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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.


Why Competing on Price Will Kill Your Teaching Business

This is kind of a serious blog. Womp womp. So. You’ve decided to start teaching – FABULOUS!!! It’s awesome. You’ve got your equipment, your insurance, your mad skilz (naturally), and now, you just have to figure out how much to charge. But, how do you DO that? If you’re like many, it goes something like this:

“Swingin’ Sisters aerial studio charges $35 per hour for classes. Mergatroyd Metz charges $30 per class. So, to pretty much guarantee I’ve got full classes, I’ll charge $20!”


Hold up, partner. You’re making one of the biggest mistakes small business owners make: you are competing on price. You are positioning yourself to be the Bargain Basement of the aerial teaching world. Slow clap. So, what’s the problem? And what should you be competing on?

The Problem With Competing on Price

If you’re starting out smart (and I know you are!!!), you’ve made a list of the costs to run your business. In the aerial teaching world, we generally fall (fly?) into two categories: 1) teaching for a studio or 2) teaching for ourselves.

  1. Teaching for a studio! Big benefits: the studio carries most of the hard costs – you generally just show up, teach classes, and collect your paycheck. The studio usually takes care of studio/venue rental, website and promotional expenses, insurance, equipment, taxes, and sign ups. Big drawback: loss of control. The studio usually sets costs and pay rate, and is in charge of who you teach, when, how, etc. Your paycheck is smaller than if you taught on your own, but you also aren’t carrying the expenses of running a business.
  2. Teaching for ourselves! Big benefits: you teach what you want, when you want, for however much you want. Big drawback: you’re footing the bill for everything (and I do mean everything).

For me, there’s no question: I love autonomy, and I love running my own business. But it does mean that I have to treat it like a business, not like a hobby, or the bill collectors will start camping in my hallway. Step one in determining how much to charge? Add up your hard expenses for a month, determine what you personally would like to make as a salary/need to live, and divide it by the number of students/classes you teach. This will give you an excellent idea of whether or not you’re working in a sustainable way. Numbers coming out a bit wonky? Consider:

  • what the market will bear. There is generally a range of pricing that will bring in students. Here in NYC, for example, it’s around $25-$35 per student for a one hour aerial class; but if you live in an area where everything costs $1, your range will be smaller. You may need to keep your day job until you have a committed student base.
  • if you’re not able to teach enough to make your numbers come out to an I-won’t-have-to-eat-ramen-for-a-year wage, consider ways to decrease your costs (sharing space rentals with another instructor, for example), or look at teaching for a studio.

Aside from simply covering your costs and making a living, competing on price will have you visiting the Bitter Business Bureau in no time. People have deep-rooted attitudes about money and value, aerial classes included. Consider:

  • People generally do not value what they don’t pay for. Be honest – you care a LOT less about sitting on that crap pair of sunglasses you got for $3 at Target then you do about your Kate Spades (or whatever you crazy kids are wearing these days). We esteem what we invest in.
  • You will attract “price hoppers”. These students are always hopping from studio to studio, or activity to activity – whatever they can get a Groupon for. If you’re looking to build a long-term community of committed students, good luck with that.
  • You’re missing the big picture (see below). Price is only PART of the reason people choose a class. In fact, if someone feels like it’s worth it, they will find that money come hell or high water.


But Miss Laura! If I Don’t Compete on Price, What SHOULD I Compete On?

Compete on reputation. Compete on skill and training. Compete on your offerings, with your marketing, or within your niche market. Methodology. Community. People consider ALL SORTS of things when deciding to take a class, not just the cost. And here’s the Deep Dark Truth about working cheap (oh yes – I’m gonna say it): your clients will believe that you are worth what you charge.

So, the question is really: what is a fair price for my offering? What will support both my career and this industry? If you want to work for $1, all I can do is shrug, and wish you luck. But I think you’re being foolish and short-sighted, and a house built on sand spontaneously combusts in a strong wind. Or something like that. 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.


Be Progressive! Why Progressions are Essential in Aerial and Circus Training

Marcee Corner PocketWith political campaigns heating up (if I was clever, I would figure out how to put a GIANT EYE ROLL HERE; you’ll just have to imagine it), I figured now is as good a time as any to bring up one of my very favorite topics: progressions! Turns out, you can be progressive AND conservative in your aerial work, which just might make you a superhero.

What is a Progression in CircusLand?

