YouTuber and bodybuilder Will Tennyson has taken on all kinds of fitness challenges on his channel, from The Rock’s intense morning workout to Jennifer Lopez’s iconic, core-torching pole dancing routine from Hustlers. He has also worked out with athletes at the absolute top of their game, including the reigning World’s Strongest Man and a record-breaking powerlifter.
But in his most recent video, Tennyson encounters people who do what he believes to the “world’s fittest job”—the professional dancers and gymnasts who perform in Cirque du Soleil—and joins them for a full day of training.
After fuelling with a calorie-dense lunch, Tennyson joins a handful of performers for what he calls “mindfuck training,” watching as they flawlessly execute stunts like jumping rope on a trampoline, and walking a tightrope with somebody standing on their shoulders. He notes how “scary” the trampoline work alone is, inferring the high stakes involved: if somebody makes even a small mistake, it could mean a career-ending or life-threatening injury.
More familiar to Tennyson is their minimally-equipped gym. “Strength training is not the main thing, it’s a lot more about flexibility and cardio,” he says, “but you can get pretty much everything done here.” This portion of the tour is a highlight for Tennyson, as he reaches a PR of 285 pounds on the incline bench press: “Holy shit, I can’t believe I did that.”
Next, Tennyson taxes his core strength, flexibility and mobility in a Pilates workout with gymnast Aruna.
“I fucking hate Pilates,” he says. “It’s like yoga with a side of torture… I’m basically as flexible as a brick. I make 80-year-olds look like Russian gymnasts. At any moment I felt like my body was going to snap.”
While Tennyson can safely say that a career in the Cirque du Soleil is not in his future, he leaves the experience with a brand new appreciation for the hard work and talent that goes into those jaw-dropping performances.
“I honestly saw so many things I didn’t even know it was possible for human beings to do,” he says. “I have a huge respect for these performers. Their commitment to their art and fitness is something to admire, and I can totally see why their job is only for the strong and dedicated.”
Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.