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Help Us Save Circus in NYC!

the museIn addition to the usual questions I get asked (“Why do you look mad?” – I have resting grumpy face. “What’s that smell?” – I’m trying out the hippie crystal rock deodorant like I do every summer. And it’s not working, the way it doesn’t every summer. “Why do you have that sharp knife and a murderous look in your eyes?” – because you have interrupted my watching of “Sherlock” and my Benedict Cumberbatch fantasy. RUN.), I am asked one thing above all else: “Why don’t you open your own space?” (deep breath) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (more breath) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Well, Why DON’T You Open Your Own Space?

In NYC?! Are you crazy? Here’s why: it’s insane. It’s an insane amount of money, an insane amount of paperwork, an insane (and never ending) amount of bureaucracy, an insane amount of insurance, an insane amount of organization and administration, the list goes on and on. When a person or company takes that on, they are …. insane? OR – utterly dedicated, amazing, tireless, and deserving of our support, love, and admiration – because that sh*t is hard.

What’s Happening Now?

It should be no secret that opening any business – especially a circus business – is tough going in NYC, even for company veterans. The number of permits, initial outlay, insurance at a time when only one company will TOUCH the five boroughs of NY, staffing, and more, makes this daunting for the most stalwart businessmen. But, in Brooklyn NY, a small group of die-hard circus folks have tried to “plant” some circus, and it’s up to us to help them grow.

The Muse has been a circus home for dozens of artists, a safe place to learn everything from aerial arts to acro, and a supportive community for all of us. After they were put out of their old studio by a big magazine (thanks, gentrification), they found a new home a bit further out in Brooklyn. But, they’ve hit on a bureaucratic snag! Read their statement below.


Hello, beautiful circus community,

Thank you! The outpouring of questions and concerns we have been receiving about the Muse warms our hearts. We know that everyone has questions and though we would love to address all of you individually, it seems easiest to answer collectively.

The Muse was unexpectedly hit this weekend with an exceptionally expensive amount of permits and space upgrades. These are all things that were in process previously. However, what we thought we had months to make happen now has to happen in a matter of days.  The Muse was not prepared for this expedited process, and if we do not come up with the funding in time the city will close our doors.

We are now trying to raise $15,000 in the next 20 days to save our circus home.  Support in this time of crisis is greatly appreciated.


 

Be the change you want to see. We cannot wait for someone else to do this. If we want circus in NY, we have to support it – not just with our lips, but with our hearts, our bodies, and our pocketbook. Do you think “supporting the arts” is for folks with ALL the moolah? Nope! It’s for you and me. So, here’s what you can do to support circus TODAY!

Action Steps!

If you’re a circus person in NYC, buy a one year training pass for $1000 – that’s less than $20 PER WEEK! If you train in New York, you know how good a deal that is.

Spread the word – share this blog post on your social media network, with your friends, absolutely everywhere you can think of.

Pay what you can. $5? $10? $20?

Go see some amazing circus at the House of Yes on Aug 24th & 25th! Honestly – it’s worth going just so you can take a selfie in one of the bejeweled bathrooms! Click here to snag a night of glitter and awesomeness. 

If we all pull together, we can make a difference! If we want our community to expand, flourish, and continue to be a place where we learn, shine, grow, and teach, WE have to make it happen. I’m thankful every day that people are crazy enough to plant circus in New York. <3 Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

 

The REAL Reasons You’re Not Progressing in Aerial Class – Why Aren’t I Getting Better?

Photo by Masaru Watanabe. Me actively avoiding instruction.

Photo by Masaru Watanabe. Me actively avoiding instruction.

Well, why aren’t you getting better? Totally legit question! With some mostly legit answers. Training is hard, pointing your toe is hard, adulting is hard. Not eating the other half of your child’s cupcake that’s in the fridge not ten feet away is hard. Legit. But what is really standing in the way of your training? (hint: it’s not what you think… or maybe it is)

Reason #1 – You’re Slacking

Yes, you, friend. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it. A little slacking here and there keeps you from becoming a very tense, neurotic mess. #FunToBeAround Sometimes, you cannot – cannot – muster the energy to give 100%. Know what? That’s OK. It really is, especially if you’re a recreational circus-er. BUT (you knew there was a but coming, or a butt), we are creatures of habit. Is 70% a habit for you? Are you writing things down? Videoing your training? Holding yourself to a standard that will result in progress? Because if you’re not, mystery solved.

