Aerial Awareness. Or, I Am A Cat

Many moons ago, after my first step off the board, I became addicted to flying trapeze. As my addiction grew, of course, I wanted to learn more and more. And involved in that more and more was flying without safety lines.

In order to reach my goal, there were tests that I needed to pass. Honestly, at the time, it felt like the powers that be were just stalling me for time, but looking back at it now, I know that it was all for good reason. I spent a LOT of time on the trampoline working on those seat drops (easy), swivel hips (easy), back drop (awkward but easy), stomach drop (scorpioned one or two, but got it), a few other moves that include the word drop, and the dreaded back drop to back drop. (Check this site if you want to learn more trampoline stuff.)

What all of this trampolining was teaching me was aerial awareness. Or, in layman’s terms, the ability to know where my body is in the air in relation to the super hard ground. After I finally reached my goal and was given the green light to take my first swing without safety lines, I knew one of the most amazing feelings on earth. There is almost nothing as freeing as sailing through the air, feeling and hearing the wind rush past your face and ears. LOVE! Now add a little flip, twist, or boost into the air and life has gotten even better.

I was able to continue my journey without safety lines for quite some time before that trampoline training actually came into play. You see, I’m a creature of habit and I get distracted when things are outside of the norm. So, on that fateful day, when there were about 5 people on the board rather than our usual 2 or 3, yes, I was distracted.

Let me preface the next part of this story with this: I have issues with pointing my toes. I know 1000% full well how awful flexed feet look in a performance (when it isn’t intentional). I work on it, I really do, but sometimes, my feet just want to be flexed.

I took off the board, throwing my uprise shoot (click to see video…not of me). Distracted. Not thinking of every detail of the trick. Down to my feet. My damnned flexed feet. My damnned flexed feet that caught on the bar and took me from uprise shoot to downward dive in a millisecond. A full trapeze trick from board to catcher and back to the board lasts about about 15 seconds. Practicing that trick to the net about half that time. In that about 8 seconds of trick time, about 1.5 of those are spent going to the net. 1.5 seconds is not a long time. Except if you’re falling head first towards the net. Time slows down when you just might break your neck.

Aerial Awareness training, ACTIVATE! Form of, a trampoline! Shape of, the person practicing on that nice, safe trampoline!

So here’s what’s going through my head in those 1.5 seconds: Tuck? Take it to my back? Tuck? Take it to my back? OSHITHERECOMESTHENETJUSTUCKANDSAVEYOURLIFE!!!! And so I tucked it in and landed nice and safely. I think I scared a person or two. But I made it. All that trampoline work was not for naught. Thank you.

Fast forward twelve years. Geez….twelve years. I’m in the studio and I’m trying a new move. Not odd to be trying a new move. Not smart to be trying a new move when I don’t have an out. When I’m head to the floor. When I don’t have a crash mat. And for whatever reason, however it happened, because I honestly couldn’t tell you, in that split second, I was not on the pole. Not with my hands, not with my legs, or feet, or with anything. And you know what? Aerial awareness training kicked in. I don’t think that I “thought”. I simply reacted. I don’t know how it happened, but with my head barely four feet off the floor, I somehow managed to get my feet to the floor first. I am a cat.

I like keeping all of my parts in their full and working capacities, so I likely won’t be making that mistake again. I hope that if you are on the pole trying something new that you won’t do what I do. That you’ll always know your out. That you’ll always have a spot. That you’ll always have a crash mat. Please. I want you around to hear my next rambling post. 🙂

Circus pain is the BEST pain

I am warning you ahead of time that this post is LENGTHY, even for me.

SCORE!

I finally got to class last night.  Part of the total awesomeness is that they offer a first class for free to everyone.  So, there I am, all ready to do some circus stuff.  I was told that two other people would be coming but that I could start stretching out and stuff since I was already there.  Cool. 

The class started at 6, but in Miami time that means people show up a bit late.  (Although, I tend to be fairly prompt and not run my schedule on CP Time, there are certainly an abundance of folks working on Hispanic time here.)

The owner/instructor (O/I) asked me what I knew and what I wanted to work on.  I told him about what I had previously done and that I really wanted to learn silks.  He nodded and pointed me in the direction of them.

I don't think that he would have moved as quickly with someone with no experience, but hey, I don't know exactly how he runs his gig.  I was okay with it.  He showed me some "basic" stuff like how to wrap my feet in the silks and some turning around trick.  Umm, ouch.  My feet hurt.  I never knew there was silks pain.  But, I think I was putting the silks in the wrong place on my foot (more towards my heel and not in the arch).  I also did some climbing and a little wrap.  Ha, my hands hurt too.  They need to adjust to grabbing the silks.

After we had gone over this stuff, the other two had shown up.  Cutest couple.  Today is her birthday so it was a mini-present for her.  I'm guessing they were in their early 20s, but I'm a horrible judge.  Even as a bartender, if you look like you might not be 30, I'm carding you.  Take it as a compliment.

