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Category Archives: Training

5 Ways to Bounce Your Booty Back Faster After a Break

I was 4 months post-partum. Things were still harder than I wanted them to be!

Happy New Year, Dear Danglers!!!! Welcome back! OK – hands up if you completely abandoned your training and ate too much Deliciousness over the holidays! ME TOO. Seriously? My winter coat is tight. Oh dear. Time to get back in the game! So how do you jump back in safely and fabulously after being away for a few weeks? A few months? A Year? Grab some cawfee and we’ll tawk. And pass me a butter cookie….

 

Why You Were Away Matters

So, why were you away? Vacation? Pregnancy & birth? Injury? Slacking? The reason for your absence matters a lot, and can give you a more realistic timeline for returning to your previous level of awesomeness. For example, if you just had a baby, you are realistically looking at 8 weeks between birth and the time you can get back in the air (not counting the months when that SPECTACULAR baby bump made that trapeze too crowded to do anything but pose on). Injured? You can only go as quickly as your injury will allow. Even a two week vacation can mess with your game when you’re in the early days of romancing an apparatus.

 

I know, I hear you – you want to be back to your rock star self TODAY RIGHT NOW THIS VERY MINUTE PLEASE. I get it – it’s no fun to feel like you worked your fanny off just to see that hard work go out the window with some eggnog, a two week Real Housewives marathon, and an entire cheesecake (or, you know, four…). So, as I heave myself back into the air, I invite you to do the same, and keep this on your radar.

 

5 Ways to Get Back in the Game Faster

1 – Don’t hurt yourself by going balls to the wall day one! Take your temperature (not literally, unless you really want to), see where you are, and never gage success by the first day back. Push yourself too hard in your frustration, and you could wind up with an injury that will prolong your hiatus! This especially applies to returning to aerial work after having a baby. Hello? You just made a person and catapulted them into the world! Cut yourself some slack!

 

2 – Trust the training & be where you are (I spent a half an hour trying to insert a little gong sound here. I failed, so GONGGGGGGGG!). Not to get all Zen on you, but you are where you are where you are, and no amount of beating yourself up is going to change that. Take it from me – you’ll be back in the game WAY sooner than you think! Breathe and train.

 

3 – Avoid mental games. Right about this time, your Inner Meanie is going to rear it’s ugly head, and try to convince you that it’s-all-pointless-the-hard-work-is-all-gone-you-suck-and-you’ll-never-have-that-hip-key-again. This is not true. You had it once, you will have it again. Shut up, Meanie.

 

4 – Do your best work. Cut yourself some slack? Yes. Let yourself off the hook and make excuses? NO. Work as hard and as diligently as you safely can – you’ll feel good knowing that even if you’re not back to where you were, you did your absolute best and that matters more. It really does. Remember: this is temporary!

 

5 – Visualize & remember. By session 3, you’ll likely have a good idea of where you actually are and what needs your attention. Review your notes on these moves and see if you’re slipped back into poor technique which may be holding you back. Try to remember in your mind and body what that move felt like, and see if you can come any closer to recapturing that sensation.

 

At the end of the day, it really does boil down to two things: 1) patience 2) realistic expectations. Take a deep breath, and accept where you are. Tough love: you don’t have a choice. Focus on the step just in front of you, and really celebrate every move forward – you’ll be back to your badass self in no time at all! 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.

 

5 Good Reasons You’re Not Getting That Trick

 Today, Dear Danglers, I got a trick I have been working hard on for over half a year. I call them “Wet Towels”, and they aren’t considered a particularly difficult move on wheel. They terrified me in the beginning, then just started really pissing me off. I might get them once or twice, celebrate and think I had them, and then they would disappear for the next 6 weeks, when I’d get another one, celebrate, think I had it, you get the picture. This cycle made for some very, very tense wheel training, usually resulting in me sobbing in a heap on the floor (Chris’s FAVORITE part of class). But a few weeks ago, something clicked, and suddenly, I was getting most of my towels over! And today, I got 4 out of 4 – a new record.

 

Why This Is A Big Deal

… because I secretly thought I would never get them. Now, I talk a good game to my students. They hear, “If you train it, it will come!” ad nauseum; and I believe that, I do! Just not when it came to me and my towels. So today, I stand before you as living proof that IF YOU TRAIN IT, IT WILL COME! I know some of you are struggling with certain moves (inverts come immediately to mind), so I wanted to have a quick look at what may be keeping you from the aerial awesomeness you crave in a particular trick.