Write down corrections, take notes, video if you’re allowed. Repeat.

Reason #2 – Your Teacher is Letting You Coast Because You’re a Pain in the Ass When You Get Corrections

Yup – secret’s out! Sometimes, we let you coast. To be fair, there are a number of reasons we might do this: maybe you’re overwhelmed and very sensitive today, or someone else needs more attention at the moment. This should be the exception, not the rule – and if it’s not, have a chat with your coach and ask for more feedback. But sometimes…

… you get a Laura in class! I am the WORST at taking corrections. I will argue, pitch hissies, and fight for my own limitations – it’s honestly a wonder anyone ever bothers to try to teach me. In fact, one day, in German wheel, my coach had had it up to HERE, and said, “Ok. When you’re ready to be a student, you let me know.”….. (crickets)…… (more crickets)….. (it got awkward)……

I got schooled, and rightly so. If you won’t accept feedback from the person who is trying to teach you, don’t be terribly surprised if they stop throwing good stuff your way. Also? You might want to watch that tone (“duh” your teacher a couple of times and watch the fun dynamic that unfolds).

Repeat after me: “Thank you.”

Reason #3 – You’re Never in Class

The number one thing you can do to get better? Show up. Spotty attendance will get you spotty results. Period. Consider too – if fabric class is the only physical exercise you’re getting all week, or the only strength training you slog through, expect a longer road.

Supplement with all sorts of things – Pilates, weight training, toning videos, hire a trainer, whatever. Just pursue strength! Move that booty.

Reason #4 – The Fire is Out

I get this one, I really do. Our relationship with our apparatus is a lot like relationships with people – you’ve got to keep it romantic. Are you in a rut? Not excited to come to class? Not only have I been there, I’m currently there. But, there’s one thing that never fails to get me going again: A GOAL. Revolutionary, I know. We get bored because we get predictable; our brains are wired to crave stimulation (new stuff) and the thrill of the chase (getting something you’ve been working on). You may not always burn with passion, but remember that you’re an active participant in the “relationship”. Spice it up.

Feed your passion by picking out new moves, putting together a piece, scheduling a meeting with your coach to set some goals, or going to see a circus show (video or YouTube if there’s nothing near you). Whatever gets your heart racing.

Reason #5 – Your Teacher Shouldn’t be Your Teacher

That’s right, I said it. Not all teachers and students have good chemistry together. If you and your teacher don’t have a love connection, or things just always feel tense, try out a new coach if that’s an option.

Additionally, if your inner compass is telling you that you’re not getting very good/safe training, the corrections consistently don’t ring true, or if your teacher seems to be winging it, moooooove along. There are lots of coaches who are fabulous, and lots who have exactly zero idea what they’re doing. Train with the former.

Find a new coach if the two of you lack chemistry, or if they’ve got some work to do in the teaching department.

 

If you’ve hit a plateau, or just don’t feel like you’re making ANY progress, talk to your coach! They will have suggestions for what you can focus on, and hey – circus is hard. If you think you’re going to be inverting like a pro in 6 weeks, you may need to manage your expectations.

What gets YOU out of a rut or propels you forward? Comment below! 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.

 

Tilt Festival in Birmingham, UK!

Hello Dear Danglers! If you’ll be in Europe this summer, consider checking out Tilt Festival. Details below – I love a good circus festival!

When: July 18th-24th

Where: Birmingham, UK.

What: Aerial & Physical Theatre Festival

Activities: Shows, classes, etc. Sarah Holmes will be teaching silks & rope, plus there’s trapeze, hoop, Chinese pole, Cyr wheel, wall running, yoga, performances, talks…..the list is endless!

Info:  www.tiltfestival.com (please contact Rogue Play Theatre directly with questions)

 

 

 

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.

 

Anderson Cooper Got on a Lyra and the Internet Lost Its Mind

OK aerial community – raise your hand if you’re still banging your head against your desk? Yep – me too. In case you’ve been under a rock (or are doing one of those “social media cleanses”), here’s what has us all hyperventilating into paper bags.

