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The Circus Revolution: Make Resolutions That Will Actually Stick!

happy-new-yearThose of you who have known and trained with me for years know that, after a series of small but annoying injuries, I pretty much stopped training. Everything. No silks, no wheel, no workouts, nothing. Cue inertia. The longer I went without training, the harder everything became. The harder everything became, the less I wanted to train…. Cue depression. Cue weight gain. Cue muscle loss. Cue Ben & Jerry’s (shut up, feelings!). Oh, there was lots of Ben & Jerry’s.

My wake-up call came when, at a recent gig, I audibly grunted when inverting at the end of my act. Thank God the music was loud, ya’ll, because it was NOT ladylike or glamorous. For the first time, my “easy version” of my act was hard. Not just hard – hard. Now, I have two choices: roll over and say die, or fight the good fight (guess which one I’m choosing?). The road is long and Game of Thrones-y, and I see tears and wailing in my near future, but I’m not ready to retire, so there we are!

Getting Back in the Game, or Starting a New Thing

It’s easy to set a goal or make a resolution, right? We go in with the bright shiny intensity of a thousand suns, and YES! I’m going to do it this time! This is so great! Until it starts to suck. And then you miss a day. Then two. Then it’s February and you’re no longer pursuing that resolution because BEN & JERRY’S. Shut UP, feelings!

The good news is that we can sidestep the February Fall-Out, but it means being more realistic than we might want to be (le sigh). It’s a lot like a diet – pick one that you can’t maintain day after day for a year and you’ll be snarfing a pint of Cherry Garcia in two weeks. It’s the same with resolutions. So, consider:

  • Set real goals, not fantasy ones. I have a vision of myself in my head as some yogic goddess, all glistening muscles and flat tummy and beatific zen glow. Then, I look in the mirror while I’m heaving and sweating through my BUTI yoga torture session and want to cry when I see how far I am from that picture in my head. So, I’ve started focusing on the REAL goal – to feel strong, sexy, and flexible again. Yeeeeeeeees. See the difference? One lights my fire, the other douses it with tears. Bring on the fuego, por favor.
  • Focus on process too, not just the end result. It’s great to have a mental picture of what you want to use as a yardstick (unless you’re beating yourself with it), but that end point isn’t as fixed as you might imagine. Think of training as a spectrum or continuum – you’ll ALWAYS be somewhere between the two poles. While it’s great to know where you’re going, you also have to be where you are. Deep like an ocean, people.
  • Comparison is a 4 Letter Word. OK, it’s a 10 letter word, but you know what I mean. I compete with the performance athlete I was 10 years ago; you might compete with a past self, or your best friend, or that girl with the pointy toes that would make Baryshnikov’s heart go pitty-pat. Bring it back to you, bring it back to now. You have the opportunity to manifest something that is utterly unique to you – and only you – right now. If comparing and competing gets you revved up in a positive way, use it! Otherwise, ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • Manage Your Expectations. You are not going to have a straight legged inversion by Friday. Unless you are, in which case I’m not talking to you. Make sure you’re not setting yourself up for major frustration by setting goals that no normal human could reach. This is super tied up with….
  • Don’t set a training timeline. If you were in charge of how fast you learn, how quickly you put on muscles, how fast you can make those muscles stretch, well, wouldn’t YOU be perfect! But, you’re not. It’s going to take the time it’s going to take, and you’ll be a hot mess if you set a timeline for something you only have so much control over. Instead of focusing on result here, bring it back to process: “I’m going to silks class twice a week, and stretching for 15 minutes 5 nights a week.” This is something you can actually control!
  • Trust the Process. The speed of progress may not be something you can directly control, but you CAN trust the process. If you show up, if you put in the work, progress will happen. This is how training works. If you are having trouble seeing or believing that you’re moving forward, keep a training journal – it’s very enlightening.
  • Healthy Discipline vs Letting Yourself Off the Hook or Beating Yourself to a Pulp. Being awesome, dynamic, interesting people, it’s not surprising that we also will spend a great deal of time either letting ourselves completely off the hook or senselessly beating our heads against the wall because we’re “not working hard enough”. It can be hard to find that middle ground, and it takes constant curating to make sure you stay there. Your coach can be a huge help here! Aim for a healthy discipline – you don’t get points for crying after every class.