Simply put, a movement progression is building off of foundational skills to achieve or pursue an advanced state. For example, Lulu comes to my aerial silks group class here in New York City. She has never taken a silks class in her life. I do not allow or encourage her to start with a triple star (duh) – we work on simply standing on the fabric.

This seems pretty common sense, right? Well, I started with an easy one for you. How many of you are trying to execute a hip key in the air before mastering in-air inversions? Oooooh – I see a lot of hands. Dear Danglers, inversions in the air come before hip keys in the air – I’ll bet you’re in bad habit city right now. Good luck with that.

Every single move in circus is built on foundations of proper body positioning, strength, and mental readiness (it’s a thing). Every. single. one. Ultimately, a progression map looks a lot like a tree: there’s a solid trunk (inversion in the air), then branches start forming (hip key in the air), and so on, all the way to the fancy leaves at the end (drops from a hip key). Trying to bypass those progressions is NOT PRETTY, people!

  • An uphill battle. Without the supportive skills, moves higher up the progression tree are f*$king hard.
  • Higher risk of injuries. Not only are you more likely to fall on your head, you’re practically guaranteed repetitive stress injuries (tendinitis, bursitis, etc.), popped hammies, or soft tissue injuries like a torn labrum.
  • No understanding of the theory behind it. Yes – circus theory is a thing! You should know the why behind what you’re doing. WHY do we cross two times behind the back for this move? Why do we take our heel out of the knot? Why do we “clench for Jesus” as we slide in front of the fabric? The *why* is important.
  • Ya’ll – it’s ugly. Seriously. Know what’s lovely? A beautiful progression that doesn’t result in just heaving yourself into a position, hauling your body over, and flopping around like a deranged mackerel.
  • BONUS: extra panic! And fear! A good progression also prepares you mentally for the experience of advanced moves. Some motions MUST be executed with confidence, some require some mental reconciling with fear, and some just hurt like hell. There’s no skipping the preparation for that (unless you really like falling, injury, extra pain, debilitating fear, peeing in panic, you get the picture).


How do I Work With Progressions?

Hopefully, your teacher has given a great deal of thought to their methodology and pedagogy. (Psssst! If you suspect that this is not the case, it may be time to seek out a new coach.) This looks like a consistent and careful progression that is similar for every student. Everyone will progress at wildly different paces, but the stepping stones should remain the same, with small variations for special needs. It does NOT look like allowing students to jump in wherever they’d like.

So, let’s all be progressive AND conservative! It’s the best of all the aerial worlds! 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 SassyPants List of Favorite Gifties is HERE!!!

SassyPants gift certificates!

SassyPants gift certificates!

So, you forgot to get your favorite aerialist a gift. WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU???!!!! Never fear, Dear Danglers (and their friends & family)! It’s time for….. The SassyPants List of Awesome Gifties!!!!!!


  1. Gift Certificates! Just say NO to clutter – give the gift of aerial fabulousness instead! May I humbly suggest a SassyPants Gift Certificate for your bestie? If I’m not nearby, check out circus centers near them. It’s a gift that they’ll love, and it will make you seem super cool (BONUS).

  3. Fly Pretty Designs! The fabulous Meghan Bourke has launched a T Shirt line featuring her artwork of aerialists, and they’re gorgeous! I’m partial to the “Badass” hoodies, myself. (hint hint)

  5. CIRCUStyle! Fun circus-y tanks and tees! 

  7. SassyPants Booty Shorts! (pictured below) Get your order in by 12/20 – they’re going fast! Email me at with inquires. $25, one size fits all!

  8. Vinyl Trapeze Wall Sticky Things! I am over the moon for these, especially for paint-shy New Yorkers! Easy on, easy off. Click here!  And here! 

  10. Handmade Pole Christmas Cards! I had a good laugh when I saw these. Some seem to defy physics, but hey – a little magic and levitation is just the thing for the holidays! Click here! 

  12. Trapeze Tote Bag! Toe hangs, anyone? Cute as a rig bag or to schlep costumes! Click here! 

  14. Silver Trapeze Necklace! This is a personal favorite – love it! Click here! 

  16. Aerial Silks Keychain! For all your key chain needs. Click here! 

  18. Aerial Silks Cami Top! Shows a progression into a hip key – sassy! Click here! 


SassyPants Booty Shorts

SassyPants Booty Shorts

Well, that about does it for this year, Dear Danglers! I hope you all are having a Fantabulous Holiday Season, and I’ll see you in the New Year! 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.