 


 

“This is a disaster waiting to happen.” – Anderson Cooper


If you’re an established aerial instructor watching this (through your fingers), you are dying right now. You are absolutely on fire inside. Ever since I first watched this, I’ve been pacing in my apartment trying to get away from the AAAAAAAAAARGH inside my head and chest, and wrap my brain around the only possible conclusion: we have collectively lost our damned minds.

What’s the Problem?

M’Kay. I’m going to put my professional britches on.

This video does not demonstrate the best practices commonly adhered to in the aerial community in the areas of safety, competency, and responsible instruction.

Let’s look at the facts:

  • Thin panel mats are inadequate in this situation. Generally speaking, thick crash pads are a better choice for use under bar apparatus.
  • There is no hands-on spotting. This is a post all it’s own; there are studios in NYC who prohibit hands-on spotting for reasons I will never fathom – beginners need hands! Beginners do incredibly stupid things because they’re beginners. My hand on their leg during a knee hang doesn’t just prevent them from straightening their leg – it calls their attention to their body in space, encourages correct positioning, and reduces panic (read: terrible choices) . My hands have caught trapezes swinging towards faces, held students when they lost their grip, given form corrections, squeezed little messages of encouragement and comfort, and, you know, reduced the likelihood of serious injury by using established and effective spotting techniques.
    • Note the un-spotted knee hang in the video around the 2:00 mark. Do you see how high Anderson’s feet are? Do you know how close he was to falling directly on his head? Now, note the “dismount”. This is very, very common for beginners to try, and can result in broken/sprained necks, knocked-out teeth, dislocated shoulders, broken/sprained arms & hands, and more. An instructor with hands placed firmly across his legs could have side-stepped the whole issue. More importantly, a seasoned instructor likely would have seen that coming a mile away.
    • Now – this is the one that had us ready to spit nails. See that un-spotted top bar knee hang at around 3:24? Look at Anderson’s wide, unsupported knee placement, and note how high his feet are. He is not connected with his hands. His mic pack drops off (distraction), and he has already gone for an illegal dismount. And now, we’re going to “take a leg off”. I’m just going to leave that here and let all of that sink in for a minute. Excuse me – I need to go back to banging my head for a moment.
    • But wait – there’s more. From about 4:00 through the end, Andserson Cooper makes aerial coaches across the USA freak the F out. There’s so much here I CAN’T EVEN WRITE ABOUT IT! I just keep hearing words like concussion, broken neck, shoulder dislocation, no more teeth….
  • This sequence is inappropriate for beginners – even strong ones. Foundations and progressions are things – REAL things. Essential things. One movement or skill builds off another. Jumping ahead in aerial coaching is like jumping ahead in your “How to Assemble Your IKEA Dresser” instructions – skip the first steps and it’s going to be a sh*t-show no matter what.
  • The verbal cuing is inadequate. Without a visual, the sentence, “take a hand off” is too vague for the beginner student. They may interpret that same sentence as: take both hands off, take your leg off, sit up, etc. When your student is upside down, confusion can quite literally be deadly.
  • Demonstration is best done PRIOR to the attempted execution of a move. Beginners need to come at each move by seeing it with their eyes, hearing you talk about it, and having an opportunity to ask questions BEFORE attempting a move.
  • There is no mention of contra-indications, muscular engagement, or even a “don’t let go or you’ll fall on your head” discussion.
  • Your authority must be clear from the beginning. Many students – especially media personalities, groups that are “doing this crazy aerial thing” for fun for a day, and those who have no idea how much they don’t know, require a firm hand. Add to that a high level of physical fitness, and you have the student that makes you clench your nether-bits. These students have no idea what they’re doing, but they’re strong enough to get themselves into real trouble. Stir in a dash of the “clown factor” (someone doesn’t want to look silly, so they play the clown to stay in control), an you have a student you’ll need to be glued to for the entire session.

Yeah, OK – All That. But What’s the Real Problem?

