Several of you wanted to know more about how I conditioned to get back into aerial shape after I was out on medical leave for 3 months as well as how long it took me to get back.
In my situation – everyone is different and it really depends on the injury or reason for being away – I got back to my peak strength in about 8 weeks. It felt like forever.
In all, I had gained about 7 pounds and lost all of my pull-ups before I started training again. Serious depression.
Generally, here’s what I did:
Weeks 1 – 2 (early March):
Got a new pull-up bar at home (my old one didn’t fit the doorframes) and did as many negative pull-ups as I could – every single day. Here’s a good tutorial – but do them with an overhand grip:
I also started doing yoga postures and stretching at home about 3x/week.
About mid-week, Ryan spotted me on proper pull-ups – trying to go for 5 assisted.
Get up on your apparatus, but TAKE IT EASY. I pushed myself far too hard the first two weeks, resulting in two torn muscles – one in my shoulder and one in my hamstring. Not fun. Just have a play on it the first few times and don’t set ANY expectations for yourself. Treat it like it’s the first time you’ve ever been on the apparatus (yeah, right, you must be thinking. Easier said than done.)
Do some climbs on the rope or silk. Every aerialist should be able to do a basic climb. If you had strong climbs before, this should be pretty easy to master again.
These first two weeks sucked because it felt like I wasn’t making any progress. Still couldn’t do a single pull up by mid March.
I could not invert on the rope during this time either.
Started training harder on the rope in preparation for the Red Shoes performance – about 3/week for an hour – 1.5 hours each time. I would do a lot of climbing, hip locks, universal straddles to invert. I also had a lot of pressure to start choreographing my routine so I had to gamble on what I would be capable of the first weekend in May. So I started doing basic sequences that I felt comfortable before the medical leave. They were not pretty, but it’s a great way to build your confidence.
Ryan continued to spot me each day on pull-ups – I would do 5 assisted. This is the week I was able to do a single, unassisted pull-up. Hooray.
I could do one very sad inversion this week.
This was an exciting week. I jumped to being able to do 2.5 pull ups by the end of the week.
I could do a strong inversion (diamond legs not straight legs)
I continued to struggle through chroreographing my routine with tons of trial and error.
My stamina was terrible. I was huffing and puffing the whole way through.
Weeks 5 – 7:
This was a critical phase in building strength, flexibility and confidence.
I trained 4 – 5/week, depending on our rehearsal schedules.
I gained about 1 new pull-up/week.
I could invert easily.
My routine was coming together and I finally finalized the choreography and just spent the last two weeks perfecting.
My stamina slowly improved, but I continued to huff and puff by the end. I couldn’t make it through the whole routine weeks 5 and 6.
Week 8 (first week of May):
Tech and dress rehearsal week – we really only had Tuesday and Wednesday to do our runs for the performances that started on Friday. Fortunately, I felt pretty good about the routine and had loads of confidence in my strength
I matched my pull-up personal best – 5!
I had lost the 7 pounds I previously gained.
I can do straight arm/straight leg inversions – better than I did before the break.
So there you go. It’s mainly about the pull-ups and just getting back up there. There’s no magic bullet apart from pacing yourself, consistency and perseverance.
It’s been far too long since I last updated because so much has happened. Ryan and I relocated to Austin from London about 3 weeks ago and it’s been non-stop activity since we arrived.
An amazing opportunity popped up the week I arrived with Sky Candy, an aerial artist collective here in Austin. They invited me to join the group AND perform in the East Austin Studio tour! I managed to pull together a very basic piece — read VERY basic — and took absolutely zero risks with it because I only had 1 hour to rehearse a routine I put together in my head on a new trapeze bar with no mats. Here’s the routine:
I look forward to teaching static trapeze and corde lisse lessons with Sky Candy soon but am DESPERATE for indoor training space that gives me the flexibility to train whenever I need. So I’m investigating warehouse space now and crossing fingers something turns up soon because I may get to perform at Auditorium Shores on New Year’s Eve and would love to do a rope piece.
By the way, here are some of the new tricks I was learning as I left London and hope to build these into my NYE routine:
Drop to mermaid:
I miss London so much but am so happy to be back home.
VICTORY!!! The 3-day performance workshop is over. Check box. One under the belt. Today was supposed to be the fine-tuning day, but I saved my hands for the actual peformance because I knew I only had one shot today before my hands ripped open.
Instead I visualized the changes I wanted to make from yesterday’s run through.
Yesterday’s run through:
I have learned an inordinate amount from this experience. Here are some of the key things:
*Defining my character and setting the mood really made a huge difference in my ability to feel comfortable with a crowd and try to evoke an emotion/entertain them in some way. I chose to tell the story of a tortured soul who decided to just end it all. “After It Happened” is the name of piece.
