As a sophomore mechanical engineering student, Eric Cutler is learning how forces act upon a body and about the resulting motions in response to these forces. For Cutler these laws of physics certainly aren’t limitations, though, since he has spent most of his life defying gravity.
Cutler has been a gymnast and acrobat since he was a small child. He has always been happiest flipping, spinning and flying through the air.
“For me it’s just so much fun,” Cutler said. “The challenge of mastering control over the physical body is fascinating. It’s exciting to see what you can achieve.”
Cutler started doing gymnastics when he was four years old. “I was doing rolls and flips off the couch, so my mother thought she better enroll me in gymnastics before I ended up hurting myself.”
As a competitive gymnast, Cutler participated in all six of the traditional male gymnastic events. “My favorite event was the rings. There is something about being suspended in midair, and the combination of strength and flipping. It’s a cool balance of forces.”
Originally from Florida, Cutler moved with his family to Kernersville, North Carolina, seven years ago. In Kernersville, the family opened the gym Twisters. Cutler has done some coaching there and at other High Point area gyms, and has himself transitioned from gymnastics to acrobatics.
“They’re very similar,” he said. “When you think of gymnastics it’s the traditional competitive sport that goes back to the Olympics of Greece. I define acrobatics more broadly as any form of gravity-defying activity, whether it’s tumbling, trampoline, high diving or whatever.”
As an acrobat, Cutler has worked the past four summers at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was part of the water acrobatics show Aquabatics, where he did high diving and trampoline. “I was the trampoline specialist. I started out with short flips and basically went higher and higher doing as many flips as I could.”
He also performed on weekends in the park’s 2013 Halloween show. “It had a Dr. Frankenstein theme. I played three parts, a monk, a grave digger and then in the end I was the creature created by Dr. Frankenstein. He was evil and tried to destroy me, but I was the hero and got to win out in the end. It was kind of corny, but fun.”
As a student, Cutler does appreciate the connection between engineering and acrobatics. “We’re learning about the relationship of the center of mass, rotation and other forces that are involved in motion. I can relate it to how as a gymnast if I was just one degree off in my takeoff I was going to crash. It’s interesting to understand why.”
Cutler is enjoying school and is looking forward to a career as an engineer, but will always keep acrobatics in his life. “I’ll keep flipping as long as I can, because it’s so much fun. When I stop flipping I’ll still keep coaching and judging. It’s all been a great experience for me. I’ve meet so many great people through gymnastics and it’s added a lot of adventure to my life.”