Category Archives: Uncategorized

Torturous Technique – No More Droopy Froggie Butt!

Oh my, Dear Danglers. We have to talk about something: your assets may be droopy. And sad. Do YOU have droopy froggie butt?
 

 

When switching direction on your splits via a pike position, are you tucking your tail bone? THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA – it ages your booty 90+ years! Why tuck it? Stick it out, so it creates a beautiful, bountiful, shapely, and glamorous shape! You want to be like an L, not like a noodle. So, make the most of your assets – stick ’em out!

 

 

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Bon Voyage! Aerial Training While Traveling Abroad

Angela and I doing acro on a live volcano in Hawaii!

Acro on a live volcano in Hawaii!

This post was inspired by two of my dear and beautiful students, Ellie and Susie, who braved what we affectionately refer to as the “NON!” style of class sign-ups. 😉

Are you going somewhere wonderful? FANTASTIC!!! (can I come?) Are you looking to do some training while you’re there? Love it! How can you make the most of an incredible locale without winding up with an atomic wedgie twenty feet in the air? Here are 10 tips to get you going in the right direction.

  1. Plan ahead. It can take a good long time to arrange for training in another country, especially if Google Translate is involved. As soon as you know you’ll be hitting the high seas, consult the inter-webs, ask for FaceBook recommendations, etc. and try to contact as many spaces as you can before you leave. Depending on the area’s circus culture, you may get quite a bit of, “NON! We do not allow zat here!” when you ask if you can drop into classes or open workouts. Don’t despair! Keep searching, and keep asking. If all else fails, just show up at a space and talk to them. Sometimes, when a teacher sees that you’re a normal, rational human being, circus happens.
  2. Be prepared. Sign up for a class one level below your current one – better to get promoted than demoted! Additionally, dress for the weather and the culture. Unsure? Layers!
  3. Play it safe. You don’t need to prove anything to this teacher or class, so no showing off. You’re in a different space with different people on different apparatus and possibly a different language. Go low and slow, and make sure you understand things BEFORE you leave the ground.
  4. Know your body. Try not to schedule training for the first day or two if you know you’re going to be a useless pile of jet lag. Also – how’s your tummy? Have you pooped lately? (look, I’m a mother – I have to ask these things) Pay attention to how your body is reacting to food, altitude, etc and train accordingly.
  5. Be respectful. Every studio has different practices and standards; within the bounds of safety, it is not your place to openly critique the way they do things.
  6. Be friendly! As tempting as it is to sit apart from the group, scoot your tushie on over and be where the people are. Smile, attempt the local language, and try to tune into their energy.
  7. Try new things! Be flexible and open to learning new ways of doing stuff (otherwise, WHY BE IN CLASS?!). You can throw it all away the moment the door hits ya where the Good Lord split ya, but please spare me the, “but this is how I always do it” speech. I do not give a crap how you always do it; you are in my class, please do me the courtesy of trying it my way.
  8. Cover your ass. Before you leave, purchase travel insurance (a great thing to have anyway) which includes foreign medical coverage. Please believe me when I say that you do NOT want to find out post-surgery to set your broken arm that your insurance doesn’t provide international coverage.
  9. Leave if you need to. Things feeling/looking decidedly unsafe? Is the energy feeling hurtful, aggressive, or just Not Okay? Leave. Fake a headache or nausea if you have to, but leave. Trust your gut.
  10. Gather all the good things! What do they do differently that you love? What moves? What approach? Conditioning? Try to gather as many things as you can to take home and enrich your training.

 

Travel is great on it’s own, and it’s even more delicious when we get to do silks on a mountaintop (OK, that’s my idea of hell, but this is your fantasy, so we’ll go with it), fly in the desert, or condition on a beach somewhere. Train smart, and bon voyage!!! Love and pull-ups, Laura
 
 

 

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Blech! Heartburn and GERD in Aerial Training

Hello Dear Danglers! In aerial class, have you ever been in an upside-down position (with straight legs and pointed toes and boobies to the sky, of course), fabric perhaps wrapped around your waist, when all of a sudden…. UGH. No bueno. Must come down – ugh. Burning. Feels like I’m gonna puke. Uuuuuuugh. You’ve just become rather intimately acquainted with Our Friend Stomach Acid! It’s going to be a long-term relationship, so you’ll want to buddy up. 🙂

Stomach Acid, Heartburn, and Aerial Arts

What goes down can, I’m afraid, come back up. When you eat, food travels down the esophagus, and snuggles into your tummy. Ideally, a sphincter muscle at the top of the stomach (heh heh – I said sphincter) called the esophageal sphincter keeps food squarely where it belongs – in your belly; but when you’re upside down, all bets are off. That sexy burning/barfy feeling is the contents of your stomach (acid, food) making their way back into your esophagus, and making you feel miserable.


 

“But isn’t there some kind of exercise – like a throat Kegel – to strengthen the muscles?” – Miss Brigid (said with a wink)


 

Why Me?

Why not you? Every aerialist will have moments or “seasons” of reflux. Sometimes, it’s as simple as pinpointing a meal you ate too close to class; but for some, it reoccurs almost daily, and stretches out for several weeks. Repeated bouts of reflux can create inflammation, creating more reflux, creating more inflammation, in a really unfortunate cycle. Blech on every level.

What Can I Do?

