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Author Archives: Lewitwer

Face Palm! When Performance Goes Horribly Wrong

Ghetto StrapsStory time! So, this past week, I saw an old flame for the first time in about 12 years. Now, I’m a blissfully happy married lady, but you know how this works. No matter how much of a douche he was, no matter how happy you are now, you REALLY want to look amazing when you see him. With this in mind, I booked myself an afternoon at the salon to get my color done (it’s quite the ordeal). When the poor stylist took the foils out of my hair the first time, my streak was half yellow, half lilac. I sh*t you not. So, the guy puts Extra Strong Heavy Duty Super Terrifying Bleach on my hair to try again (by this time, I was just hoping that my hair would actually stay attached to my head). We rinsed again, and success! Glorious color! But now, it was too late to blow my hair out to the sleek, sophisticated do I’d envisioned.


 “I know!” said my stylist. “I’ll make it all Burnadette Peters fabulous! The higher the hair, the closer to Jesus!”


He proceeded to tease and spray my hair until it stood a full four inches off my head. Instead of cool and collected, I looked like the Wild Woman of Borneo. To top it off, there was a gale-force wind outside. By the time I saw my old dalliance, I looked like a homeless woman who had been though a hurricane. Oh – it was so bad. Instead of the, “Damn! I can’t believe I let that get away!” I had hoped to inspire, I’m fairly certain he thought, “Damn! Dodged THAT bullet!” Awesomeness fail.


Aside from a bruised ego, I was fine, of course. But what on earth does this have to do with anything aerial, you’re asking? Well, I’m a-tellin’ ya. Have you ever had a performance go very, very wrong? Messed up your routine? Got tied in a knot? Or (worst of all), gone Big Boom like our friend below? When you feel completely humiliated, it’s HARD on the ego. Grab some cawfee and a prune danish. Let’s tawk.


When You Just Want to Die

Performances are funny things. Rehearsal is meant to prepare you for every eventuality, but when you’re confronted with an audience, nerves, lights, loud music, and a host of other things you didn’t have to contend with beforehand, stuff can get weird. Fast. When you finish a performance feeling more mortified than marvelous, keep the following in mind:
  1. It’s almost never as bad as you think. The audience may have had a COMPLETELY different view of your act than you did! Find a sounding board you trust, kvetch a bit, and let them console you. Very therapeutic as long as it doesn’t become a habit!
  2.  If it was, in fact, as bad as you think, try to put it in perspective. Other than your ego, is anything else in shambles? Unless there was a Cirque du Soleil scout in the audience, chances are that this one performance won’t have any major repercussions in the grand scheme of things.
  3. If you clearly and meaningfully injure yourself (intense pain, a blow to the head, etc), stop immediately and, as gracefully as possible, exit the stage. It’s tempting to try to keep going, but adrenaline could be masking more injury than you think. Really be conservative on this one. If you destroy your body, where are you going to live?


Prepare the Right Way

I’m big on troubleshooting and preventing problems before shows. Not everything can be anticipated, but here are some good places to start.
  1. Rehearse your ass off. If you’re a seasoned professional, you can push your limits a bit. But for the student or green performer, you’ll want to make sure you can easily complete your act three times in one hour. Can’t do it? Make the piece shorter or put in more resting moves.
  2. Make sure you’re totally 100% comfortable with the elements of your piece. Performance is not the time to bust out the stuff you’re struggling with or just learned yesterday!!!! This cannot be overstated. Know what you’re doing onstage.  
  3. If you’re doing ambient work (nightclubs, for example), don’t just wing it. Prior to the event, string together lots of sequences that are second nature for you. Not only does this keep you safer, but it keeps your work dynamic so you don’t keep repeating the same four moves ad nauseum.
  4. Check your lighting. Make sure you have enough light to consistently see your apparatus (and the floor if you’re doing fabrics or a flying apparatus, especially if it’s a dark floor). You also want to make sure you’re not being blinded or disoriented by bright lighting. Talk to the LD (lighting designer) about your needs. For us, we request a basic wash on the apparatus (and floor if we need it), about 70% brightness for stage shows, and no strobes, fast-spinning gobos, or unexpected bally-hoos with the lights. Beyond that, they can have fun!
  5. Make sure the sound person is really clear on when to start your music. 
  6.  If there’s time, do a quick sequence on your apparatus in the space. Just a little “check in” can make a big difference in how comfortable you feel.
  7. Do a good warm up and make sure you’re hydrated and fueled! Eat a light meal about 90 minutes before the show, and make sure you’ve been sipping water regularly. A warm-up should elevate your body temperature, take your muscles and joints through their anticipated range of motion, and get you feeling strong and ready.



