Cyr Wheel of Fortune of "Luke Dulac"

Hello, who are you and what sports/fitness routine do you play?

My name is Luke Dulac, and I perform with my Cyr Wheel. I started doing it when it became apparent that the pandemic and lockdowns were going to close gyms and conventional sports for an unforeseen amount of time making my traditional fitness routines impossible. I had been going to the gym for years before the pandemic and had gotten to the point where home weights were not going to cut it if I wanted to continue making progress. I also had just finished doing pole vault in high school, which was something I really enjoyed and was planning on going to some kind of summer camp for it to be good enough to be on the team at college, but come springtime in 2020, it quickly became apparent that coronavirus would be the final nail in that coffin. I was then left with days of easy online college classes and nothing much to do so I was pretty bored at home. I was spending more time online than before and at one point I ended up going down a YouTube rabbit hole where I found out about a Cyr Wheel. It is a giant steel hoop that is used for circus acts. You get inside it and spin around in a similar manner to how a coin spins on its edge when it is dropped. As soon as I saw it I knew that not only would it be a very intense workout and that I could continue to get stronger during quarantine, but also that it would be one of the few things that I would find more fun than pole vaulting. After a lot of convincing, my parents finally agreed to order the Cyr wheel, probably because they knew that I had started going stir crazy, they didn’t know how long the lockdown was going to last, and they were probably tired of me obsessively trying to find a way to pole vault again. We ordered the wheel on Etsy and it had to be custom-built by this guy over in Ukraine. The funny thing about that was that I was adopted from Ukraine and by sheer coincidence, the shipping information indicated that the wheel was coming from the town I was born in. Once the wheel arrived, we did some rearranging of the furniture. Our house had an addition put on and is bigger than it was originally, leading to a unique large open space that used to be our living room that was not getting much use now that our living room was in the addition. We cleared out this area of the house and it was big enough for me to do the wheel in. I have been using the wheel there ever since then.

How do you get ready to train for your sport/how do you train?

When I first started using the wheel, I started learning this move called the waltz. It involves shifting your weight from side to side and is how you keep the wheel spinning. It can take some people months to figure out this simple move and it definitely was not easy. It was more of a workout than years in thy gym ever had been. Some of the antiques in the house did suffer a few dents as I learned to control the wheel and there may or may not be a hole or two in the wall. After I figured that out, a lot of the tricks are just variations on the waltz movement, such as going on one foot, going upside down, or going with just hands. One major thing to watch out for when training is not letting the wheel rollover your fingers. You can simply avoid this by opening your hands before they get to the ground by releasing your grip on the wheel and holding yourself up by your palms as soon as you feel your weight go onto your hands. On a typical day with it, I usually warm up with a few spins and then try to push the boundaries of whatever it is I am doing. I am currently trying to spin multiple times upside down in a maneuver called a hand waltz. I have found that I have not needed to go back to the gym even after things have started reopening as the Cyr wheel is such a good workout. 

After a workout/game, how do you recover your body? What do you do to get your body in shape? What type of diet do you eat? 

One thing I do to recover is stretch out using a Pilates machine and a massage gun as the wheel can get my legs pretty tight. I also sometimes take Motrin if I beat myself up too much. After I started doing the Cyr wheel, I went around looking online for other videos of people doing the Cyr wheel to learn from. I noticed there was a large overlap between people doing Cyr wheel and other circus disciplines. One that stood out to me was called an aerial hoop. It is a small steel hoop about the size of a hula hoop that is suspended in the air and you do acrobatic maneuvers on it. I thought that looked like a good workout too and so I went back to Etsy and ordered an aerial hoop. We constructed a rig for it in the back yard and soon I was hanging myself upside down in all kinds of ways. The aerial hoop was like the Cyr wheel all over again in terms of how hard of a workout it was. I remember a few days after starting the aerial hoop, I was so sore I could barely play golf. After I had the Cyr wheel and the aerial hoop for a little bit, I noticed that pole dancing looked like the ultimate bodyweight workout. Say what you want about pole dancing but if you are willing to suspend your preconceptions, I can tell you that it is the most intense workout I have ever done when it is done right. I could tell this just from observing it. You see I have always had pretty good intuition when it came to analyzing physical systems and determining what forces are experienced by a given mass as it moves through a system. I often found myself acing my physics exams not by memorizing the formulas, but simply by analyzing the diagrams and simulating in my mind what would happen in the given system. This is exactly what I did with pole dancing. I threw all the stereotypes out the window and looked at them as if they were a problem in my physics homework. By doing this, I could easily tell that the geometry of a straight vertical pole, forced your center of mass out from underneath the supporting force in such a way that your arms and legs would form moment arms that would make it extremely difficult to hold yourself in any position that involved getting off the ground. Furthermore, this unique geometry did not seem to be present in any other bodyweight exercise. Pullups, dips, pushups, gymnastic rings, even the aerial hoop and Cyr wheel all allow you to get your center of mass directly in line with the supporting force making the workout less intense. So, in an effort to find the most intense workout possible and achieve the best results for my body without breaking the bank or resorting to steroids, I got a pole and set it up in the basement. Sure enough, the pole was the most intense workout yet. Keep in mind I was not doing it as you would see in the club. The goal was to always be off the ground and then to contort my body into shapes that worked muscles I didn't even know existed.  Not only were the pole and the hoop very effective workouts that kept my body in shape for the Cyr wheel but they also got me accustomed to being upside down and spinning around which got my mind in the right place for the Cyr wheel. As far as diets, I try to maintain a lean, bodybuilding type diet. Eating a lot but eat pretty cleanly. Staying lean helps because what I do challenges physics enough as it is, I don’t need to be hauling up any dead weight in the process. 