  1. You just learned it. There are some things you’re just not going to get right out of the gate! This is the time to have a good laugh, go through it a few times, and repeat to yourself: “If circus were easy, they would call it tag!”
  2. You’re not strong enough. Some moves take a level of strength and body awareness that you may not have cultivated yet. Can you break it down into smaller bits to practice? Ask your coach! A good teacher can break ANY move down into little bitty bits if that’s what works for you. Trust me – with consistent training, you will get strong enough to do whatever your little heart desires!
  3. It’s hard and takes a lot of practice. Some moves are just plain difficult. Really – that’s it. Instead of trying to get the whole shebang, see if you can focus on a part of the whole, like keeping your leg straight, or not swearing when it bends.
  4. You’re letting yourself off the hook too easily. Sometimes, you don’t really want to do a trick, so you make sure you can’t. Or, you may not be holding yourself to a high enough standard. It’s OK to let yourself off the hook sometimes, just make sure it doesn’t become an everyday thing.
  5. You’re scared. It’s OK to be scared! A healthy respect for what we do is what keeps us from falling on our heads! Again: break it down. Modify. When you feel brave enough to do the whole thing, feel the fear and do it anyway. Make sure you’re comfy enough not to spaz!

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!!!!

When you finally get that move that has been plaguing you for days, weeks, months, or years, CELEBRATE! Do a little dance, squeal, jump up and down, put your wheel instructor in a head lock (my preferred expression of celebration), but please PLEASE don’t sweep it under the rug! When you brush off a major victory, you downplay all your hard work, and are a total Debbie Downer. Nobody likes a Debbie Downer, so give yourself a pat on the back already! And remember, IF YOU TRAIN IT, IT WILL COME, GRASSHOPPER! Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

Big thanks to the best wheel teacher on the planet. Here are my Towels. They ain’t pretty, but they ARE over! Pass me a margarita!

 

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You’re Too Fat for Circus Training (and Other BS You May Believe)

Me in my dancing days!

Me in my dancing days!

Many years ago, in ye Days of Olde, I made like a ballerina. I danced quite a bit from elementary school through college, and a little when I moved to NYC (nothing terribly amazing). Man – there is nothing like staring at yourself in a leotard and tights in a full length mirror for four hours a day to make you painfully hyper-aware of your body! See, I’ve always been just a little too much in every way – a little too loud, a little too opinionated, a little too big for pointe shoes. Then, I found circus. And suddenly, I was just right.

 

What’s the difference? I mean, let’s be candid – I’m expected to be fit and and fabulous for my job. Why did I feel like I had struck body image gold? Because suddenly, the emphasis was off my body shape, and onto the amazing things I could make it do. Instead of looking at fellow artists and wondering how I could get that thin, I wondered how I could get that strong, or flexible, or engaging. I cried with joy (and pure amazement) when I did my first full pull-up, and it felt like Christmas morning every time I found a new muscle. It felt so good to celebrate my body instead of fight it!

 

Body Beautiful: Learning to Appriciate Your Miracle

One of the things I love most about circus is the sheer variety of bodies and the incredible things they can do. Long and willowy, compact and powerful, generously sensual, tight and angular, and everything in between. Not to get all woo-woo-touchy-feely with you here, but there really is only one you – one body just like yours. Try this (actually do it  you’ll be glad you did).

 

  • where are you strong?
  • where are you flexible?
  • where are you weak?
  • what is uniquely beautiful about your body?
  • what do you love about the way you move?

 

That – right there – is the blueprint for your training! Train to your strengths, work on your weak spots, focus on cultivating your own beautiful style. I’m not going to lie – if you are significantly over or under weight, very tight in the muscles, or are working around a dodgy fill-in-the-blank, the work has to be modified. But so what? It doesn’t mean you don’t start. It means you modify.

 

Circus has room for every body, every age, every creative soul who just doesn’t feel like being bound by gravity today. Don’t get me wrong – I still love to dance. And I understand the emphasis on body shape. I do. I’m just opting out, and I invite you to do the same. Are you more lush than lithe? More angular than agile? More chutzpa than hero? There is room for you in this wonderful community. Circus doesn’t demand that you start with a certain shape, or that you be able to do 20 pull-ups on day one while sitting on your own head. It DOES demand that you put in the time, do the work (without whining), and understand that amazing things take time to train up to. Here’s to the journey!  Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

 

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Private Dancer: How to Get the Most Out of One-on-One Lessons

Hello Dear Danglers! I trust you all survived the delicious, delicious pie and your family insanity (FUNZIES!). Today, we’re chatting about how to get more bang for your buck during a private lesson. You work hard for the money, so make it count! With a little planning, you can turn that solo session into magic time.