Enjoy the Show! Do a good prep, do your best onstage. If the piece goes Very Wrong, take heart: we’ve ALL had awful shows. Truly! Take a good look at what happened, and learn from your experience. Then, go have Dance-on-the-Table-Margarita Night with your best friends, and make them all tell you repeatedly how awesome you are. Because you are awesome. 🙂 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.


Circus Peeps – Help a Researcher Out!

Hello Dear Danglers! Got this in my in-box today. If you have 4 minutes, help a sistah out! Interesting study on how immersed you get in your work when you train.  🙂

Hello! I’m Marta Reixach, student from the University of Girona (Catalonia, Spain) and I’m fascinated with circus performance. Now, I’m doing a research work of Accounting and Finance Degree, about the flow state related to artists’ work accomplishment.

For this reason I need your collaboration by answering an anonymous little short interview (about 4 minutes).

Straighten Your Damned Supporting Leg

Yes, YOU, Dear Dangler! Do you work in foot knots with a soft knee? Quit it. Straighten your damned supporting leg, and watch your work get STRONGER, with bonus fabulousness!

What’s the Big Deal?

Aside from looking sad and shriveled, a bent knee sucks the power out of your leg and makes it SO much harder to haul your butt around. Remember the “boneless two year old” experiment? Same principle. Tight, lifted limbs are easier to work with, and pinchy bits become less pinchy. So, make like a Rockette already!

bent knee

Lift Your Kneecap!

It’s not a difficult fix, but it IS tough to make it a regular thing if you’re a habitual knee-bender. Tighten the muscles on the front of the thigh (quadriceps) until you feel the knee cap (patella) lift. Your leg is now straight! You can also try pretending that you don’t have knees, or practice actively pushing through your supporting leg. **For all you hyper-mobile joint folks (do your knees bend backwards?), that’s a whole other post. **

For the record, this applies to all circus disciplines, not just aerial work. If you’re standing on a leg and it’s supposed to be straight, liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiift! If you are battling a very sticky habit of “soggy knees,” consider taking an occasional ballet class; nothing cures bent walkers faster than watching them in a mirror! A militant French ballet teacher with a stick doesn’t hurt either (actually, it does hurt…).

straight leg edit


Look how fancy! If you do this ONE THING, your work will make a HUGE leap forwards!!!! If saggy baggy knees are plaguing you, make a commitment to yourself to crank ’em up – what a difference it will make! 🙂 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.


Aerial Arts Festival in Denver! May 30 & 31

Aerial Arts Festival


Know what’s awesome? AERIAL ARTS FESTIVALS!!! Workshops, competitions, and more – oh my!
WHEN: Shows on Friday, May 30th and Saturday, May 31st 2014 at 7:00 pm


Workshops for the beginning and advanced aerialist from May 28th-June 1st, 2014

There will be a Pre-show Fun Fair  both nights. Food, Jugglers, Clowns, StiltWalkers, & More!
6pm to 7pm May 30 and May 31


Eugenia Rawls Courtyard Theater at the Kenneth King Academic and Performing Arts
Center; 855 Lawrence Way; Denver, CO 80204 – Auraria Campus

The Aerial Acrobatic Arts Festival brings amazing aerialists to Denver for two
competition shows Friday, May 30th and Saturday, May 31st. Since 2011 The Aerial
Acrobatic Arts Festival has brought over 60 spectacular circus artists to Denver. Former
participants have gone on to careers with Cirque du Soleil.

