Author Archives: Lewitwer

Tilt Festival in Birmingham, UK!

Hello Dear Danglers! If you’ll be in Europe this summer, consider checking out Tilt Festival. Details below – I love a good circus festival!

When: July 18th-24th

Where: Birmingham, UK.

What: Aerial & Physical Theatre Festival

Activities: Shows, classes, etc. Sarah Holmes will be teaching silks & rope, plus there’s trapeze, hoop, Chinese pole, Cyr wheel, wall running, yoga, performances, talks…..the list is endless!

Info:  www.tiltfestival.com (please contact Rogue Play Theatre directly with questions)

 

 

 

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.

 

What the Heck IS Proficiency in Aerial Teaching, Anyway?

Photo by Brigid Marz.

Photo by Brigid Marz.

I’m so glad you asked, Dear Dangler! If you missed the first post in this series, click here; otherwise, carry on.


Proficiency – a high degree of competence or skill; expertise.


We live in a pretty DIY time, with resources positively oozing from every nook and cranny of the internet. With a click or two of my keyboard, I can learn to re-caulk my shower, save my dying succulents, get that stain off my new white shirt, and learn advanced moves on aerial silks. All in an afternoon!

Something I find myself coming up against in the USA again and again is our disregard (and sometimes blatant contempt for) expertise (great article here). WHY should I hire someone to re-caulk my shower if I can do it myself? Well, in this case, it depends on how nice I want it to look and how much time and effort I wish to spend. Besides, the worst thing that could happen if this goes terribly, terribly wrong (and, if you know me and home improvement projects, it definitely will) is that I get a really messy, caulk-y shower and my husband gets cranky.

What about things like aerial silks? Does it matter where we learn it or who we learn it from? (I’ll give you a hint: YES. It matters quite a bit.) We expect that the person imparting the knowledge has a firm grasp on what they’re teaching, and isn’t just winging it with a “How To Do Aerial Silks” manual and a YouTube video. And by the by – if you don’t expect that, perhaps you should. Raise your standards.

Realistic Levels of Proficiency in Aerial Coaching

The first question has to be: what are you teaching and to whom? Let’s be very candid – teaching summer camp kids three moves on a static trapeze is a far cry from coaching at Ecole Nationale de Cirque. I generally think of it in the following levels:

  • Three Trick Tallulah – You know a handful of moves inside and out, and are able to teach and spot them with confidence. You do not call yourself an aerial teacher, but you are comfortable putting on this hat for an hour every day at camp.
  • Assistant Teacher Alastair – You are on the teacher track, and actively working as an assistant under the guidance of a teacher training program or a well-established professional instructor. You’re not ready to strike out on your own, but are working to increase your understanding of spotting, methodology, essential technique, communication, and other teaching essentials.
  • Recreational Rainbow – You have hung out your shingle as a Teacher to the Masses. You have a thorough understanding of the foundational moves on your apparatus, and how to teach them in a variety of ways to suit different learning styles. You understand the how AND why of technique, are well-versed in applicable anatomy and injury prevention, and are confident in modifying moves for varying bodies. Your students are primarily recreational.
  • Professional Petunia – You mostly train folks with aerial stars in their eyes, or very serious students. You have an incredibly broad vocabulary, and are an innovator in your field. You are an aerial problem solver – from technique to choreography. You demand excellence, and know how to get the very best out of each and every student. Your resume is extensive.
  • Elite Eloise – You are a badass. You are the teacher we all aspire to be, and will jump at the chance to train with (Master Teacher). You live and breathe this apparatus, and have for years. Your teaching resume is a mile long, and you are very well respected throughout the industry. You are a first-class leader and expert, and I probably stalk you on social media.

 

Many of us probably fall somewhere between two levels. Where would you be? If a professional watched you teach and evaluated your class, would they agree? Note: if you’re very nervous about being evaluated by experts in the field, you probably know that you have some work to do. Pay attention to that feeling – it’s like an arrow pointing towards what needs improvement.