 

When Should You Shell Out the Cash for a Private Lesson?

Well, whenever you want! (Hey – THANKS Captain Obvious!)
Sorry – let me narrow that down. Some great times to consider a private:

 

  • no group classes fit into your weird work schedule
  • you’re putting together a piece for an upcoming show
  • you’re really struggling with a few particular moves
  • you need to get your ass whooped (always happy to oblige!)
  • you’re creating a professional piece
  • you want to define your personal style (especially important in silks – the world does not need another cookie-cutter aerial act)
  • you just want me all to yourself – understandable! 😉

 

Plan Ahead – Fabulousness Takes Thought!

Even for your earliest training, come in with some direction (“I would like to learn the basic building blocks of trapeze” or “I would like to focus on moves that highlight my ability to sit on my own head” for example). Start with a list. Here’s how I structure my wheel privates:

 

  • Warm-up  – this is where I trot out moves I’m really comfortable with so Chris can nitpick
  • Medium skilz – a couple of medium-hard moves I’m working on. Not perfect, not sucky.
  • Ass Whoopers – tricks that need a lot of spotting or that I’m really struggling with. DON’T put these at the very beginning when you’re not warm enough, or at the very end when you’re too tired. About a third of the way through your lesson is the best time to bust ’em out!
  • Back to Medium Skilz – a couple of things I’m doing reasonably well or that I love to do (to make me feel better after the ass-tastic disaster that was Ass Whoopers)
  • New and Fabulous – one or two new things/variations on other moves, or a bit of choreography
  • Last call – conditioning, last fun move, or a pep talk when I wind up in a puddle on the floor wailing “I’ll neeeeeeeeeeever get it, I suuuuuuuuuuuuuck! Why do I dooooooooooooo this??!!!” This is Chris’s favorite part of class (favorite like a fork in the eye is a favorite).

 

I’ve certainly done my share of sessions with no planning, but I find I spend an alarming amount of time wracking my brain for what I need to work on, and staring off into space going, “uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmm…..” – NOT SEXY. Be sexy – come with a plan! It’s an awesome feeling to leave a private knowing you worked hard, stayed focused, and kicked some serious tushie. Love and pull-ups, Laura

PS – HEY! What do YOU want to hear about? Upcoming topics include training during pregnancy, training around an injury, and how to go pro. What else should we talk about? Lemme hear you!

 

And now, some footage of me in my beautiful wheel, Johannes. I still suck, but I’m sucking way less, and THAT’S the important thing. 😉

 

 

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Get to the Point! Fast Fixes for Fabulous Feet

First, Dear Danglers, I cannot tell you how many weird foot fetish websites came up while I was researching more exercises for this blog post. Also hilarious? That “how to get my boyfriend to suck my toes” repeatedly came up as a google search option. Apparently, we collectively think a lot about feet and the many, many deviant things we can do with them. But what do I want you to do with yours? POINT THEM, Dear Dangler! Here is my humble contribution to foot fetish communities around the globe. You are welcome. 😉

 

Point #1 – Don’t Sickle. EVER.

“Sickling” refers to allowing the big toe to curve inward when you point your foot. True confession? I have a tendency to work with a slight sickle, and oh my – it is not pretty. Let’s fix that – pronto!

 

Point #2 – Yoga Point? Also No.

A few years ago, I noticed that my yogi students had a tendency to forget that they had digits when they pointed their feet, resulting in a demi-point with splayed toes. Sexy. A good point extends the toes, but does not curl them. Do you do this?

 

Point #3 – Banish “Boy Point”

OK – I’m about to bring the tough love here. I do not care *why* you might have boy point (gymnastics, no ballet, the fact that you are in fact a boy, etc), and I will not apologize for calling it “boy point” as that’s what it’s commonly called in the industry. I know some boys with gorgeous feet that I would absolutely kill for, and this problem certainly isn’t limited to the men-folk! But, regardless of why you are not achieving a flat point, it breaks the line of the leg and needs attention PRONTO. Let’s fix it!

 

Stay Tuned…

As you can see, after several severely sprained ankles, my point isn’t what it was in my dance days, so I’ll be working on a better point too! Stay tuned for more info on how to make a pretty good point into a glorious one! Now, here’e one just for the fetishists. Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

Yeah, baby.