Audiences will be thrilled by daring feats of grace, strength, and flexibility on trapeze, straps, rope, hoop and fabric. Finalists are chosen in each discipline at the Friday May 30th semi-final show. Finalists compete Saturday, May 31st for the awards of Best Technical, Best Artistic, Audience Choice, and Best Overall Performance. Aspiring aerialists will have the chance to participate in workshops May 28th-June 1st to help refine their technical, artistic, and performance skills.

Produced by Lynn Coleman, former Denver Public Schools Board of Education member and second-generation Denver circus family. Artistic Director, Marshall Garfield, former head coach for Cirque du Soleil. General Director, Tatanya Hamermesh, local aerialist, third-generation Denver circus family, and cancer survivor.

Tickets go on sale April 12 – don’t miss out! Shows May 30 & 31, 2014.

For more information, to become a sponsor, or see videos from previous years, please visit the web site:


Pssssst! Are You Making Your Classmates Insane? It’s Etiquette Time!

Bee Tootsie Roll

Miss Bridget is ALWAYS a delight to take class with!

Do you make your fellow students gently insane? Are you the one your classmates change days to avoid? You might be… Time to have another chat about classroom etiquette!

DISCLAIMER: I am one of these students (guess which one!). I know from whence I speak. We can do better! 😉

The Apparatus Hog

This dear student gets SO EXCITED about working on her apparatus, she forgets to come down when her turn is over! The seconds tick by as she tries variation after variation, oblivious to others waiting their turn.

What you should know: Your classmates are thrilled that you’re having fun, but they paid their moolah too and want some air time! Your extra noodling can read as greedy, selfish, or show-off-y. Make an extra effort to make sure you’re not hoggin’ that apparatus – learn to share!

The “I Suck” Student

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar. “UGH! My splits SUCK!” (while dangling in a 12 inch over-splits). Mmmmmm-hmmmmm. Nothing will make your classmates want to slap you more than basically insulting them (pssst! many of your fellow students would kill to have your splits).

What you should know: Look – I know that you’re not trying to dis anyone! You expect a lot from yourself, and where others see a triumph, you see room for improvement. BUT, do be sensitive to the people around you. Some of them have been busting their asses for YEARS in hopes of getting to where you are. So, think before you speak, or you might get a knuckle sandwich.

The Monopolizer

Your teacher (presumably) has one mouth, two ears, two hands. They also have a limit to how many people they can focus on/spot/verbally cue/rescue from knots/correct/cheer on/answer questions from at any given moment. Do you constantly demand your teacher’s undivided attention when they should be focusing on the group as a whole? When other students are working, do you ask questions unrelated to what’s happening in the air – again pulling your teacher’s focus?

What you should know: It’s a group class. If you want your teacher’s full attention all the time, book a private. I know it’s because you’re really HUNGRY for the work – and that’s a good thing! But, just as you have to share your apparatus, you have to share your teacher. Sorry.

The Starlet

The starlet wants everything documented for posterity (or at least Facebook). Every time he or she jumps up, someone gets asked to video. I have to admit – this is a pet peeve of mine!

What you should know: your classmates are your classmates, not your personal videographers. They come to class to learn! While the occasional request is understandable, try not to make it something that happens more than once every few classes. Video can be a fantastic tool to move your forward! Invest in a small tripod that fits your phone or device, and video to your heart’s content!

Hip Key EditThe Drama Queen

OH MY – I wonder who this could be? The drama queen is awash in big EVERYTHING. Big goals, big feelings, big meltdowns…. Oh. My. It can make for an (ahem) interesting (but not at all boring!) class.

What you should know: Take it down a thousand. It’s circus, not open heart surgery! When you feel yourself, well, feeling something big, put yourself in time out. Excuse yourself, go to the loo, count to 10. Or 1000, whatever it takes. Seriously – whatever it takes, because energy in a class is contagious.


