June 9, 2023
Sarah Jane O'Keefe -- Taylor Locke maintains the balance of school  and activities as well as a job as an acrobat/ contortionist for “The American Acrobat.”  She recently performed at Dick Van Dyke’s  wedding.
Sarah Jane O’Keefe — Taylor Locke maintains the balance of school and activities as well as a job as an acrobat/ contortionist for “The American Acrobat.” She recently performed at Dick Van Dyke’s wedding.

A college student’s life can be filled with an enormous amount of responsibilities. For some students, not all of their responsibilities are just from school. Students who have jobs, whether full- or part-time, must learn how to balance both their student and work lives.

Taylor Locke, junior health science major, is an example of this type of individual. Locke knows all about being flexible in every sense of the word.

Besides being a full-time student, she also works as an Acrobat/Contortionist for a company called “The American Acrobat.”

Locke’s road to becoming a professional acrobat began when she started competing in gymnastics at 9 years old.

“I was born physically flexible, some of my earliest memories of myself are doing handstands and backflips at my house,” Locke recalled of her childhood.

As an eighth grade gymnastics competitor, she saw sports acrobats perform for the first time.

“I was honestly growing a little tired of gymnastics at the time. I still enjoyed it, but there was not a lot of freedom, especially because you are competing in front of a panel of judges,” Locke said.

In the eighth grade, she switched from competing in gymnastics to performing acrobatics and has not looked back.

“I’m in love with my job. I actually get paid for doing what I love. Not many people can say that at 20 or any age,” Locke said.

As a 20-year-old health science major, Taylor deals with the realities of being a full-time student and professional athlete.

Many professional acrobats move straight to Los Angeles after high school, as this is where most of the acrobatic companies are located; however, this was not an option for Locke.

“Getting my education was extremely important to me. My sport is very demanding, but I understand that physically I won’t be able to perform forever,” Locke said.

In addition to staying on top of her schoolwork, she must attend four-hour practices five days a week and work out one to two hours a day on her own.

“My basic schedule is wake up, leave for school, leave school around 2 p.m., go home, do homework, leave for practice around 7 p.m., come home around 11:30 p.m., sometimes midnight, finish homework, and then do it again the next day,” Locke said.

She describes herself as an overachiever and says the only way she maintains sanity is by keeping a day planner.

Her day planner is filled with assignments, activities and selfwritten encouragements that she can get it all done. Along with her rigorous workout regimen, she also maintains a healthy diet.

“I don’t eat late at night, and I permanently cut out soda and eat fast food maybe once or twice a year,” Locke said.

All of the hard work and sacrifices are paying off. On Sept. 8, Locke and her acrobatic company performed at Dick Van Dyke’s wedding.

“It was such an honor. He personally came up to each one of us and thanked us,” Locke said.

She says that entertaining is by far her favorite part of the job and that it is what keeps her going when times become difficult.

In the future, Locke says that she always sees herself somehow being a part of the sport, whether it be coaching or giving private lessons to acrobats.

With a degree in health education, she says that she wants to help inform people on how to properly take care of their bodies.

“I feel really passionate about keeping people aware that they are in control of their bodies and by exercising many diseases can be prevented,” Locke said.

It is a reality that a college student’s life can become hectic, and at times students may want to give up on their schoolwork and activities.

Locke is an example that people should not wait for life to slow down but rather learn to be flexible and live life one day at a time.

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