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Suck It Up, Buttercup! Circus Is Hard

The number one question I’m asked by new students? “What can I do to get better? I feel like it’s taking so long!” It’s a fair question, I mean, who doesn’t want to excel at what they’re pouring their hearts and pocketbooks into? But, for many, what they’re really asking is, “Why haven’t I picked this up in ten classes?” Um… because it’s difficult, Buttercup! Ask yourself: would you waltz into a ballet class, having no dance training, and expect to be turning triple pirouettes three weeks from Sunday? Of course not. Then why would you assume that you can do that in an aerial class?

Wise Saying From Laura #1 – You have to be willing to suck at first. A lot.

Perhaps it’s our culture’s growing appetite for Instant Results , or maybe spill-over from the Club Med “make a catch your first day” mentality (not knocking Club Med, it’s just a different animal altogether). Whatever it is, let me be very candid: if you want to get really good at something, whether it’s aerials or accounting, you have to work your ass off for a good long time. That girl with the beautiful lines? She’s been dancing since she was 4. That guy with the bone-crushing grip? He’s been rock climbing for the past 5 years. They’ve all put in the time, just not in my class.

Wise Saying From Laura #2 – Just show up.

I have yet to meet a student who was a truly hopeless case – just about anyone in reasonable health can become proficient in an aerial discipline. I’ve watched some students throw themselves into classes, train on their own, and fight for every victory they got on the silks. That kind of hard work inevitably pays off. I have one student who couldn’t even hold on her first class, and cried in fear the first time she did an ankle hang; she’s now performing beautiful pieces in showcases and making me proud. She showed up. She put in the time (several years, to be exact). She’s reaping what she’s sown. You will too, Grasshopper.

Wise Saying from Laura #3: It’s an awesome adventure, babe. Quit focusing so much on the destination.

Here, in a nutshell, is how to get better, and enjoy the journey.

  • quit taking yourself so damned seriously, it ain’t the Peace Corps. A light heart and the ability to laugh at yourself will make training more enjoyable (for both of us). Frustration is a roadblock, laughter is a detour.
  • be a student. Check your ego at the door, and be willing to be really, really bad at something. Think of it this way – you can only get better!
  • just show up – to class, to workouts, to your training time. I strongly recommend at least one class and one practice session on your own each week. Regular workouts can be tailored to support your air time – Pilates, deep stretching, weight training (PULL-UPS), and more can make your class time more productive.
  • don’t compare yourself with others (thank you, Miss Stephanie!!!)
  • CELEBRATE EVERY VICTORY!!! Don’t sweep it under the rug, you worked hard for it!

It’s not Insta-Aerial, ya’ll! It took me over a year of training almost every day to get to a reasonably professional level on fabrics. You can do it. Here’s what I can promise you: show up, do the work, and you’ll see results. Now, suck it up and get to class! There’s work to be done and fun to be had! And no whining. Love and pull-ups, Laura


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50 comments on “Suck It Up, Buttercup! Circus Is Hard”

  1. tony duncan Reply

    I am listening to a song by Lucinda Williams called Buttercup, not really appropriate but there are parts that fit well with this post!

  2. Glendyne Reply

    WOW, thank-you so much for this post! This is EXACTLY what I have been going through and dealing with. I started taking aerial silks and trapeze classes in July and while it’s one of the hardest things I have ever done, I am determined to stick with it. I am now, after 10 weeks, finally starting to see little improvements… I was that student not even having the strength to hang onto the silk let alone climb them and just yesterday I was able to support myself and do a foot lock… I wasn’t very high off the ground but I left feeling like I’d accomplished something. 🙂 I bought one of those iron gym bars you hang over your door frame and while I still can’t do a pull up, I’m working on it a bit each day and am slowly noticing little improvements on that as well. I love the fact that I have a hobby and something to work at. My teachers are very encouraging, patient, and kind. I am loving this journey and am taking victory in the little things… I’m probably one of the slowest learners in my class but I don’t care, I WILL get better. I have definitely discovered my new passion!