If you see yourself in any of the behaviors above, take heart. It’s just a habit! And habits can change. I’ll bet you didn’t even know that it was annoying! Well, now you do. And knowing is half the battle. Love and pull-ups, Laura

Click here for a few more thoughts on aerial etiquette!



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.


One Coach or Four? The Ups and Downs of Circus Monogamy: Part 2

German Wheel Wishbone

I call this move “Wishbone”!

Hello again, Dear Danglers! If you missed Part 1 of this post, click here. I’m asked all the time – “Miss Laura, is it better to train with one coach exclusively, or play the field a bit? Is it OK to cheat on my teacher?” Yesterday, I waxed poetic about my One and Only, Chris Delgado. But today, I need to confess… I have another man on the side. And he’s amazing, and I’m not giving him up. And here’s why.


My (Wheel) Guy On the Side – Wolfgang Bientzle

I’ve only had the pleasure of working with Wolfgang a few times in Chicago, but every minute spent learning from him is pure gold. Aside from his unparalleled mastery of the apparatus, he is an incredible coach (I learn as much about teaching as I do about wheel)! I get a completely fresh perspective – about wheel, about myself as a student, about myself as a performer. And THAT, friends, is the beauty of mixing it up!

With a new coach, you might get:

  • A fresh perspective. Got a move that’s making you tear your hair out? A bad habit that needs hammering? An aspect of the work that’s got you stumped? A session with another coach can break old patterns, teach new technique, or shine light on something that needs your attention. An occasional variation in routine or thought is essential for well-rounded training, and a session with another coach is a great way to get it.
  • A new take on yourself as a performer or student. There are two things in particular that I love about Wolfgang. First, there is NO DOUBT who the teacher is, and who the student is. This boundary allows me to relax, and just be a student. The other is that, when I work with him, I feel like there is NOTHING I can’t do or eventually learn – he makes me feel so damned capable! I am clearly a performer (as opposed to a competitive wheeler), so he encourages me to bring in more aspects I’m familiar with (aerial!), and downplays the rigid 1-2-3 progressions of competition. Another teacher will see you differently, and may encourage you to see yourself in a completely different light! Shifts in perspective are HUGE.
  • Different vocabulary. All coaches have their favorite moves & things they focus on. It’s fantastic to collect a few new tricks here and there to keep things spicy!
  • A renewed hunger for the work. This is my favorite! It’s easy for things to get stale. That new perspective, technique, and a couple of shiny moves translates into energy and rejuvenation!

Some Things to Keep in Mind

  • Don’t get freaked out if the technique doesn’t work for you (… Laura….). 😉 Give it your best shot in the time you’re there. Remember – you can take it or leave it when you get back to your regular teacher!
  • It won’t always be a love match. Sometimes, a new student comes in and it’s all rainbows, glitter, and unicorns. Sometimes, it’s crickets….. That’s chemistry, and it can’t be faked! Get what you can from the session, play nice, and you never have to do that again.
  • Stay open! I know – going out of your comfort zone is weird. Trusting a new coach is weird. Being in a different space with different people is weird. All true things! BUT – there are lots of ways to pluck a chicken. If you have your head up your ass the whole time, you’re going to miss out on some potentially game-changing stuff.
  • Don’t jump from teacher to teacher forever. It’s been my experience that students who bounce around aimlessly as a matter of habit progress more slowly (and with le poo technique), which is FINE, if you want to progress slowly with le poo technique. If you are the exception to this rule, I’m happy for you. 😉


So you see, the answer is: BOTH! Shop around until you find a coach with whom you have good rapport, and who clearly knows their stuff. Make this person your home base, and make sure to take workshops from different teachers passing through town, or just pop into another class here and there. Trust me – your “home base” won’t mind (and if they do, that’s a red flag – make sure you find out why. Anything other than a safety concern is no bueno). You don’t HAVE to train with more than one pro, but it’s certainly not a bad thing. 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.


One Coach or Four? The Ups and Downs of Circus Monogamy: Part 1

Chris risked his life by getting in a wheel with me. That's dedication.