Staying Within Your Scope of Practice

When I got my personal training certifications, there was a phrase that was frequently bandied about: “scope of practice”. I love – LOVE – this phrase, most often used in the medical field. To me, it’s the bedrock of honest teaching. If we co-opt it for aerial instruction, the premise is simple: teach what you know well. It varies for everyone – whether it’s 5 moves or 500. For example, I hated open drops when I was in circus school – hated them. Consequently, I only really worked on a hand full, and I consider many of them to be beyond my scope of practice. I teach the ones I’m supremely confident in, but, beyond that, it’s a no-go, even when my students beg and plead and bring me pie (but keep the pie coming, guys – someday I might cave!). Pretending to know more than you do, not understanding that there are areas beyond your scope of practice and not knowing what they are, or “winging it” puts your students in very real danger.

False Advertising

hell nawM’Kay. Shade warning (for additional shade, please see below). If you know yourself to be a Three-Trick Tallulah, but advertise yourself as a Recreational Rainbow or a Professional Petunia, we’ve got a false advertising problem. If you think it goes unnoticed, newsflash – it doesn’t. Now, most of the time, I think it’s an issue of ignorance – Tallulah just doesn’t know that she’s got a lot more to learn. But if you’re doing it deliberately, that’s not OK, and here is the face I make when I encounter this. Now that you know better, do better.

So yes – proficiency is a Big Topic, and this is a Little Blog. Here’s my action step for the week – please join me if you feel so inclined! I’m going to go through my general progressions and curriculum, give everything the “scope of practice” check, and identify 3 areas that could broaden my practice (open drops for sure, roll-ups, and planches over here). What are your areas? Post them in the comments below!

And now, for no other reason than it came up in my feed as I was searching “shade”, here is your daily dose of Ru Paul, to be watched in 6 inch heels. Werk! 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.

 

What Makes Someone Qualified to Teach Aerial Arts?

Well, Dear Dangler, I’m so glad you asked! As you can imagine, it’s not a simple answer, but good news – it’s not astrophysics either. So many new instructors think it’s just about turning a lot of tricks, which makes seasoned veterans a little lot grumpy. There’s a bit more to it!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be addressing each area in a series of blog posts. The main goal is to spark reflection and conversation, and point us all in the direction of resources that can shore up our weak spots (and make no mistake – there’s not a teacher alive that has no weak spots). Today’s list is not meant to be exhaustive, but more of an outline of what we’ll be jumping into. I can’t wait!

Core Areas of Competency in Aerial Instruction

For the purposes of the blog, I’ve narrowed it down to the following areas, listed in no particular order. Imagine a pie chart, in which each piece is essential and delicious. Mmmmm….pie…. This is geared towards individual aerial teachers and those hired by studios, as opposed to the studios themselves (for a great list of standards & guidelines for studios from ACE, click here). Again – this is a general outline, not a curriculum, hold your emails for the moment.

