Lessons Learned from Aerial Dance

“It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” -Rocky Balboa

About two years ago , I had hit a slump, fitness wise. I was used to my usual routine of going to the gym about three times a week and doing  the same thing over and over – forty five minutes on the treadmill, maybe lift a weight here and there, but overall it felt a little like signing up to be a hamster.  I looked around at any fitness options that brushed the dust off but then I ran into a work associate who had just come from an aerials class.  He was sweaty and in fantastic shape, so I had to ask what he meant. Fifteen minutes later and hundreds of pictures shown from his iPhone convinced me that I had to know more. So he gave me the details of when they met, who to talk to and left me to start one of the hardest physical things I’ve ever done.

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Welcome to my Saturday mornings…

 

Just as some background, I am one of the least athletic people you’ll ever met. Its not like I’ve never tried.  The slowest runner, the most uncoordinated, not to mention the spirit of competition is foreign to my psyche.  If you need a visual explanation of what goes into the basics of doing aerial movement, then I’ll just leave this here, which actually stars my rockstar  yet incredibly patient teacher, Kerry:

My first class was painful. Not physically, although that was strenuous, but my dignity took a hard beating. Kerry was pleasant yet tough. She instructed me to stand in between two long fabrics hanging from the high ceiling, wrap my wrists into them and invert myself. I always thought I was strong. It turns out, I was not.  She watched me try to heft my hips over my head with the sad result being, my legs barely leaving the floor, before my arms gave up and dumping me back to the floor where I came from.

What made it worse was the others in the class, the ones who had already learned how to conquer gravity and lift themselves to graceful heights, turning and flexing themselves into beautiful shapes. So I kept trying for the next hour to do something simple like lift myself up with my own body weight.

At the end of the class, I still hadn’t done it but I was drowning in sweat and exhaustion.  Not what I expected at all. I was frustrated though. I went in expecting to have a new skill, but I had run up a wall. The problem was, I had paid for five classes. So I was prepared to get up in the air by the end of the fifth lesson.

It didn’t take five lessons. It took about 30. I went two to three times a week for four months before I was finally able to invert myself using my own core strength. I almost gave up at lesson eleven, but I had already paid for four more, so I kept going.  In that time, I had learned how to climb, I learned how to put my feet in foot locks with the silk and I had even learned how to do a proper pull up, a skill that had eluded me my entire life.

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When your heart says yes and your muscles say no…

The feeling of being able to lift myself, turn myself over gave me a sense of control that was empowering and exciting. If I could accomplish this first basic level, then I could accomplish whatever level came along. It was only going to get harder but at least I had a handle on the first step. After all, if you can defy gravity, what other natural law can you outsmart?

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Trust me when I say, I felt this the next day.

I wish I had taken pictures of those first few lessons. The ones where I struggled to hold myself up, the ones where sweat dripped down my face as I tried to tie my foot in a knot with my other foot.   While I am nowhere near the fluid tiny grace of professional aerialists, I’m doing the things that I used to envy from down on the ground, which is a great place to see things from.

5 Favorite Books From the Formative Years

 

I don’t know about you, but when I look at the titles in my bookcase or the ones on my Kindle library, I sometimes wonder how I came to enjoy the things that I do. If there’s a slightly dark tone to it, a sense of humor or a weird twist, I’m all in. And somehow, these books stood out to me as my favorites as a kid.