Man Bits Part 2! Mr Bobby Hedglin on Keeping the Tiger Caged

Bobby PromoWARNING! This blog post contains slang references to male anatomy. If you’re under 18, or squeamish, you’ve been warned.

Hello Dear Danglers! Everyone’s favorite Bobby Hedglin talks about his favorite danglers, in his typical irreverent way. I would like to mention that he included a lexicon of over 200 euphemisms for man bits which, for (ahem) matters of spacing, I had to omit. Enjoy!

“I’d like to chat with all the men in the room.   It’s that thing we all love to talk about… our business, our Johnson, Biggy Smalls, Baby arm, python, dragon, lizard, and finally… my favorite subject in the world my penis.  His name is Wilber (I named him after the Pig in Charlotte’s Web).   I’ve come face to face with some penis trouble, and choose to share my experience head on and give you some suggestions on how to approach your own turkey baster when training acrobatics.

As male acrobats we all come up to that uncomfortable moment when our little friend gets caught, snagged, kicked, bumped, pulled or smashed.   It’s never the  happy meeting of body parts this prince is ultimately meant for, so let’s put our heads together and have a meeting of the minds.  Since some women think our brains are down there, let’s use our “brains” and come up with some solutions to not running over our poor trouser trout and turning him into Muppet roadkill,  that mangled ball of fur and flesh after a crash and burn crashing head on with a circus apparatus.

First and foremost, keep him caged!!  Nothing is more dangerous to the John Thomas than letting him out to run freely off the leash by going commando when training!   This is where the dance belt comes in.   Ah yes, that medieval torture device that takes your mister and his set of throw pillows and thrusts it up into your pelvis while taking an elastic strap made of steel wool and placing it in your butt crack…. yes, that old thing.  Giving new light to the term “Asses of fire”.   Created to stop ruptures and hernias from blooming the dance belt has been a life saver for my wooley jonhson.  The necessary evil we need to protect the little fellow.   Couple of notes.  There ARE dance belts that don’t have the butt crack strap and are fully seated for extra comfort.   You can also sew a patch of fabric over the elastic butt floss and it will be more comfortable.

Boxers or briefs?   I’ve always been a briefs or tighty whitey kinda guy so I was used to the “lift and separate” but it’s been drilled into our collective unconscious that if you want to have the honor of bringing children into the world you need to create world class swimmers and you do that by wearing boxers.   A common misconception in the cultivation of a crop of minnows destined to find an egg.   I’ve known several men who have fathered children who have shared that they only wear briefs.  It is better for you to wear boxers, but it’s not impossible if you prefer a more streamline hipster penis look.   Now, there are you guys who are free spirits who want to let the little Llama run free in boxers, that’s totally acceptable and always a personal preference, but I digress, let’s get back to the “business” at hand (All puns intended).   Boxers are deadly to the little Frank if you’re training.  Not only do they create unsightly wrinkles in your skinny jeans, they also create “frog butt”, the bunching of fabric in the back of your pants… not cute fellas, not cute.   Chicks dig guys with nice butts, (and some guys like them too) don’t mess it up with boxers…you could try boxer briefs too, they are quite comfy and no undie lines under jeans or pants 🙂

Now, on to tricks, moves, training in the air.   Once you’ve caged the monster, you have to remember in the air PLACEMENT IS KEY!   When you wrap fabric, rope, trapeze bars, make sure you lift the thighs high when inverting, and when climbing above wraps, climb higher above any wraps and sinking down, make sure the fabric or rope rolls up your inner thigh and not through center, splitting your tower lamp and back up generators in two.  This can be very painful.   Finding placement on the apparatus with your apparatus is key.  Work your tricks “slow and low” especially work the wrap for drops several times before going for it.  Any drop, wrap or move that needs to go through the center of your crotch, make sure the material of the apparatus goes to one side or the other.  No need to test your high notes in singing class by placing it front and center.   You will eventually find a move that does cause some kind of snatch and grab and you will have worked through the most part of the trick and it won’t be as bad.   On a personal note, I had created a very cool slack drop on Hammock about 15 years ago… I went for it and caught my tropical mushroom in the fabric at the bottom.  I was in excruciating pain, and the resulting bruise on the barrel of my rifle was about the size of a quarter.  I sent a photo to my partner at the time because he didn’t believe me, and he laughed and nicknamed my delicate flower “Barney the Purple dinosaur”.    Luckily this wasn’t an accident that needed medical treatment but it could have been really bad.   BE CAREFUL with your wacky inflatable arm flailing tube man !