    • Lewitwer Reply

      I am so proud of you, Glendyne!!!!!! Keep going and you’ll AMAZE yourself! You are the kind of student I love to teach. 🙂

      • Sam Crosby Reply

        I literally was just taking a omg-my-fingers-hurt-so-bad-i-could-die break from my silks, and this article made me feel so much better about it as I am so competitive with myself, accepting I suck because a pro told me i could makes it all ok. I can’t wait to meet you. Thanks so much for sharing all your valuable knowledge. It means so much.

        • Lewitwer Reply

          Awesome, Sam!!!!! This is so incredible to hear! I have to remind myself every single blessed time I try learning something new in circus that this is HARD stuff. Heard a great quote the other day: “If it was easy, they’d call it tag.” Love it! Keep on truckin’ – it will pay off sooner than you think. 🙂

          • Chrissy

            Laura, I wish I could go in Sams suitcase up to NYC so I could go with her to train with you!!! I am going to try & give her a little something to bring to you from me since we live about 15 min from each other!! Way to go Sam, we love you!! Keep up the hard work 🙂

  3. Glendyne Reply

    Awww, thanks so much! I am having a lot of fun with my new found hobby. 🙂 I will keep you posted on my progress.

  4. OzarkSiren Reply

    This is a great article and I so enjoy the Discussions ands Posts on your site. I took an Aerial Silks class and fell in love. Unfortunately there are no studios or teachers here in Arkansas where I live. At least that I am aware of. I am hoping to travel to workshops. Our one gym here in town is not equiped to hang rigging.

    At my first class I could not climb or do a pull up, I became dizzy on inversion. I was so shocked at my lack of upper body strength. I could do a foot lock and stand but could not climb beyond that one step up. I now have a pull up bar in my house, am doing rope climbing and push ups. Still cannot do a full pull up. I am determined to do this. I have purchased a single point Hammock and hope to use it.

    Would love to hear how Glendyne is progressing.

    I will be 59 on Monday and figure I have another 30 years to get this right !!! : )

    • Lewitwer Reply

      This is the kind of feedback I LIVE for! You absolutely will get that pull-up if you’re consistent (I still remember my first one – it felt like a miracle!). Some of the best cirque coaches I had were in their 60’s (and a few in their 70’s) – all still active and fabulous on their apparatus. Keep your eyes open for new aerial studios opening near you; with the popularity of aerial arts, they’re springing up everywhere. Please keep us posted on your progress – I can’t wait to hear about that first pull-up! 🙂

  5. Mary Reply

    I LOVE your blog. This is a very great blog providing what most instructors won’t say up front. I agree with all of it. However, I have a problem that I was hoping you could provide guidance on. Let’s say a person was exposed to aerial silks and hoop out of town. Upon retuning back home, they realize that there are NO aerial training facilities and also NO practitioners (willing or able) to provide lessons. The closest aerial gym is 3 hours away… as a stay at home mother of an active duty military member, this person does not have the endless funds to pay for the classes and the fuel, ability to spend 6 hours total in the car multiple times per week (not including a short 2 hours of class time) and that’s BEST case scenario (regarding affordability and freedom to travel that far and that often)….. OK, this person is me (lol)… What would be your suggestion for someone who has found an incredible passion and is extremely dedicated and dreams of learning this art form? How can a person in my situation EVER realistically dream of becoming an instructor or performer working with this much difficulty in accessing the training and at this glacial pace? I pray that you will not tell me to “hang it up” because that’s really NOT what I want…. How could I deal with this problem? I would appreciate your help and advice very much!! Considering that I do not have this luxury of a solid instruction plan and acess to the “mentoring” that is needed in this art form. Thank you for sharing and helping others. We need more like you in the world!! 🙂

    • Mary Reply

      Oh and I did read your blog on how to pick a good quality instructor so I didn’t mean to sound as though I want to go and open up an aerial gym next year or anything! I completely understand that instructing comes after lots of intensive training by highly qualified instructors.

