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Awesome & Astonishing App for Aerialists!

Make gravity your bitchToday’s blog is brought to you by the letter A!

Look what I found, friends! A nifty little app called “7”. It’s a PE-style workout app that I’m loving, mainly because it’s actually getting me to work out. 😉 Thought I would pass it on!

Why I Love It

  • It alternates 30 seconds of exercise (12 sets in all = 7 minutes) with 10 seconds of rest. I usually do 3-5 rounds per day, mixing it up each time.
  • It’s free! You can either workout a lot to open additional workouts, or just buy them (like I did – I’m way too impatient) for $1.99.
  • No super weird exercises – everything is straightforward.
  • It randomizes the workout for you, so you never have to do the same thing twice.
  • No equipment necessary, so it’s perfect for travel.
  • Great for folks going through a busy spell, moms trying desperately to get exercise in before the next diaper change, etc.
  • Even on my busiest days, I can manage 7 minutes!

 

So, if you think it might be useful, have a look! Love and pull-ups, Laura
 
Google Play/Android
iPhone

 

 

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Impostor Syndrome – Do YOU Belong Here?

Laura & Chris Team USADear Danglers! I’ve missed you! In case you hadn’t heard, I had the ridiculously amazing experience of competing in German Wheel World Competition in Italy a couple of weeks ago. I just got back, having spent the remaining two weeks eating my way through Venice, Florence, and Rome (climbing is going to be hilarious this week – even my most forgiving spandex is tight). Friends, this was a PEAK LIFE EXPERIENCE. Know what else it was? Terrifying, humbling, exhilarating, and inspirational. And I had a big old run in with an old pal: impostor syndrome.

What is Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor syndrome is the sneaking suspicion that one of these things (YOU!!!) is not like the others, and doesn’t belong in the illustrious company you find yourself in. If you haven’t encountered it, one of three things is probably happening: either you are extraordinarily well-adjusted (in which case you can stop reading now), you are enjoying a moment of being a big fish in a small pond and have no idea what else is out there, or you are Isabelle Chasse, and are in fact a superhero. Thing is, almost everyone who’s reaching high and far has a moment where they find themselves among extraordinarily talented people they’ve been YouTube stalking for years… and then it hits. The feeling that maybe there has been a horrible mistake.

For me, it came out of nowhere. I was fine! I was excited and a little bit nervous, but I was totally good. I stepped out on the gym floor to start my warm-up, got a good look at my competition, and stopped in my tracks. I went icy cold, even though the gym was easily over 90 degrees. I have never known anything more clearly in my life: I did not belong here. I knew I was a fraud, and, pretty soon everyone else would know it too.

My coach Chris took one look at my stricken face, and nudged me towards my wheel. I started my opening moves, but something felt wrong. The floor felt too slick, but the wheel’s rubber, softening in the hot gym, felt too slow. Nothing was going over – nothing was working. Now, not only was I a baby beginner in a room full of the best wheelers in the world, the routine I had practiced for over a year was falling apart. Panic crept up behind my eyes, and they welled up with tears. All I could hear in my head was that I did not belong here.

Wolfgang saw the tears, and threatened to make me do vault if I cried. I hate vault. Chris leaned over and said, “Try everything three times. If it’s not going over by the third time, then we worry. Trust it.” So I did. Sure enough, by time number three, everything was going over just fine. By competition time three days later, everything felt just right; weirdly, my feeling of being an imposter had vanished. What had changed in those three days? Sh*t got real.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

  • In a competition where most artists were doing C & D level tricks, I was doing mostly A’s with the occasional B. I was not at their level. I couldn’t meaningfully compete with them, but I could be amazed, inspired, and caught on fire with the excitement of what was going on around me.
  • I earned my spot on the team fair and square. I worked my ass off on that routine, and I’m really, really proud of it. It wasn’t just the physical work I did, but the mental and emotional challenges I trained through.
  • I had a good run. All that rehearsing paid off, and I had a clean routine. It wasn’t perfect, but it went really, really well. I didn’t fall down, fart audibly, miss a trick, or freak out. WIN.