They did some stretching and then we all did some tumbling work.  I completely love that he has a belt rigged where it is so that my back handspring can be spotted without me worrying about kicking someone in the head.  So, we did front handsprings and front walkovers, then back handsprings and back tucks, then a back handspring, back tuck combo.  Fun, but I ain't going to the Olympics any time soon. 🙂

After floor, we brought out the trampoline.  There are (at least) two types of trampoline beds – beds are the jumpy part.  I'd venture to guess that most people are familiar with this kind:

It gives you a good bounce but you don't have to worry about catching a toe or anything in it.  These are the ones I've mostly used, although I've been fortunate enough to get my hands/feet/butt on one of these bad boys:

That's the super close-up view.  Those beds are like the professional/Olympian ones.  Since there are holes, you get way less drag and you bounce STUPID high!  It can actually be scary, especially if you haven't gotten the stop-bounce down.

Anyways, we got to do back flips and front flips on the trampoline.  It isn't as easy as it sounds to do it and do it properly and safely.  Back in my hayday (sp?), I could do some rocking back flips.  Tucked, piked, laid out, I could do them.  I learned it in like a day in Africa when some folks pestered me until I tried it.  Good times.

After trampoline (thank goodness there were three of us or I would've been wiped out by this point), we moved over to the trapeze.  Let me just say that I am so far out of circus shape that it is totally disgusting.  O/I asked me if I knew a couple of moves and I said that I might but I might know them by different names.  He asked me to do one of my favorite moves, monkey roll to ankle hang, but I just didn't feel ready and I didn't have my ankle protectors on.  I came down and my classmates went up for a while.  I felt right at home jumping in with assisting with explanations as O/I is Russian and sometimes his English doesn't come across very well.  He seemed happy to have the help.

After my classmates came back down, I went back up to try a move while swinging.  As O/I was explaining it, I realized that I knew what he wanted, it had just been a damn long time since I did it.  Not only that, when I first learned it, it took me a long damn time to get it right.  Part of it is that I was used to a longer arc in the swing, therefore having more time to complete moves, and part of it is that I'm just trying to remember.  I don't think this will mean much to you, but I was trying to accomplish a chute half-turn.  In a nutshell, I am balancing myself overtop of the trapeze bar and before I get to the peak of the swing, I shoot myself over the bar (facing the floor) and then do a half-turn so I'm facing the ceiling and catch myself on the bar with my ankles.  Didn't happen.  Not for lack of me trying though.  I had to call it quits because I was tired and getting sore and found out at shower time that I had successfully removed some skin from my hip.  I tried to get a photo, but lucky for you, not so much.

Last on the agenda (at around 7:45 when class was supposed to be an hour and started at 6 – BONUS!), were the stretching and conditioning exercises known as "torture wall".  Flexibility is a big problem for me so I was surprised when I did as well as I did.  Basically, for the first one, you stand against the wall while O/I tries to put your shin on your nose.  Then you have to lower the leg slowly and give it back to him so he can try it again.  Three times on each leg.  Next, you stand sideways and see if O/I can split you in half like a wishbone.  Both legs.  Hey, let's turn and face the torture wall while O/I tries to touch your toe to your head by bringing your leg up behind you.  Mmm, mmm fun.  This is where torture wall turns into torture floor.  So how about you lay on the floor on your back and hold on to the trampoline leg.  Bring your legs up so they make a 90 degree angle with your body and then push against him as he tries to push them to the floor back in a natrual position.  Ten.  Times.  Oww.  Think that's it?  Nope.  O/I now sticks a foot under your side, like where your waist is and get those legs back up in a 90 degree.  Now, push against him as he tries to push your legs down to the side.  And oh yeah, keep your side on his shoe.  Pain.  Last exercise is back extensions.  Lay down on the trampoline on your belly and put the top half of your body out over the edge.  Relax.  Now lift your upper half to parallel with the floor.  Again.  Keep your head up or it doesn't count!  Ten more times.

Well, now that you can barely walk and have to drive a stick shift home, you're done!

All in all a great time.  They want me to come back to work out with some other people they have there.  Two of whom are cheerleaders (guys) at FIU.  They have some performances coming up and think that I'd mesh well with them.  They also want me to learn hoop.

So yeah, those last 7 pounds, those will be gone soon although I think they'll come back in the form of muscle which is okay by me too.  I'm putting the frontal enhancements on permanent hold until I break myself doing circus.  Then when I can't walk anymore, maybe I'll think about it.

In closing, I just want to say that if you can find circus classes in your area, GET TO IT!  You'll get to use cool phrases like "listo", "hep", "kip", and "ready on the board!"

PS.  I had three glucosamine pills for dinner last night and I can still walk.  Three more when I get home along with a hot bath MIGHT ensure that I can walk tomorrow.

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