Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Holiday Giftie to YOU!

Hello Dear Danglers! I just wanted to wish you all a VERY happy holiday season, whatever you celebrate! Here is my gift to you (I remember the 80’s, this stuff really happened… on a regular basis). So, Merry Christmas, (belated) Happy Hannukah, Blessed Yule, Peaceful Solstice, Happy Pancha Ganapati, Joyous Kwanzaa, and Warm Winter Wishes for you and your people! I love you and am grateful for you EVERY DAY!!!! 🙂 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.

 

Laura’s List of Aerial Silk Moves

You asked, I answered! Dear Students, HERE is my list of silk moves! It’s a work in progress, so if you see moves that aren’t listed that we’ve done in class, give me a holler! You’ll need Evernote on your computer or phone to access the list (don’t worry – it’s free!). Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

PS – you’ll notice I didn’t include instructions? If you want to know what the heck these are, get to class! 😉

 


 

Laura’s List of Aerial Silk Moves

 


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 YOU Want to be More of a Tight Ass – Essential Stability for Aerial Arts

Stayin’ tight with the Baby Janes! Photo by Kenneth Feldman, www.pfdigital.com

Dear Dangler, do you consider yourself a tight-ass? I hope so! There’s a certain amount of essential tension necessary for fabulousness in aerial and circus arts. If you’re flopping around up there like an overcooked spaghetti noodle, it’s time to tighten that sh*t up.

What is “Tightness”?

When my coaches first began barking, “Tighten up! Stay tight!”,  I clenched everything (and I do mean everything) and hoped for the best. But what I grew to understand is a) tightening EVERYTHING leads to you looking awkward and constipated on your apparatus and b) “tight” is not the same as “rigid”.

 

Staying tight means keeping muscles active and firm at about 50% power. For example, let your arm flop. Now, tighten your bicep REALLY HARD (make a “muscle”). Now, relax to about halfway. That’s tight.

 

Why Tension is Important

Try this: find a friend with a two year-old. Wait until the toddler is good and pissed off (if they’re two, you won’t have to wait long). Now – try to pick them up. THEY ARE SO HEAVY!!!!! 25 pounds never felt so hard to lift! Now – try to pick them up again when they are calm and amenable to being lifted. See how much lighter? Tension, people. That boneless-ness creates the experience of a noticeable increase in weight.

 

Without a certain amount of tension, you’re going to feel like you’re hauling around a lot of dead weight; eeeeeeeverything becomes more difficult (and your lines look le poo). While some muscles are lying around on the beach in Aruba sipping pina coladas, other muscles are trying to (literally) pick up the slack. Before they start picketing for better working conditions, you’re going to want to start redistributing the labor.

 

Viagra-vate It!

Fear not – tension is a habit! Try this:

 

  • at least one session of Pilates mat work every week (for oodles of free videos, check out www.hulu.com!) Pilates cultivates the exact type of resistance-free tension we’re trying to produce. It’s also great for helping you find the muscles you’re supposed to be using.
  • reeeeeeach (“peripheral” tightness)! Think of being pulled in different directions. For example, I am hanging upside down in my fabric. My free hand is reeeeeeeeeaching towards the ground. My leg is reeeeeeeeeaching for the back wall. If an appendage is floating free, it should be reeeeeeeeeeeaching (try not to get jazz hands, though). 😉
  • lock and load! Bits of your body that are bearing weight (bent knee, stabilizing arm, etc) should be nice and tight! Remember not to hyper-extend your joints, but this is a time for very “active” tightness.
  • zip up your abs! Abs should always be firmly engaged (“core” tightness). Bring your navel to your spine and hold your tummy firm – pretend Ian Somerhalder just walked into the room and you’re in a bikini.

 

Now, for a supremely insane example of tighness: behold, the Ukranians! Watch how they keep that tension, even when folding themselves in half backwards. You know, like ya do. 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.

 

Shake Shake Shake, Shake…. Your Feet?! Nope.