The real problem is that there are people teaching who have no business teaching. They are not ready to teach. They have taken a few years of classes and assume that they are ready because they can turn so many tricks, or they’re a dancer or personal trainer who got “certified” in this cool new workout, or they’re in a small town with no aerial instructor, so…

There is no meaningful certification for aerial teaching readiness in the USA. There are some excellent teacher trainings for experienced aerialists (NECCA, AirCat Aerial Arts, I’m looking at you), and ACE/AYCO are making excellent steps in the right direction with their safety program, but no real certifying body. This leaves us with a big problem. It’s not a new problem, nor is it an easy one. We tried to address it here in NYC by founding NYATA (NY Aerial Teachers Alliance), but were quickly overwhelmed by the scope of the issue. Add to that the fad of fitness spaces trying to tout circus as the next great fitness craze, and dance schools all over the US wanting to add an aerial component to their curriculum (but not hire an actual aerial teacher), and the fact that we do not value expertise in this DIY country, and it’s easy to see why we are so. damned. angry.  The public has no way of knowing whether a teacher is safe or qualified.

What the Hell do We Do Now?

I’m not done writing about this, but – ha ha – I have to run and teach my classes. I’ll pick this up tomorrow. BUT, I’d like to leave you with this.

Before we get too far up on our high horses, and make this woman the poster child for all that is wrong in our teaching industry, we may want to pause and remember that we have created this. I have, and you have. This is a community problem, and we have allowed it to happen. We have seen it coming, watched it unfold, and now it’s here on our doorstep.

My question for you is this, aerial community. What shall we tackle first? We have an unprecedented opportunity to turn this from a thing that makes our hair collectively fall out, into a triumph for our community. Every aerial teacher safe, qualified, competent. Comment below – if we want change, we can’t wait for someone else to make it happen. Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

 

The Upsides and Downsides (and Upside-down Sides!) of Training With Your Bestie

Emily ALWAYS makes people feel welcome! Photo by Brigid Marz.

Emily ALWAYS makes people feel welcome! Photo by Brigid Marz.

Are you thinking of taking up a new hobby?

What? What’s that? Aerial silks?!

I LOVE that idea – you should totally do it! 😉

Hmmm? Oh, you’re nervous to come by yourself and want to bring your bestie?

Yup! I get that! Come on down! But, here are a few things to keep in mind when training with your friends, frenemies, and that girl you just met on the train who seems kind of awesome but may be a little too into those nutritional supplements she keeps trying to sell you.

Meeting People is Hard!

Is it confession time yet? Because I have one. I hate going new places alone! I’m shy (yup – I know, you didn’t see that coming), and quite the introvert. The idea of going to a new class with no friend to act as a social safety net is So Intimidating!! Ugh – I’ve got butterflies just thinking about it.

BUT (you knew there would be a but), that safety net can keep you from meeting new people and bonding with a group. It’s sooooo tempting to sit off by yourselves, chatting, and not interacting much with the other people. If you bring a friend, do try to:

  • Introduce yourself to at least 3 people, or have a quick chat. “Do you come to this class often?” “How did you hear about aerial silks?” “What do you like best about circus?”
  • Don’t isolate yourselves -make sure you’re not “islanding” (did I just make up a word? I think I did!). Sit or work near the core group – remember, you are welcome here!
  • Pay attention! Sometimes, it’s easy to get lost in your own conversational world with your pal. Don’t forget that there’s a person trying to teach you something.

Competition Can Be Awkward

Tale as old as time. You come to class with your friend Bitsy who has never touched a fabric, while you have trained for 12 years. On her first day, Bitsy masters the climb, in-air inversion, and is offered a Cirque du Soleil contract at the end of her class. It is a supreme test of character to thwart the feelings of jealousy that can crop up when you are surpassed by a friend. Think you’re not competitive? Maybe that’s true! And maybe it’s not. Be gentle with yourself if you find feelings bubbling up.

I’d love to have a simple “5 Steps to Being OK With Having Your Butt Whooped By Your Best Friend”, but it’s a very personal journey. What I can leave you with is this: it’s OK. It’s OK to feel these feelings, it’s really common, and it does not mean that you’re a bad person. Everyone will experience jealousy at some point! When it comes up for me, I try to focus on the fact that it is NOT a competition. My journey is MY journey, and it is unique to me; I have strengths that are mine alone, and this is what I need to magnify. (note: it’s hard and it sucks – keep practicing)

Are You a Mean Girl? The Other Side of the New Student Equation

I am blessed beyond measure to have some of the friendliest, kindest, sassiest students on the planet. They reach out to newbies, and do everything they can to make them feel welcome! From a teaching perspective, this makes me want to weep with gratitude. Are you one of these students? THANK YOU!