 

Moment of Truth

We all have moments of Impostor Syndrome. We want to be good, we want to succeed, we want to be worthy of the opportunities that come our way; we want to be equal to them, to have earned them somehow. I don’t really know what to say about this, except that it’s complicated. At some point, we hopefully get handed something that is just a little out of our league. And, if we are brave, we jump at the opportunity (because – what? We’re going to let it slide through our fingers? I don’t think so.). So, when we are in this place where we are so clearly the lowest rung on the totem pole, what can we do but leave our crap at the door? Everything from posturing to insecurity. If you didn’t misrepresent yourself, if you’ve been honest with yourself and others about the scope of your abilities, then drink it all in. Be a crazy sponge of learning, and soak up every ounce of the awesomeness you’re surrounded with. That kind of humility is good medicine in our business, and I look forward to more of it. Love and pull-ups, Laura
 

 
 

 

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Hey Girl – Your Bits are Sweaty and Gross

Hello Dear Danglers! The fabulous and sassy Ms Shelly Richards tossed this article my way the other day, and I just had to share.

We do a lot of sweating, crotch and otherwise, because, you know, we work hard. Light colored cotton leggings absolutely have the tendency to highlight the moisture-based aspects of our toils, and I know that makes some folks self-conscious. The guy in the video below says it all! By all means – use dark leggings or panty liners if they make you more comfortable (I can understand not wanting your crotch highlighted by sweat – I prefer rhinestones!). But when it happens, think of it as a badge of honor! Tangible proof that you are a hard-working bad-ass.

Do remember though that working for long periods of time in damp clothing can invite a whole host of delightful feminine fun (yeast party!!!!!). So, this is where panty liners can actually be really helpful, or just bring another set of training clothes for the second part of your day.

Same things goes for sweat smells – pit and otherwise! Hey – those silks don’t smell fresh as a daisy either. Beyond basic hygiene, everyone’s gonna rock some stinky bits sometimes. This is another post in itself, but seriously – don’t sweat it. 😉

Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

 

 

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Stop Kicking the Fabric. No – Really – Stop!

Hello Dear Danglers! Let’s chat about something that has made many an aerial instructor completely insane. Unless your fabric has done something truly unspeakable to you, don’t -I repeat don’t – kick it out of the way before completing an inversion. Is that kind of violence really necessary? I think not.

To invert with fabrics together, simply sweep the legs to one side and straddle back cleanly. When inverting with one fabric in each hand, stop – wait a minute. Hold your hands directly in front of your shoulders, and give the fabric just a second (or three) to part. If the fabric becomes tangled, and inverting with straight legs is not possible, bend the knees into a froggy-style invert.

It’s a simple fix, lovelies! Go forth, and invert like the powerful danglers you are!!! Love and pull-ups, Laura
 

 

 

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There’s More to Life Than Turning Tricks, Mathilda!

Tory Hip BalanceHello, Dear Danglers! I’m off to Washington to teach some workshops for C2Air and the lovely Rebecca Phillips! But before I go, let’s have a chat.

Students come to classes for a bazillion reasons – to frolic in the air, run away and join the circus, get buffity-buff arms, you name it. Part of learning a performance art (as opposed to going to a group fitness class) is the attention paid to technique, and the pursuit of excellence – you’re not just heaving your limbs around so you can cross exercise off your list for today, you’re aiming to hone a set of skills. So, my question for you today is: are you in it for the long haul, or are you just about turning a few tricks?

It’s a Process, Mathilda.

Remember last summer when you bought that super cute top? The one with the neon green fringe and the tropical flowers that you wore every day for two months (hey – I’m not judging you…..)? Now, remember the day you bypassed it in favor of your NEW neon orange top with the rhinestones and tulle? I’m sure this phenomenon has a fancy psychological term, but I’m gonna call it The Law of Diminishing Bling – when the new and shiny wears off, and the thing we loved beyond anything doesn’t beckon to us with the siren song it used to croon. When this happens with a skill we’re trying to master, we’re faced with the uncomfortable realization that the long walks on the beach and champagne at breakfast days are over, and have been replaced with beer on the couch in comfy clothes. Is your first impulse to start sniffing around for something to press your New and Shiny buttons? Oh, Mathilda.

It Takes a Damned Long Time to Get Good

When the slog of the long haul stretches out in front of us, it’s so tempting to hanker for MORE MORE MORE NEW MOVES MORE NEW MOVES TEACH ME SOMETHING NEW RIGHT NOW!!! While variety is the spice of life and all that, and it’s important to sprinkle some NEW into your work on a regular basis, I’m sad to tell you that the vast majority of training boils down to (some very un-sexy) repetition repetition repetition. I regularly see students chomping at the bit for NEW! MORE! SHINY!, but if I’m still having to give you basic technique notes on your inversions, then you need to change your focus, friend. New may be fun, but it’s not going to fix what’s broken – it just gives you new broken. But take heart, you’re not doomed to a purgatory of the same movement forever.