Revolutionary Resolution Worksheet

I am working on (ex: straight legged inversions):

I will do (ex: three inversions at the end of class when I’m really tired):

My first small milestone is (ex: keeping my legs straight on the way down):

Record your results each time you train. Celebrate every small milestone, and throw a freaking party when you reach your big goal. DO NOT sweep your success under the rug.

 

Love and pullups (and belated HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!), Laura

Hey! If you’re in NYC, consider jump starting your New Years Resolution with a “Resolution Pack”! Check it out!

 

Watch a SassyPants Beginner Demo Class with Steve from Refinery29!

Hello Dear Danglers! This past week, I had the enormous pleasure of putting Steve Doss from Refinery29 through his paces in this short class demo. If you’re curious about what it all looks like, take a peek! 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.

 

HELP ESPANA STREB TRAPEZE GET A BRAND NEW AIRBAG!!!!!

Hello Dear Danglers! As many of you know, the Streb Lab for Action Mechanics (SLAM) is one of my aerial homes. They’re raising money for a new airbag, and here’s Bobby Hedglin to tell you all about it!

 

Dear Friends,

The STREB Lab for Action Mechanics opened its garage door more than 10 years ago and, shortly thereafter, the España-STREB Trapeze Academy (ESTA) was established. Over that time, we’re proud to have built a program that provides a space for exploration, development, and risk and you’ve been an important part of it all.

As a member of the Aerial community, I am writing to you to ask your support.

We’ve had our current airbag-style landing system for about 6 years now. That 800 pounds of red, yellow, blue, and black tarp has served us well, but it’s time to upgrade our equipment. After a lot of research and planning, we’ve decided on a unique system developed by Freddy Osler, a manufacturer in New Zealand. With input from Noe España of the famed Flying Españas, we have co-designed a landing system with Osler that will revolutionize the possibilities on our rig. This innovative design cradles the body, no matter how you hit the mat—head dives, belly smacks, cannon balls. Plus, the new mat comes with new motors that are much quieter than our current blowers, so you’ll be able to hear the music better, and, of course, your instructors.

In order to raise the $16,000 needed to bring this new state-of-the-art system to SLAM, we are launching a GOFUNDME campaign. We want to start off strong and are turning to you for leadership support. A contribution of ANY amount will make you a Flying Angel and will go a long way in helping us reach our goal.

Please take a look at our video!
https://www.gofundme.com/a-new-airbag-for-espana-streb
Thank you and see you in the air! And hey, “Why walk when you can fly”?

All best,

Bobby Hedglin Taylor
Director –The España-STREB Trapeze Academy

 

An Easy Fix for an Ugly Transition – “The Slice”

As a teacher, I see a lot of (ahem) “creative” transitions. Like angry-badger-in-a-whirlpool level creative. The vast majority are a natural part of the learning process which we ALL go through (and let’s face it – they’re HILARIOUS on Instagram). But, what if I told you that you could take one move from unseemly to unbelievable right this minute? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…… The Slice.

What is “The Slice”?

The Slice is an easy and glamorous way of bringing your torso between the fabrics. Instead of recreating the extra-terrestrial birth scene from the movie “Aliens”, two small adjustments can make that no-no say yes-yes. It creates better lines, and is much safer than that weird grabby thing you do. Try it!

  1. Both arms up, then “slice” one arm through the fabrics and press it back.
  2. Shift the other arm through, press back.
  3. It’s important to apply pressure to the poles of the fabric with the back of the upper arm – do NOT let your arms sweep forward, or your shoulders round.

