Gift certificates are back and better than ever!!!!!Purchase gift certificates here!


The Sound of… Silence? What Can You do About Aerial Queefing?

Ghetto StrapsOh yes, I absolutely am going there.

A lovely Dear Dangler recently sent me this query, and I wanted to throw this out to you, Hive Mind.

Queef: noun: an expulsion of air through the vagina.


“I am stressed and embarrassed about doing straddle inverts, as well as other general invert moves.

The problem is that with the damage from my pregnancy when I invert my organs move down towards my head causing a vacuum and sucking in air, caused the dreaded queef.

I love silks, it is my joy at the moment but I was so mortified the first time it happened.  I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but I am constantly stressed about it. 

Do you have any recommendations to help solve the problem???”


Pre-pregnancy, when I would base trapeze, sometimes this would happen to me (we called me “Queen La-Queefia, and joked that I could propel our roll-around-the-bars with the force of them). It tended to happen when we were returning to trapeze after a short hiatus, so I suspect I was allowing my pelvic floor muscles to to relax a bit.

Does anyone have any words of wisdom for this quizzical queefer? It’s awful when something like this stands in the way of something you love. OK, Hive Mind! GO!!!! If you have any thoughts or recommendations, please leave them in the comments below! Love and pull-ups, Laura

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Last-Minute Gifts for Your Favorite (Nicely Naughty) Aerialist!

Stayin' tight with the Baby Janes! Photo by Kenneth Feldman,

Stayin’ tight with the Baby Janes! Photo by Kenneth Feldman,

Ho ho ho! A deliciously sassy seasonal greeting to you all! Just in case you’re like me, and have left every bit of your holiday shopping until Christmas Eve, here are my top-pick last minute gifts for your favorite aerialist! Enjoy!!! Love and pull-ups, Laura

  1. Gift certificates for circus classes!!!! (shameless self promotion) In the spirit of giving more experiences and LESS CLUTTER, I am a huge champion of gifts that encourage sassiness and bad-assery.
  2. Streaming circus stretch videos! Fit & Bendy has come out with two great stretch videos (streaming, or streaming + DVD). “Get Bent” and “Bendy Body” – check ’em out!
  3. Dyna-Flex! This funky little contraption strengthens grip, and shores up stabilizing muscles in the wrist, elbow, and shoulder. I love mine!!!
  4. Thera-bands Plus Door Anchor! Do your conditioning anywhere – perfect for the aerialista on the go.
  5. Rock rosin! I sew pretty little baggie-covers for mine. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, it’s a fun way to add a personal touch.
  6. Kettle of Magick’s Muscle Salve! Made by an aerialist for aerialists. I can’t wait to try it!!
  7. Massage or acupuncture certificates! Check around for recommendations in your area.
  8. Etsy handmade aerial goodness! Everything from necklaces to aerial prints, you also support artisans and craft-makers.


Happy shopping!!! 🙂

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Why I Think You Should Absolutely Perform for Free

Chris Delgado & I bust a move at the Big Sky Works Holiday Show last year!

Chris Delgado & I bust a move at the Big Sky Works Holiday Show last year!

Hello Dear Danglers! The holiday season is upon us!!!! The mistletoe is hung on your trapeze, those cranberry bar thingies are back at Starbucks, and people are lining up to jingle our bells – it’s a festive time of year. It’s a season of generosity and giving, so I thought it might be a great time to talk about something near and dear to my heart: performing for free, and why I think you should absolutely do it…

Perform for Free

… when appropriate. Now, you’ve heard me rant and rave about not performing for free – what gives? Well, you do! You give your time and talents to a worthy cause! In this case, the “cause” I want to chat about is our circus spaces. Most studios have showcases several times a year, and this is a FAN-FREAKIN’-TASTIC time to donate your performance time. Consider:

    • Aerial studios aren’t rakin’ it in hand over fist. In fact, many are barely squeaking by here in NYC. Insurance costs just to open the door are astronomical, plus rent, plus equipment, plus marketing, plus admin, plus instructors…. you get the picture. These showcases allow them to get ahead just a tiny bit (or, for some, allow them to make the rent that month).
    • Giving back is important. Sure, we pay for space in these studios, so it’s not like we’re not giving. But this is special! This is support with your whole body and heart. It means something!
    • These showcases are the PERFECT time to trot out a new work-in-progress to see how it will play in front of real people, or a chance to do something silly or experimental that no one in their right mind would pay you for. I have to be Serious Snowflake or Enigmatic Elf all blessed season, so it’s a real treat to throw on something ridiculous and dust off the old acro act for a night!
    • When you do a showcase, you’re a part of a community that is fluid and always growing. Welcome newcomers, and say hi to old friends you never get to see! It’s also an awesome time for friends and family to come see what you’re dangling from these days.
    • Aspiring professionals NEED performance time, and this is the perfect way to get it! You can hone your circus and performance skills in a supportive, low-risk environment. Bonus? You need photos and video for your demo reel, and this is an easy way to get some great footage.
    • Not ready to perform? Buy tickets and show your support from the audience!


No, my head is not where you think it is. OK, it is, but it's not like that. OK. Glad we had this conversation.

No, my head is not where you think it is. OK, it is, but it’s not like that. OK. Glad we had this conversation.

Ask around! Find out when the studios in your area are putting shows together and GET IN THERE!!!! If nobody is doing showcases, organize one your own durned self! This is a time when you should absolutely, positively work for free (though I always find I’m compensated generously by having awesome places to train). Love and pull-ups, Laura

CLICK HERE to support The Muse in NYC! Move the Muse! 


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“Grazing the Sky” – CIRCUS FILM!!!

Happy Thanksgiving, Dear Danglers! I’m still in a turkey coma, so please enjoy this quick blurb about a CIRCUS FILM that’s coming our way! Watch for it – I can’t wait!!! (** before you ask, no, I had absolutely nothing to do with this film – I just wanted to get the word out!)

“Grazing the Sky”

Grazing the Sky (2013) Poster“Grazing the Sky” takes a revealing look at the incredible physical exploits of circus acrobats, and finds compelling stories of men and women confronting adversity – including the real risk of severe, debilitating injury. The price of life in the limelight includes years of study and practice, an iron discipline, an ongoing commitment to learning new skills, and constant travel far from home.

Director Horacio Alcalá follows eight different acrobats from all over the world, intercutting interviews with artfully staged footage of his subjects performing breathtaking feats with poise and grace.

Horacio Alcalá, who has been involved with the circus arts for seven years, including with Cirque du Soleil, travelled to 11 different countries over the course of five years to capture these stories. He finds a new reality where aspiring circus performers can learn their craft in specialized schools rather than through family apprenticeships. The trapeze becomes a metaphor for life ambitions, given contrast and poignancy by the ever-present risk of a fall.

Cinema on Demand info – 


GRAZING THE SKY Trailer from Camara Boreal on Vimeo.

ACL Tears and Other Injuries: Guest Blogger Chriselle Tidrick!!!

Chriselle Tidrick, Above and Beyond Dance

Hello Dear Danglers! This week, I bring to you……. A GUEST BLOGGER!!! The amazing Chriselle Tidrick from Above and Beyond Dance recently shared her ACL rehab story with a reader, and generously allowed me to reprint it here. If you’ve torn your ACL, or have another serious injury, I hope her words inspire you to keep going, heal up, and be smart about it! I’ve seen her work recently, and you would never believe she’d ever had an injury. She was incredibly diligent in her PT, and made healing her second job. I love how she doesn’t sugar-coat it! Love and pull-ups, Laura