Keeping the Romance Alive

If you can’t have as much NEW! MORE! SHINY! as you want (and none of us can), here are a few ways to spice things up.

  1. Video. Please believe me when I say you have plenty to work on! Video your work, and/or ask your coach what one thing would make the biggest difference in your training. Set a hard and fast goal (straight legs on your inversions, for instance), and attach a reward to it’s completion (a neon yellow top, perhaps?).
  2. Explore yourself. Not that way, Mathilda! Geez. There’s nothing more exciting than watching your students become more themselves in the air – discovering their own personal style, and mining all the quirks that will make for fabulous and interesting performance. In addition to perfecting your technique, begin playing with small variations, an arm here, a leg here, opening the fabric, etc. How do YOU move? Start discovering, because the world doesn’t need any more cookie-cutter aerialists.
  3. Set a performance goal. Sign yourself up for a showcase, competition, or anything else that gets your engines revved. Not only is it invigorating for your practice, but it will strengthen performance skills, build stamina, and increase your personal levels of badassery!
  4. Keep a training journal. Anything goes! Make notes on moves, corrections, ideas, etc. This one thing will juice up your training in ways you can’t imagine.
  5. Hit the YouTubes. There’s a dizzying array of performance to inspire and excite you! Many of these artists have put in their 10,000 hours, and it shows.

What puts the spice back in your training? Comment below! Love and pull-ups, Laura
 
 

 

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RUDE! The Three Essential Rules of Open Workout

With the SassyPants/Das Push Showcase coming up TOMORROW (yaaaaaaaay!), I know many of my Dear Danglers have been hoofin’ it to rehearsal a few times a week. That work shows, friends! BUT, are you the person people want to stab at open workout? No? Not so fast…
 

The Three Unspoken Rules of Open Workout

  1. Don’t use open workout as a substitute for class. Open workout is a time for you to work on what you have learned in class, and feel comfortable working on by yourself. This is NOT a time for you to ask your fellow students to teach you things. They’re there to work on their own stuff! I’m not sure where to begin on how inappropriate that is – it’s like asking to borrow their underwear – you just don’t do it. If someone offers to show you something, that’s a different story (just be careful you don’t pick up all their bad habits).
  2. Show up. Did you agree to be there – either through the space or through the organizer? Your butt had better be there! It’s frustrating when people RSVP, then ghost – don’t be that person.
  3. Respect other people’s work. This is a BIG one, friends! Just because someone is working on something where you can see it doesn’t mean it’s yours to use. Not many of us have the luxury of a private studio every time we need to work on our act, and I can’t count the number of times Angela and I were mid-creation on a new piece, only to turn around and see several people piggybacking on what we JUST DID!! Spare me the argument that there’s nothing new under the sun – that’s not the point. It’s about respecting the boundaries of your peers, and treating their work with appreciation, not appropriation. When you see someone working on something awesome, and you’re not sure if it’s “public domain” or not, ask! Most circus folks are incredibly generous, and will graciously let you know if they want to hold on to the move for a little while, or if it’s been around for ages and it’s all yours.

 

Just One More Thing

Your peers are just that – your peers. They are not your teachers. They may or may not have good technique, they may or may not have an inkling of how to spot you, they may or may not know the contra-indications of a particular move, they may or may not have a clue…. you get the idea.

In closing, DO go to open workout! DON’T be a douche when you get there. 😉 Love and pull-ups, Laura
 

 

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Warming Up – You’re Doing it Wrong

OK. That thing you do where you come into a class, half-heartedly reach for your toes for 30 seconds, and gossip with your besties is not a warm-up. It is not is not is not. It blows what little mind I have left when my darlings jump in the air with little more than a neck roll and a shoulder circle. Warming up is YOUR responsibility (even if your instructor leads a group warm-up), and a non-negotiable if you want to stay injury free. Miss Laura’s about to drop that hammer! (#hammertime)

 

 

Why Do I Need a Stupid Warm-Up, Miss Laura?

Because your body needs to be prepared for the feats of super-human strength I’m about to ask it to do, that’s why! A good warm-up:

  • warms the muscles and prepares them to work efficiently
  • lubes up your joints
  • takes your body through it’s anticipated range of motion
  • gives you a heads-up about “creaky bits” that may need special attention today

Why is Stretching Not a Warm-Up?

Stretching can be part of a warm-up, but stretching alone ain’t gonna do it. Sorry. I know passive stretching feels nice, and (frankly) doesn’t involve that much effort, but that’s the point: a warm-up involves a little effort. I personally like to see a teeny sheen of sweat on your little brow before you hoist your butt into the air! Here’s a good place to start from Altitude Aerials.