  1. Aerial skills
    1. Proficiency on the apparatus being taught
    2. Understanding of essential technique
  2. Rigging
    1. Basics (can identify equipment & it’s proper use, understands common rigging terms such as bridle, basket, choke, etc., can tie common knots such as the bowline and figure 8, etc.)
    2. Equipment maintenance & inspection, keeps a rigging inspection log
    3. Standards in place for retiring equipment
    4. Understanding of how shockloads in dynamic movements affect the body
  3. Spotting & Safety
    1. Comfortable with a variety of hands-on spotting methods
    2. Understands and informs students of contraindications for moves
    3. Solid base in injury prevention for the chosen apparatus
    4. Certified in First Aid/CPR
    5. Utilizes appropriate matting
    6. Has a student rescue plan and an emergency plan in place for each space in which you teach
    7. Upholds a set student/teacher ratio, particularly in regards to situations involving hands-on spotting
    8. Has aerial teaching insurance if not teaching through (and covered by) a studio
    9. Understands and enforces the space needed for the execution of moves (minimum/maximum height, area around apparatus)
    10. Requires students to sign a waiver, and ensures that they are well-informed as to the risks involved in aerial work.
    11. Pursues an environment & culture of safety.
  4. Communication & Environment 
    1. Strong verbal cuing skills
    2. Consistently conveys authority, and enforces risk/behavioral agreements with students
    3. Comfortable advocating for student safety
    4. Nurtures and strives to create an atmosphere conducive to learning
    5. Has and upholds a strong policy on substance use/abuse
    6. Clearly communicates boundaries and expectations when teaching a new skill
  5. Pedagogy & Methodology
    1. Employs a well-thought-out curriculum
    2. Teaches established, commonsensical progressions
    3. A written mission statement or teaching philosophy
    4. Consistent evaluation of new and continuing students
  6. Anatomy, Physiology, Kinesiology, & Continuing Education
    1. Has a good understanding of basic anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology (what it is, what it does, and how it moves)
    2. Actively pursues continuing education in related areas

 

Where to Next?

ACTION STEP check out the ACE Safety Program, and, if you meet the criteria, get the process started! If you don’t meet the criteria, start addressing that. For the record, I am not affiliated with ACE, just a member. But I DO think that the safety program is a phenomenal step in getting the aerial community on the same page, and hey – there’s power (and influence) in numbers. If you do nothing else, read their Circus Arts Program Guidelines; they are incredibly comprehensive, and well worth a read.

If you’re a well-established teacher, let’s also take this opportunity to review our practices & procedures, identify areas that need improvement, and get on that! I will be spending the next few months working on my verbal cuing, and brushing up on my anatomy. What area will you be working on? Comment below! Love and pull-ups, Laura

HUGE thanks to Bev Sobelman and Liz Cooper who are (very patiently) allowing me to bounce ideas off them, and kind enough to offer their wisdom and insight! It takes a village, yo.

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.

 

Anderson Cooper Got on a Lyra and the Internet Lost Its Mind

OK aerial community – raise your hand if you’re still banging your head against your desk? Yep – me too. In case you’ve been under a rock (or are doing one of those “social media cleanses”), here’s what has us all hyperventilating into paper bags.

 


 

“This is a disaster waiting to happen.” – Anderson Cooper


If you’re an established aerial instructor watching this (through your fingers), you are dying right now. You are absolutely on fire inside. Ever since I first watched this, I’ve been pacing in my apartment trying to get away from the AAAAAAAAAARGH inside my head and chest, and wrap my brain around the only possible conclusion: we have collectively lost our damned minds.

What’s the Problem?

M’Kay. I’m going to put my professional britches on.

This video does not demonstrate the best practices commonly adhered to in the aerial community in the areas of safety, competency, and responsible instruction.

Let’s look at the facts:

