Be Very Afraid: How Fear Makes You a Better Aerialist

Blog Confession: I have a lot of fears. I have a fear of falling and getting badly hurt, a fear of being run over by my German wheel, a fear of Brussels sprouts (they are EVIL), the list goes on and on. Is there a time when fear in aerial work actually increases your awesomeness potential? Let’s discuss.

 

The “Let Go” Guy

I had a student a few years ago, let’s call him Sam, who had zero fear. I mean zero. Zero fear, zero hesitation, and zero natural normal totally healthy instinct for self-preservation. He would get into the air, maneuver into whatever position we were working on, and then just LET GO, or something equally ridiculous. He was super fun, but I had to wear Depends to every class because he made me pee my pants each time he went up. Eventually, I had to stop teaching him because his lack of fear made him wildly unsafe.

 

Healthy Fear versus Uncontrolable Terror

A little fear in the air keeps you safe. Having a healthy respect for heights, correct rigging, and the aerial acrobatics themselves is a GOOD THING!!!!

There is a recent trend in aerial training, in which a teacher has a student get into the air, then instructs them to let go and fall, all in the name of “getting over your fear of falling”. Allow me to be candid: this is wildly stupid. Hear me now, peeps – I WANT you to have a concern about falling, the same way I want you to have a concern about electrocuting yourself, stabbing yourself repeatedly in the eye, or getting a venereal disease. If your class is raining students, time to find another instructor – yours has probably taken one too many blows to the head as they were “getting over their fears”.

Your fear becomes way less of a good thing when it’s crippling, keeps your from progressing, or is just making you miserable (please believe me – I know from whence I speak). If this is something you’re struggling with, here are a few things to try:

  • Go slooooooooooooooooowly. Almost every move under the sun has a way to progress inch by inch.
  • Identify the scariest part, then assess with your coach whether it’s a reasonable fear or not. For example, I was worried about rolling over my leg during a move in wheel class yesterday, until my instructor pointed out that it was physically impossible unless I lay on the floor and deliberately had someone repeatedly roll the wheel over my leg. Fear gone!
  • Share your fears with your teacher, your classmates, and anyone else you know will be supportive; it’s a little less scary when everyone is chanting, “ROCKSTAR! ROCKSTAR! ROCKSTAR!”

 

In closing, please know this: your fears are fine. Your fears are normal. Your fears are reasonable. You CAN do aerial work with a fear of heights, or a fear of falling, or even a fear of Brussels sprouts. We work with them (the fears, not the Brussels sprouts), and eventually they diminish or change.  So own ‘em, state ‘em, appreciate ‘em, and then whoop their asses (well, just enough so they know who’s boss). Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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