 

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VIDEO: Your Crazypants Creative Genius

Oh Dear Danglers, there are no words to express how much I loved this TED talk. Take a few minutes, watch, and drink this up. My favorite idea was the one of the “disembodied creative spirit” which comes to you… or not; that the “genius” flows through you, not from you. This changed the way I am thinking about my work, and about my relationship to it. What does this do for you? How are you seeing your creative process differently after watching it? This work that we do is not just foot locks, hip keys, and Pilates; it is a living, breathing inspiration or poem or prayer or dance or something. Leave a comment below – how are you thinking of your work today? Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

 

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What NOT to Wear to Aerial Class (Please)

The blue velour track suit. T pushed me down the stairs.

 

Dear Danglers,

Madame Witwer is currently unable to write a post, as I have suspended her temporarily because she thought she would wear her blue velour track suit to aerial class today. In her place, you are getting my thoughts instead. In light of Miss Witwer’s athleta-fashion stroke, I would like to discuss some thoughts on the garments we wear to train in.

 

 

T’s Guide to Dressing for Success in Your Aerial Class

RULE #1: Be happy with what you’re wearing!

Now, I am NOT one who thinks aerial class should be treated like ballet, with a bunch of clones flashing their perfect pink tights, black leo, and pristine buns. Bring yourself to the mix, and find ways to get yourself amped up for training! If you don’t like what you’re wearing to train in, you are probably not going to like the training you get done either. If you are someone who hates black, you definitely are not required to wear the classic Lululemon black groove pant (I have 2 longs, and 4 crops). I happen to love black, but I sometimes I get really excited when my training outfit has a theme or genre. You might see me (actually, you can’t miss me)  in neons – purple dropped-crotch sweats, neon green mini-cumberbund, hilariously loud top that pairs midnight blue with neon yellow. For me, it puts me in a good mood, and I know that i’m ready to conquer the world…(sorry Laura, you can have your world back, I just want to conquer this release move). Enter your training session in a good mood, and there’s a better chance you’ll leave in a good mood.

RULE #2: Check for shiny butt disease…it’s ok to buy the next size up. It’s spandex, not your wedding dress.

Here’s where my degree in costume design and fiber arts education gets a little in the way of me sounding normal. Let’s talk about spandex…We’ll get to the garments in a second, but I mean the fiber…the thing that all your training clothes contains.

Spandex (or elastane) is a synthetic polymer fiber which is found in most any clothing you wear to do physical activities in. It’s most popular characteristic is it’s elasticity, to enable wide ranges of movement from the athlete. It has two less awesome properties, it’s not the most comfortable fiber, and it is pretty hard to dye. That is why you will never see a fabric used in a garment that is 100% spandex – it would be like making a suit jacket out of saran wrap. So, it is often blended with nylon or cotton for activewear, the majority of the fabric being made out of the non-spandex fiber. This keeps the garment stretchy while still feeling comfortable to the wearer. However, when the fabric is dyed, only the main fiber gets the color, because spandex is so difficult to alter. So you are left with a fabric that still has a slightly shiny white-ish fiber running through it. It’s not that visible, until the fabric is stretched out very tightly. Now how does this apply to you? Well…

Let’s say you got yourself a pair of cotton/lycra leggings. They are a nice black or charcoal color, you’re thinking it’s dark, it will look slimming, right?…but then you happen to slip it on, and it’s not the right size, so it has to work overtime to stretch over your badonk…that makes all those spandex fibers show, and you end up having a pretty, shiny, reflective rear end…on a pair of matte, dark leggings.

 RULE #3: Check your transparency…and keep your sacred space private.

The last thing I need to mention, is about the Unmentionables… as a teacher of the aerial circus arts, I spend a lot of my time up close and personal with your sacred area. It just happens to be where a lot of the body mechanics of aerial circus is centered. To add to the situation, I also see a LOT of people come in with their black opaque tights on, that look totally opaque, until they’re in a straddle, and I can see…well, I can see your full back panties, your thong, your g-string, your…OH MY GOD! Why aren’t you wearing underwear!

Listen, even if I was into that sort of thing, it’s not the time or the place, If you’re wearing tights that can be sheer (do some squats, and check it out, is the color of the tights magically fading away in your thigh/crotch region?), maybe it’s time for a fun pair of booty shorts. I am still in shock from the amount of lady-bits I just saw, so I’m going to end this post posthaste.

That’s all from me for now…Laura just finished baking me cookies, so I think I’m gonna let her off the hook…just this once.

 

 

TtheAmazing, Photo: Matthew Ragan

A note from Laura: Enjoy those cookies, T! I have one quick thing to add. I really love what T mentioned about flashing your lady bits – this happens way more than you think it does!!!! Seriously – I could have a minor in gynecology at this point. Booty shorts over tights or leggings are a great call, and can make your assets look smokin’ hot – BONUS!