      • Lewitwer Reply

        Haha – it was a totally fair question! And I LOVE me some questions. 🙂

    • Lewitwer Reply

      You’re in good company, Mary! I get this question a lot, and it’s a toughie. On the one hand, I totally get the hunger for the work (I packed up and left my entire life to pursue it many moons ago). On the other hand, without proper instruction, spotting, and rigging checks, it can be dangerous (or at the very least, you’ll reinforce awful habits without someone to correct you). I can’t tell you to “hang it up”, because you wouldn’t, would you? (I wouldn’t either!!!!) SO, I think the next best thing is to: 1) keep looking for aerial places close to you – new ones are opening up all the time 2) see if you can work out getting to a class once every two or three weeks; maybe barter babysitting time with another mom if that’s an option? 3) video every aerial session and analyze it to death; visualize yourself making the corrections, and doing each pose effortlessly 4) have your instructor show you the best exercises to train yourself at home to maximize your time in the air (PULL-UPS!!!). I’m actually starting a series called “Spotlight on Conditioning” which will start going up on the blog Tuesdays to address this very issue. Hold on to this: your progress will NOT always be glacial; there is a tipping point at which you will begin to learn much faster. Take advantage of this time to work on your lines if you can get to an adult ballet class (hugely important), stretch, watch tons of aerial work on YouTube, and get yourself so strong that 10 pull-ups seems like childs play. STICK WITH IT – your goal is not as far away as you think! I wish I lived closer!!!! Beyond the conditioning videos coming soon, please do let me know if you think of other info that might be helpful to you or others in your position – I love new ideas! 🙂

  6. Mary Reply

    Thank you SOO much for that great response and especially the encouragement because I don’t get a good dose of that as often as I’d like! LOL!!

  7. Alicia Reply

    Thanks for the inspiration this was just what I needed! I’ve been training on silks, lyra and trapeze for the past year and kinda hit a rut where i couldn’t afford classes anymore and when I could the teacher couldn’t schedule with me 🙁 So having just purchased my own set of silks I’m getting back on the bandwagon and hopefully back to class. I really dream of being a performer and instructor someday but after taking the summer off I was feeling like “can I ever achieve this?” I’m going to do pull ups now! 🙂

  8. Tiffany @CircusofHumaniT Reply

    So true about being willing to suck! When I first started I was so hard on myself. I couldn’t do anything and it took me several months to get to the top of the fabric in a basic climb (whereas some people learn that their first class). You really don’t know the cumulative effect of other people’s training and life experience.

    When I gave myself permission to be where I was and just enjoy the journey, it became so much easier! It became play!

    • Jennifer Reply

      This blog was so helpful and I will refer to it again as I go through my course. I finished my first class and left discouraged. I’m always so hard on myself! Definitely couldn’t climb, just got the foot lock and held there! Haha. It was hard not to compare to the others already climbing on the first day of classes. Could not even come close to a pull up, but I’m going to remind myself we all start somewhere! It is my journey alone. At least I am trying. I am so relieved to see everyone else’s journey is different and often similar. 🙂

  9. AshleyMH Reply

    When you get bitten by the circus bug, you get bitten bad!! I will never forget my first two classes… I left the first class exhilerated, but totally unsure of what I had gotten myself into. And I couldn’t move for two days afterwards. But the next week, I was miraculously able to climb to the top of the silks and I was hooked! That was a little over a year ago and the passion just keeps intensifying! I’m so grateful to have teachers that are incredibly supportive and remind me that this sh*t is hard and just how far I’ve come. One thing I’ve noticed about the aerial community is just how welcoming, helpful, supportive and inspiring everyone is, and you and your blog are clearly no exception! I’ve spent the last hour reading through past posts and now I’ve gotta get my butt off the computer and go work on some straight-leg inversions (and pull ups for good measure)! 🙂

