Learning how to climb up a curtain.
That’s the easiest way for me to describe taking an aerial silks class. I had wanted to try an aerial silks/hoops class ever since trying trapeze. It was a little more expensive so I requested it as a birthday gift from my dad.
I found out about a workshop where you could learn both styles and I was soooooo excited to finally get to try it. I guess I have always been impressed by circus performers who looked so graceful and have the ability to make hard things look easy. My instructors had an edge similar to my roller derby instructors but were very nice. I found out that all but one other person in my workshop had been practicing for at least a year and several had been doing it for years. So I was the super newbie.
After some warm-up stretches, we started in different stations to work on a variety of skills. I was stationed to the aerial silks. The first thing I worked on was wrapping my foot. A huge part of the technique is getting a tight wrap around your foot then using your other foot to create slack on the material, then wrapping it back around your foot. This is also within the rhythm of trying to pull yourself up. It took a while for my brain to connect with what I was trying to do because the last part of the wrapping does not feel as natural.
This was definitely something that would get better over time with practice. I tried pulling myself up with my new knowledge and had a BIG TIME reality check. It was really difficult to barely move up. I came into the workshop thinking I would learn the skill very quickly. It’s a lot of arm strength, coordination and making your body respond at the same time. I only got a few feet off the ground with several attempts. Your arms get very tired quickly.
My next station was to try the aerial hoop or the lyra. Our instructors demonstrated several ways to mount onto the hoop and dismount. I am a very visual learner and it was extremely helpful to watch the instructor perform the skill and then walk me through each step. I completed each skill on the aerial hoops WAY easier than on the silks.
The hardest part was that the gym had no air conditioning that day and the temperature was in the low 90’s. My hands were sweating so bad that I had a hard time keeping my grip. The hoop was not very high up but I still didn’t want to risk the chance of falling upside down. I grabbed some chalk to give me a little more confidence. My hands still felt slippery but I was glad to have some skills under my belt.
We changed stations again and I went back to the silks. I really focused on just learning the wrapping technique around my feet and then they taught us a few other poses. It at least made me feel like I could accomplish something. I think I could have set the bar a little too high for my first workshop… but GO BIG OR GO HOME, right?
We were then given some time to work on whatever skills we wanted to before we ended our workshop with conditioning. I chose to challenge my memory by working on the hoop again.
Next, came the conditioning. I like to think that I am in fairly decent shape. I realized that I’m not …after conditioning. Again, a reminder: no a/c and the class was going on during the heat of the day.
We started by doing handstands single file, over and over down the lane. I was doing fine until I lost my balance and toppled on my back.
Then we had to climb the silks. That was a short station for me as I watched to pros climb to the top and I did a few courtesy tugs upward.
Then came the pit filled with foam. That would have been fun except that our task was to run laps around the inside of the pit several times. Sounds easy but I thought I could have been ok with being swallowed up in the foam pit several times during that station. It was like a twisted version of trying to run in quicksand.
Next, we did toe touches on the trampoline. This was the fun part that I was waiting for. Two problems: I pulled a muscle a few stations back and it involved jumping up and down. ( If you have given birth before, you understand.) I did a few toe touches then decided pike jumps were safer.
Our next station was to do 10 pull-ups on the uneven bars. On a good day I’m not good at pull-ups, at this point I wanted to just jump up and down to give the appearance of a pull-up. Problem was that the rest of the class was waiting to stretch because I was the last one in the rotation line. I did a few courtesy attempts and called it good.
We stretched for several minutes and then did ab work. No doubt these women are athletes.
I was almost relieved when the class was over. I really enjoyed it but I don’t know if I would have made it much longer. I used muscles that I didn’t know I had. I would like to try it again, especially because the silks are now something that I want to conquer. I feel they won this round but I’m not down for the count yet.
Maybe another day…
Find out more
Check out dare devil circus or Grand Rapids circus if you have ever dreamed of running away with the circus for a day