Alternatively, you also occasionally get the Mean Girl (I’m sure it happens with guys too, but I teach mostly ladies). The Mean Girl sees every new student as competition, or as an “outsider”, and makes zero effort to be friendly. In fact, she may give off an overtly hostile vibe. The vibes aren’t confined to newbies, I might add!

This deserves it’s own post, but I’ll just leave this here. If you have Mean Girl tendencies (and many of us do, to some extent), KNOCK IT OFF. Is this really who you want to be? Really? OR, would you like to be the student who:

  • is the first to say hello to a new student
  • helps them get the lay of the land
  • points out where they’re doing a really great job
  • is encouraging and supportive (“My first class was so hard, I had no idea it would be that tough! Keep with it, you’ll get it – I promise!”)

 

Mean girls bring down the energy of a class, and can create a toxic environment for learning. Don’t be that person who makes someone feel lonely and left out.

So Wait – Should I Bring a Friend or Not?

Yes – by all means! Just keep in mind that it’s good to meet new people, pay attention, and try to keep competition from becoming less-than-friendly. Think community! 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.

 

Solid Aerial Technique vs MORE MOVES – Are You Just Looking to Turn Some Tricks?

20150224_201325_Hagrid_GrungeHappy Thursday, Dear Danglers! This week, I had a great conversation with another instructor about the fine line between cultivating excellent technique by refining what you know, and feeding new stuff into the mix. How perfect does it have to be exactly before you get to do the cool stuff and add a double wedgie drop to the end? (my condolences to your naughty bits)

How Good Does My Aerial Technique Have to Be, Anyway?

Well, let’s look at why technique matters in the first place (hint: it’s not just to make you look fancy).

  • Safety first! Good technique runs the gamut – it can keep you from little ouchies (fabric burns, bar bonks, atomic wedgies) and the big ones (whiplash, sprains, breaks, and worse).
  • It’s foundational! Like a pair of Spanx, good technique smooths the lumps and bumps out of your work, making it sleek, efficient, and BOOM-level hot in spandex.
  • It makes stuff work! Physics, ya’ll. Here – try this experiment. Take a pencil, wind a string around it, and watch it roll down. Now, do the same with a glob of Silly Putty, a flailing badger, and a gummy worm. I rest my case.
  • You’ll use less energy! Remember the badger from our last experiment? First, he’s really pissed at you. Second, he’s just used up a LOT of unnecessary energy flailing. When those furry little knees are slightly bent in a foot lock? Those muscles have to work so much harder to keep him upright. Balance, energy expenditure, and efficiency are all tied up together. Sometimes quite literally.
  • It makes you look amazing! Straight legs, pointed toes, lifted assets, and boobies pointing to the sky create gorgeous lines that will make you (and your long-suffering coach) very proud. Don’t let a droopy kneecap or sicled foot ruin your moment of Instagram glory!!! (speaking of Instagram, I’m finally on it! Follow me!) #shamelessplug

Your technique doesn’t have to be “perfect”, but you’re really swimming upstream if you ignore it. Everything is harder, looks less awesome, and crap technique often results in injury.

Finding The Balance – The Zen of Learning Aerial Circus

What would you say if I told you that you could work

on technique AND learn new skills?

mind blown

Variety is the spice of life and learning, so please don’t think I’m trying to sentence you to nothing but foot knots and hip keys forever. Learn new stuff! Yearn for ALL THE MOVES! But balance that with an equal passion for excellence. It’s like chocolate – do you want to be the generic m&m’s or the Godiva? If you pick the former, please slap yourself.

Technique keeps you safe and makes things look glamorous. If you’re just looking to turn a bunch of tricks, you’re really selling yourself short. Don’t do that. Love and pull-ups, Laura


How has technique made a huge difference for you? Did you have an AH-HAH moment? Share it in the comments below!


 

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.

 

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!

 

 

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.

 

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
 
 

 

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.

 

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

 
 

 

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.

 

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

 

 

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.