  10. Aliza Reply

    I have read this blog post at least 3 times because I feel that it’s such a great lesson to remember. I am not trained in gymnastics or dance and have limited yoga or anything else useful for silks in my background. For that reason, everything is challenging for me. I am starting to do 3x per week and am really driven to get better. I figure I just need to put in the time….I still feel disappointment when I look over and see my instructor giving me that quizzical expression of ‘what did you just do?’. Sucking is hard on the ego but it helps to know that this is the road to getting better.

    • Lewitwer Reply

      KEEP GOING, Aliza! I have seen absolute miracles with students who just show up and put in the time. It’s so hard when it feels like it’s taking forever (I’m dealing with this on wheel). Know this – your hard work WILL pay off, and the work will get easier and easier. The upside to struggling so much? Don’t we celebrate when we get it! I actually dance. 🙂

  11. sara Reply

    Thanks so much for this post! I have been learning the trapeze for 8 weeks now. Working on my back end of my swing. I decided to do a catch (two position splits) I totally failed. I read this and it made me feel better. Thank you!

  12. Ann Reply

    I absolutely!! needed to read this tonight. THANK YOU. I’ve been coming back to the silks for 3 damn long years now, but. not. consistently. and that’s been a major block from first my checking the damn ego at the door (I “should” be further not at all- I’ve not been consistent). sigh, yes, I did have f/t work, f/t grad school, so yes, I can give myself a break, and yes, this art form has been completely transformative for me- (it’s THE thing that got me through a crappy break up, and has been in my life when I got married this past fall). I do notice many, many other students “get it” the first try, or can remember what the teacher just said, I struggle there, a lot, and I feel some embarassment in that. It’s hard for me to ask for help when everyone around me “looks” like they’re gettin it just fine-I ask anyways! HOWEVER, I have the whole summer free, and my goal is to just keep showing up, daily, 5-6 days a week, and shame be damned. I’m going to show up anyway :). Plus, I truly believe, if I do, I will find a way to do one clean, honest performance-not the best, not the worst, just something that will make me *and* my audience- very happy. that’s what it’s all about right? (thanks again)

    • Lewitwer Reply

      YES, Ann! Bravo – that’s the spirit! 🙂 Definitely start to work on a short performance piece – you will amaze yourself!!! It’s all at once humbling and empowering (doing my first piece on wheel tonight – it’s going to be fabulously awful, but exciting anyway). Keep showing up and reap the (incredible) rewards! 🙂

  13. Amani Reply

    I happened to stumble across your blog, and this was such an inspiring and much-needed read! I started my first static trapeze class yesterday – and could barely do anything, while everyone else seemed to be getting on just fine. It was such a slap in the face! I’ve been working out very consistently for the past two and a half years, am an avid yogini, and have also been training, on top of all that, about five days a week in tumbling and handbalancing for nearly a year now. I literally got home and cried for half an hour, the back of my knees were gone, I was feeling pretty rubbish. I’m feeling a lot more confident today. I reminded myself that it was only my first class, the first time that I’ve ever done anything even remotely aerial-related, that I actually managed to sit, and almost stand, on the trapeze… I went in expecting too much from myself (that, and the fact that my arms were still aching from my handstand class the night before probably didn’t help), expecting like I was owed to be good because I had put in the time, with my budding circus-core and trusty circus-arms. Not so! And a bad attitude to have. This relative failure of a class has actually helped me check myself, and remember to not compare myself to others, that the only thing that matters is my own journey and how I will progress. I saw myself at that handbalancing class the night before – I was flying through the conditioning exercices, getting a good shape, holding my handstands well… I was probably at the head of the class, but I would have never dreamed of making fun or judging those who were there who had never been upside-down in their lives! On the contrary, I tried to encourage them. After all, about a year ago, the most basic conditioning exercice left me breathless and I couldn’t even hold half my bodyweight on my hands, let alone go upside-down…
    So, thank you, hard static trapeze class, for reminding me that trapeze and tumbling have nothing to do with one another (seems obvious, but…), to let go of my ego, to train hard and not be complacent, to not be afraid of looking silly, and to remember that everyone is at a different point of their journeys, and that that’s fine. I’ll hopefully look back at this in a month, in a year, and then five, and smile – while doing a fancy trick, of course. It’s a hard but rewarding, lovely journey. Thank you for your words of encouragement!

