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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).

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Awesome Back Bending Resource!!!

Hello Dear Danglers! Just a quick post today. A friend on the F-books (thanks Autumn!!!) pointed out a GREAT video resource to help keep your spine healthy and bend-y. It’s only free until August 18, so jump on that!

Go to, go to Sign Up, and create a free account. Each week, they have a free class! The one this week is “Compression-Free Back Bends”. There are also paid memberships if this is your thing. I love free (and I’ll bet you do too), so YAY!


Enjoy! Love and pull-ups, Laura

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Rigging From Trees – Magical or Moronic?

With summer in full swing, the hot topic of the week is:

“Is it a good idea to rig from trees?”

GREAT question! Is it safe? Why is there so much controversy? I see so-and-so doing it, so what’s the big deal? More great questions! Let’s chat!


The Allure of Trees

What aerialist hasn’t looked at a gorgeous tree branch and thought, “Man, I would love to hang on that!” Trees are beautiful, seem strong, and totally whisper to our just-a-little-bit-and-sometimes-a-whole-lot-granola side. And don’t we all have fabulous memories hurling ourselves off a tire swing or rope into a river? Or climbing until we were positively giddy with our own daring? Besides, it seems like a super cheap alternative to renting studio time. Why shouldn’t we just grab a branch and get to making the fabulous?


The Problem With Trees

It’s not that you CAN’T rig safely from trees – for sure, it can be done. The big question is, do YOU have the expertise to do it? Unless you’re a professional rigger with an arborist for a best friend, I seriously doubt it. It comes down to what all aerial rigging comes down to: accurately assessing the structural integrity of an overhead anchor, understanding the forces likely to be placed on it, and then rigging accordingly.


Accurately assessing the overhead anchor – Are you SURE you know what’s happening inside that branch? Do you know signs of disease in trees? What about how weather conditions (lots of rain, drought, etc) affect them? How to check for signs of distress in the branch you want to hang from? There are SO MANY things that factor into the health of the tree.


Understanding the forces likely to be placed on it – How familiar are you with rigging REALLY? Do you understand how much force you generate when you climb? What about drops? Were you planning on crawling out on that branch and rigging 5 or 6 feet from the trunk with a span set and carabiner? Or, better yet, were you going to go out and choke your fabric directly to the branch? If you were thinking about doing either of these things, friend (and I say this with love), you have no idea what the hell you’re doing. Get off that poor tree. I’m not trying to ruin your fun, but there are a lot of complex factors at play here.


Where This All Leaves Us (Ha Ha – Get it? LEAVES?!)

The bottom line is that it’s a horrible idea to rig to ANYTHING if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. Most of the students who come to me with questions about trees do so because they’re looking for a cheaper alternative to studio space. HEAR ME NOW. By the time you hire a rigger, arborist, and purchase proper equipment, it’s unlikely to be a cheaper alternative. Know what’s also not cheap? Hospitals. Lawsuits. Funerals. Get what I’m saying? Don’t be a dufus. Don’t be an ARROGANT dufus. A wise aerialist knows the limit of his or her expertise, and respects it. For the sake of our community, I hope you’ll do the same. If you’re determined to rig from a tree – do it right. Hire professionals!


Here’s a great article (thank you Jordann Baker & Sadie Hawkins for posting this!) on tree rigging – give it a look. It really points out the particular challenges of rigging safely from our leafy friends without hurting the tree or us. Read it read it read it now! Love and pull-ups, Laura


Rigging From Trees Article


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.


Featured in “Natural Awakenings” Magazine!!!!

Hey – this is pretty cool! I was just featured in “Natural Awakenings” magazine! I think that’s pretty nifty. 🙂


Sandra Murphy writes:


“Aerial silk classes take exercising to new heights. Cirque du Soleil-style and more elegant than rope climbing, students don’t have to be in peak shape to start. “Just show up and want to learn,” says international performing aerialist Laura Witwer, who teaches how to climb fabric attached to steel rigging 16 to 25 feet high in New York City spaces. “We work close to the floor for beginners,” she explains. “They learn to climb, then to hang upside-down, and then tie knots. We’ve had all body sizes, shapes and ages in class; it’s a great way to stretch and add strength.”


Read the entire article here! 🙂 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.


Inter-webs Goodies!

Hello Dear Danglers! I’m on vacation for a week (!!!!!), but I found some goodies floating around the F-Books I thought you might enjoy.  I have my own thoughts on these which I’ll share soon, but for now, I’m off to float in the lake with my ankle-biter. Read, discuss amongst yourselves. 😉 Love and pull-ups, Laura

Stop Stretching Your Hamstrings So Much – an interesting take on hamstring injury related to hyper-flexibility.