I unfortunately, do have a lot of experience with knee injuries.  I tore my ACL in 2012, and I hate to say but it’s a very challenging injury to deal with.  You can certainly get through this and return to a full performance life.  (Thankfully, I have.)  But, it takes a lot of time and a lot of work.
In terms of the injury itself, let me share a few things which you may already know, but which I wish I understood more fully when I tore my ACL.  Every orthopedist has a slightly different method of bringing you back after ACL surgery.  I happened to have a very conservative orthopedist.  The drag of this choice is that it took me longer than many others to make a full recovery.  The good thing is that he was really making an effort to protect me from re-tearing the ACL.  My understanding is that if you re-tear the ACL, your chances for making a full recovery are significantly diminished.  Like you, I asked very early in the process how soon I could expect to return to aerial.  My doctor recounted a horrifying story about how one of his patients returned to aerial too soon and completely ripped out his surgery.  Needless to say, this kept me from pushing too far too fast.  For me, it was a little over a year before I was back to training, and even then, it was a gradual process of strengthening and rebuilding my comfort level in the apparatus. (My knee is much more sensitive to torque than it used to be.)  For a long time, I had to switch to doing a lot of elements on my non-surgery side (which is also my non-dominant side).  That said, I understand it makes a difference whether you opt for an autograft or an allograft.  If you have an autograft (the doctor uses your own tissue– usually hamstring or patellar tendon), I understand that the healing time is shorter than for an allograft (donor graft).  I opted for an allograft because I had a previous injury on the leg with the ACL tear, and I didn’t want to further compromise that leg.
Right after surgery, you are going to spend a lot of time on a knee machine which takes your knee passively through range of motion.  I think I was on that thing for something like 6 hours a day.  If your orthopedist functions like mine, it will be a week or so before you start PT.  You will be shocked to discover how quickly your leg muscles atrophy.  Your early PT exercises will be very gentle and very simple, and you will very gradually build up to more full movement.  Once I was able, I spent about 2 hours a day, 5-6 days a week doing my PT exercises.  I quickly discovered that my desire to keep my aerial muscles in shape was supplanted by a desire to get my knee functioning properly, and my time and energy was mainly directed to doing as much PT as my body could handle.  I could carefully do chin-ups, chin holds and shoulder shrugs, and I used a rope pulling machine at the gym, but I really opted to keep my focus on the knee rehab.  As soon as my knee was stable enough, I did spend a lot of time also doing floor barre and Pilates.  Since you have a doorway bar, you can probably add in L holds pretty early on, but just be careful not to stress out your hip flexors too much.  They’ll be pretty stressed from schlepping around on crutches!
I am sure this doesn’t apply to you, if you are already asking about aerial training. It sounds like you are the kind of person who will regularly do her PT.  But, honestly, for anyone not serious about keeping up with PT, I’d seriously consider living life with a brace and not doing the surgery.  Granted, this choice means you will never be able to return to aerial training, but if you don’t do your PT you won’t be able to go back to it, either…
Let me also stress that it’s important to work with PTs accustomed to dealing with dancers/athletes as you go through this process.  Our rehab needs are different from people who have more sedentary jobs, and you will definitely need guidance about what is or is not safe for your knee as you return to training.  I was lucky that one of the 2 PTs I worked with at Harkness Center for Dance Injuries does aerial training.  She really walked me through my return to aerial.  Her suggestion to me was that I start with static trap/lyra and then progress into fabric.  I will say that there are definitely more positions involving uncomfortable torque in aerial fabric, so you’ll want to be really careful (go slowly!) as you explore those.  I am sure your PTs will tell you this, but hamstring strength is key as you return to aerial.
What can I tell you about coming back to aerial after being away for so many months?  Well, it was such a gradual process that, even though I was weak, I could gradually add in more and more strengthening activities at a pace that basically matched the kinds of skills I was allowed to do.  For conditioning, I mostly worked shoulder shrugs, chin holds, chin ups, inversions (bent arm and straight arm), and I did a lot of Pilates.  The hardest thing was rebuilding my endurance once my knee was strong enough to execute choreographic sequences, but that came back too, as it certainly will for you.  I am sorry to tell you that this will be a really slow, annoying and frustrating process, but everything really will come back.  At this point, I am as strong as ever and enjoying having a full performing life as a dancer, aerialist and stilt dancer.  
Wishing you a smooth recovery process.  Believe me, I feel your pain! – Chriselle 



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The Sometimes Student: Why Consistency Counts

Laura & Angela's Halloween show fun!

Laura & Angela’s Halloween show fun!

Are you happy with your aerial ninja progression? Seeing small but consistent gains in strength, stamina, and awesomeness? No? Hmmmmm. Are you perhaps sabotaging your success by popping in and out of training like a jack-in-the-box on steroids?

The Sometimes Student

If you train long enough, you will have to take a break, either because of life circumstances, finances, injury, pregnancy, the list goes on and on. It always cracks me up just a little when students come back after a hiatus and say, “Miss Laura! I’ve lost so much (fill in the blank – strength, stamina, hair, etc.)!” Of course you have, stop looking so shocked! If you don’t use it, you lose it. BOOM (that was the sound of some tough love being dropped). The remedy is simple – get your butt back to class and regain your Sassy Status – you’ve got this, and it is 100% doable. But, what about the Sometimes Student?