ALSO – keep in mind that we instructors occasionally have to place our hands on your body to spot you or correct your form. This can get a little awkward if you’re not dressed appropriately for class (and I mean any class, German wheel to trapeze). Coming to sessions clad in only booty shorts & a sports bra may feel awesome for you, but can make things a little weird for your teacher when we have to wrap our arms around your sweaty body. I’m not suggesting that you come to class in a burka, but if you know we’re going to be spotting you hands-on, have mercy! We just don’t want to know you that way. 😉

PS – T, give me back my blue velour track suit!

Find out more about T, his teaching, his performance, and his awesomeness here!

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How to Sabotage Your Career and Training – A Users Guide

Oh Dear Danglers, there is an epidemic sweeping our nation. It’s a plague of the worst kind, because it’s victims are generally oblivious to it.This insidious pestilence, which has caused thousands of circus performers to lose work, and hundreds of students to forfeit their spot in class, has reached an all-time high. What is this vile contagion? Flakiness, Dear Dangler, flakiness.

How to Ruin Your Career Before it Starts

 I can think of at least five performers, this very second, whom I would love to use in shows and events, but won’t. I refuse to put myself through the endless work, drama, and general pain-in-the-ass-ness these performers put me though. Want to join their ranks? Do this:

1. Don’t get back to me quickly when I call or email you about an event.

This one is the biggie, folks! Most producers and casting directors have an A List, B List, and a C List when casting (HINT: you want to be on the A List!). Our A List performers are not only wildly talented, but they make my life SO MUCH EASIER by getting back to me as soon as they get my email with a “yes”, “no”, or “let me get back to you by _______”. I have a client waiting for answers; if you’re slow answering my email or phone call, we will pass you by, or not use you again. True dat.

2. Play coy.

If your standard rate for your act is $1000, but you’re willing to negotiate if an event is right around the corner from your house, super easy, offers sweet perks, involves luscious male models, etc., then say so! If you tell me $1000 is your absolute minimum, I will not call you for less. Say what you mean, and mean what you say; be forthright, candid, and up-front so I know when to call you.

3. Show up at my event without crucial equipment or accessories.

It’s one thing to forget your eye-pencil sharpener, it’s something quite different to forget your costume. Make a standard packing list for events, then add gig-specific items as you’re notified about them. Three days before your event, do your pack, ensuring that everything is in working order, clean, and in good repair. You don’t want to find out mid-show that the small hole in the crotch of your unitard has gotten A LOT bigger! Ain’t nobody wants to see all that.

Why Flaky Students Get Last Pick of Classes and Pay More

Do you wait until the last second to try to get into your preferred class? Do you routinely email your instructor asking for a private this afternoon? Does your teacher make money without ever seeing your face because you’re a no-show for classes? Then you, Dear Dangler, are being flaky. Quit it! If your classes are important, schedule them at least several days in advance. Got a wildly unpredictable schedule? No worries! Chat with your teacher – most of us are used to accommodating wonky schedules if we know your situation in advance, and are happy to do so.
Also? Come to class in proper clothing, get there with a bit of time to spare, and use that time to warm up. Anything less means YOU lose out – and that is no fun!!!

At The End of the Day…

Flakiness is rarely localized – it tends to bleed into every area of our lives.We all have our flaky bits here and there, but you REALLY don’t want to be known as the performer who never calls back, or the student who’s more likely to cancel an hour before the lesson than show up – it makes others take you less seriously. Flakiness may yield success for the Paris Hiltons of the world, but you and me ain’t Paris Hilton. Give yourself the edge of being really “on it” – you would be amazed at how far it goes! Love and pull-ups, Laura

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This Blog is Now on Kindle!!!!!!

I am pee-my-pants excited to tell you that my little bloggie is now available on Kindle! WOOT!

 

 

NOW, Dear Dangler, I need your help! I need you to show me the love! If you enjoy this blog (and I hope you do!!!), won’t you please tell the world? Here’s how!

  1. Click here to go to my page on Amazon – the blog is called Aerial Fabulousness.
  2. Click that little ‘Like’ button under the title.
  3. Leave a quick review while you’re there!

That’s it! (also – you can actually subscribe if you feel moved!) Thanks so much in advance – this blog is a labor of love, and it tickles me right down to my tippy-toes that so many of you find it helpful. So, gimme a virtual high-five, Dear Danglers, and I’ll see you in the air! Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

PS – Hey – click one of the little social media doodads below & share the good news!