*It’s incredibly helpful to break the routine down in 3 parts and spend A LOT of time on the middle bit. That saved me because I could go on auto pilot and not have to constantly be thinking, “Crap! What’s next.” The beginning and end of my piece were really clear in my mind from the beginning and also pretty basic.
*I had to cut down the list of moves I wanted to do by about 75%. Seriously. There was so much more I wanted to do to showcase my ability. But between not having the stamina and properly conveying the mood without rushing from trick to trick, this was only way I could keep up.
*Understanding the tempo changes and choreographing moves to match the pace is key. In the run through video, I do a much better job at the beginning of the routine (beating when the cello kicks in, etc.) but I do a better job with the ending in the performance video because I changed from doing an angel in the ropes to something I have more precision with – moon to a 1-leg hocks hang. I screwed up the performance because I added a Gladiator in without practicing it and it threw off the entire flow of the routine and I felt like I was trying to catch up the whole time rather than marinate in the mood. And I was also very distracted by the missing skin on my palms and the tape flying off and getting stuck to the bar at around 2:45.
*Rushing makes me sloppy. Crappy lines, feet not together, and looking generally clod-like. I have to try even harder because I’m bigger and the clod-like movement is accentuated. I won’t beat myself up on weight, but I am trending in the right direction and would like to lose more to look svelte and lithe:-)
*Adrenaline is a great pain killer. I didn’t even feel my palms. My instructor showed me how to tape my hands so I could peform on them. I’ll do a separate post on that in case anyone needs that info.
Things to work on for the future:
*My skinning the cats need work. This one was pretty sad. It was more like petting the cat.
*Get rid of the hocks beat after skinning the cat and do a pop on. The beat ruins the flow.
*Take out gladiator. Yar. Why did I throw that in???
*Improve my lines and extend my legs and arms and hold them longer. These are the little things I can do that will make a BIG difference.
*Work on my beats from rolling out from front balance. Yucky display here.
*Do a proper straddle between elbow hang and candlestick
*Do a splits on the bar forward roll after moon on my way to 1-hocks hang at the end. That would be so much more dramatic.
*And a billion more things that I can’t think of right now.
I’m absolutely amazed by the other 9 people in the workshop. People of all ranges of experience and styles. Watching friends work through their severe stage freight, absolute fatique and battered bodies to pull together something to show their friends and family for the first time was very special. I’m honored to have been able to share this weekened with them.
One woman was in a league of her own. She’s only had 3 silks classes and put together the most stunning piece. It turns out, her name is Elena Gibson and she founded London’s biggest pole dancing school and is a pole dancing world champion. Some people are so blessed.
Well, I’ve gone dark the last few months, but not because I haven’t been trapeeeeezing. In fact, I’ve made more progress in the last 6 weeks than ever. My body’s finally feeling very, very strong. I can do a pull-up from a dead hang now. W00t! I am also able to do some basic transitions more easily – up and over without cheating on the ropes, I can now (barely) go from front balance to sit and I have finally conquered by block on straddles – it was literally all in my head. As in the weight of my head. I was looking in the wrong direction!
So here’s my latest video. The goal here was to stay on for at least 3 minutes and I ened up staying on for over 4. This isn’t a choreographed routine or anything, just a bunch of technical moves I improvised along the way. I can see the areas I need to work on more. But I’m really happy I had the stamina to carry on for this long. It gives me a lot more confidence that I’ll be able to get a routine ready by Flipside.
Ryan has helped me get one step closer to building strength in the comfort of our home. He got me a pull-up bar for Christmas!
I have no idea if my form is correct. It feels a bit narrow but the bar set up doesn’t allow me to put my hands where I’d really like them to go – just slightly wider. It seems like the wider apart they are, the more they isolate the lats. We don’t do wide-arm pull-ups in class because of the nature of the trapeze bar – it’s a fairly narrow apparatus. But I figure this set up is better than nothing.
I am going through trapeze withdrawal. I haven’t been to a class in a week and half. My callouses are disappearing. I miss the bruises and sore muscles. I did some sun salutations yesterday and pathetically, my anterior deltoids are tender, tender, tender.
We went out last night and all I could think about when I looked around is what I could hang from. There was a great rig set up that would have been ideal for trapeze. There was a rope sculpture that I’m sure could have been climbed. I want to climb a rope. Badly.
My family has accepted my trapeze obsession. Mom and Dad got me a package of lessons for Christmas. Ryan gave me several books on trapeze (I’ve already read 2 of them) plus a pull-up bar. W00t! One of my goals for 2009 is to be able to do one pull up from a dead hang.