 

 

When Should I Use It?

Use The Slice any time you need to get your bubbies forward and your hips back (going into crucifix, for example). And the best part? You need zero skill to do it – it’s something you can rock on day one. Go forth and Slice, friends! 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.

 

Flex for Jesus! Don’t Get Slingshot-ed Off Your Apparatus

If you’re a dancer, or if your feet go into spasms when you have to point one and flex the other, you’ve likely struggled with the dilemma – to point, or not to point? Friends, that IS the question.

During some moves, my students regularly hear me holler, “FLEX FOR JESUS” while they’re whizzing around in the ceiling. It’s a reminder to commit to a strong, well-placed, deliberately flexed foot, which goes a long way towards keeping your butt safely in the air.

 

Hold the Phone – Shouldn’t I ALWAYS Point Everything in Circus?

Well, no. There are a few reasons you might not want to point your foot!

  • When your flexed foot is keeping you alive (example: single ankle hang).
  • When you’re being “contemporary”, and using ALL the flexed feet.
  • When you’re having a leg spasm in the air because you haven’t been to class in a month. Ahem.

 

20150224_201325_Hagrid_GrungeWhen to Rock a Flexed Foot

To every thing there is a season, and that goes double for feet (HA! Folks, I’ll be here all week). There are times when a flex is not only appropriate, but essential.

  • When…it…just is! Some moves just work best with a strong flex. Now, while rules are meant to be broken, and many “flex only” moves can be modified to look pointy, leave it to the super advanced students.
  • When you need a larger margin of error. When you’re first learning a traditionally flex-y-foot-y move (kidney squisher, for example), commit to the flex! You want to increase your margin of error, not decrease it by using a sickle-point, which can pop off unexpectedly. If a move is working really well (pssst – ask your coach – your definitions of “working really well” may differ), it might be time to play with….

 

The Sneaky Sickle-Point!

Some moves (think “crochet up the pole”) should start with a flex; once you and this move are besties, you can safely sneak your foot in a sickle-point. It really is a matter of personal preference – a strong flex is a clean, often aesthetically pleasing choice, so commit to one or the other and do it loud and proud.

 

What does a Good Flex Look Like?

In a strong flexed position, the heel should be pushing towards the ceiling, with the shin flush with the fabric or rope. The knee should be pressing straight (again, push like you’re trying to leave a heel print on the ceiling), and the foot should NOT be sickled – it should be nice & straight. Make sure you’re not doing YOGA TOES, where you press through the ball of your foot (also called demi-point).

 

What does a Good Sickle-Point Look Like?

You want a nice strong foot (VIAGRAVATE IT), with a sickle that corresponds to the level of “OH CRAP” you will experience if your foot comes off. For example, if it just means your foot pops off & the fabric slides up your hoo hoo, well, it’s not the best, but it’s not catastrophic – a light sickle is fine. On the other hand, if the oh-crap level is high, as in you get slingshot-ed 20 feet off the fabric, you might want to play that one a little safer.

All in all, don’t be afraid of the flex, make it your friend! Trying to sneak into a sickle-point before you’re ready, or forgetting to flex enough, can have unexpected consequences (chiefly, you splatted on the floor). Go slow and steady, and check with your coach before leveling up to the sickle-point; or, just enjoy the flex! Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

Special thanks to my lovely foot model Megan Harris!

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.

 

Should You Go to Circus School?

Blue Trapezium EditSeptember is here, friends, and with it, the start of a new school year! Even though I haven’t seen the inside of a formal classroom since Methuselah was a boy, there’s something about September that makes me want to buy a pencil box and enroll in something. It might just be me, but judging by the uptick in my classes each September, I suspect I’m not alone.

Many of you have written with questions about whether you really need a structured program if you want to pursue circus professionally, or if you can design your own curriculum and still get ahead. Not surprisingly, much like circus, there’s a lot of room for flexibility (HA! Did you see what I did there?) and creativity.