The Sometimes Student comes to class religiously for a few weeks or months, then drops off the face of the earth for a while. When they return, it’s all, “I’m going to be in class every day for the next six weeks! I can’t believe that I lost my invert! I’m going to train so hard!” Then, after a few weeks of training, ……. crickets. Aaaaaaaaand the cycle starts all over again.

A Fancy Quiz for You to Take – “Am I Consistent?”

  1. T/F  I do not stretch for weeks on end, then I have two hour marathon stretching sessions because I realized I lost my split and now I can’t walk because I overdid it and I’m fairly sure I tore my hammy.
  2. T/F  I haven’t done pull-ups in months, but I’m going to go do 100 of them as soon as I finish reading this post because I feel guilty. I will then be very sore and cancel my aerial class because OW.

It’s a short quiz. You know if this is you. 😉

Why Consistency Counts

If you’re swinging from the rafters solely for the sweet release of it all, or to torture your muscles in unconventional ways, then you won’t feel the Sting of Stuck-ness as keenly as someone who is really aiming to see meaningful progression. So, how do you get to a meaningful progression? Time and effort. There are truly no substitutes for just showing up and doing the work.

(** If you ARE coming to class regularly but not seeing the results you’d like, click here!)

We are an Instant Results culture. We want All The Things Right Now This Very Instant, and if I have to work for it, there must be something wrong with me, you, or it (confession: I fall prey to this, too – all the time). We want our internet fast, our weight loss fast, our food fast. But, circus training is kind of the slow food movement of the physical world. Muscles take time to grow, bodies take time to stretch, neurons take time to wire together to create amazing new patterns. Fast just won’t work here.

Sometimes, breaks are unavoidable. Sometimes, breaks are great and can actually push your training to the next level! But, if you’re not training consistently in the air, don’t be surprised when your results are wobbly. Consistency counts, friends! Do everything in your power to just show up. Love and pull-ups, Laura

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Move the Muse – Help!!!!

Hey friends! If you live and train in NYC, or even if you’ve come to visit and dangle, chances are good that you’ve visited The Muse – an awesome, friendly, and affordable circus training space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Thanks to the gentrification of the neighborhood, small businesses are being forced out of their homes to make way for condos, high-rises, and corporate dollars.

The Muse lost it’s lease, and will be (temporarily, I hope!) closing it’s doors at the end of the year. Here’s where we come in. The Muse needs to raise $60K to transform an old warehouse into a new training space, and it’s up to US to make it happen!

Why Should I Care?

Because circus matters. Affordable training space matters. Community matters.

Think for a moment about how circus has changed your life. See? It matters.

We can’t wait for someone else to do it. If we pass the buck now, we don’t get to bitch when space is $40 per hour in NYC. We don’t get to whine about the lack of community, or how there are no training spaces in one of the arts capitals of the USA. The responsibility lies solely with us. BUT, HOORAY! That means we have the power to make this happen!!! We have the power to put our dollars towards something that is personal and meaningful! We are investing in our future as artists, as a community, and as the people we want to be.

Don’t wait. Do it now. Every bit counts, and every cent matters.

Invest in your future!!!


Click here to contribute! Do it now! 🙂

Postpartum Aerial Training Part 2 – Managing Expectations in the Air

For Part 1, Click Here! 

So, you’re no longer peeing your pants, your bits and pieces have mostly recovered, and you’ve gotten the green light to return to exercise from your midwife or OB. Fabulous! This is the moment you’ve been dreaming about! You’re going to soar! You’re going to twirl! You’re going to…. honestly? Cry. Or scream. Or both.

The First Weeks and Months of Training

Not inverting effortlessly (or at all) the first weeks back in the studio? Yep – me neither. But, before you hyperventilate, here are some things to internalize.