  14. Danielle Reply

    #1 is SO TRUE. I’m just starting aerials (as in took-a-taster-class-and-got-hooked-so-I-bought-a-real-pass) but I’ve been dancing (salsa/latin stuff) for years. I don’t think I would have ever been able to get to be as good as I was at dancing (I’m still impressed I look like I know what I’m doing!) without having accepted the fact that it was totally OK to be terrible. I was pretty terrible for an entire year, but thankfully a laugh-it-off attitude helped me through it and I’m so glad I stuck with it!

    I expect aerials to be the same way, especially since you need to be freaking STRONG for some of those moves, and that doesn’t happen overnight. In the meantime I will enjoy my giggle fits 🙂

    • Lewitwer Reply

      YES, Danielle! It is so freeing to be awful at something and have a sense of humor about it! And, of course, one day, we are not so awful anymore. 🙂 Enjoy the journey!

  15. Carey Reply

    I’m at a point in my life where I feel like I have to decide very soon if I want to pursue aerial full-time. It would mean quite a few changes in my life, which I’m ok with doing. I was training a decent amount, and getting relatively good. Then I moved and haven’t done it in months and its been awful. Its it unrealistic to think I can start this all over again at 30? I’m inclined to the type of exercise since I’ve done, gymnastics, dance, diving, yoga, and any other reckless sport involving throwing my body around. If I train everyday, full-time, how long do you supposed before I could be competent to perform?

    • Lewitwer Reply

      To pursue circus professionally, you really must be in a supportive place – a venue to train in, good teachers, a receptive market, etc. The training takes as long as it takes, I’m afraid! There’s no way to say how long. If this is something you decide you want, go make it happen! 🙂

  16. Kit Reply

    I happened to stumble upon your blog, when I literally typed into Google my frustrations regarding my improvement (or lack of it) from flying trapeze. Anyway, I’ve been reading your posts and trying to take to heart some of your advice.

    I know (or at least I tell myself this) that I need to fail a lot first before I succeed. I know that showing up is better than nothing, and you have to be very smart about cross training. Yet for some reason I still think that the aerial training system is just set-up for failure. One reason I feel I’m not doing better is because flying trapeze classes have 10 people per class, and average 6 swings per class. You write: put in the time and work and you’ll see results. Quality vs. quantity, of course. But part of me just thinks that by flying just twice a week (4 hours/week), the only realistic goal is maintenance, forget improvement.

    I know aerial is hard… when I did ballet it was hard. But at least for dance there was a system put in place so that I felt I was could move forward (with stumbling blocks of course). You write: you can do it. I want to believe you, but for some reason I seriously question this about myself. At what cost? I budget >$100/week on aerials ($9 per trapeze turn). I don’t want to go pro, but I care A LOT, and so very much want to be a better aerialist. I know aerials is not the same as dance, but I feel that with the amount of financial investment I’ve put in (2 years super consistently by now) I should be better by now.

    I am obviously not an aerial teacher, so I have to put faith in you guys and that they curriculum you put into place will make me a better aerialist… maybe the higher reps in dance adage of 2x/week for maintenance, 3x for improvement just doesn’t apply for aerials…. I don’t know what to do. I love flying trapeze too much to quit, but my frustrations are bubbling up… How irresponsible it is of me to be spending $6000/year for a “hobby” just to be trending water.