“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, `if you only walk long enough.”

– Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”


It Depends on What You Want to Do

When you picture yourself performing in that far-off future, what do you see? Are you twirling on fabric in all your spangled glory for a corporate event? Are you in street clothes and performing with 7 Fingers or Eloize? Are you busking on a sidewalk in France? Swallowing swords on Coney Island? Teaching and running a successful aerial fitness studio? Touring Asia with Cirque du Soleil? Each of these avenues can unfold in ONE career, if that’s something you want. Only interested in corporates? Sweet – you have a niche! Are you more sideshow than side split? Break out the bed of nails. There IS no correct path to becoming a circus artist (it ain’t med school) – you’ve got options.

What Are My Circus Education Options?

  • Circus “College”
  • Pro-track Program
  • Choose Your Own Adventure

 

Cirque Face B&WCircus College

When most of us think of “circus college”, we think of structured 3-4 year programs, similar to regular college, but with a lot more sweat, sequins, and physical therapy. In this type of program, your first year is usually spent learning everything from hand balancing to trapeze to unicycle, the goal being to a) help you determine a specialty and b) create a strong multi-skill base, resulting in artists with tremendous range (ex: a trapeze artist who juggles, tumbles, does lyra, silks, and a bit of contortion).

Example of Circus College – Ecole Nationale de Cirque

This is a great option if you are at the early end of your career, and hope to join up with established circus companies (or create your own). For a great example ensemble work beyond the biggies (Soleil, Eloize, 7 Fingers, etc.), check out Flip Fabrique – that’s a cast of 6, not 40.
 

 

Pro-track Program

Pro-track programs are usually 1-3 years, and are a popular choice, offering intense, focused training in a variety of disciplines. They are generally more flexible than “circus college” tracks, and a fantastic option for many students.

Examples of Pro-Track Programs – NECCA Professional Circus Performance Training Programs, Aloft Full Time Training Program

A Pro-Track program is a great option if you’re at the beginning of your career (or looking to reinvent your work), and hoping to join ensemble shows, corporate performance, or pursue circus education as a career.

Choose Your Own Adventure

The world is your oyster, friend! I knew – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that I wanted to be a fabric artist (this was back in the olden days before everyone was a fabric artist). I didn’t want to learn flying trapeze, unicycle, juggling, tumbling, none of it – I  wanted to do fabrics fabrics fabrics. ** So, I worked privately with top coaches in Montreal, and did exactly that!

When you choose your own adventure, you put together your own curriculum, perfectly suited to your interests and goals. The downside? You don’t know what you don’t know (ex: should I have theatrical training?), perhaps don’t have access to the top instructors in each area, and this type of training can cost more than a program, depending on where you are. It’s also easy to get side-tracked, and discouraged about your training, especially if you’re surrounded by recreational folk. The upside is that you get to do exactly what you want to do, it may take less time, and you can fit training around a full-time job, or a traditional college.

This is a great option for people starting a little later, working around a job, school, or family, performers looking to add only one or two skills to their repertoire, or pursuing skills that fall outside the common circus curriculum (fire, for example).

Examples of Choose Your Own Adventure – training with ME (or your local aerial/circus studio), traveling for intensives and workshops, supplementing with dance and theater classes, business classes, specialty skills workshops and courses like Sideshow School.

** Side note – the days of only having one act are long gone (in fact, they only lasted a brief moment). If you really want to work, make sure you have an aerial act AND a floor act. Two aerial acts (with flexibility on additional apparatus) can work in a pinch, but I wound up with the career I had only because I teamed up with my better half (Angela Attia) and we could provide two double acts and additional solos between us.

