Why YOU Want to be More of a Tight Ass – Essential Stability for Aerial Arts

Stayin’ tight with the Baby Janes! Photo by Kenneth Feldman, www.pfdigital.com

Dear Dangler, do you consider yourself a tight-ass? I hope so! There’s a certain amount of essential tension necessary for fabulousness in aerial and circus arts. If you’re flopping around up there like an overcooked spaghetti noodle, it’s time to tighten that sh*t up.

What is “Tightness”?

When my coaches first began barking, “Tighten up! Stay tight!”,  I clenched everything (and I do mean everything) and hoped for the best. But what I grew to understand is a) tightening EVERYTHING leads to you looking awkward and constipated on your apparatus and b) “tight” is not the same as “rigid”.

 

Staying tight means keeping muscles active and firm at about 50% power. For example, let your arm flop. Now, tighten your bicep REALLY HARD (make a “muscle”). Now, relax to about halfway. That’s tight.

 

Why Tension is Important

Try this: find a friend with a two year-old. Wait until the toddler is good and pissed off (if they’re two, you won’t have to wait long). Now – try to pick them up. THEY ARE SO HEAVY!!!!! 25 pounds never felt so hard to lift! Now – try to pick them up again when they are calm and amenable to being lifted. See how much lighter? Tension, people. That boneless-ness creates the experience of a noticeable increase in weight.

 

Without a certain amount of tension, you’re going to feel like you’re hauling around a lot of dead weight; eeeeeeeverything becomes more difficult (and your lines look le poo). While some muscles are lying around on the beach in Aruba sipping pina coladas, other muscles are trying to (literally) pick up the slack. Before they start picketing for better working conditions, you’re going to want to start redistributing the labor.

 

Viagra-vate It!

Fear not – tension is a habit! Try this:

 

  • at least one session of Pilates mat work every week (for oodles of free videos, check out www.hulu.com!) Pilates cultivates the exact type of resistance-free tension we’re trying to produce. It’s also great for helping you find the muscles you’re supposed to be using.
  • reeeeeeach (“peripheral” tightness)! Think of being pulled in different directions. For example, I am hanging upside down in my fabric. My free hand is reeeeeeeeeaching towards the ground. My leg is reeeeeeeeeaching for the back wall. If an appendage is floating free, it should be reeeeeeeeeeeaching (try not to get jazz hands, though). 😉
  • lock and load! Bits of your body that are bearing weight (bent knee, stabilizing arm, etc) should be nice and tight! Remember not to hyper-extend your joints, but this is a time for very “active” tightness.
  • zip up your abs! Abs should always be firmly engaged (“core” tightness). Bring your navel to your spine and hold your tummy firm – pretend Ian Somerhalder just walked into the room and you’re in a bikini.

 

Now, for a supremely insane example of tighness: behold, the Ukranians! Watch how they keep that tension, even when folding themselves in half backwards. You know, like ya do. Love and pull-ups, Laura
 

 

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.

 

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