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Category Archives: Exercises

VIDEO – How To Do A Handstand

Hey peeps! Watch this great video on how to do a press handstand! You still have to put in your practice, but I love the 3-stage approach. I like to use a wall while working from extended arms – I’m not there yet, but by-golly I will be someday! What tricks and tips do you have for learning handstands? Leave them in the comments below! Love and pull-ups, Laura




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Find Your Inner Superhero – Increasing Strength for Aerial Acrobatics

OK, to be fair, I chose this photo because I really really really liked Anna Paquin’s hair in this movie. BUT, you have to admit that she was kind of a badass. What about you? Are you feeling more Peter Parker than SpiderMan? Less Storm, more drizzle? I hear ya! Let’s get all buff for the new year! … But how?…


Get To Class!

My personal favorite! Nothing trumps aerial training for building the muscles you need for, well, aerial training! Aim for at least one class and 1-2 practice sessions per week and you’ll be dangling pretty faster than you can say, “Flame on!”

Get to the Gym

If you belong to a gym, for heavens sake GO! Once you get there, don’t even waste your time with the piddly weights. We’re looking to gain strength, so you want to work with the heaviest weight you can control with good form for 8-12 reps, cycle repeated 2-3 times. If you can raise the weight again after 12 reps, it’s TOO LIGHT – upgrade, sistah! But first, I want to see you on that pull-up bar or assisted pull-up machine!!! A combination of free weights and machines are good – machines challenge you to lift more weight, but free weights force you to work on stability.


Torture Yourself at Home

No need to haul your tush to the sweat factory – you can get a superty buff bod in the privacy of your own home (and no one will see your bunny-foot pajamas or the sweats with the unfortunate hole). My personal fave for training at home is any one of the new 90-days-of-torture video series out there – p90-X, Insanity, or my favorite (cause it’s cheapest) Supreme 90 Day Challenge. A couple of dumb bells and a stability ball later, and your bod rivals the Terminator! Well, maybe not, but you sure will be sore!


The most important thing for building strength is working to fatigue. More posts on specifics down the line, but here are a few links to get you started, and a video to get you inspired. Love and pull-ups, Laura


PS – What is your superhero name? The color of your shirt + the first object on your right. I’m The Black Coupon! Cower in fear, villains! Leave a comment & tell me what yours is!


Don’t forget to “like” my new Facebook page!

Supreme 90 Day System

The Most Important Exercise in the World

Resource Page for Strength Workouts

Hulu – Health & Wellness (good source for free 30-60 minute televised workouts)


My friends Christian & Jean-Francois of Acrobazia

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Learning To Spin Without Tossing Your Cookies

ImaginAerial Duo Lyra

ImaginAerial Duo Lyra

I’ve done my share of spinny acts, most often with a bucket offstage in case of “too much of a good thing”. Love web, lyra, single point trap, and other spinning apparatus, but afraid of the up-chuck factor? You should be, it’s very real. Here’s how to get off to a good start, and keep your cookies where they ought to be!
First, some fun info about why we throw up when we get too dizzy. A doctor I met a few years ago in a trapeze workshop had an interesting answer: poison. Apparently, a number of poisons make your head spin and disrupt your orientation, so your body’s natural response is “Aw, hell no! Get that OUT of here!!!” And there you have it – you cast up your accounts and live to see another day. Whether that’s true or not, it can be a real drag to have to sit out half your aerial class with your head between your knees. So here are some things that may help:
  • ginger (my personal fave is the Trader Joe’s crystalized stuff). Eat a bit before class and see what happens!
  • experiment with closing your eyes. This makes me more nauseated, but I know some aerialists who swear by it!
  • fix your eyes on your apparatus. Don’t try to spot the way you would in dance, you’ll look like you’re having a seizure. Just focus on your hoop or rope.
  • If focusing doesn’t help, try this! Blur your focus as much as you can (this one works well for me).
  • start slow and keep at it. The more you spin, the greater your body’s ability to acclimate – don’t give up! Be persistant and think of the pounds you will have lost in a few weeks!


Bottom line? Rome wasn’t built in a day. Spinning the way we do simply isn’t natural, and your body will let you know in a dramatic fashion! You can and will get used to it – just keep a bag handy while you learn. If you’re a spinning apparatus enthusiast, what works for you? Post it in the comments below!  Love and pull-ups, Laura


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Back to Basics – Beginning Pilates Mat Work For The Lower Body

This is a good introduction to basic Pilates mat work for your lower body. What I love about Pilates isn’t just the great core work, but the precision it demands. If you’re having trouble with your inverts or skin-the-cats, or you’re an aerialist who has never taken dance, Pilates is a must. This is also fabulous for all mah circus sistahs who have popped out a baby and aren’t sure where their muscles are anymore (this was me two years ago – found ’em!). Enjoy! Love and pull-ups, Laura



Booty Camp – Aerial Warm-Ups 101

So, here’s a little something you have probably already figured out: the older you get, the more important a good warm-up is. So, unless you’re, you know, eight, here’s an example of what you might need to rotate/roll/squeeze/stretch/thwack/twirl before each and every aerial class.