 

In closing, there’s no one path to becoming a circus artist. In fact, the skills are only 50% of the equation (yep – you heard me right). The rest is sheer hustle, business savvy, people skills, and creativity. BUT, hopefully this helps you get a sense of your options – a program or school is a great option for some, but certainly not the only way. Brainstorm your options, evaluate your resources, and see what is the best fit for YOU! Love and pull-ups, Laura

Recommended reading: “The Art of Non-Conformity” by Chris Guillebeau
 
 

 

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.

 

Help Us Save Circus in NYC!

the museIn addition to the usual questions I get asked (“Why do you look mad?” – I have resting grumpy face. “What’s that smell?” – I’m trying out the hippie crystal rock deodorant like I do every summer. And it’s not working, the way it doesn’t every summer. “Why do you have that sharp knife and a murderous look in your eyes?” – because you have interrupted my watching of “Sherlock” and my Benedict Cumberbatch fantasy. RUN.), I am asked one thing above all else: “Why don’t you open your own space?” (deep breath) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (more breath) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Well, Why DON’T You Open Your Own Space?

In NYC?! Are you crazy? Here’s why: it’s insane. It’s an insane amount of money, an insane amount of paperwork, an insane (and never ending) amount of bureaucracy, an insane amount of insurance, an insane amount of organization and administration, the list goes on and on. When a person or company takes that on, they are …. insane? OR – utterly dedicated, amazing, tireless, and deserving of our support, love, and admiration – because that sh*t is hard.

What’s Happening Now?

It should be no secret that opening any business – especially a circus business – is tough going in NYC, even for company veterans. The number of permits, initial outlay, insurance at a time when only one company will TOUCH the five boroughs of NY, staffing, and more, makes this daunting for the most stalwart businessmen. But, in Brooklyn NY, a small group of die-hard circus folks have tried to “plant” some circus, and it’s up to us to help them grow.

The Muse has been a circus home for dozens of artists, a safe place to learn everything from aerial arts to acro, and a supportive community for all of us. After they were put out of their old studio by a big magazine (thanks, gentrification), they found a new home a bit further out in Brooklyn. But, they’ve hit on a bureaucratic snag! Read their statement below.


Hello, beautiful circus community,

Thank you! The outpouring of questions and concerns we have been receiving about the Muse warms our hearts. We know that everyone has questions and though we would love to address all of you individually, it seems easiest to answer collectively.

The Muse was unexpectedly hit this weekend with an exceptionally expensive amount of permits and space upgrades. These are all things that were in process previously. However, what we thought we had months to make happen now has to happen in a matter of days.  The Muse was not prepared for this expedited process, and if we do not come up with the funding in time the city will close our doors.

We are now trying to raise $15,000 in the next 20 days to save our circus home.  Support in this time of crisis is greatly appreciated.


 

Be the change you want to see. We cannot wait for someone else to do this. If we want circus in NY, we have to support it – not just with our lips, but with our hearts, our bodies, and our pocketbook. Do you think “supporting the arts” is for folks with ALL the moolah? Nope! It’s for you and me. So, here’s what you can do to support circus TODAY!

Action Steps!

If you’re a circus person in NYC, buy a one year training pass for $1000 – that’s less than $20 PER WEEK! If you train in New York, you know how good a deal that is.

Spread the word – share this blog post on your social media network, with your friends, absolutely everywhere you can think of.

Pay what you can. $5? $10? $20?

Go see some amazing circus at the House of Yes on Aug 24th & 25th! Honestly – it’s worth going just so you can take a selfie in one of the bejeweled bathrooms! Click here to snag a night of glitter and awesomeness. 

If we all pull together, we can make a difference! If we want our community to expand, flourish, and continue to be a place where we learn, shine, grow, and teach, WE have to make it happen. I’m thankful every day that people are crazy enough to plant circus in New York. <3 Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

 

Aerial Rigging – What You Don’t Know Could Kill You

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Laura and Angela with a big old bunch of biners!