  • your ab muscles were just stretched waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out – it takes TIME for them to shrink back down to a place where they can work meaningfully.
  • how quickly you bounce back depends a lot on how easy things were before you got knocked up. Were inversions a struggle then? Easy peasy? How strong were those muscles before you took time off and stretched your abs over a baby the size of a watermelon?
  • you’re sleep deprived, and please believe me when I say that no one is at their strongest when they’ve been up every two hours with an infant. Even if you’re co-sleeping and breastfeeding lying down, or bottle feeding with your partner taking every other shift, you’re still tired. F-ing tired.
  • hormooooooooooooooooooooooooooones! Whoa Nelly, nobody talks about the hormones! Especially if you’re breastfeeding, you are a hormonal soup. You may be extremely emotional, or even still a bit depressed. Some hormones relax everything  – including your joints – and that affects how training feels. You may also struggle emotionally if training differs from what you’d envisioned.
  • did you bring the baby with you to training? Understand that a) everyone will want to see the behbeh and talk to you, and b) babies are not the best at letting you get stuff done. If you find that you can’t meaningfully train with the baby in tow, see if you can tank ’em up and have someone watch the little cherub for an hour. I know it feels like they won’t possibly survive the hour without you, but taking a bit of time for yourself sets a very necessary precedent – you are a person with needs too. Sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle. You’ll return renewed, happy, and enthusiastic, and that’s good for everyone!


Strategies for Getting Back in the Air

  • Time. Time time time. Breathe. There is nothing wrong with you. Your abs are shrinking on their own time.
  • Chat with your caregiver about diastisis recti. If you have a separation, you’ll need to be proactive in dealing with it. Click here for a great resource. 
  • Listen to your body, and pay very close attention to what it needs. Now is not the time to deal with where you THINK you ought to be, it’s a time to see where you are and trust that everything is coming together in it’s own time.
  • Record your progress – it may not be as slow as you think!
  • Exercise is good for you, which is good for the bebe! Negotiate with a partner, friend, or babysitter so that you get daily time to move your body.


All in all, it will take some time before you feel like yourself again (it took 6 months for me). It will happen, but not as quickly as you might like. Be gentle with yourself, mama! If other moms look like they have it all together, repeat after me: it’s an illusion. Check their purse – I’ll bet there’s a poopy diaper in it. 😉 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.


PostPartum Aerial Training – How Mama Gets Her Groove Back: Part 1

MamaslittlemonkeyGlorious Aerial Mamas (or Mamas to Be)! It’s the post you’ve been asking about – WOOOT!

After nine months of barfing, heartburn, waddling, waiting, and planning, your beautiful bebe is finally nestled in your arms. Now that your body is somewhat your own again, I know you’re DYING to get back in the air. But when is it safe? When should you expect your body to feel like itself again? And OH MY GOSH – the overwhelm! How does this WORK?!


Weeks 1-8 – Not So Fast, Sistah

If you’re still pregnant with your first, there’s no way to adequately explain to you what I lovingly call The Baby Bomb – when the wee miracle finally gets here and blows your world to smithereens. There is truly no way to communicate how dramatic a shift this is (you wouldn’t believe me anyway). But here are some things you’ll be encountering:

  • Hormones – your hormones are doing the watusi! You’ll feel elated one minute, and burst into tears 30 seconds later. You will likely have a touch of The Baby Blues (a hormone-induced depression), and, depending on your situation, you may have more than just a touch. It feels so incredibly wrong to have feelings of depression when everyone tells you that this should be the happiest time in your life, or to “relax and enjoy the baby”. Please know that you are not broken, you are not alone, and this does not mean you are not or will not be a good mother. Talk about it, and don’t be afraid to ask for all the help you need.
  • Breastfeeding – they suck the baby weight right off you! WIN! But be forewarned – no one has ever done that to your nipples (unless they have, masochist). Investing in a good breast pump can give you a bit of freedom in a few weeks to go train a bit by yourself.
  • Sleep – ha! You ain’t gettin’ none. Newborns nurse about every two hours. The ideal sleeping situation is the one in which everyone gets the most sleep. Every baby is different, every mama is different. Experiment and don’t let other people’s parenting philosophies (or one you’ve decided to adhere to) prevent you from sleuthing out what works best for you and your new family.
  • Support System – friends, partner or husband, family, Facebook, whatever. Create a support system and USE IT! There’s a ridiculous perception that the modern woman does it all herself. Bullshit. Ask for LOTS of help.
  • Lochial flow (bleeding) – thinking about jumping on those silks before 6 weeks? Think again. I tried at 4 weeks, predictably overdid it, and nearly wound up in the hospital with maternal hemorrhage. Relax. Take the time off – it’s OK. Another 14 days is not going to kill you. 🙂
  • C-Sections – getting back to exercise and training becomes a bit more complicated after major abdominal surgery. If you’ve had a C-Section, you’re looking at 8 weeks before you can start moving meaningfully again. This is a real thing for you too, Superwoman! You can set your training back months or years by not letting your abs heal.
  • Diastisis Recti – this is a separation of the rectus abdominus muscle, which occurs frequently in pregnancy. It takes time to knit that split back together. Jumping back in too soon can widen the gap – give it time. Here’s a great resource. 
  • Colic – your baby may be a super mellow cuddly cherub of an infant. Mine screamed like a banshee (we nearly called in a priest for an exorcism). Like Gump and his chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. If your baby is “spirited” or high-needs, you may find yourself too drained or overwhelmed to think much about training. It’s OK. This won’t last forever, and you WILL figure this out.
  • Productivity – are you a Type A super productive person? Not anymore, you’re not! Brace yourself. One of the toughest adjustments is the near constant interruption – diapers need changing, tummies need filling, bebehs need comforting, etc. It’s a lot. You’ll sort it out eventually, but at first, it’s all like BOOM.
  • You will pee your pants for a while. I know you don’t believe me, but if you had a vaginal birth, not only will you poop during labor, but you’ll pee your pants until your pelvic floor tightens up again. Stock up on Depends, and bid your dignity bon voyage. 😉


OK, so what does all this mean for training? First, know that you’re looking at 6-8 weeks before you are cleared to start exercising again. You will be tired, and, if you’re breastfeeding, your body is still cranking out mucho hormones which may contribute to laxity (looseness) in the joints. You’ll be overwhelmed, and, if you’re the first person in your tribe to pop a bun out of the oven, you may feel like nobody understands what you’re going through (hint: they don’t).

“Miss Laura, this sounds horribly depressing….”

Sorry!!! I don’t mean for it to be, truly! Let’s look at what you CAN do to set yourself up for Phase 2.

  • Heal like it’s your job. Because it is. Your vagina just exploded – let it heal. Your abs were just stretched out to infinity, too – it will take time for them to shrink back down to a place where they can function meaningfully again. Taking time to heal is one of the BEST ways of getting back in the air faster.
  • Start training your pelvic floor. Remember our friend Kegel? If you’re not familiar, it’s time to get intimately acquainted. You can start doing this as soon as you can “find” the muscles after birth.
  • Zip up that tummy! My favorite post-partum exercise was The Zipper. After a week or two, when you can start to find the muscles again, you “zip” from your pelvic floor to the top of your abs. Do a Kegel, now try to find the muscles that bring your belly button to your spine. First try it lying down, then progress to standing. It may not feel like much at first (in fact, it may not feel like anything at first). Keep at it! Here’s a great list of exercises, and here’s a great DVD from trapezista Karyne Steben. ** If you notice an increase in bleeding, or a re-occurrence of bright red bleeding, stop exercising  and call your health care provider immediately.


The take-away? Having a baby is overwhelming. Heal, and be gentle with yourself in this first 6-8 weeks. You’ll be ready to kick your own ass again soon. Feeling like a failure because you’re not back in performance shape in two months? Fuck that. You may fly back into the air. You may army crawl. None of that says a damned thing about how good, professional, or strong you are. You are enough, beautiful mama. 

This got kind of long, so stay tuned for Part 2 (months 2-6), where we dive into the best way to get your aerial lusciousness back, and what kind of a timetable you’re looking at for feeling like your old self again. 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.


Ride ’em, Cowgirl! Getting Back on the Horse after a Circus Injury or Scare

Duo Nexus EditA while back, Angela (my aerial partner) and I were running the release-catches in our duo act during the tech for a gig. The live-feed camera guy was trying out his equipment, and presumably wanted to test some angles for close shots. He thought it would be a great idea to shoot from underneath us. The other performers were running to grab him and tell him that it was, in fact, a terrible idea, but it was too late – his motion broke our concentration at just the right (wrong?) time, and we missed our catch. Down down down I came, and landed feet first on the stage.