How do you prevent injuries when you’re training? What type of stretches do you normally do? What’s your routine looking like?

My favorite way to stretch involves a Pilates machine with elastic bands that stretch you out while hitting your muscles with a massage gun at the same time. I find that the combination of the two really helps to loosen things up. After looking at so many Cyr wheel and circus videos, my social media feeds are full of aerialists and ballet dancers twisting themselves into pretzels which is great motivation to keep stretching. As far as avoiding injury, I actually find the Cyr wheel to be quite safe. It is mostly stationary so you do not really build up a lot of forwarding momentum to hurt yourself with. Even as you fall, a lot of times gyroscopic forces are still at play that wants to keep the wheel up so you actually end up falling slower than gravity. You just have to remember to try to land on your back and kind of turtle yourself and tuck your head into your chest so you don't whip your head into the ground when you fall. 

If there is someone wanting to get to your level, what type of advice would you give them?

It takes a lot of practice and you should be pretty fit when going into the Cyr wheel. There is also a huge survivorship bias on social media. I have seen a lot of people post a few videos with it, not really making a lot of progress, and then seemingly quit. I would not recommend the Cyr wheel as a weight-loss activity. You really need to be in good shape and lean-to do it. Even powerlifters I think would struggle. The pear-shaped body seems to have too much weight in the lower midsection which pulls the person toward the ground which would make it hard to do any inverting tricks which I think are the most fun. For the inverting tricks, I find that you need to spread your weight out as evenly as possible and kind of make an X shape in the wheel. If your weight is unevenly distributed it can make it hard to spread it out evenly and will cause the wheel to move unpredictably as your center of mass moves around. I also think you should have a good amount of muscle mass before starting. I was in the gym for 6 years before starting and it kicked my butt worse than anything I had done before. It also is going to take a lot of practice. I had the benefit of starting in lockdown and for about half of quarantine, my practice consisted of getting only a few turns around and trying to figure out how to propel it. Doing tricks is a whole new progression. I think the best approach is to take it slow. The wheel is a circle so I measured a lot of my initial progressions in the number of rotations or even the number of degrees around I could go with a given trick. 

How do you structure your day now? What projects are you busy with?

I film a lot of videos for Tiktok which has been going well lately. I also try to go live on Tiktok for at least an hour a day. My live videos seem to be really popular and I don’t see anyone else doing Cyr wheel live so hopefully that sets me apart. It would be really cool to make a living performing someday and I hope that maybe out of my millions of views, the right person will see one of my videos and I will be able to start performing in person as it is just not the same doing it behind a screen with a little number saying how many people are supposedly watching.

How has your journey on social media been? Future plans?

I am hoping to continue to grow my Tiktok account and eventually move into in-person performances. My video always seems to be well-liked so I am thinking that at this rate soon I will brute force the odds and my videos will get seen by the owner of a circus looking to hire or something along those lines and my career performing will be off the ground. I am also planning on competing on America’s Got Talent for the 2023 season as I know that show has helped launch careers in the entertainment industry.

Anything else you would like to share?

I think the Cyr wheel is not only a good workout but it is loads of fun. I have been on some pretty big roller coasters at parks like Cedar Point and it gives those a run for their money. I feel like so many people take a kind of boot camp and “no pain no gain” kind of mentality to working out and almost try to make themselves suffer. I would say do not underestimate the power of having fun with a workout. If you forget you are even working out, you are much more likely to keep working out. I used to watch the clock in the gym hoping it would be time to be done, Now I watch the clock hoping there is more time left. I also find that using circus disciplines to work out is much healthier mentally. Instead of trying to just get bigger muscles, which can lead to body dysmorphia and insecurity, I work out to try new tricks and create shapes that make my body look like a work of art, and there are so many things to do that you never get stuck chasing after one thing. Another thing is, I would say not to limit your options or be worried about what others think. Sure people might find it weird that I pole dance for a workout, but I do not care what they think because of the body it gave me. Also, the people that give me trouble about this always seem to be projecting a tough guy manly persona, and to that I say, how tough are you if your ego is so fragile that you are scared of a pole?

Knowing what you know now, what do you wish you could tell yourself 10 years ago?

10 years ago I just started working out, So I would tell myself to keep working out at the gym, and do that for a few years because if you are strong enough, you will essentially get a free amusement park worth of enjoyment while being in the best shape of your life. I would also tell myself not to listen to all the steroid taking influencers online because they are not achievable and trying to look like that is mentally very unhealthy and what I do now is such a more worthwhile pursuit actually trying to do new things and I think it makes my body look as good as it could naturally anyways.

How can our audience find you online? 

My Tiktok and Instagram are both @lukedulac

Link to Luke's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lukedulac/

Luke Dulac performs with his Cyr Wheel. He started doing it when it became apparent that the pandemic and lockdowns were going to close gyms and conventional sports for an unforeseen amount of time making his traditional fitness routines impossible.

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