bird’s eye view

I’ve been in a chronic state of fatigue over the past few weeks but sometimes the mind and body need that sort of break.  My weekly workouts average to at least 4 days of intense training.  I conclude that there have been many changes lately which includes the weather changing from winter to summer thus the pollen shit storm we are all experiencing.  Also, I have been teaching my classes outside and I teach middle-school students to top it off.  My most comforting activity, no matter what emotion I’m feeling, is physical activity but lately it’s been a face-plant to the mattress.  I’m so tired of being exhausted.

All I needed was a bit of inspiration and motivation.  Lately, I have been taking static/dance trapeze classes and I’m also in a Lyra series at the studio.  We are going to have a showcase in May and I’m confident and stoked about it because we have a passionate instructor.  The poses and are getting easier to hold.  I mean, the pain involved holding each pose is becoming tolerable.  It doesn’t get easier, you just get used to it.  The bruises never fail to show up though.  Anyway, last Friday, a bunch of us from the studio went to see Quidam – Cirque du Soleil at the Ted Convocation Center.  Inspiration?  Yes.  Motivation?  Yes.  Trapeze, Lyra, Cyr, Acro body balancing, dancing… I want to do it all!  I may have a long way to go but I am content with where I am now with my skill level, strength, and flexibility.  It can only get better from here… as long as I stick to it.

On a non-cirque note:  I completed my first mud run two weeks ago.  It was the Project Mud Run 5K.  The obstacles were pure fun and super easy.  I completed every obstacle without help or falling!  The running part was difficult.  I gave up running long distances in 2008 after my second and last half marathon.  My IT band in my left knee started acting up halfway through the race and continued discomfort lasted the entire day.  This was not a surprise to me because I have not trained to run for this event at all.  I have a Rugged Maniac 5K coming up in May and I signed up for the Super Spartan Race (10+ miles) at the end of August.  I have a lot of running ahead of me and I am crying this very second thinking about it.  I ran twice this week for a rough 15 minutes.  That may not seem like much but it is for me and these baby steps are making me feel better about the Super Spartan.  I also ordered two more kettlebells (16kg & 18kg) to aid the progression of my kettlebell sport goals.

Balance is the key word today.  I am striving to be balanced in every aspect of my life.  The body doesn’t work if the mind isn’t balanced and vice versa.  It’s a viscous cycle but the down-time during these past few weeks made me check-in with myself and I am grateful for that.

Piking at Airotique Movement Aerial Fitness & Performing Arts in Virginia Beach

Piking at Airotique Movement Aerial Fitness & Performing Arts in Virginia Beach

Practicing the Meat Hook at Airotique Movement Aerial Fitness & Performing Arts in Virginia Beach

Practicing the Meat Hook at Airotique Movement Aerial Fitness & Performing Arts in Virginia Beach

Sea Horse on the dance trapeze at Airotique Movement Aerial Fitness & Performing Arts in Virginia Beach

Sea Horse on the dance trapeze at Airotique Movement Aerial Fitness & Performing Arts in Virginia Beach

Having fun on the Lyra at Airotique Movement Aerial Fitness & Performing Arts in Virginia Beach

Having fun on the Lyra at Airotique Movement Aerial Fitness & Performing Arts in Virginia Beach

 