  • Thin panel mats are inadequate in this situation. Generally speaking, thick crash pads are a better choice for use under bar apparatus.
  • There is no hands-on spotting. This is a post all it’s own; there are studios in NYC who prohibit hands-on spotting for reasons I will never fathom – beginners need hands! Beginners do incredibly stupid things because they’re beginners. My hand on their leg during a knee hang doesn’t just prevent them from straightening their leg – it calls their attention to their body in space, encourages correct positioning, and reduces panic (read: terrible choices) . My hands have caught trapezes swinging towards faces, held students when they lost their grip, given form corrections, squeezed little messages of encouragement and comfort, and, you know, reduced the likelihood of serious injury by using established and effective spotting techniques.
    • Note the un-spotted knee hang in the video around the 2:00 mark. Do you see how high Anderson’s feet are? Do you know how close he was to falling directly on his head? Now, note the “dismount”. This is very, very common for beginners to try, and can result in broken/sprained necks, knocked-out teeth, dislocated shoulders, broken/sprained arms & hands, and more. An instructor with hands placed firmly across his legs could have side-stepped the whole issue. More importantly, a seasoned instructor likely would have seen that coming a mile away.
    • Now – this is the one that had us ready to spit nails. See that un-spotted top bar knee hang at around 3:24? Look at Anderson’s wide, unsupported knee placement, and note how high his feet are. He is not connected with his hands. His mic pack drops off (distraction), and he has already gone for an illegal dismount. And now, we’re going to “take a leg off”. I’m just going to leave that here and let all of that sink in for a minute. Excuse me – I need to go back to banging my head for a moment.
    • But wait – there’s more. From about 4:00 through the end, Andserson Cooper makes aerial coaches across the USA freak the F out. There’s so much here I CAN’T EVEN WRITE ABOUT IT! I just keep hearing words like concussion, broken neck, shoulder dislocation, no more teeth….
  • This sequence is inappropriate for beginners – even strong ones. Foundations and progressions are things – REAL things. Essential things. One movement or skill builds off another. Jumping ahead in aerial coaching is like jumping ahead in your “How to Assemble Your IKEA Dresser” instructions – skip the first steps and it’s going to be a sh*t-show no matter what.
  • The verbal cuing is inadequate. Without a visual, the sentence, “take a hand off” is too vague for the beginner student. They may interpret that same sentence as: take both hands off, take your leg off, sit up, etc. When your student is upside down, confusion can quite literally be deadly.
  • Demonstration is best done PRIOR to the attempted execution of a move. Beginners need to come at each move by seeing it with their eyes, hearing you talk about it, and having an opportunity to ask questions BEFORE attempting a move.
  • There is no mention of contra-indications, muscular engagement, or even a “don’t let go or you’ll fall on your head” discussion.
  • Your authority must be clear from the beginning. Many students – especially media personalities, groups that are “doing this crazy aerial thing” for fun for a day, and those who have no idea how much they don’t know, require a firm hand. Add to that a high level of physical fitness, and you have the student that makes you clench your nether-bits. These students have no idea what they’re doing, but they’re strong enough to get themselves into real trouble. Stir in a dash of the “clown factor” (someone doesn’t want to look silly, so they play the clown to stay in control), an you have a student you’ll need to be glued to for the entire session.

Yeah, OK – All That. But What’s the Real Problem?

The real problem is that there are people teaching who have no business teaching. They are not ready to teach. They have taken a few years of classes and assume that they are ready because they can turn so many tricks, or they’re a dancer or personal trainer who got “certified” in this cool new workout, or they’re in a small town with no aerial instructor, so…

There is no meaningful certification for aerial teaching readiness in the USA. There are some excellent teacher trainings for experienced aerialists (NECCA, AirCat Aerial Arts, I’m looking at you), and ACE/AYCO are making excellent steps in the right direction with their safety program, but no real certifying body. This leaves us with a big problem. It’s not a new problem, nor is it an easy one. We tried to address it here in NYC by founding NYATA (NY Aerial Teachers Alliance), but were quickly overwhelmed by the scope of the issue. Add to that the fad of fitness spaces trying to tout circus as the next great fitness craze, and dance schools all over the US wanting to add an aerial component to their curriculum (but not hire an actual aerial teacher), and the fact that we do not value expertise in this DIY country, and it’s easy to see why we are so. damned. angry.  The public has no way of knowing whether a teacher is safe or qualified.

What the Hell do We Do Now?

I’m not done writing about this, but – ha ha – I have to run and teach my classes. I’ll pick this up tomorrow. BUT, I’d like to leave you with this.

Before we get too far up on our high horses, and make this woman the poster child for all that is wrong in our teaching industry, we may want to pause and remember that we have created this. I have, and you have. This is a community problem, and we have allowed it to happen. We have seen it coming, watched it unfold, and now it’s here on our doorstep.

