Week 4: Climbing, Tying Knots

Here we are at the end of the first month.

It is only becoming more obvious how thrilling and engrossing this practice is. I am also experiencing the benefits of conditioning. Without those first few weeks of preparing myself, I’m not sure how confident I’d be with my progress as it stands.

After my first Aerial Fundamentals class last Wednesday, I immediately realised I needed more than one class a week to practice. Not only did I want to progress faster, but I wanted to have more to talk about. With little hesitation I packed on a second day into my week.

With Wednesday being largely about theory and getting familiar with trapeze and silks, I didn’t have much time to ‘practice’ more than to simply shake hands with the apparatuses and get more comfortable hanging from them. In fact, there was so much nervousness and awkward positions to get used to that I left feeling discouraged—worried that I would be behind the following class.

This is why adding another day to train was pivotal.

On Sunday, the theory clicked. I could turn it into practice. Instead of fumbling to climb, I could actually climb quite reliably. For the first time, I was able to scale to the top of the silks in what felt like under a minute or so. Although my form was terrible and I ended up burning out my arms, this moment was a gigantic affirmation I needed to feel confident in approaching other steps. Before, I could hardly get several steps up.

Interestingly enough, my hesitation with heights don’t trigger on any of the apparatuses. So concentrated on form, technique, and the actual task, I never really look down nor feel the urge to worry about how high I am going.

Usually, if I so much as imagine heights or look over a tall bridge, my hands get sweaty. It seems more biological than anything.

Hanging from the air 12 feet off the ground, with no logic in sight, utterly fails to produce any anxiety. If any arises, it’s the worry of failing a position and looking foolish in front of the other classmates.

On Wednesday, when we were told to practice climbing, embarrassingly enough, I really didn’t understand it. I mean really. I could get into a standing position on the silk, but inching up it just … wasn’t working for me. Was I freezing up? Coordinating my hands and legs to do it just felt ridiculous.

It’s not enough to throw oneself’s arms on silks and climb them in any manner. There are certain movements which burn more energy and others that, with the correct form, allow it to be more graceful and less tiring.

After plowing through with adrenaline to the top of the silks and rubbing my hands raw on the way down, I learned the hard way how to use my legs and a more careful form to put more of that energy needed to ascend, rather, into my legs and core.

After piecing this together, the only thing stopping me from climbing up and down the silks until the class was exhaustion. That was exciting. When it became less about understanding the movement itself and simply the stamina to pursue it, I was thrilled out of my mind.

Between practices of climbing and a basic position involving a hip crease, we practiced tying foot locks with our feet. (Foot locks are knots made with our feet that provide a stable place to rest one’s full body weight under one’s foot.) After some minutes of sitting down and doing this on the floor, we took it into the air. Even though it was shaky and absurd looking, I was able to achieve it on my first attempt.

The knot allows aerialists to catch their breath. By creating a ‘platform’ with the silks under the bridge of our feet by way of a knot, an aerialist can top using their upper body and tensed legs to keep themselves upright, and can feel as if to stand as normal.

Practicing with my left foot wasn’t so magical and instant.

Human body parts have mirroring sides. This is rather troublesome detail.

That wraps up updates thus far. As I write this, I am getting excited for another class tonight.

Small Update

Recently I have realised how difficult it is to describe these manoeuvres and how they feel and look. Visuals would be a great aid. Coming up soon, I’ll come into possession of a much better camera than the one I have now, so I’ll hopefully be able to squeeze in some videos of me practicing.

Until then!