Eating to close to class is an easy culprit (as is drinking a lot of water during class). If you find you’re “feeling the burn” rather too often, here are a few things you can try:

  • Give yourself a two hour no food window prior to class or training.
  • Step awaaaaaaaay from that deep fried pickle! Certain foods – fried, chocolatey, caffeinated, cheesy, basically all the good stuff – can trigger heartburn. Also? No drinky-poos.
  • If you’re in a recurrent “season” of heartburn, stay away from moves that wrap around the stomach (craptastic rolldowns, I’m lookin’ at you). There are plenty of other things to focus on – fear not!
  • Have you recently gained pounds? Thanks, holidays! Well, here’s another reason to get back to your fightin’ weight.
  • Quit making like a chimney. If the contents of your stomach returning on a regular basis to your esophagus don’t encourage you to quit, you’re a stubborn bastard.
  • Keep a record. If you can figure out what’s causing your reflux, you can avoid it!
  • If it happens during class, ask your instructor for variations of a particular move to keep you upright. Stop immediately when you feel burny or barfy! Trust me – we would rather you didn’t tough this one out.

 

Good luck, Dear Danglers, and may the contents of your stomach remain firmly where they ought to be! Love and pull-ups, Laura

 
 

 

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Why Competing on Price Will Kill Your Teaching Business

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

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

 

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

The Problem With Competing on Price

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

What is a Progression in CircusLand?

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

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

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

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

 

How do I Work With Progressions?

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

So, let’s all be progressive AND conservative! It’s the best of all the aerial worlds! Love and pull-ups, Laura

 
 

 

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Aerial Expo THIS WEEKEND!!!

Hello, Dear Danglers! Guess what’s happening this weekend in Iowa? The AERIAL EXPO! I’m super sad that I can’t be there in person this year, but here’s hoping you can! Love and pull-ups, Laura

On August 21-23, Aerial Expo will bring world-class aerial performances, competitions, and workshops to Des Moines for the second consecutive year. Held jointly at the Science Center of Iowa and the Des Moines Social Club, this high-flying event showcases both locally-based and nationally-renowned aerial artists performing on trapeze, silks, lyra, and more.

www.AerialExpo.com

 

 

 

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Aerial Straps – The Myth and the Magic

If you’re really, really into pain, have I got an apparatus for you! AERIAL STRAPS! I’m joking, of course (no I’m not). Straps are hardcore, badass, and not for the feint of heart. Have a look!
 

 

The Myth, The Magic

The biggest myth is that straps are for boys. Sister, please! They take a lot of training and strength, but I’ve seen plenty of women rock some serious straps! The other myth is that they’re excruciating. Now, I cannot tell a lie – they are very “sensational” (thank you, Luv!). But, hey – circus hurts! If you want to learn straps, trust me – you will get used to the pain.

 

 

Here’s a great conversation with Patti Miller from Aerial Animals (via Delbert Hall), who fabricates straps. Check it out!
 
 

 

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Help! The Fabrics Ate My Shirt!

Goodbye, shirt! Thank goodness this was a one-time thing, and that Yechiel is a super-safe student.

Goodbye, shirt! Thank goodness this was a one-time thing, and that Yechiel is a super-safe student.

One of the most frustrating moments in a class is when, after executing a lovely Plummeting Whore or Crap-tastic rolldown, the fabric eats your shirt.

“Wretched fabric!” you shriek. “Why why WHY???!!!!”

Well, because you fed it.

Please Don’t Feed the Fabric

It’s a toughie, right? You want to put on a T-shirt with sleeves for armpit-catching drops, but you don’t want to wind up dangling by a knot on your back. What to do, what to do? Fear not, friend – you’ve got options.

  • Choose a sleeved unitard or leotard with leggings. This is the best way to avoid getting caught, but not necessarily the most fashionable. That said, you won’t be performing in a t-shirt – get used to it!
  • Go up, not down. Instead of trying to slide below the knot, straddle back to an invert, arch through to a straight-legged bird’s nest, or do a nice pull-up and draw your knees to your chest. Any of these should get the fabric to release.
  • Lean out. If your forearms are toast, try this: wrap your feet securely, grab one pole, and bring your opposite arm forward between the silks. Now, reeeeeeach forward (no “forward” = caught in the knot, so don’t be half-assed here).
  • Tie up your boobies. If you’re doing crap-tastic rolldowns (aka “windmills” or “cartwheels”), and you insist on wearing a shirt, pull it up and tie it under your charms.

 

Getting Caught is Up to You

While I have oodles of sympathy for the unexpected ruined shirt, I have to tell you – a bad “binding” can be super stressful for teachers. Depending on the rigging situation in your studio, getting you down can be an ordeal if you can’t get yourself free, putting you in a crummy (read: potentially dangerous) situation and eating up class time. If you find yourself trussed up like a turkey on a regular basis, you are giving your poor teacher premature gray hairs. Quit it. Put on your sassiest leggings, grab a snazzy leotard, and get going! Love and pull-ups, Laura
 
 

 

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Home Aerial Rigs of Your Very Own!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m being lazy today and letting someone else essentially write my post for me. BUT, many (many many) of you have written and asked for info on this topic, so everyone wins!

The following is a PDF excerpt from the book “Rigging: Essentials for Aerialists” by Steven Santos, which I think is an excellent resource and I highly recommend for all aerialists and aerial students – get it here. In the meantime, dig in! Love and pull-ups, Laura

Download the PDF here!
 

 

 

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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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