My question for you is this, aerial community. What shall we tackle first? We have an unprecedented opportunity to turn this from a thing that makes our hair collectively fall out, into a triumph for our community. Every aerial teacher safe, qualified, competent. Comment below – if we want change, we can’t wait for someone else to make it happen. Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

 

The Annoying Hand Injury You Didn’t Even Know Was a Thing – Skier’s Thumb

Do you train on squishy mats? Do you do handstands, push-ups, or other gymnastics on a squishy mat? Do you routinely wrestle finely-muscled athletes in a tub of Jell-O on a squishy mat? Just asking on that last one (send photos). If you do any of these things, you could be unknowingly courting a hand injury that I didn’t even know was a thing until it happened to me – SKIER’S THUMB (cue ominous music).

 

What is Skier’s Thumb? Why Might I Be at Risk?

Skier’s Thumb is a more common injury if you ski. Before you ask, no – I don’t. And if I did, it would probably look something like this.

 

 

It’s a soft tissue injury to the ligaments in your hand, most often occurring when skiers fall, splay their hands, and land on their poles – pushing the thumb back with force. Know how else you can get it? Yep – you guessed it! Training on squishy mats. What’s really unfair? It can develop over time. Merp.

If you’re an aerialist, you’ll notice a lot of tenderness around the base of the thumb, pain while gripping, and perhaps referred pain in the wrist. Your grip between thumb and forefinger will be weaker, thus diminishing your overall grip (so not a good time to do that “trapeze over a shark tank” act you’ve been dreaming of). It can also come with a hefty dose of thumb pain in any direction.

 

How Can I Prevent It?

Well, don’t train splayed-hand moves on squishy mats! Also – don’t ski (or at least don’t fall down).

What constitutes a squishy mat? Any mat where your palm is lower than your thumb when you’re doing a push-up. Sprung gymnastic floors are great, and firm panel mats or hard foam floors are usually OK. Soft mats like crash pads are horrendous, as are most mats that are going to feel nice and soft if you fall down on them. For the hand muscles to properly engage, the thumb and fingers shouldn’t be bent back.

 

Dammit – Too Late! How Do I Treat It?

Get thee to the doctor for a proper diagnosis! They’ll likely recommend the usual (ice, rest, NSAIDS), and if there’s a complete ligament tear, surgery, with PT to follow.

Mine sneaked up on me a few years ago, and EVERY TIME I see someone training gymnastic movement on a squishy mat (handstands, cartwheels, etc), I have to fight the urge to tackle them and ACE bandage their thumbs. But that would be weird, so I wrote about it instead.

Keep those hands healthy – they’re kind of important in the work we do! Also – I wanna see that shark tank act. 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.

 

The Upsides and Downsides (and Upside-down Sides!) of Training With Your Bestie

Emily ALWAYS makes people feel welcome! Photo by Brigid Marz.

Emily ALWAYS makes people feel welcome! Photo by Brigid Marz.

Are you thinking of taking up a new hobby?

What? What’s that? Aerial silks?!

I LOVE that idea – you should totally do it! 😉

Hmmm? Oh, you’re nervous to come by yourself and want to bring your bestie?

Yup! I get that! Come on down! But, here are a few things to keep in mind when training with your friends, frenemies, and that girl you just met on the train who seems kind of awesome but may be a little too into those nutritional supplements she keeps trying to sell you.

Meeting People is Hard!

Is it confession time yet? Because I have one. I hate going new places alone! I’m shy (yup – I know, you didn’t see that coming), and quite the introvert. The idea of going to a new class with no friend to act as a social safety net is So Intimidating!! Ugh – I’ve got butterflies just thinking about it.

BUT (you knew there would be a but), that safety net can keep you from meeting new people and bonding with a group. It’s sooooo tempting to sit off by yourselves, chatting, and not interacting much with the other people. If you bring a friend, do try to:

  • Introduce yourself to at least 3 people, or have a quick chat. “Do you come to this class often?” “How did you hear about aerial silks?” “What do you like best about circus?”
  • Don’t isolate yourselves -make sure you’re not “islanding” (did I just make up a word? I think I did!). Sit or work near the core group – remember, you are welcome here!
  • Pay attention! Sometimes, it’s easy to get lost in your own conversational world with your pal. Don’t forget that there’s a person trying to teach you something.