Chris risked his life by getting in a wheel with me. That’s dedication.

“Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.” ― Richard Feynman

Hello, Dear Danglers! First, let me say how utterly delightful and insanely wonderful you all are. Your words of kindness and encouragement helped me  re-frame my entire experience! (if you missed it, click here) You are magical, and I love this brilliant  community right down to the tips of my toes.

It occurred to me that perhaps I  should contrast the Sturm and Drang of the previous post with a sliver of silver lining,  and so I shall. In between all the “ugly crying” and feeeeeeeeeelings, I also  got a few minutes with my two very favorite wheel coaches in all the world. I think now might be a great time to talk about the pros and cons of circus monogamy versus poly-amoury: should you have one coach or many?


In it For Life – My Main (Wheel) Man, Chris Delgado

Story time. Chris was teaching workshops nearby as I was having my wee crisis learning new techniques on “twisties,” as we call them. When he had a five-minute break, he came over, put his hand on my shoulder, and gently asked, “Do you want me to fix your twisties?” I nodded, hiccupped, and stepped into my wheel. And with three words (“push, grab, GO!”), he did it. He fixed my twisties. THAT, friends, is the beauty of one coach.


  • They Know You. No doubt about it, poor Chris had never encountered a student like me. Demanding, emotional, Type A, lippy, and a New Yorker of 18 years, I don’t think he’ll disagree that it took time for us to learn to speak the same language. But here’s the beautiful part: now, he GETS me. He knows from minute to minute whether to push, or to cajole; whether to introduce new material, or let me be the one to set the pace. He knows how to fix what’s broken, hammer my bad habits, and calm me down when I’m scared. He knows just where to spot me, the ridiculous things I’m likely to do, and my litany of ouchie places. He knows what I know, and what I don’t – we don’t have to invent the wheel every day. (!!!)


  • They Don’t Let You Get Away With Anything. It sucks when your coach calls you on all your shit. It is also wonderful. Nobody said this wouldn’t be complicated.


  • The Technique is Consistent. In training, especially in the early days, consistency counts. Doing the same thing the same way increases strength, muscle memory, and a solid foundation on which to build. BTW – this is one of the reasons it’s so important to find a coach with EXCELLENT TECHNIQUE. Good freakin’ luck unlearning bad habits once you’ve been training them for years on end.


  • You Build Trust. Trust is sometimes hard for us in circus. Letting someone else be responsible for my safety in a metal wheel zooming along at what is SURELY 10,000 MPH just does not come easily. Real trust takes time. Also? Time will reveal whether that teacher is worthy of your trust.


“So Laura,” you ask, “what more do you NEED? He’s an incredible wheeler, amazing coach, knows you, you trust him, and he puts up with all your crap. Seriously – you’ve got it all!”

I AGREE, Dear Danglers! And he will always be my Numero Uno! I cannot imagine loving a coach more. But tune in tomorrow, and I’ll tell you a (not at all) sordid tale of my wheel guy in Chicago, and why I really want them both… 😉 Love and pull-ups, Laura


For the second in this series, click here!


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.


When Training Hurts Your Heart

Photo by Masaru Watanabe

Photo by Masaru Watanabe

So, Dear Danglers, I know I promised you a bloggie on class etiquette (it’s coming!), but I find I have something else on my heart today. Indulge me, won’t you?

Tough Training – When Your Heart is Breaking

Going “back to school” with German wheel lessons was one of the best (and hardest) things to ever happen to me as a teacher. I cannot wrap my brain around what I’ve learned about myself as a student, person, teacher– literally every lesson is a revelation. I would love to say that it’s been a series of pleasant discoveries, but it’s mostly been a lot of “ugly crying” and sheepish apologies. *sigh*

I went to Wheel Weekend in Chicago this past weekend– love it!!! I get to spend time with the superstars of wheel and train with some of the best coaches in the world. I wound up being spotted by a top-level coach I hadn’t worked with before. I was nervous, so I chose a move that was working reasonably well, but I still didn’t feel comfy doing alone. He tried to teach me a new technique, but I just couldn’t get it into my body, and failed again and again… and again. After about ten tries, he threw up his hands and said, “OK – I think we leave this.” And he turned abruptly, and walked away.