    • Lewitwer Reply

      Oh Kit – I have had this very same argument with myself. Often. (not with trapeze, with German Wheel) Each aerial discipline has a different timeline. One one apparatus, you may get 10 things very quickly, then the “grind” begins. Alternatively, you may begin with the grind, and only see improvements down the road. I have a few thoughts – I hope one or two may be useful!

      1 – I don’t do flying trapeze, so I honestly don’t know how many turns most folks are getting in other classes. Is there a possibility of sharing privates with someone so you get more air time? It may seem like tons more $$, but a private here and there can be just the thing to bust us out of the stuck zone.

      2 – Are you SURE you’re not progressing? Our perceptions of this tend to be wildly skewed. Record your progress in a journal, and talk to your coaches about your timeline, progress, etc.

      3 – I’m willing to bet that you’re a Type A person (me too!!!). The upside? We’re driven, passionate, hard workers. The downside? We are so damned hard on ourselves. Again – chat with your coaches and make sure you’re not holding yourself to unrealistic expectations.

      4 – Your perceptions may be entirely accurate, in which case you need to put on your detective hat. WHY are you not progressing? Fear? Not enough air time? Not enough feedback? Once you have an idea of what the sticky wicket is, you can tackle it head on.

      Do not do not do not quit! Because you love it! And this kind of love is wasteful and extravagant and irrational and RARE. This is your frustration talking. Do you really want to even think about a life without trapeze? Would you do it even if your progress were slow? I know you want a return on your investment. I have been there (this week!!!). For me, and maybe for you, the best antidote is to be proactive. Read the book “The Talent Code” – it completely changed the way I look at this. If you quit, do it because you no longer love trapeze – not because of frustration. The really sweet stuff is just on the other side. 🙂

  17. Caitlin Reply

    I just came across your blog and I am so very grateful! I just took my first “teaser” silks class and had a ball. Really, the level of difficulty was laughable and I “called it a win” when I managed to climb my way about four inches (not exaggerating) off of the mat and up the silks. In the few days since that class and my first actual beginners class, I started having doubts. The old self-sabotage voice of “you’re too fat” (I’ve always been overweight; genetics, blah blah, food is awesome) and “you’re too old” (I’m 32) came creeping back and I almost gave in. But then! Then I found your blog and your wonderfully encouraging posts and now I feel so ready to head back to the studio and really, really suck for a really, really long time and I’m so excited to do that! Thank you very much for your words!

    • Lewitwer Reply

      I AM SO PROUD OF YOU, CAITLIN!!!!! It is so hard to start something new as an adult (we’re used to being pretty good at a lot of things). It gets easier – I promise – and you’ll be so happy you stuck with it! Wait until you see the awesome things your body can do! 🙂

  18. Steph Reply

    Every so often, I reread this piece because I need to be reminded that circus really is hard. I started silks when I was 39, and it took me 3 years to complete Level One. It was really hard to still be struggling with the basics while people 15 years younger mastered them all in a matter of months. My coaches kept telling me that I was making progress and that the basic skills would all come with time. I remember one of coaches saying that new students expect aerial to be physically challenging, but are surprised at how mentally and emotionally challenging it is as well.

    I’m still struggling with my stamina when I’m off the ground, and I think it’s all psychological at this point. I have good grip strength and overall strength, but the moment I get off the ground, I’m convinced that I’m going to fall and so I throw myself frantically into a couple of tricks and then scramble back down as soon as I can.