Aaaaand we’re back to the aerial teaching thread! (Did you miss the first few posts? Catch up! Click here and here. )

Today friends, we’re chatting about what EVERY aerial instructor (and student, for that matter) should know about aerial rigging. I quite genuinely don’t care if you “only teach for XYZ Studio and they handle all of the rigging” – you have a responsibility to yourself and your students to know the basics. See a hole in your knowledge (or your fabrics)? Fix it pronto!

Rigging Basics

As a coach, you should be able to:

  • Identify equipment & it’s proper use.
    • It’s not enough to know the name of your apparatus (and, for the record, tissu is the curtain you climb, tissue is what you blow your nose with).
    • You should know the industry terms for ALL your equipment (shackles, carabiner, span set, swivel, rescue 8, etc.).
    • You should understand how each piece was designed to be used (including contraindications), and be able to select the “right tool for the job”.
  • Understand common rigging terms such as bridle, basket, choke, etc.
  • Tie common knots such as the bowline, figure 8 loop, and clove hitch.
  • Maintain & inspect equipment, and keep a rigging inspection log.
  • Have written standards in place for retiring equipment.
  • Understand of how shock loads in dynamic movement affect the body & rigging (ex: are you teaching a drop to double ankle hang from a dead hung rig on a low-stretch fabric? It’s back to basics for you, m’dear!)
  • Explain clearly and concisely why we do not rig and teach from trees. 
  • Teach your students about what they’re hanging from. Take every opportunity to educate your behbehs on equipment inspection, hardware, angles, knots, etc.

 

Now – if I walked into your studio and asked you, or the instructors that work for you, any of the above questions, would we have an awkward moment? From some of the conversations I occasionally have, my guess is yes…. But, it doesn’t have to be this way, friends!

Closing the Gaps in Your Aerial Rigging Knowledge

So, you’re not rock solid in a few areas (or more than a few). What do you do?

  • Become a pro-active sponge. Be relentless in your pursuit of rigging knowledge, and take gaps in your understanding seriously. DON’T be an idiot and pretend that you know more than you do – that’s how people get hurt. Not sure what you don’t know? Then….
  • Take a workshop. Brett Copes, Jonathan Deull, and many other EXCELLENT aerial riggers have started offering fantastic workshops for aerialists. If they come anywhere near you, run to sign up – they’re worth every penny and more.
  • Hit the books! Here are some of my favorites.
  • Get up close and personal with a rigger.
    • If you’re on an event with a professional rigger doing your set-up, ask them to walk you through the rig (they will probably offer anyway). Don’t be afraid to politely ask questions! In ye days of olde, when I was on tour, we had some phenomenal riggers (Tracy Nunnaly and Bill Auld) who not only answered all our questions, but went WAY out of their way to educate us about everything from angles to equipment.
    • Schedule a private lesson. Many riggers will teach a one-on-one or group session in basic rigging for a very reasonable fee.
    • Cultivate a good relationship with several excellent aerial riggers – you should have at least two on speed dial.
  • Scour the interwebs. You can find a number of great resources! A few of my favorites include:
  • Be more social. The Safety in Aerial Arts FaceBook group is a great place to read up on best practices, ask questions (please search before you ask – you’re probably not the first person to have your question), and connect with top riggers in the industry.
  • Have a regular rigging training/refresher for your instructors. Invite Brett or Jonathan to do a rigging workshop in your space, and/or hire a certified rigger to come in once a year to a) do an inspection of your space and b) make sure all your instructors have a solid understanding of what’s keeping everyone in the air.

 

Rigging is kind of important (!!!), but green instructors often consider it peripheral – preferring to focus on trick-collecting and pointy toes. You can’t see me right now, but I have on my serious “Laura Means Business” face. RIGGING IS NOT PERIPHERAL KNOWLEDGE, IT IS ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE. 

Your mission for this week? Pick out one thing above and order it, sign up for it, learn it, do it, schedule it, juggle it, etc. I’m going to brush up my knots an make sure they’re still tight and right. What are YOU going to focus on? Do you have a favorite resource I didn’t mention? Comment below! 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.