 

Isabel & Emily in foot knots they will get out of without kicking!

Many thanks to the endlessly sassy Miz Cathy Gauch from Aircat Aerial Arts (get over there the next time you’re in Boulder, CO!) for the inspiration for this post!

Apparently, there’s an aerial instructional video floating around in which the instructor encourages students to just “shake their feet” to come out of their foot knots. After I finished having a seizure, I thought maybe we should talk about this! Now, to be fair, I haven’t seen said video, but I DO know what I see around town: shake shake SHAKE KICK KICK KICK FLAIL! Now, unless you are being electrocuted, there is zero reason for you to be so spastic – you’ve got other (more glamorous) options, friend!

Figure 8 Foot Knots

Tied one at a time, this is the first foot knot many of us learn. Coming out cleanly is simple! Simply flex your feet, lift them up, move them back, and point your toes. Observe!

 

 

If you’re stuck and panicking, you can also use your other foot to pop the fabric off the toe (but save it for emergencies – it’s not your sassiest moment).

 

Aerial Dance Wrap

Wrapped together, this knot is great for getting lovely, even splits. To come out cleanly, simply lift your feet 2-5 inches (just enough to take the pressure off the heels – DON’T lift too high!), point your toes, and slide your feet forward and down.

 

 

Seriously? That’s IT. No need to flail, shake, kick, twerk, twitch, convulse, flap, shudder, oscillate, or combust. Just lift and send your feet in the appropriate direction! I know some of you have other snazzy ways of getting out of foot knots that you love. Hey – as long as it doesn’t involve an aerial seizure, go on with your bad selves! 😉  Hope you’re having a swingin’ holiday season so far, Dear Danglers!!!!! Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

 

PS – By the way! I hope you’ll join me in welcoming the FABULOUS  and talented Miss Rebecca Collins to the SassyPants Aerial Arts team! Rebecca will be helping me answer emails, get ya’ll scheduled into classes, and all sorts of other good things. Welcome welcome, Miss Rebecca!!!!!!

 

 

 

Little Blog Hiatus!

Hello Dear Danglers! Some of you have noticed I haven’t been posting weekly – sorry about that! I’m taking a quick blog hiatus to complete a few (very exciting) projects, and right now I’m in SPAIN! I’ll be back in the blog-osphere when I get back December 1. Have an awesome Thanksgiving, and eat LOTS of yummy turkey (you’ll have to eat some for me too – they don’t eat turkey in Spain!)!!!! Love and pull-ups, Laura

DIY Ice Packs for the Sassiest of Aerialists!

What you’ll need!

… and, you know, anyone else who needs ice packs. SO. A dear friend had a slight shoulder dislocation this past week, and, being the Florence Nightengale that I am, I went to buy them an ice pack. Know how much they were? A reusable shoulder ice pack with a holder was – brace yourself (get it?? BRACE?! HA!) – $20. I’m sorry, are you KIDDING ME? Those of you who have ever seen me tear through CVS with my coupons and ECB’s know that I’m something of a frugal gal. So, what’s a cheapskate like me to do? Make my own durned ice pack!

I stocked up on dish detergent (on sale, of course), and set to work. You’ll need:

  •  1-2 bottles of cheap dishwashing liquid (Dawn, Palmolive, whatever’s on sale); OR, substitute a mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part rubbing alcohol
  • two one-gallon plastic freezer bags
  • an old T shirt
  • fabric glue or a sewing machine
  • (optional) scrap fabric or rhinestones to bedazzle your creation
  • (optional) elastic to allow it to stay without holding it

 

Almost done!