    • Lewitwer Reply

      You’re definitely not alone, Steph! That tells me that you have a healthy, well-functioning instinct for self protection! Repetition “proves” to your brain that you’re strong and capable, and conditions it to expect success. It takes time (ugh, more time!!!), but it will happen. And it’s worth noting that, once you have a good foundation, everything flows from that, and the learning happens much faster. I struggle with the same issues on wheel! The upside? We tend to have fewer injuries (so long as we’re not making dangerous choices when we panic), and a deeper commitment to the work and technique. I began keeping a record of my training, and was shocked to discover that I only focused on my setbacks – glossing right over my successes. Something to try if you find yourself getting too discouraged! Progress is sneaky. 🙂

  19. Alexis Reply

    Thank you so much for this post, it was reassuring reading! it’s made me feel a bit better but I still feel that, rather than just sucking at it, I suck at it more than anyone else who has ever tried aerials!

    I just did my first aerials class yesterday – I enrolled in a beginners class, thinking that I was reasonably fit and flexible, and came home feeling terrible! Everyone in my class has done aerials some time in the past, and proceeded to spend the whole class doing perfect climbs on the silks and being instantly good at the mounts and tricks we were taught on trapeze. Meanwhile I couldn’t even get my legs to do the right things in the silks, let alone climb, and I needed help every time I got on and off the trapeze, and couldn’t even pull off most of the tricks or sit ups once I got there. I knew that I was going to suck as a beginner, but I didn’t expect to suck so much that the entire class had to stand around waiting for the teacher to help me before we could move on. In the end other students in the class had to start helping me out if the teacher was busy, so not only was I terrible at everything but I was wasting the other students’ time.

    I want to put in hard work but I feel like I’m so bad I shouldn’t even be there – I don’t even know if the things I am struggling with are normal for beginners! At the moment I’m feeling so disheartened that I’m considering not going back to class even though I paid for a course of lessons upfront, despite the fact that the teacher assured me that this was the right class for me. I’m not sure why I’m even venting about this on the internet in the first place! I’ve been reading your other posts and am going to start working on some pull-ups… maybe give it one more week…

    • Lewitwer Reply

      Lol – there is no limit to how badly we can suck when we start. No limit. You are 100% normal! Take a deeeeeep breath, and know that you can only get better. Wallow in how bad you are – revel in it! And then, just show up. You’ll be dreadful for awhile,then suddenly – POOF! Not so awful. The most important part is that you have fun in allowing yourself to be bad! This is an emotional growth process as well as a physical one. Do your sessions! If you don’t have fun,don’t renew. But give it some time!

    • Jerrica Reply

      Dude. You totally have this! I can relate to you. I am the runt in my class… I usually watch the other students move through the entire routine while I am still working on the first two moves. But whatever! When I started, I couldn’t do a pull-up, and now I can do A FOURTH OF A PULL UP. And I’m stoked! Sometimes it is a bit of a roller coaster emotionally.. One week I’m all about it and the next I think I’ll never get anywhere… but I do as Laura has said… I show up. I do it the best I can. I video my SUPERB fails, so that one dayI can compare them to my improvements. And I remind myself that I am a badass. And so are you! I hope you’ve decided to stick with it! Love from KS!

  20. Becky Reply

    So glad to have found you! I’m in my mid-fifties and have taken flying trapeze just a few times a year until this year. I’m now going once or twice a week and it’s become my passion and obsession! I’m satisfied with my progress so far although I have no athletic/gymnastics background as one previous poster mentioned. I do have a yoga sling at home but am wondering if I can practice static trapeze at home, indoors. I don’t have high ceilings, but the yoga sling is mounted securely into two studs in the standard 8 foot ceiling. I weigh less than 130 pounds but am still confused if I could mount a static trapeze to this set-up. I know the skills I could practice would be limited because of my space limitations in the room, but it would be great to practice some skills during the year when flying trapeze is closed (the season is about 5 months). I’ve googled until I’m dizzy but still am not sure–any ideas or suggestions for me?? Thank you so much and I’ll continue to check in here! Love your “Suck It Up, Buttercup” post–so helpful and encouraging and so true!!