Competition Can Be Awkward

Tale as old as time. You come to class with your friend Bitsy who has never touched a fabric, while you have trained for 12 years. On her first day, Bitsy masters the climb, in-air inversion, and is offered a Cirque du Soleil contract at the end of her class. It is a supreme test of character to thwart the feelings of jealousy that can crop up when you are surpassed by a friend. Think you’re not competitive? Maybe that’s true! And maybe it’s not. Be gentle with yourself if you find feelings bubbling up.

I’d love to have a simple “5 Steps to Being OK With Having Your Butt Whooped By Your Best Friend”, but it’s a very personal journey. What I can leave you with is this: it’s OK. It’s OK to feel these feelings, it’s really common, and it does not mean that you’re a bad person. Everyone will experience jealousy at some point! When it comes up for me, I try to focus on the fact that it is NOT a competition. My journey is MY journey, and it is unique to me; I have strengths that are mine alone, and this is what I need to magnify. (note: it’s hard and it sucks – keep practicing)

Are You a Mean Girl? The Other Side of the New Student Equation

I am blessed beyond measure to have some of the friendliest, kindest, sassiest students on the planet. They reach out to newbies, and do everything they can to make them feel welcome! From a teaching perspective, this makes me want to weep with gratitude. Are you one of these students? THANK YOU!

Alternatively, you also occasionally get the Mean Girl (I’m sure it happens with guys too, but I teach mostly ladies). The Mean Girl sees every new student as competition, or as an “outsider”, and makes zero effort to be friendly. In fact, she may give off an overtly hostile vibe. The vibes aren’t confined to newbies, I might add!

This deserves it’s own post, but I’ll just leave this here. If you have Mean Girl tendencies (and many of us do, to some extent), KNOCK IT OFF. Is this really who you want to be? Really? OR, would you like to be the student who:

  • is the first to say hello to a new student
  • helps them get the lay of the land
  • points out where they’re doing a really great job
  • is encouraging and supportive (“My first class was so hard, I had no idea it would be that tough! Keep with it, you’ll get it – I promise!”)

 

Mean girls bring down the energy of a class, and can create a toxic environment for learning. Don’t be that person who makes someone feel lonely and left out.

So Wait – Should I Bring a Friend or Not?

Yes – by all means! Just keep in mind that it’s good to meet new people, pay attention, and try to keep competition from becoming less-than-friendly. Think community! 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.

 

Solid Aerial Technique vs MORE MOVES – Are You Just Looking to Turn Some Tricks?

20150224_201325_Hagrid_GrungeHappy Thursday, Dear Danglers! This week, I had a great conversation with another instructor about the fine line between cultivating excellent technique by refining what you know, and feeding new stuff into the mix. How perfect does it have to be exactly before you get to do the cool stuff and add a double wedgie drop to the end? (my condolences to your naughty bits)

How Good Does My Aerial Technique Have to Be, Anyway?

Well, let’s look at why technique matters in the first place (hint: it’s not just to make you look fancy).

  • Safety first! Good technique runs the gamut – it can keep you from little ouchies (fabric burns, bar bonks, atomic wedgies) and the big ones (whiplash, sprains, breaks, and worse).
  • It’s foundational! Like a pair of Spanx, good technique smooths the lumps and bumps out of your work, making it sleek, efficient, and BOOM-level hot in spandex.
  • It makes stuff work! Physics, ya’ll. Here – try this experiment. Take a pencil, wind a string around it, and watch it roll down. Now, do the same with a glob of Silly Putty, a flailing badger, and a gummy worm. I rest my case.
  • You’ll use less energy! Remember the badger from our last experiment? First, he’s really pissed at you. Second, he’s just used up a LOT of unnecessary energy flailing. When those furry little knees are slightly bent in a foot lock? Those muscles have to work so much harder to keep him upright. Balance, energy expenditure, and efficiency are all tied up together. Sometimes quite literally.
  • It makes you look amazing! Straight legs, pointed toes, lifted assets, and boobies pointing to the sky create gorgeous lines that will make you (and your long-suffering coach) very proud. Don’t let a droopy kneecap or sicled foot ruin your moment of Instagram glory!!! (speaking of Instagram, I’m finally on it! Follow me!) #shamelessplug