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an almighty thud

What goes up must come down. – Isaac Newton

I finally had my first fall off the Lyra in February.  Sometimes you and your instructor think you are ready for the next big thing and sometimes you may think you’re not ready but you give it a shot anyway.  That’s passion.  Passion was fucking scary that day but it eventually leveled me.  I was attempting the double knee drop from a back balance straddle.  I’m not even going to explain how this is performed but all I can say is that this trick starts off inverted and does not involve hands on the Lyra.  I hesitated.  Okay, I hanged there for at least forty-five seconds.  Bam… I hit the ground like a train wreck.  My body moved too far away from the Lyra during the drop and my calves hit the hoop instead of the back of my knees catching me.  This resulted in my legs extending and my body performing the human taco trick (which should never be performed).  The impact was so quick and hard that I ended up rolling off of the mat below me.  I was curled up in the fetus position with my eyes still shut from the moment I began the drop.  I was breathing.  I checked in with every ligament, tendon, muscle, and bone in my body.  Thank you lord baby Jesus that it was only soreness that took over my body.  The accident definitely shook me up. The session didn’t end there though.  We continued to practice the trick.  Everything we do is a learning experience.  Either we learn how to do something new or how to do it efficiently and we practice to become better.  This time we broke it down and I was spotted so that I would learn how it should feel like to perform the trick.

I used to say, “I do things to make sure I’m alive.”  Well, that was a rude awakening but I’m glad it happened.  I’ve made a few mistakes within the past year (mostly physical) and I learned from each them.  Learning from a mistake is the most rewarding aspect about taking on challenges.  Growth isn’t possible without learning.

Moving onto brighter aspects of my aerial journey…

I took a trapeze class last week and it was pure fun. I’m looking forward to more trapeze sessions in April.  A friend from Meyer Fitness even showed up.  Watching and helping a 53-year-old woman perform tricks on a trapeze was bad ass and inspiring!  Anything is possible no matter how young or old you are.  This is why I pity people when they say, “I’m getting old” or “I’m old.”

I took a few air yoga classes and they were awesome.  Silk hammocks are used for air yoga and it’s an awesome apparatus.  I need to take silk hammock and Aerial Tissu silks classes.  I strive to be well-rounded with the aerial arts and I was told that silks will help strengthen the body for other aerial skills.

I’ve been training (working out) four to five days a week.  The gym I go to now has a lot of toys to keep me strong.  I have been emphasizing more on stretching and my body is thanking me tremendously.  I’m getting closer and closer to a full split now!

On a different note, I was attacked by the kettlebell sport bug again.  I can’t stop thinking about kettlebell lifting and I decided that I want to compete in the Long Cycle event with the 20 kg kettlebell next.  Anyway, that’s a whole different story and I probably should start a new blog for my kettlebell sport ramblings.

I am excited and eager to continue my aerial adventure.  Moving on from discouragement takes a lot out of a person but it definitely taught me how to live within each moment and movement in my life.  I also want to thank my amazing instructors for being good at what they do and making this an exciting adventure.  Happy Spring Break!

“Become comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

This weekend, the Meyer Fitness Kettlebell Club made a trip up to Fairfax, VA for the Kettlebell Heartbreaker Regionals.  I’ve been into kettlebell sport (girevoy sport is the proper Russian term) for a little over a year now and this was my second competition.  My first competition was in NYC last March in which I obtained rank 1 in the 12 kg (~26 lbs.) long cycle event with 133 repetitions.  I obtained rank 1 in the 16 kg (~35 lbs.) event with 97 repetitions.  I was also awarded Best Overall Female Lifter out of several experienced women.  Crush… that’s what I do!  It’s only getting better too.  My progression in the sport is moving along in an upward spiral.  The next move would to bump up to compete with the 20 kg or compete in a different event.  Phew!

Cue the needle scratching the vinyl record.  I’m torn about leaving kettlebell sport and focusing on the aerial arts. I gave up rock climbing to focus on kettlebell sport and now I’m giving up kettlebell sport to focus on aerial arts.  All of my favorite hobbies exhaust the same muscle groups!  It’s a vicious cycle.  There’s not enough hours in my day and not enough muscle endurance in my body.  I know it’s the right move but it’s heartbreaking having to leave my family at Meyer Fitness.  I wouldn’t be where I am (mentally, physically, and socially) today if it wasn’t for all of their unconditional love and support.  They introduced me to proper training and most importantly, fun.  The commodore in that environment is what I thrive for. I’m unsure if I’ll find this kind of love and friendship anywhere else.  From now on I will have to hold the MF family well above my heart… in a jerk position.