The Patented Laura Witwer Super-Duper-Ten-Minute-Top-To-Bottom-Pre-Class Warm-Up


  • Neck rolls, look from side to side, and bring your ear towards your shoulder on each side. Pretend you’re in “Flashdance” – it helps.
  • Shoulder shrugs/rolls. Add an eye roll and a “whatever” and it’s like you’re 15 again!
  • Arm circles in both directions, elbow circles, wrist circles.
  • Clasp your hands behind your back and open your chest, clasp your hands in front of you and round your back
  • Roll your spine up and down (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, please send pictures of your interpretation – this could be very funny)
  • Ribcage isolations (side to side, front to back, circles)
  • Hip circles/isolations in all directions – make like Shakira!
  • Gently run in place and do a few jumping jacks to get blood flowing in the legs. Extra points for humming the “Chariots of Fire” theme.
  • Gently stretch hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and calves (a runners lunge, forward bend, & downward facing dog accomplish this pretty well). Did I say you could stop humming?
  • Shake out your body – you’ll look like a freak, but your muscles will love it.
  • If you have any creaky areas, spend some time warming the joints & muscles – show them some love!
  • A couple of push-ups and sit-ups. NOW! 😉


Now, I realize there’s nothing particularly earth-shattering about this warm-up. It’s pretty basic, and those of you who have been working physically for a while now probably have your own thing going; but for those of you who are new to aerial work, this is a good place to start. But know this: many of you are not doing an adequate warm-up. How do I know? Because I can see you. I see everything, I’m a mother.


Do I Really Need to Do This?


Yes. Oh, you want me to explain? In a nutshell, a proper warm-up improves performance by increasing blood flow to sleepy muscles allowing them to contract more efficiently (= more power), lubes your joints with synovial fluid, and  lessens the chance of injury by taking muscles and joints through a controlled range of movement (don’t “surprise” them – they don’t like surprises, and will retaliate by spontaneously combusting or killing you in your sleep hurting a lot. Now, go forth and warm thyselves, mah peeps! And tune in next week when we talk about rigging – just in time to truss ourselves up like a turkey. Love and pull-ups, Laura



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The Most Important Exercise On The Planet

GripAs an addendum to my previous post about circus being durned hard, I wanted to address one very concrete thing you can do TODAY to begin to ramp up your training. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you (cue confetti canons)… the Humble Pull-Up. That’s right – hauling yourself up and down using your superty-buff arms is my number one essential training tool, and it should be a part of your regular training at least every other day.

A matter of discipline

Yes, I’m aware that you hate pull-ups. I don’t leap out of bed every morning shrieking, “YAAAAY! I get to do some pull-ups today!!!!” either.  Thing is, it doesn’t matter whether or not you hate them – you just have to do them. I’m willing to bet that one of the biggest reasons you hate them is because they’re really tough and they hurt and you suck at them. Am I right? It’s OK! It’s OK that they’re tough; it’s OK that they hurt, and it’s OK that you suck at them, but that will change. I promise you – train them, and they will suck so, so much less. First, you’ll do one, then another, then another, until you are kickin’ some serious tushie.

A matter of skill

I would say a solid 75% of aerial work hinges on variations of the pull-up. It’s that foundational. True – you can crank out some reasonably solid work without being able to do a traditional up and down, but you’re cheating yourself in a huge way. I’ve been around the professional block a few times (that doesn’t sound quite right, but you know what I mean), and I can tell you this: in all my years of performance, I have NEVER worked with a professional aerialist who couldn’t do a pull-up. In fact, the very idea is absurd. So, if you are serious about moving beyond the realm of student or amateur, get to work. TODAY.

A matter of safety

It’s not just a matter of strength; it’s also a matter of safety. Many of you have had the panic-inducing experience of getting into a bad knot on your fabrics, or finding yourself below your trapeze or hoop with little reserves to get back up. This is where your training – the muscle memory, the strength building, the endurance drills – is absolutely essential; it could mean the difference between a successful recovery to a safe position and a nasty injury for you (or someone else if you’re working with a partner). Be responsible and do the work, even if you hate it.


Here’s a great resource for how to properly execute a pull-up, and a link to the bar I have at home (no installation required). If you’re a beginner, try putting a chair underneath and giving yourself just enough help to go through the full range of movement; start slow and small, Rome wasn’t built in a day. For more advanced folks, you can try varying your hand positions to work the muscles from different angles and keep things interesting. In closing, know this: if you train your pull-ups consistently, you WILL be successful. Surprise and amaze your friends! They’ll think you’re a total Bad Ass Rock Star. Because you are.

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, FB, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are posting things these days!