  1. Fold your bags in half, place them on your T shirt, and measure one additional inch on all sides. Mark your measurements with a sharpie, cut two (or cut 1 on the fold and eliminate step 2).
  2.  Glue or sew one long side together – this is your center seam.
  3. Bedazzle or sew/glue on your decorative fabric (be mindful not to glue rhinestones on your seam allowance!)
  4. If using elastic, pin it to the top panel, matching one of the edges with the seam allowance. Baste or glue. (if this makes zero sense, just sew or glue it on when the ice pack is finished).
  5. Fold at the center seam, and sew up one short edge and the remaining long edge.
  6. Hem the remaining raw edge if you wish.
  7. Fill one plastic bag with the desired amout of goo. Squeeze out the air and seal it shut.
  8. Double the bag.
  9. Insert into the sleeve – VOILA! Stick it in your freezer. The detergent or alcohol mixture will get cold, but not freeze solid.

ENJOY! Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

Finshed!

 

  

 

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.

 

Get a Grip! 5 Ways to Improve Hand Strength for Aerial Arts

Hello Dear Danglers! Lets you and I do this one together. Once upon a time, I had a vise-like grip that (I’m sure) rivaled the Terminator. I could dangle happily by my fingertips over a shark tank, covered in Crisco, while sneezing! Well, perhaps I exaggerate (and no one ever offered to pay me to do that anyway), but you get my point. However, four years of motherhood have meant less time for “hanging around” in my preferred manner, and I’ve noticed a disheartening decrease in my grip strength. What’s a dangler to do? Buckle down, and GET A GRIP.

Why Grip Strength is Important

Aside from the obvious benefit of keeping you safely glued to your apparatus or partner, grip has a number of hidden benefits. The muscles of the hand, wrists, and forearm are small and somewhat delicate. By creating a strong web of muscles, we reduce the risk of all sorts of injuries – overuse, structural, and hyper-extensive. Weak grip also leads to sacrifices in alignment in other areas of the body to compensate, most notably through the shoulders, chest, and upper back – no bueno! Add to that the fatigue and frustration of frequent “Popeye” forearms, and you can see why training your digits is a priority.

 

5 Strategies for Grippy Goodness

 

1 – Ban spray rosin from your training. Use powdered rosin as needed or preferred, but save the spray stuff for performance. Yes, I know you love your Glamour Glue, but please spare me the argument that you “need it for safety while you train” – I don’t allow it in my classes, and my students are better for it! Spray rosin practically cements you to the apparatus, and encourages a relaxed, noodle-y grip. It’s like crack! Don’t do it.

 

2 – Set aside part of each training session to work grip. I personally like to do this early! Work close to the ground in case you need to come down quickly, and use as little rosin as you need to complete the exercises safely:

  • silks & trap – birds nest in the air – hold a silk or rope in each hand, invert to a ball position, slide your shins up the ropes as you extend your legs towards the ceiling and arch your back (newer students can wrap their wrists once or twice to give additional support)
  • silks – dangle torture – maintaining a strong, aligned shoulder, hold a strand in each hand and simply hang with extended arms
  • rope, trap, & lyra – one-handed madness – keeping shoulders pulled firmly down, practice hanging by one hand (**DO NOT** allow the shoulders to lift or rotate – keep your feet on the ground if you need help maintaining proper positioning)

 

3 – Train your grip at home. There are oodles of exercises you can do outside the studio – here are my favorites!

  • mini-silk or towel over a pull-up bar
  • squeeze a stress ball or tennis ball (great to do on the walk to training or while you’re stretching to warm up your fingers)
  • crumple newspaper page by page with one hand
  • get yourself a DynaFlex! This is a nifty little gizmo that I like a lot. Not only does it work the muscles of the hand and forearm, but it can also help with PT of the shoulder and elbow.

 

4 – Warm up your fingers before training!

 

5 – Keep nails short and lose the jewelry. Long nails and rings impair grip, so you’ll just have to choose!

 

Happy dangling, and I’ll see you in the air!!! 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.

 

C is for Cookie: The Ultimate Aerial Diet

I looooooove me some cookies. Also? Pie, ice cream, chocolate, and donuts. A lot. I do not like Brussels sprouts (or any kind of sprout for that matter), and lots of other Super Healthy Foods that Are Not Pie. But taste bud preferences aside, what should we be eating to ensure success in the air? Is there such a thing as the Aerialist Diet? And WHAT ABOUT ICE CREAM?! Imma break it down for you, Dear Danglers.