He didn’t come back to spot me that day, or the next, or the next, spending the majority of his time with the advanced students. I was OK with that. What I wasn’t OK with was being given up on – designated unteachable. Sounds like such a little thing, doesn’t it? But I was left breathless with hurt. I felt all my shortcomings and failures as a student rushing up at me.  Something broke in that moment.

Teachers – Your Words Carry More Weight than You Can Imagine

Today, I am left with a Very Uncomfortable Feeling. How many times have my careless words bruised a sensitive student? How many times has a heart been broken because I’ve had a bad day? How often have my students – who I LOVE – felt the full measure of my frustration, either with them or with my inadequacies as a teacher? How often has a student left my class with their light a little dimmer?

It’s a horrifying thought – that in a moment of frustration or carelessness, I might create scars that last for years, if not forever. That I might unwittingly kill the spark of love a student has for the work, and replace it with the kind of dull, sick feeling I have now whenever I look at my wheel. We forget – we forget how much responsibility we have been given to keep them safe – not just their bodies, but their spirits. Their heart for the work.

I jumped into Johannes (my beautiful wheel) last night for the first time since The Incident. Let’s just say it was a hard class, for a number of reasons. I’m a pick-yourself-up-dust-yourself-off-and-get-your-ass-in-gear kind of person, but every time I rocked, my failure rose up to meet me. I found it more painful to be in my wheel than out of it.

For the Student – Moving On

I’m not exactly sure what to say here, because it’s new territory for me too. I cannot bear the thought of a life without wheel, so I suppose forging ahead is the only option.

Speaking as a teacher, I can tell you this. We have horrible days, frustrating moments, times when you terrify us. We have times when we feel like we’ve tried everything, and that we are failing you. And that is our shit, not yours. And it’s unacceptable when we make it yours. So, when you find your light a little dimmer, when your hand on the fabric or the bar feels more like condemnation than joy, here is a piece I come back to again and again:

“To Have Without Holding”, by Marge Piercy

“Learning to love differently is hard, love with the hands wide open, love with the doors banging on their hinges, the cupboard unlocked, the wind roaring and whimpering in the rooms rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds that thwack like rubber bands in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open stretching the muscles that feel as if they are made of wet plaster, then of blunt knives, then of sharp knives. It hurts to thwart the reflexes of grab, of clutch; to love and let go again and again. It pesters to remember the lover who is not in the bed, to hold back what is owed to the work that gutters like a candle in a cave without air, to love consciously, conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can’t do it, you say it’s killing me, but you thrive, you glow on the street like a neon raspberry, You float and sail, a helium balloon bright bachelor’s button blue and bobbing on the cold and hot winds of our breath, as we make and unmake in passionate diastole and systole the rhythm of our unbound bonding, to have and not to hold, to love with minimized malice, hunger and anger moment by moment balanced.”

Sorry if I’ve overshared, hope it’s not awkward when we see each other next. 😉 Keep your heads up, Dear Danglers. 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.


3 Things Students Do that Make Their Teachers Insane

Miss Charlotte ALWAYS practices "safe silks"! Consequently, her awesomeness grows every class!

Miss Charlotte ALWAYS practices “safe silks”! Consequently, her awesomeness grows every class!

Being a teacher is weird sometimes. It’s a lot like being a parent (but also not at all like being a parent). See? Weird. You praise your participants for the things they do beautifully, want to throttle them when they’re being naughty, and hold your breath in fear when they put themselves in harms way. When students make progress (or hell, even try really hard!), I nearly burst with pride. When they are disappointed in their work, my heart quite literally aches. When they choose to be naughty? That’s when the insanity comes in. So, are you making your poor teacher 50 shades of crazy?


Is One of these Students YOU?