 

Surviving Summer Circus

A bridge too farAs a former southern lady, I do not sweat, I glisten. As a circus performer, I sparkle, and swear like a sailor when the fabric gets too friendly, the bar gets caught in my armpit, or the hoop slides right into my hoo-hah. CIRCUS! Circus comes with it’s own set of challenges when the weather gets warm, and if you want to avoid looking like an electrocuted squirrel, you might want to anticipate some of them.

Feindish Fabrics

First, hold your nose. Fabrics get universally whiffy during summer, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dirty (mine stay April fresh for 24 hours, then revert to wet dog and armpit, even with no one on them). Unless you see fumes coming off them, put a clothespin to good use and get climbing.

Friction will be your worst enemy when the weather gets steamy. Humidity makes fabrics so, so sticky, and fabric burns flourish. How to make it work:

  • Cover up! No matter how hot, cover that bod unless you want to leave a lot of skin on the apparatus. (Please note: I do NOT want you to leave a lot of skin on the apparatus. That is gross. Cover up.) Layers that you can take on and off work best.
  • Ask your coach about “humidity work-arounds” – tricks to make everything from foot knots to drops less sucky in the heat.
  • Modify your workout. Minimize or modify slack drops, sliding, or other high-friction moves – save ’em for, well, pretty much any other time of year.

 

Tyrannical Trapeze, Heretical Hoop

It’s more friction-filled fun! Ropes, taped bars, so.much.joy. This is also prime time for clothing to wrap around said bars during dynamic moves (hip circles, for example – don’t train alone!!!!). Don’t be afraid to play with un-taped or powder-coated bars, or switch up tape brands to find one that works a bit better in the heat. It’s also worth mentioning that metal apparatus are, well, metal, and will get supremely hot if left in the sun.

 

“DON’T TOUCH ME” Acro & Duo Work

Know what’s lot’s of fun? Spooning and bench-pressing another person when it’s 90+ degrees in the studio and you’re both sweating like piglets. It’s so gross.

  • Work with a towel nearby – dry off often.
  • Use grip tape as needed, and play it safe when slips are likely.
  • Pay special attention to personal hygeine – don’t torture your partner.

General Summer Circus Safety

Training circus in the summertime can be a hot, sticky, stinky mess, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. You may get to work outside, or train differently than you do the rest of the year. There’s something weirdly, disgustingly satisfying about sweating so much, and muscles often loooooove hot weather.

There are some important guidelines for summer training though, mostly in regards to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. This is a VERY REAL danger, and can sneak up on you quickly. Practice safe summer circus by:

  • Drinking lots of water (duh). Every time you come down, grab a few sips. Resist downing a half gallon and then going upside down, though – it may come up faster than you can. Sassy Suggestion – freeze your water bottle (leave some room so it doesn’t explode), then bring it to class and nestle it in your bosom as you rest. You’re welcome.
  • Make good use of a fan – go stand in front of it whenever you come down.
  • Feeling a little too hot? Sit out your next turn or two. Get some ice or a cold soda can, and press it to your pulse points (wrist and back of the neck in particular).
  • Watch carefully for any dizziness, faintness, lack of sweat, cramps, very red cheeks, confusion, nausea, shortness of breath, etc. Heat-related illness can come on quickly, and requires prompt medical attention (delays can be fatal) – read this if you train outside or in a non-climate-controlled space.

 

Train hard this summer, and revel in your sweaty, stinky self! Be safe, and have fun. 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 REAL Reasons You’re Not Progressing in Aerial Class – Why Aren’t I Getting Better?

Photo by Masaru Watanabe. Me actively avoiding instruction.

Photo by Masaru Watanabe. Me actively avoiding instruction.