Your technique doesn’t have to be “perfect”, but you’re really swimming upstream if you ignore it. Everything is harder, looks less awesome, and crap technique often results in injury.

Finding The Balance – The Zen of Learning Aerial Circus

What would you say if I told you that you could work

on technique AND learn new skills?

mind blown

Variety is the spice of life and learning, so please don’t think I’m trying to sentence you to nothing but foot knots and hip keys forever. Learn new stuff! Yearn for ALL THE MOVES! But balance that with an equal passion for excellence. It’s like chocolate – do you want to be the generic m&m’s or the Godiva? If you pick the former, please slap yourself.

Technique keeps you safe and makes things look glamorous. If you’re just looking to turn a bunch of tricks, you’re really selling yourself short. Don’t do that. Love and pull-ups, Laura


How has technique made a huge difference for you? Did you have an AH-HAH moment? Share it in the comments below!


 

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.

 

Torturous Technique – No More Droopy Froggie Butt!

Oh my, Dear Danglers. We have to talk about something: your assets may be droopy. And sad. Do YOU have droopy froggie butt?
 

 

When switching direction on your splits via a pike position, are you tucking your tail bone? THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA – it ages your booty 90+ years! Why tuck it? Stick it out, so it creates a beautiful, bountiful, shapely, and glamorous shape! You want to be like an L, not like a noodle. So, make the most of your assets – stick ’em out!

 

 

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.

 

Bon Voyage! Aerial Training While Traveling Abroad

Angela and I doing acro on a live volcano in Hawaii!

Acro on a live volcano in Hawaii!

This post was inspired by two of my dear and beautiful students, Ellie and Susie, who braved what we affectionately refer to as the “NON!” style of class sign-ups. 😉

Are you going somewhere wonderful? FANTASTIC!!! (can I come?) Are you looking to do some training while you’re there? Love it! How can you make the most of an incredible locale without winding up with an atomic wedgie twenty feet in the air? Here are 10 tips to get you going in the right direction.

  1. Plan ahead. It can take a good long time to arrange for training in another country, especially if Google Translate is involved. As soon as you know you’ll be hitting the high seas, consult the inter-webs, ask for FaceBook recommendations, etc. and try to contact as many spaces as you can before you leave. Depending on the area’s circus culture, you may get quite a bit of, “NON! We do not allow zat here!” when you ask if you can drop into classes or open workouts. Don’t despair! Keep searching, and keep asking. If all else fails, just show up at a space and talk to them. Sometimes, when a teacher sees that you’re a normal, rational human being, circus happens.
  2. Be prepared. Sign up for a class one level below your current one – better to get promoted than demoted! Additionally, dress for the weather and the culture. Unsure? Layers!
  3. Play it safe. You don’t need to prove anything to this teacher or class, so no showing off. You’re in a different space with different people on different apparatus and possibly a different language. Go low and slow, and make sure you understand things BEFORE you leave the ground.
  4. Know your body. Try not to schedule training for the first day or two if you know you’re going to be a useless pile of jet lag. Also – how’s your tummy? Have you pooped lately? (look, I’m a mother – I have to ask these things) Pay attention to how your body is reacting to food, altitude, etc and train accordingly.
  5. Be respectful. Every studio has different practices and standards; within the bounds of safety, it is not your place to openly critique the way they do things.
  6. Be friendly! As tempting as it is to sit apart from the group, scoot your tushie on over and be where the people are. Smile, attempt the local language, and try to tune into their energy.
  7. Try new things! Be flexible and open to learning new ways of doing stuff (otherwise, WHY BE IN CLASS?!). You can throw it all away the moment the door hits ya where the Good Lord split ya, but please spare me the, “but this is how I always do it” speech. I do not give a crap how you always do it; you are in my class, please do me the courtesy of trying it my way.
  8. Cover your ass. Before you leave, purchase travel insurance (a great thing to have anyway) which includes foreign medical coverage. Please believe me when I say that you do NOT want to find out post-surgery to set your broken arm that your insurance doesn’t provide international coverage.
  9. Leave if you need to. Things feeling/looking decidedly unsafe? Is the energy feeling hurtful, aggressive, or just Not Okay? Leave. Fake a headache or nausea if you have to, but leave. Trust your gut.
  10. Gather all the good things! What do they do differently that you love? What moves? What approach? Conditioning? Try to gather as many things as you can to take home and enrich your training.

