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DIY FAIL: How NOT To Learn Circus From YouTube

Baby steps, yo.

This week, fellow (kick-a$$) aerial instructor Adam Woolley rocked the blog-osphere when he posted a thoughtful and well-written entry on the growing number of aerial tutorials available online (if you didn’t see it, click here – it’s a MUST READ). Adam brings up some fabulous points, and, since we’re all talking about it, I figured I would add my two cents. Wondering how to use YouTube and other online resources to further your training? Read on, Dear Dangler!

The Hunger

You’re hungry for training – I get it, I’m there right now with my wheel stuff. I will be the first to tell you that I’m a YouTube junkie – aerial and German wheel videos are like crack to me. Also? Oreos, but that’s another post entirely. I spend at least 20 minutes a day glued to YouTube, combing videos for performances and moves I like and want to steal learn. BUT – there’s a big difference between appreciating performances/variations and using video as a substitute teacher. There’s a period of time as a student where you’re just learning how your apparatus works; it’s not just a series of tricks that you’re filing away, you’re actively figuring out how to drive this thing. A wrong turn could leave you with an unspeakable wedgie, dislocated shoulder, broken neck, or worse. So, how should you use all this readily available info? With caution, friend.

How To Endanger Your Life 101

  1.  Watch videos and online tutorials.
  2. Go into the studio and try to recreate what you saw (or think you saw) on your own. You’ll earn yourself a Darwin Award.

Be Smart – How To Use Online Resources To Further Your Aerial Training

  1. Watch the masters. What is it about their performance that is so captivating? Do you see things you would like to learn? Make a note of them.
  2. Work on the material with your coach. NOTE: Do not bombard your instructor with endless links (we love them, but there are only 24 hours in a day), or bring a list of 50 things you would like to work on in a group class – most of us plan our sessions ahead of time with the group in mind. Feel free to make requests, but save the big list for a private lesson.
  3. Take careful notes in class, observe your fellow students, and video yourself if your instructor allows it. Trust me – you’ll learn more about your performance watching yourself than someone else!
  4. Soak it all up. Read the blogs, expose yourself to tons of sources, and always ask yourself who’s doing the talking. Also? Question everything.


So, watch til your eyeballs fall out! Get inspired and all revved up. I love knowing what my students would like to work on, but it’s also worth mentioning that any good coach has a methodology to their teaching. There is a real and important progression to aerial work – a good foundation is essential, and there’s no way of getting around that. So yes – tell your coach you eventually want the triple, but understand that there are a lot of things you’ll need to master before you get there.

Big thanks to Adam Woolley for very frankly and candidly addressing this – don’t forget to read his post. And don’t fall on your head. Love and pull-ups, Laura



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7 comments on “DIY FAIL: How NOT To Learn Circus From YouTube”

  1. Amanda Goble Reply

    Thank you for putting those important *important* words… methodology, progression, foundation. I feel like a broken record lately, constantly defending the importance of those three words.

  2. Jen Reply

    I LOVE watching performance videos online. But I only tend to look for tutorials on skills I am having trouble learning in class. I like hearing things explained in different ways, in the hopes that maybe a different explanation will connect with me better. Learning is scary enough with an instructor helping!!

    • Lewitwer Reply

      This is a GREAT way to use online tutorials, Jen! Sometimes different phrasing just “clicks”. 🙂

  3. Naomie Reply

    Hey, love your blog, super helpful in navigating learning silks. I am in Colorado, in a small town, no where near a big city. Lol So getting formal instruction is few and far between. I have gathered information and what I can order off the internet to make training happen. I have yet to find others, especially other chicks, that love to commit to training consistently. Until aerial silks gains more popularity in these parts of the woods, how can a loner like me keep on track? Mostly I am outside playing with climbing equipment. It would be cool to be apart of a community to have access to more ideas, especially if there is any other outliers like me.

    • Lewitwer Reply

      Hi Naomi! That’s a toughie, 100%. If you’re able, try to arrange for “training weekends” – travel to the closest circus center, train your buns off, video everything, and come back and work on perfecting it. You can also contact instructors and try to bring them in to teach workshops, set up a safe training space for you, etc. For community building, I’ve found social media to be helpful in connecting with like-minded folks. Hope that helps a bit!

  4. Samuel Reply

    I’ve learnt aerial silks and I’m intermadiate in aerial silks, so i’ve tried some of aerial silks’ tricks from Youtube and sometimes pictures (I’m from Mexico and my city doesn’t have Aerial Silks Studio), I guess it isn’t safety, but i have never tried to do something really dangerous. Do you think it’s correct? I mean, if i haven’t choice to learn or anything like that. What advice can you give to me?
    P.S. I’m really sorry for my grammar because i don’t speak english so good.

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