Well, why aren’t you getting better? Totally legit question! With some mostly legit answers. Training is hard, pointing your toe is hard, adulting is hard. Not eating the other half of your child’s cupcake that’s in the fridge not ten feet away is hard. Legit. But what is really standing in the way of your training? (hint: it’s not what you think… or maybe it is)

Reason #1 – You’re Slacking

Yes, you, friend. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it. A little slacking here and there keeps you from becoming a very tense, neurotic mess. #FunToBeAround Sometimes, you cannot – cannot – muster the energy to give 100%. Know what? That’s OK. It really is, especially if you’re a recreational circus-er. BUT (you knew there was a but coming, or a butt), we are creatures of habit. Is 70% a habit for you? Are you writing things down? Videoing your training? Holding yourself to a standard that will result in progress? Because if you’re not, mystery solved.

Write down corrections, take notes, video if you’re allowed. Repeat.

Reason #2 – Your Teacher is Letting You Coast Because You’re a Pain in the Ass When You Get Corrections

Yup – secret’s out! Sometimes, we let you coast. To be fair, there are a number of reasons we might do this: maybe you’re overwhelmed and very sensitive today, or someone else needs more attention at the moment. This should be the exception, not the rule – and if it’s not, have a chat with your coach and ask for more feedback. But sometimes…

… you get a Laura in class! I am the WORST at taking corrections. I will argue, pitch hissies, and fight for my own limitations – it’s honestly a wonder anyone ever bothers to try to teach me. In fact, one day, in German wheel, my coach had had it up to HERE, and said, “Ok. When you’re ready to be a student, you let me know.”….. (crickets)…… (more crickets)….. (it got awkward)……

I got schooled, and rightly so. If you won’t accept feedback from the person who is trying to teach you, don’t be terribly surprised if they stop throwing good stuff your way. Also? You might want to watch that tone (“duh” your teacher a couple of times and watch the fun dynamic that unfolds).

Repeat after me: “Thank you.”

Reason #3 – You’re Never in Class

The number one thing you can do to get better? Show up. Spotty attendance will get you spotty results. Period. Consider too – if fabric class is the only physical exercise you’re getting all week, or the only strength training you slog through, expect a longer road.

Supplement with all sorts of things – Pilates, weight training, toning videos, hire a trainer, whatever. Just pursue strength! Move that booty.

Reason #4 – The Fire is Out

I get this one, I really do. Our relationship with our apparatus is a lot like relationships with people – you’ve got to keep it romantic. Are you in a rut? Not excited to come to class? Not only have I been there, I’m currently there. But, there’s one thing that never fails to get me going again: A GOAL. Revolutionary, I know. We get bored because we get predictable; our brains are wired to crave stimulation (new stuff) and the thrill of the chase (getting something you’ve been working on). You may not always burn with passion, but remember that you’re an active participant in the “relationship”. Spice it up.

Feed your passion by picking out new moves, putting together a piece, scheduling a meeting with your coach to set some goals, or going to see a circus show (video or YouTube if there’s nothing near you). Whatever gets your heart racing.

Reason #5 – Your Teacher Shouldn’t be Your Teacher

That’s right, I said it. Not all teachers and students have good chemistry together. If you and your teacher don’t have a love connection, or things just always feel tense, try out a new coach if that’s an option.

Additionally, if your inner compass is telling you that you’re not getting very good/safe training, the corrections consistently don’t ring true, or if your teacher seems to be winging it, moooooove along. There are lots of coaches who are fabulous, and lots who have exactly zero idea what they’re doing. Train with the former.

Find a new coach if the two of you lack chemistry, or if they’ve got some work to do in the teaching department.

 

If you’ve hit a plateau, or just don’t feel like you’re making ANY progress, talk to your coach! They will have suggestions for what you can focus on, and hey – circus is hard. If you think you’re going to be inverting like a pro in 6 weeks, you may need to manage your expectations.

What gets YOU out of a rut or propels you forward? Comment below! 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.