How Dancers Can Achieve a Better Body Line – if you can wade through the dancer-speak, this is a great reminder of how to keep the body long, with beautiful, elegant carriage.

Shoulder Bursitis/Rotator Cuff Tendinitis – a great overview of the most common repetetive stress injury in aerialists.


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.


I’m Back – Killian Cog Pictures!

Hello all! A huge thank you for all your kind words and well-wishes for “The Bizarre and Curious Quest of Killian Cog”, our new touring show. SUPER EXCITING! I’m still playing catch-up, but I thought you might want a quick peek at some of the acts. More soon! Enjoy! Love and pull-ups, Laura


Aerial wheel!



Duo Spanish Web



Hula hoops!



Hand to Hand



German wheel (that’s me in the corner!)





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A Wee Blog Hiatus While We Prep for Our Show!!!

Hello Dear Danglers! You may (or may not) have noticed that the blog has been a bit slow lately – sorry about that! It’s for a great reason! My company, ImaginAerial, is FINALLY getting it’s first hopefully-soon-to-be-touring show out the door! Its called “The Bizarre and Curious Quest of Killian Cog”. We’re doing a sneak peek next week on June 28 & 29th at SLAM in NYC (buy tickets here!), and the BIG SHEBANG will happen July 13 & 14 at the Performing Arts Center at Kent State. We’re delerious with excitement and exhaustion. Soooooo, I need to take a few weeks off to devote to finishing the bazillion things that still need doing. I hope you can come see one of the shows – we would love to see you there!!!! 🙂 Love and pull-ups, Laura



When Injury Happens, The First Hour is Critical!

Hello Dear Danglers! You’ve been there, I’ve been there. You’re training, or walking past the really sharp coffee table, or knitting at unsafe speeds, and BAM! Injury happens. Whether it’s a bruise, break, or chronic condition, injuries are awful. Aside from the pain and inconvenience of the actual ouchie, the mental and emotional toll can be considerable (light burns and bruises excepted – suck it up). What’s a dangler to do? Let’s chat.

At the First Sign of Pain

STOP. Do you hear me? STOP. Wait, breathe. Assess. Pain is your body’s alarm system, and shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, how you handle that injury in the first hour can make a HUGE difference in how quickly you can get back in the air.  Circus hurts, no doubt about it! But there’s a big difference between the “pinchy” pain of training, and the “I’m severing an artery” pain of injury. If it’s the latter, you should:

  1. STOP.
  2. If the injury is severe, emergency medical protocol should be observed. Remember – NEVER TRAIN ALONE.
  3. If you have a visible wound (a burn or open cut, for example), get thee to the first aid station and take care of it pronto. Don’t get that sh*t on my fabric. 😉
  4. No external wound? Not an emergency? Breathe, wait. Let your body “settle”.
  5. Assess your pain. Has it disappeared? Grown worse? Stayed about the same?
  6. If your pain has disappeared and you decide to continue with your training, baby that area for the rest of your session. Remember – you don’t get points for making it worse. Only hurting during a certain move? Repeat after me: “I’m going to skip that one today.”
  7. Grown worse or stayed the same? Re-assess – do you need medical attention? Regardless, no more training today for you! First aid, ya’ll. Commit this to memory, it can speed your healing. RICE:
  • Rest – yes, YOU.
  • Ice – repeat after me: NEVER HEAT A FRESH INJURY!!!! Ice ice, baby.
  • Compress – grab an ACE bandage and gently compress, careful not to cut off your circulation.
  • Elevate – prop that baby up!

Many doctors also recommend a standard dose of an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory (ex: ibuprofin) soon after the injury to reduce inflammation.

Got an instructor who pushes you into pain? Disregards your experience of pain? Shames you when you get hurt? That is not ok. Remember – it’s YOUR body. If it breaks, they don’t have to live in it. Part of any physical endeavor is learning to OWN your body, and set limits for yourself and others. Protect that beautiful bod!


When a Diagnosis is in Order

Is it an “injury”, not just an ouchie? Getting worse instead of better? Very painful? You can certainly ask your instructor for their input, but don’t mistake them for a medical professional. Here’s a great blog post (brought to my attention by the lovely and talented Sabrina McNeal) about exactly that. You turn to the pros to teach you to soar through the air, you’ll want to consider doing the same when it comes to your diagnosis & treatment. Dance Instructors and Injury Management: Leave it to the Pros

Have a lovely, safe, and injury free week, my lovlies! I’ll see you in the air! Love and pull-ups, Laura


For next week: Ow Ow OW! Working Around an Injury, Part 2

The week after: Ow Ow OW! Working Around a Chronic Condition, Part 3


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.