  1. Blubber by Judy Blume. blubberLooking back, I’m not sure why I loved this book so much. When talking about Judy Blume, most people cite Are You There God, Its Me Margaret, but this was the one I read the most. Maybe because it was such a morality tale of how easy it is to be eaten by the beast you’ve been feeding. It was told with a first person narrative, which really sparkled. Our heroine wasn’t particularly cruel, her crime was standing aside and watching one classmate be tore down.
  2. Lois Lowry’s Anastasia anastasiaI know Lowry is more known for writing The Giver, but she wrote this delightful early teens character named Anastasia that touched something in me. She was sarcastic and innocent, getting into one misadventure after the other with her best friend Daphne. I was introduced to her world when my mom handed me one of the books titled Anastasia at Your Service. I don’t know how many times I read and reread that book. Any heroine that greets news of moving to the suburbs with “As soon as I finish my chocolate pudding, I’m jumping out the window” is perfect.
  3. Gone with the Wind gone with the wind(https://www.amazon.com/Gone-Wind-Margaret-Mitchell/dp/1451635621/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467068717&sr=8-1&keywords=gone+with+the+wind+book) . Oh man. I loved this book. Yes, I loved the movie and the great thing about reading the book was like having the movie with extended scenes playing in your head. I loved the decadent descriptions of Scarlett’s dresses and how easy it was for her to get back on her feet every time. Years ago, Alexandra Ripley wrote a really trashy sequel which I also read. I enjoyed it as the first really trashy book I’d ever read.
  4. Esther: The Star and the Sceptre by Gini Andrews Esther(https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0310201802/ref=pd_cp_0_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=G3ES1KT6WNMZQ9HVZHRT)  I found this book in my school library when I was probably about 13 or 14. If you don’t know the story of Esther in the Bible, this is a fictionalized account, so the author took some liberties,  but I checked this book out over and over again. It was out of print even at that time, but there was something about the descriptions of Esther’s beauty treatments and just enough PG-13 rated material that made me keep going back to the well.
  5. The VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever Guide Videohound(https://www.amazon.com/Videohounds-Golden-Movie-Retriever-Annual/dp/0787607800/ref=sr_1_17?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1467066271&sr=1-17&keywords=videohound%27s+golden+movie+retriever)  Stay with me here. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent pouring over the list of movies and their descriptions. The best rated movies had four bones while truly terrible ones had a Woof! I wanted to see every one of those movies, but since that was an impossibility, I could just read about and imagine what I could possibly be missing.

What are YOU looking forwards to this summer?

So technically (at least in Pop Culture land) summer 2016 is well under way, which means while there’s good weather and copius amounts of fresh air, there’s also new entertainment to be watched in darkened rooms. Here’s what I’m looking forwards to:

TELEVISION

  1. The Olympics are back! No I don’t watch every event but there’s always one event that gets pretty exciting and must watchable. Throw in the fact that this year is at Zika central Rio and it might be a event for the books.
  2. Vice Principals. I maintain that a little Danny McBride goes a long way. However, watching him with Walter Goggins (who pulled off an amazing performance in The Hateful Eight) in this trailer as feuding Vice Principals makes me so excited to dive into this new series from HBO.
  3. The Get Down. Not every series Netflix has premiered has been great. For every House of Cards, Jessica Jones and now Lady Dynamite there’s been some forgettable titles (what are they? Eh..I forgot.) This one comes from Baz Luhrman about the rise of hip hop and disco in the streets of Brooklyn in the 70s. If nothing else, the visuals will be amazing.

 

MOVIES

  1. Finding Dory. Aw man, I don’t know about you, but I remember seeing Finding Nemo for the first time and immediately wanting to see it again. Pixar has a gift for giving us thoughtful story with an emotional gut punch and I have no doubt we’re in for the same.
  2. Ghostbusters. I think this is the only movie of the summer with so much debate. No one asked for a Ghostbusters retool but this has been in development for YEARS. Instead of giving us a reboot or another adventure with the original four (R.I.P. Harold Ramis) we’re getting four of the sharpest women in comedy with Paul Feig who gave us instant classics like Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy. The trailers got a mixed reaction but this is on my must see list.
  3. Suicide Squad. People were on the fence about this one until the trailers started coming out. Finally, Harley Quinn is making her big screen debut in what’s the second step of DC’s cinematic movieverse. No matter what you thought about Batman v Superman, you have to admit that this movie looks cooler than cool.

Events

  1. MST3K Reunion. Technically this isn’t a movie release, it’s a live event, but the beauty of this is that its being streamed in movie theaters all over the country. If you loved Mystery Science Theater 3000 even half as much as I do, you have to be excited. It’ll reunite the original cast with the two hosts as well as the new host for the rebooted series in what’s going to be a pretty exciting night. The movie riffed hasn’t been announced yet, but I’ve already got my ticket. You can get them too right here: http://www.fathomevents.com/event/the-mst3k-reunion-show/buy