With all acrobatics, aerial, duo work, partner acro, trapeze, gymnastics always remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry.   You only get one member in this life and you should protect him, love him and hug him and call him George!(or whatever name you might give him).    With all jokes aside, I’ve found a dance belt to be key to safety for the man bits.   Stretching, warm up, as well as proper attire is always the first line of defense in protecting your one eyed trouser trout.   Working through every transition “slow and low” and trying new things, testing the waters in a controlled, safe environment with a trained coach.   Always keeping in mind that our little one eyed trouser trout on a bed of pubic hair pasta is resilient, and will bounce back into shape quickly after any injury, but let’s not test fate by being reckless.

If I missed any slang terms for Penis, you can add to this list by commenting below.”

Bobby Hedglin Taylor
Why walk when you can fly!



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Ballsy Moves! Trevor Kafka Talks Man-Bits with SassyPants New York

Trevor 1It’s a touchy subject and far under-discussed one at that, but it’s definitely one of staggering importance in any aerial community. That’s right, everyone, we’re talking about man bits and how we can make sure that the way that those of us with external genitalia can perform aerial movements allows us to stay safe, uninjured, and “pain-free” in our most sensitive region.

Just a quick note before I go any further: When I say “man bits,” I’m referring to any sort of external genitalia. Aerial instructors should be aware extended applicability of this advice to people who we may not immediately identify as “men.” For example, a transgendered or intersex aerial student may bear full or partial male genitalia and therefore may find aerial work challenging, but the fact that this is why they are finding aerial work challenging may not be so evident. So, while I will call them “man bits,” don’t confuse all of this advice as strictly “advice for aerialists who are men.”

Almost every aerialist with man bits has had at least one highly unpleasurable experience where an aerial apparatus squeezed or pinched in a bad way or where a bar or rope caused painful bodily shifting. The most commonly prescribed solution from aerial instructors as to how to prevent these sorts of mishaps is to wear a dance belt. For those who are unfamiliar, a dance belt is a form of supportive underwear similar in function to a jockstrap that is equipped with a thong back in order avoid edge visibility underneath form-fitting clothing.

The dance belt advice is very common, but there is one extremely important problem: DANCE BELTS DO NOT PREVENT INJURY. Man bits can still get hurt quite a bit as a result of poor aerial technique, even for the most diligent of dance belt wearers.

Well, if they don’t prevent injury, what do dance belts do, you may ask? The answer is that they keep your man bits in place, which means that they will be where you expect them and you can can position them in a predictable manner. The only way beyond supportive underwear to ensure ideal comfort and safety is to employ strong aerial technique, and the proper technique to perform aerial moves comfortably on an apparatus may be more involved than you have been instructed in the past. Here are my words of advice, broken down into three fundamental concepts.


Use these rules to predict if an aerial skill may cause intense pain.

  • Inwards pressure on the man bits (pressing into the body) = TERRIBLY PAINFUL
  • Upwards pressure on the man bits (sliding towards the chest) = TERRIBLY PAINFUL
  • Downwards pressure on the man bits (sliding towards the feet) = not great, but generally tolerable

Example: the canonical “kick in the balls” is both an upwards and inwards hit, which, as you can see by my categorization here, can be quite terribly painful indeed.

Here are some examples to demonstrate how you might employ these rules to recognize situations where extreme pain might result without care.

  • Directions of Pressure Example 1: Consider horse position on trapeze or hoop (basically, sitting on the bar sideways with one leg on either side of the bar). If you sit backwards a bit, there’s no pressure at all on the man bits, which is great, but if you lean forward–WOAH NELLY–that upward pressure is HORRIBLE.
  • Directions of Pressure Example 2: Consider hip circles on trapeze or hoop. If you rotate in the forward direction, this puts downwards pressure on the man bits. This is no big deal, and generally does not cause pain. However, reverse hip circles are VERY SKETCHY INDEED. If the man bits slide along the bar during a reverse hip circle, this can apply EXTREME upwards and inwards pressure. Thus, great care must be taken when performing reverse mill circles to ensure that the man bits press into the bar VERY LIGHTLY if at all when the skill is performed.
  • Directions of Pressure Example 3: Think about a hip key on silks. If this is done POORLY, the silks may lie directly on the man bits, pushing them directly inwards towards the body (you do have your full weight in the fabric, after all). This can be extremely painful.