 

 

This isn’t the first time you’ve heard from me on this topic (shocking!!!!). Have a look at the links below if you have the sneaking suspicion that your warm-up may suck. 😉 Love and pull-ups, Laura

Quick-n-Dirty Warm-up for Aerial Warriors

Aerial Warm-Ups 101

 

 

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“I Am Surely About To Die” – Pre-Show Jitters and How to Cope

German Wheel Wishbone

 

Hello Dear Danglers! I’m writing in hopes that you may recognize a bit of this in your own pre-show musings, and realize that everyone – everyone – has moments of doubt, paralyzing terror  fear, and despair when it comes to doing what we love in front of Other People.

 

Terror Wheel

I’m currently in Chicago, preparing to compete in German Wheel national trials. If I don’t fall on my head (you laugh, but this is an alarmingly real possibility), I may do well enough to join Team USA in Italy in June to compete against top German wheelers from around the world – the thought makes me want to guffaw and barf all at the same time. See, this time, my performance has real consequences. Usually, the worst thing that happens with a crummy run is that my ego is bruised, but here – OMG – I WILL ACTUALLY, LITERALLY BE JUDGED BY PEOPLE SITTING BEHIND A TABLE SCORING MY WORK WITH POINTS! POINTS!!!!! Is that not the most horrifying thing you’ve ever heard? (#hyperbole) To say that this is producing a bit of anxiety in me is like saying that the Pope is a bit Catholic, or that my students are a bit sassy. It is the most astonishing amount of very real, very tangible fear. So, how will I make it through without crying copious quantities of hiccup-y tears? …. I don’t know.

 

What I DO Know

Different things work for different people at different times, and I don’t know what will be most useful in the coming days, but I DO have a little grab-bag of coping strategies! Here are a few that have kept me sane thus far.

  • Everyone wants you to succeed. Really. Your audience wants you to succeed! Even if you’re in competition with others, your competition does not really wish you ill (they just want to do better than you – it’s not the same thing). Imagine them all cheering you on, and watch for all the little “thumbs up” you find yourself seeing all over the place.
  • Staaaaaay present. I am the worst – the worst – at this. Anxiety is all about “futurizing” – projecting your fears into an imagined future. It’s not real. Remember – while this kind of thinking is encoded in your DNA (it was veeeeery helpful if you were a caveman on the savanna), it’s not going to help you now. Go google “how to stay present” and do all the things. All of ’em. Whatever it takes. 😉
  • Focus on others. It’s really hard to wind yourself up too much if you’re focused on others. How can you help? The more you can get your mind off yourself and onto serving, the less time you have to rev your engines and flood your body with more stress hormones!
  • Rally the troops! Call your people! Huddle with your show partner, post about your fear on social media, call your mom, whatever. People want to be there for you, so let them! Feel the love.
  • What’s the worst that could happen? Sometimes, this question has sobering answers (“You could land on your head”), but more often than not, the answers are more benign (“I will look like an idiot”). Try to really talk this through. “I will look like an idiot. OK, maybe people won’t look at me and go “she’s such an idiot”. It’s more likely that they will feel bad for me that I missed my trick – they know how that feels. I will be disappointed, but that’s treatable with ice cream. And, in five years, will this matter in my life in any real, meaningful way? Probably not. I will look back and be proud of myself for competing and doing my best.”
  • Try not to ruminate. Go – do whatever you have to do to break the cycle of winding yourself up. Go help someone, go jog, listen to music, watch “Real Housewives, etc.
  • Get spiritual. Pray, meditate, chant, twirl – whatever floats your spirit boat.
  • Everyone is feeling this way. Look around. See your fellow cast mates? Your competitors? Yeah – they’re right there with you. You are not alone.
  • Speak kindly to yourself. Fear is natural and healthy, and can clue you in to things you need to pay attention to, but don’t use this as a time to abuse yourself. Even as I write this, I hear, “You are going to humiliate yourself in front of so many people” We can be astonishingly cruel to ourselves! And, we can choose differently (note: it’s hard, and can feel like you’re lying. Takes practice, start now). I can change that to “I’ve trained hard, and I’m among friends. I choose to have an uplifting, amazing experience of competition.”
  • Be proud – you chose life. You chose to do the hard thing. You chose a big risk, with a big pay off. Just by choosing action – performance – over fear, you are winning big.

 

B&W slam wheelWelcome Home!