The Ideal Aerial Diet

Yeah. There is none. (MIND BLOWN) Successful circus artists run the gamut from Atkins devotees to vegan, and everything in between. Now, having said that, certain things will set you up for success more than others. To access your inner super hero, here are some tips to keep in mind the next time you’re face first in a (delicious, delicious) pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

 

  1. Muscles need protein to grow. There is SO MUCH debate about exactly how much protein we need, but here’s my take on it: Are your muscles growing? Congrats! You’re probably getting enough protein! And vice versa. If you’re working to take some pounds off, protein can be your best friend – it curbs hunger, and acts like a natural diuretic to keep you from retaining excess water.
  2. One thing most aerialists agree on, across the board, is that processed foods bring you down. If your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, there’s probably a better choice to be made.
  3. Inflammation is the devil. It’s the bane of the aerialist’s existence! There are foods that ramp it up, and foods that bring it down. Hydrogenated oils, heavily processed foods, and sugar (nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!) increase inflammation in the body. Whole foods, particularly leafy greens, healthy fats, and powerhouse seeds can bring it way down. Have a look at the list at the bottom for some of my current favorites!
  4. Personally? I think a life without treats is a sad life indeed. If you are Suzi-Super-Clean-Eater, I am in awe of you – go on with your bad self! If you’re like me, and not willing to be that strict with yourself, the 80/20 rule is a helpful one: get 80% of your daily calories from clean food, 20% from the stuff in the goodie box in the high cabinet. Though some will argue with me, I’m not convinced that a little sugar, salt, and fat is gonna kill you. That said, if you’re struggling with inflammation, just know that you may have to forgo the deliciousness for a little while to give your body a chance to catch up.
  5. Organic is lovely – go for it whenever you can!

Pre-Training Smoothie

1 apple, pear, or banana (fruit sugars give you energy to fly!)
1 cup of berries or another brightly colored fruit (adds nutrients and fiber)
1/2 of a large cucumber (adds fiber, nutrients, and reduces inflammation)
1/4 of a peeled lime (cleansing & energizing)
1 inch piece of peeled ginger (reduces inflammation)
1 large handful of leafy greens like chard, kale, or spinach (nutrients, reduces inflammation)
1 handful of green herbs like parsley, basil, or cilantro (nutrients, flavor, and can reduce water retention)
1 handful of nuts (reduce inflammation, protein gives you staying power)
1 Tbsp seeds (chia, flax, sunflower, hemp, or a mix of all 4)
1-2 cups coconut water (can substitute filtered tap water)

 

Toss all ingredients in a Vita-Mix or blender and blend on high! If you’re using a regular blender, use frozen fruit or a handful of ice cubes to help get everything mixed properly. Increase or decrease water to taste.

 

To sum it up, I love Michael Pollan’s rules from “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” – eat real food, not too much, mostly plants. Simple right? (BTW – great book – highly recommended) If you need the structure of a diet, the Paleo Diet has a great focus on whole foods, or check out “Crazy, Sexy Diet” by Kris Carr. Stay tuned – my team and I are in the process of compiling a cookbook of phenomenal recipes designed to reduce inflammation, boost energy for training, and support strength gains for aerial and circus work! More soon! Love and pull-ups, Laura

Laura’s Current Favorite SuperFoods

** All your fruits & veggies are amazing! Here are a few things I’m eating a lot of right now that you may or may not have tried!

Green juice (NOT the kind that’s 95% fruit!), chia seeds, hemp seeds, tahini, subbing cauliflower for rice or potatoes for a nutrient boost, rolling my own sushi (nori, brown rice, stuff with avocado & veggies), fruit sauce (1/2 a banana, 1 apple, 1 pear, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, handful of nuts, 1 teaspoon of flax seeds, toss it in a blender on low), zucchini noodles (use a vegetable peeler to make “noodles”, steam or eat them raw with your favorite sauce).

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.