The Flail and Bail

The hallmark of the Flail and Bail is PANIC. This student will work well right up until the point when they feel their arms getting tired, or a twinge of discomfort, and then all hell breaks loose. It’s like someone throwing a wet, angry, fabric-wrapped badger at your head. This participant will typically get into a wrap or position, panic, and then try to get out as quickly as possible (FLAIL!). This usually results in more pain, an awkward position, and a hopeless knot. If they do manage to get out, they then fling themselves off the fabric to the ground (BAIL!). The risk of injury is much higher for this student, and they require quite a bit of supervision.

Remedy: Approach new things cautiously, one small piece at a time. Low and slow is the name of the game! This is about feeling in control, so take charge of that fabric and your body. The goal isn’t completion of a move, it’s progress in a move. Can you only go half-way? TOTALLY FINE. I would rather have you working consistent baby-steps with good form than go for the whole she-bang and wind up caught by one foot hopping around going, “ow ow ow ow.” If flailing and bailing is your default mode, it’s time to reset, friend. You will get stronger, learn faster, and have more success by working in smaller increments! Trust me – it’s not my first rodeo.

The Let-Go Guy

About eight years ago, I was guiding a young man into splits. He was stable, good form, working well. He hung out in his splits for a while, then just let go. (????!!!!!!!!) He was quite low, so no harm done, but I was shocked. When I asked him why on earth he had taken his hands off, he responded, “I just felt like I could.” This was my first encounter with the student I’ll call The Let-Go Guy.

This lad or lady is the most terrifying of all students! They frequently take unexpected risks, push themselves beyond their capabilities, or deliberately ignore instruction; along with Flail and Bail, they are the most likely to be injured in a class. While my students know that their safety in class is their responsibility, no teacher ever wants to see a student get hurt. Having a Let-Go Guy in class means constant vigilance, as they are generally incapable of realistically assessing the risks in any given move.

Remedy: If you’re a Let-Go Guy or Gal, allow me to be candid. Knock it off. You are killing your teacher. Pay special attention to the contra-indications and instructions for moves. If your teacher says, “Do this low,” please don’t try to place it in the rafters. If she says, “Don’t take your hands off,” then don’t take your hands off. Not even one. Your coach has a different perspective than you do, and can see very real and immediate dangers that you cannot. By disregarding instruction, not only do you place yourself at risk, but you eat up all your instructors focus. Put on your listening ears, and do your teacher the courtesy of honoring his or her guidelines.

Rafter Wrapper

The Rafter Wrapper likes to work high. The problem comes when they get 15 feet up and forget steps 1-5 of whatever they are supposed to be doing, and you hear a little voice from above say, “So, now, what do I do?” Gah! Ironically, this student is almost ALWAYS  a kinesthetic learner, meaning they learn by doing. So good luck talking them through the move! We might get there eventually, but it sucks all the coach’s focus, and takes up a good deal of class time.

Remedy: It’s simple: stay low until you’re supremely confident in what you’re supposed to be doing. If you’re working low, you have the benefit of my hands helping to spot you through moves – you’ll learn faster, and I won’t want to put you in time out when you come down. 😉


You and your teacher have the same goal: to bring out your breathtaking awesomeness.


I love my students. No really – I adore them, even the ones who test the limit of my sanity. I’ve even BEEN a number of these students before (ask Chris Delgado how many ways I make him crazy in wheel class – he’ll gladly tell you), so I know from whence I speak. Learning new things as an adult is HARD, especially if it’s something that doesn’t come easily. WHAT IF (and I’m talking to myself here, too) we got out of our own damned way and let our teachers teach us? You and your coach have the same goal: to bring out your breathtaking awesomeness. Your successes are my successes. Your heartbreak is my heartbreak. I worry about you, cheer for you, and wrack my brain for ways to get you from where you are to where you want to be. Work with me, not against me. And have a care for my mental health – I don’t need any more gray hairs! ….. Oh please, who are we kidding? My colorist and I are so tight, I’ll never see a strand of gray.

Next week, tune in to chat about class etiquette! It’s a conversation worth having. Love and pull-ups, Laura

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