Pre-show “jitters” – doesn’t that sound innocuous? Almost like a candy (“One large bag of popcorn and a box of Jitters, please!”). But oh – when you’re in the throes of anxiety, you know there’s nothing cute or sweet about it – it tastes like pure misery.

What must we remember when we find ourselves here, staring wide-eyed into an unknowable future? You are not alone. In fact, you are now part of a remarkable tradition of courageous people, going back thousands of years. Think of the millions who have stood where you are, thinking the same thoughts, feeling the same smallness, hearing the rush of blood in their ears and wondering how they will survive the next ten minutes. We are a part of a legacy – part of a long tradition of People Who Chose to Really Live. Welcome to the tribe! Welcome home. Love and pull-ups, Laura
 
 

 

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Right! I Mean, Left! I Mean… Oh, Crap. Direction in Aerial Instruction

Jenna Kidney Squisher“Now, move towards the free leg. No, the free leg. NO, THE FREE %$*&#! LEG!!!!!”

“Bring your leg behind you. That’s in front of you.”

“OK, now reach your right hand down…. your other right…”

Conversations like this can be heard in every circus studio across the globe! It’s not just you. 😉 So, how do you make reliable sense of directions given in the air? Why do we get so darned stubborn about our understanding of orientation? See below. No, scroll down. OK – scroll up. Ugh – just keep reading.

The Student’s Challenge

When you’re learning a new move, particularly if it’s a brand new one, or if you’re new to circus, the whole process can  seem Entirely Overwhelming. Here are a few things that may help.

  • Work the position low and slow. If you are a student who routinely tries to place new things up high (*climbs up to the top* “OK, now what do I do?”), I want you to seriously rethink that choice. Not only is it a safety issue, but a) I don’t like hollering instructions up 15 feet, and b) you miss out on having the benefit of my hands to guide you through the move.
  • Stop, listen, and think. We often just want to move and try stuff, but if you stop for a second, really listen to what your coach is saying, and think it though, you’ll have better results (Hint: think more zen tortoise than chimpanzee on meth). One thing that helps me tremendously when I’m trying to master a new move is repeating the coach’s words back to myself. “Bring tails to poles, and key to the wrapped side”, “move towards the free leg, and continue the rotation”. You get the idea. Sometimes, just saying it out loud deciphers it in your brain.
  • Take the time to get familiar with your teacher’s particular orientation vocabulary. It’s kind of like learning a foreign language! It’s likely that you’ll hear key phrases again and again – once you’ve cracked the code, you’ll be fluent in this teacher’s “aerial-ese”.
  • Perception can be crazy subjective. BUT, some things are always the same! The front of your body is always the front of your body. Towards the floor is always the same direction (unless you are living in an alternate reality, in which case please disregard). This is more of that stopping and thinking business – just because you’re upside down doesn’t mean the floor becomes the ceiling or your front becomes your back!

The Teacher’s Challenge

Every student learns and hears things differently, so it’s a helluva challenge to come up with instructions that make sense to most of them, let alone all of them. A lot of verbal cuing is trial and error as you seek to find “magic phrases”, but here are a few things I’ve found helpful.

  • I personally shy away from directions of right and left, mainly because of the sheer chaos that ensues when they need to switch sides. I prefer using body or silk landmarks (“towards your free leg” or poles/tails).
  • If you are using a phrase repeatedly that’s just not getting the desired result, no matter how logical it is, the problem probably isn’t the student. 😉 True confession: I struggle with this so much! I find myself just saying the same thing over and over (and louder and LOUDER) as if I could just yell it into their bodies. Le sigh. The more ways we have to explain things, the better the chance they’ll understand.
  • The “tag” method. If it’s a particularly weird wrap with lots of go-here-then-go-there-and-wrap-this-and-flex-that, I position my hand so that the student has to tag my hand with the specified body part, thus (ideally) leading them through the move. Doesn’t work every time, but it can help.

 

Question time! Students – what verbal cuing do you find most useful? What frustrates you the most? Teachers – same question! What have you found that is particularly helpful in regards to direction? Where do you struggle? Post your comments below – let’s get a great conversation going!!!! Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

  

 

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30 Days to a Sassier Straddle – NEW and Improved!

Miss Hannah's gorgeous straddle!

Miss Hannah’s gorgeous straddle!

 

Hello Dear Danglers! You asked, I answered. Here is the NEW AND IMPROVED, very shiny, fancy, glittery 30 Days to a Better Straddle PDF! Enjoy! Love and pull-ups, Laura


Click here for all the stretchy, straddle-y goodness! 


 

 

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