  21. marie Reply

    Love this post! I’ve been practicing for about 3 weeks now and its been so beautiful and hard at the same time . I try to don’t think about the hardest part. I just feel good to be there even if I’m only stretching my body or watching those beautiful girls doing amazing stuff and Its so inspiring and lovely to watch. I am now able to do a few beginners tricks and I feel satisfied with what I accomplished so far.. Everytime I leave that place im like celebrating my progress, so happy 🙂

  22. Paula Rae Reply

    I started Aerial Silks ( right now using the knot) 30 days ago. As a 49 year old woman who lost 45lbs, but is still well over 200, it is the hardest, most painful thing I’ve ever LOVED doing. I am not only losing weight, my flexibility has gone from none to wow in such a short time. I’ve wanted to try Aerial skills for about 40 years and woke up one day and said to myself; “If not now, when?” I do not judge what I can or cannot do by what a 20 year old, athlete can do. I just judge my progress on what I could do on day one, to now. Each accomplishment inspires me to keep going. I’ve never enjoyed “working out”, suddenly I am working out on the silks 1 or two hours a day, almost every day. Love the “suck it up buttercup”, because this older lady has bruises that I smile at every time I see them, because it means I am doing it and not giving up for nothing.

    • Tiffany @Circusofhumanity Reply

      Proud of you @Paularae
      I love hearing these stories. My aerial journey has been a struggle with my body not behaving. But I love that you are not forcing yourself and getting injured, just being where you are. Makes me want to go sign up for aerial yoga!

  23. Kirsten Reply

    A bit late to the party here, but this is what I needed to hear! I’ve been doing silks and hoop for around 7 months now and find silks a real struggle. My strength has definitely improved which is awesome. On the flip side I’ve been stuck on the same two moves for about 5 months and don’t seem to be making any progress which I find very frustrating. But I guess I need to just keep going at it and slowly slowly it will come together. I only train once a week so perhaps I need to look at increasing that.

    Lovely to hear everyone else’s stories of courage and success.


    • Paula Rae Reply

      Kristin, keep at it ( and the more often the better!) I am now at 99lbs off now! I am finally able to climb and do other poses that one year ago were impossible and seemed like they would always be impossible. I try and get on the silks 3 days per week. My husband built me an outdoor rig that is incredible, (more room between the silks with a longer drop than the rig in the garage). I was in a slump for a month or two where I did the same moves, over and over and felt like I’d never progress. I started strength training at a local gym, and stepped up my silks time and broke that slump. 🙂 I wish we could post pictures here, so I could show my before and after’s and a few pictures of me on my silks. My journey may take longer than others, but its a journey I am loving! Good luck and keep at it! Oh, and I turn 50 in 4 days!

      • Kirsten Reply

        Good work, Paula! Thanks for sharing your story with me; it’s very inspiring. I’m glad you were able to break through your own slump and I’m sure mine will come too. I can only fit in training once a week although I do hoop once a week too as well as other cross-training. I know there are things I can do with ease now that I couldn’t do at all before so I need to focus on those wins rather than beating myself up about the bits I find tricky.
        Also, happy upcoming 50th! x

  24. Alison Gross Reply

    I’m finding a lot of articles like this about how hard aerial is when you first start out. I certainly went through that phase of not being able to climb silks or get up on the bar without help but everything says it gets better. I have yet to find any materials out there about someone who is truly just bad at aerial. I’ve been doing aerial for over five years, for the past two years I’ve been doing at least four hours a week, plus I do daily training at home (grip strength, pull ups, invert conditioning). I just moved to a new studio only to find that, apparently, I’m still considered beginner level and am nowhere near the bench mark to move out of it. I know that a lot of people who do aerial come from dance and gymnastics backgrounds so I understand that they would probably progress faster, at least at first but a difference of 8 months to four years, seems a bit much. I think I might be the exception to the rule and be a person who is just naturally awful at aerial. Maybe we’re rare, which just makes it more painful, but I’m pretty sure we’re out there. Yea, don’t give up after a few weeks of class because people do get better but if it’s been five years maybe it’s time to rethink things.

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