 

Travel is great on it’s own, and it’s even more delicious when we get to do silks on a mountaintop (OK, that’s my idea of hell, but this is your fantasy, so we’ll go with it), fly in the desert, or condition on a beach somewhere. Train smart, and bon voyage!!! 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.

 

Blech! Heartburn and GERD in Aerial Training

Hello Dear Danglers! In aerial class, have you ever been in an upside-down position (with straight legs and pointed toes and boobies to the sky, of course), fabric perhaps wrapped around your waist, when all of a sudden…. UGH. No bueno. Must come down – ugh. Burning. Feels like I’m gonna puke. Uuuuuuugh. You’ve just become rather intimately acquainted with Our Friend Stomach Acid! It’s going to be a long-term relationship, so you’ll want to buddy up. 🙂

Stomach Acid, Heartburn, and Aerial Arts

What goes down can, I’m afraid, come back up. When you eat, food travels down the esophagus, and snuggles into your tummy. Ideally, a sphincter muscle at the top of the stomach (heh heh – I said sphincter) called the esophageal sphincter keeps food squarely where it belongs – in your belly; but when you’re upside down, all bets are off. That sexy burning/barfy feeling is the contents of your stomach (acid, food) making their way back into your esophagus, and making you feel miserable.


 

“But isn’t there some kind of exercise – like a throat Kegel – to strengthen the muscles?” – Miss Brigid (said with a wink)


 

Why Me?

Why not you? Every aerialist will have moments or “seasons” of reflux. Sometimes, it’s as simple as pinpointing a meal you ate too close to class; but for some, it reoccurs almost daily, and stretches out for several weeks. Repeated bouts of reflux can create inflammation, creating more reflux, creating more inflammation, in a really unfortunate cycle. Blech on every level.

What Can I Do?

Eating to close to class is an easy culprit (as is drinking a lot of water during class). If you find you’re “feeling the burn” rather too often, here are a few things you can try:

  • Give yourself a two hour no food window prior to class or training.
  • Step awaaaaaaaay from that deep fried pickle! Certain foods – fried, chocolatey, caffeinated, cheesy, basically all the good stuff – can trigger heartburn. Also? No drinky-poos.
  • If you’re in a recurrent “season” of heartburn, stay away from moves that wrap around the stomach (craptastic rolldowns, I’m lookin’ at you). There are plenty of other things to focus on – fear not!
  • Have you recently gained pounds? Thanks, holidays! Well, here’s another reason to get back to your fightin’ weight.
  • Quit making like a chimney. If the contents of your stomach returning on a regular basis to your esophagus don’t encourage you to quit, you’re a stubborn bastard.
  • Keep a record. If you can figure out what’s causing your reflux, you can avoid it!
  • If it happens during class, ask your instructor for variations of a particular move to keep you upright. Stop immediately when you feel burny or barfy! Trust me – we would rather you didn’t tough this one out.

 

Good luck, Dear Danglers, and may the contents of your stomach remain firmly where they ought to be! 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.