said she travels about 110 feet and 35 feet into the air
She does acrobatics as she flies through the air – without any safety equipment – before landing on a large airbag
Before Ms Miser made her debut a little over two years ago, she had always dreamed of performing in the big ring.
She grew up in the small town of Peru, Indiana, about two hours from Chicago.
Throughout her childhood she watched both of her parents perform the human cannonball act — and said she was left ‘itching’ to be a cannon flier just like them when she was older.
She added: ‘I am a bit of a thrill seeker. I grew up watching my parents do this and live this lifestyle, so it is what I have always wanted to do.’
Her father let her try the cannon act once at the age of 11, where she was fired in a test cannon her father had built before it was sent to be used in the UK.
They then kept her away from cannons — wondering whether she would focus on another passion and concerned the machines would disrupt her growth.
But when she turned 18 and was still passionate about being a cannon flier, her parents dedicated time to teach her.
Ms Miser estimates she has been fired out of a cannon 300 times so far, but said she is aiming to break the world human cannonball record.
The current record is held by David Sr. Smith — who has been shot out 9,000 times.
Her father, called Brian, is a bit closer than she is to achieving this record — having been shot out of a cannon more than 7,000 times.
She is now traveling with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus — which was the best known traveling circus in the US throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries.
The show is currently in Greensboro, North Carolina, and will travel up the East Coast of the US through May.
They will then fly to Columbus, Ohio, and tour various locations in the US — including Texas and California — before concluding in Charleston, West Virginia, in December.