“…and may the odds be ever in your favor.”

The introduction to aerial arts class was pure fun.  There were two other students in the class.  Every class at the studio begins with strength conditioning and stretching.   A strong core is the basis for proper technique for the poses on any of the apparatus.  All of the conditioning exercises were not too difficult.  Being fit helps out big time because aerial arts demand much upper body strength and endurance.  I’m going to thank the sport of rock climbing for allowing me to dead hang and do pull-ups.  I’m also going to thank the coaches at Meyer Fitness for helping me reach my fitness success over the past year.  I am the fittest, strongest, healthiest, and lightest I have ever been and I’m still progressing.  That says a lot for a 28 year old natural born athlete.  Some of the exercises that we do on a bar include: dead hang shoulder shrugs, knees to chest, and toes to bar.  Phew!  I didn’t fall in love with just one apparatus because they’re all different and interesting in their own way.  I do favor the Lyra and trapeze because the aesthetic feeling of a solid grip (rocks/pull-up bars/kettlebells) as opposed to silks or aerial ropes so this explains why I chose the Lyra track.

The four-week Lyra track was intense and fun.  If something isn’t fun, there’s no point of doing it.  My instructor was extremely talented with a welcoming yet badass personality.  The conditioning in the beginning of each class consisted of: 1-minute plank hold, 1-minute shoulder taps (push-up position without swaying the hips), 20 push-ups (elbows in), 20 straight leg raises, 20 straight leg v-sits, 20 ball v-sits, and a lot of stretching.  My abdominals have always been the weak point of my body and I’m starting to focus on strengthening them from now on.  Flexibility has become an issue within the past few years. The body loses flexibility when strength training is primarily emphasized.  Doing the splits is now on the bucket list too.  It’s also one of the skills listed that I need to include in the application video.  There were two of us the first week, four the second, myself the third, and two the last.  She pushed us to try poses that matched and tested our skill levels.  Transitioning from pose to pose was difficult but I definitely got the hang of it during the third week when I was the only student in the session.  It was pretty much a private session and she put together a short routine for me to perform with the Lyra spinning!  Spinning and performing…. vu#!ykf@43@!#R.  Supposedly everyone there says that you just get used to it.  The hardest part is trying to compose yourself after getting off of a spinning Lyra.  Anyway, my movement was not the smoothest and I had to stop at one point to get my ass on the correct side of the Lyra, but it was awesome that I was able to do it!  Another aspect of aerial arts is the pain involved while holding your own body weight during poses, especially back bending or hanging with one leg or arm.  The Lyra is made of unforgiving steel… need I say more?  There is so much to overcome and get used to and I can’t wait for more training.

I attended a few Acro body balance classes last month with the same instructor from the Lyra series.  Acro is a dynamic practice blending partner yoga with acrobatics and cirque arts.  There is a flyer and a base.  It’s simple, really.  The flyer is usually the smaller/lighter person who holds the poses and the base is the person who supports the flyer.  There are also poses that incorporate more than two people.  Acro is, you guessed it, fun!

The Lyra series definitely sucked me deeper into the aerial arts.  It did not take long to make a decision to leave the teaching field and open my wings to something new, challenging, beautiful, and exciting.  I questioned myself and asked a few people if making moves to run away with the circus is realistic.  It turns out that all of my friends are stoked about my journey!  The support is moving but when people believe in you, now that hits home.  I thought about the stipulations.  The only thing that makes me think twice is job security and my amazing friends and family.  Whatever, it’s time to fly.