As far as falls go, it wasn’t that far; as far as landings go, it was pretty good (I like to think that I even struck a graceful pose at the bottom). I came out of it with a nice sprain on one ankle, and a nasty little hitchhiker: a slap-you-upside-the-head strong mental block. Once my ankle had healed, and we were running our act again, I can still remember the progression. I would be fine right up until the two moves before the fateful catch/release. Then, the blood would start pounding in my ears, adrenaline would shoot through my body, I would start to shake, and then… nothing. I couldn’t proceed. It was as if my body just flat out refused to go there ever again. Never mind the fact that I KNEW my body’s reaction was way overblown. This fear just wouldn’t listen to reason.

If you haven’t experienced any injury or scare, great! If you think you never could or will, you’re wrong. I actually heard someone say the other day that your body won’t allow your grip to fail, that some primal self-preservation instinct takes over. Please know that that is completely stupid and 100% wrong. Your grip can indeed fail. Your concentration can falter. You can fall down. In fact, everyone who trains long enough will have a scary moment (the kind that makes you pee just a little). What comes after depends a great deal on what happened, whether you were injured, your personal fear threshold, etc. You may even find yourself where I did (and where I still often find myself when I’m training scary things on wheel). Here are a couple of things that have started things moving again (geez, sounds like a laxative commercial….)

  1. Say “thank you” to your fear. Not to get all woo-woo on you, but acknowledging that the fear is there to try to keep you safe can take it from a place of shame or frustration (“Stupid fear! WHY can’t I not be scared??!!!”) and  give it a bit of status (“Ah! My self-preservation instinct is kicking in!”). In the interest of being completely honest, I really struggle with forgiving my fear, especially when it is standing between me and training success. So, onto step 2….
  2. Step back into the driver’s seat. Fear, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to ride shotgun. Moving into a pro-active place allows you to feel some control again, and believe me – fear and feeling helpless go hand in hand. Any step you can take towards owning your training will diminish the sensation of fear.
  3. Go back to the beginning. Take the scary move all the way back to the beginning. There is no point that can be considered too early – whatever works for you. Try to find the earliest possible place that doesn’t produce debilitating fear. Now stay there until you’re ready to add the next teeny tiny step.
  4. Break the pattern. A fear response can become habitual, cued by a physical progression. Fear not letting up? Change the way you get into something if possible. When we changed the transition into the move, my fear habit didn’t get it’s usual cues and was lessened considerably.
  5. De-sensitize with time and repetition. Once you’ve started revisiting those micro-movements, stay with each one until something in you “leans into it” – really wants to go forward. Don’t give yourself a weird, arbitrary time table – don’t rush. Fear is not rational, and you can’t think it away (I’ve tried). The fear part of your brain and the rational part of your brain don’t really talk. (Thank you, Miss Alice!) Let time and repetition soothe the scared part, and use the rational bits of your brain to cheer you on.
  6. Trust your coach (maybe). Truth? I have a HORRIBLE time doing this. It is so foreign to me to trust someone else with my safety – even someone who, time and time again, has saved my butt from Certain Doom. Trust is built slowly (and destroyed quickly, but that’s another post). If you believe, after careful thought and observation, that a teacher is worthy of your trust, go for it. The more you can trust them, the more they can help you – the more you can give up and give over. Feel the fear, and do it anyway.
  7. Ask yourself – what’s the worst that can happen? Sometimes, the answer is “horrible things. Don’t fuck it up.” Sometimes, the answer is “nothing terrible”! Here’s a fun infographic & post from Chris Delgado on this.
  8. Leave it. You heard me. If you’re being tortured by a particular move, ask yourself: is it worth it? Can I just not do that move? Is it essential to progress to other things I want to do? If you can’t leave it, see steps 1-7. If it’s making you miserable and you can set it aside, even for just a little while, I hereby give you permission if you’re having trouble giving it to yourself. There are SO MANY things to do on any given apparatus – it’s OK to ease up if that’s what you need.


Eventually, Angela and I put a few modifications into the move that allowed me to feel safe again, and off we went into the sunset. But, I deal with fear all the time. All the time. Healthy brains have a vested interest in keeping your body safe. You can’t ignore or deny the fear, so acknowledge and work with it. Wishing you all SAFE training with only the fear you need to keep you gorgeous and intact (but not enough to make you pee)! Love and pull-ups, Laura


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