ANTI-MAN-BITS-PAIN TIP 2: know which nearby areas DO NOT cause pain

Pressure on the man bits hurts; pressure directly to the left, right, above, or below does not (at least, does not in the same, horrible, horrible way). As we will see, this allows us to use the “Pick A Side!” technique with our apparatus in order to comfortably support weight.

How do you know which side to pick? The answer depends on the skill! “Pick a Side!” is most relevant for aerial silks, so I will provide a general rule some examples to illustrate.

THE BIG “PICK A SIDE!” GENERAL RULE: the left/right placement of the fabric on the front of the body immediately after it passes between the legs directly corresponds to whether the fabric should pass through on the left or on the right of the man bits.

Why is this the case? Since the man bits are located on the FRONT part of the pelvis (instead of directly underneath the pelvis), whatever the fabric does in the front of the hips must be matched with what the fabric does immediately below the hips in order to prevent the fabric from wrapping diagonally across the man bits, and thus causing uncomfortable inward and upward pressure!

Here are some examples to illustrate:


  • “Pick a Side!” Example 1: in a hip key, the fabric section running between the legs should be ABOVE the man bits when keyed in (that is, on the ceiling side of things when the body is piked over), because the portion of the fabric running through the legs that goes to the front of the hips runs towards the top leg (that is, bottom to top, we have: silk, leg, man bits, silk, leg, silk–quite the sandwich indeed). Positioning in this manner will allow for maximum hip key comfort (…or should I say “maximum hip keymfort”? Maybe I shouldn’t…).
  • Trevor 2 Photo (c) Cristian Buitron

  • “Pick a Side!” Example 2: get into an opposite-side hook (outside leg hook), let the silk go behind the back, wrap the free leg, and climb over the hooked leg into a opposite side dive (salto) position. This position is typically very painful when not done carefully. Since the opposite side leg was hooked, the side that is climbed over is opposite to the side that the portion of the fabric running through the legs ends up on at the front of the hips. Since the weight will be supported on the side of the man bits which corresponds to the leg that was climbed over, the fabric will force lots of uncomfortable pressure because by doing so we are forced to violate “Pick a Side!” rule that I mentioned above. A flourish of the hips can allow one to “switch sides” when climbing over, avoiding this painful result (described in Anti-Man-Bits-Pain Tip 3, Pain Prevention Solution 1 below).
  • “Pick a Side!” Example 3: get into a same-side hook (inside leg hook), wrap the free leg, and climb over the hooked leg. As far as aerial skills go, this position does not hurt much at all, since the natural placement of the weight-bearing portion of the silk is on the side of the leg that you climbed over, which is the same side as the fabric wrap in front of the hips, so our “Pick a Side!” rule is satisfied! Hooray for no terrible, terrible pain!

ANTI-MAN-BITS-PAIN TIP 3: know how to PREVENT painful pressure during movement

In general, aerial skills can be very painful if a wrap involves switching sides while the silk is bearing weight. There are two workarounds.


  • Pain Prevention Solution 1, “JUMP THE HIGHWAY”: If you find that you have chosen the wrong side, or that the wrap that you are using simply violates the “Pick a Side!” rule (as is common for many opposite side hook wraps, as illustrated by the “Pick a Side!” Example 2 above), proceed with “Jump the Highway” by lifting up the body with the arms on the silks, switching the fabric from one side of the man bits to the other, and then sitting yourself in. This is a fairly reliable technique that works for most situations on any apparatus, but it does require a little bit of foresight to prevent pain in the first place as well as arm strength to actually perform the maneuver.
  • Pain Prevention Solution 2, “BE CREATIVE!”: Try choosing a different wrap! Ask your instructor if there are any variations on the skill that you are working with that does not involve switching sides while weight-bearing. If none are evident or known, try figuring out something for yourself under the supervision of an instructor. Very frequently there are multiple ways to enter the same skill or many ways to produce the same shape, and very often these variations are accompanied with various degrees of pain. You just may come up with a brand new piece of aerial vocabulary!



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