I am applying to get into the 10-month intensive program at the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) in Brattleboro, Vermont.  There is an application and interview process involved with being admitted into NECCA’s 10-month long program or 9-month professional track program.  The maximum enrollment is 18 students.  As a newbie to the aerial arts, I am aiming to get into the 10-month program that starts the fall of 2014.  NECCA will determine which program will be appropriate for my skill level.  I have one year to save money, hone my skills, and prepare myself before the application and video are due.  After the program, I hope to make tremendous progress in skill level and eventually perform for a living.  In short, it’s basically like taking a college year of circus classes.  I dig that kind of school.  This is how NECCA describes the program:

In this 10 month long program, students study numerous circus arts with a variety of instructors in group and private lessons, and have ample studio time to practice the skills learned during these sessions.  The program culminates in a performance of acts that will be created during the spring portion of the program.

The program includes two three-hour group-training classes and one semi-private lesson weekly.  Students also select three skills classes from our Session class listing.  There are three sessions:  Fall (Sept-Dec), Winter (Jan-March) and Spring (April-June), and students can change their class selection at the start of each session.  Students also have access to Members Only “open studio” format training to practice what they are learning, and a membership to the Outer Limits Gym.

Cool?  Cool!

I was thinking about staying in VA Beach this summer and getting a seasonal job so I could train at the studio but that changed during my drive to work this morning.  The sun was warm and the air was crisp.  I quickly reminisced about the brisk early mornings waking up in my tent in Harpers Ferry.  Nothing beats living in a tent, working on the river, having fun, and getting paid to do it.  I spent most of the morning researching fitness gyms and aerial arts gyms near Harpers Ferry.  I didn’t have much luck but the outfitter I work for has an outdoor aerial adventure park which I can play on.  It’s a good work out (if I sprint it) and I remember last year when a buddy told me to do pull-ups on the gymnastic rings at the end of one of the courses.  I’m going to be strict about conditioning this summer and perhaps get other people to work out with me as well.

I have nothing and everything to lose.

“So it goes.”

I was the child that ran up/down the stairs instead of walked.  I was the child that leaped on couches and climbed atop of counter tops.  I was the child that crawled onto furniture shelves and got stuck.  I was the child that had to have her older brother rescue her from the top of palm trees.  I was the child that effortlessly glided through the monkey bars at the playground.  I embodied the natural skill of climbing and fearlessness of heights at an early age.  Here is a little more background of the physical aspect of my life.  I have been an athlete all my life and activities that I enjoy include (to name a few): field hockey, soccer, rock climbing, surfing, bicycle polo, slacklining, and longboard skateboarding.  In high school, I ran track between the field hockey and soccer seasons to stay fit.  I pole vaulted my senior year and qualified to compete in states twice.  In college, I tried out for the ODU field hockey team but came to the conclusion that I wanted to party my freshman and sophomore years instead.  I ended up joining the rowing club for a year and eventually joined the rock climbing club as well.

It has been five and a half years since I graduated college.  I am a health and physical education teacher now and this is my sixth year at the same school.  I started whitewater raft guiding in Harpers Ferry, WV during my summers off except for one year (2009) when I took a two month road trip around the United States with a buddy.  Unfortunately, this summer will also be a hiatus from the river.  This decision saddens me but it also makes room for the main purpose of my blogging.

A friend and I went to see Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D on January 2nd.  It awed me, for sure.  I have only seen one Cirque du Soleil show and it was the Michael Jackson tribute at the Hampton Coliseum last May.  That shit was amazing!  Needless to say, I signed up for an Introduction to Aerial Arts 90-minute class at Airotique Movement in VA Beach only two days after seeing Worlds Away.  The apparatus I got to play with included: silk/tissu (aerial fabric), static trapeze, aerial rope, Lyra (aerial steel hoop), and the silk hammock.  The aerial bug infested my brain and every cell in my body and perhaps awakened the dead ones.  I signed up for a four-week Lyra track session the following week.

Here we go.  Welcome to my blog.  This blog is a collection of excerpts of my journey to become an aerial and circus performer.  Expect nothing but rawness.

I’m going to take you upside down and spin you round and round.  Hold on to your panties.