by Kerri Kresinski
Aerial skills are hard. I mean really hard. First step is to hang from your hands and pull yourself upside down using nothing but your muscles. That’s the first step! Then there is the climbing up 25 feet part. When doing aerial skills, we have to access every single part of our bodies in communication with each other at all times. Because aerial has become so popular and is all over social media, it’s easy to forget just how physically demanding it is. It seems like everyone is doing it.
Social media pressures us to focus our attention on new tricks and sequences for the daily Instagram post. Sure that keeps us on our toes, but can distract us from developing ourselves as athletes and artists. We end up forgetting about the maintenance required for smart training, artistic execution, and injury prevention. In addition, teachers are pressured to constantly show new tricks and sequences to their students, but the students seem to be less interested in understanding the fundamentals of the art form itself.
If we skip our meals and only eat dessert, ultimately we suffer.
Although I always wanted to be an athlete, I was not born with an athlete’s body. I wanted to feel strong and able, like I could run and jump and climb. After many attempts and failures to upgrade my physicality (sports, dancing, running), circus arts finally made me into an athletic machine. I remember the time (around age 32) when I realized I had attained my lifelong dream of feeling fit! I had strength. I had functional muscles. I could climb a 30 foot rope 3 times in a row without resting. It was so empowering and worth all the work it took to get there and all the work it took to maintain it! It was one of the best feelings I have ever felt in my life. So what finally worked after a lifetime of striving and failing to achieve physical fitness?
I learned HOW TO TRAIN. I learned what was necessary to take my body progressively towards my goals, and I did the work.
Patience, Respect and Discipline
Circus school/aerial training is a series of tests, although the mental tests are often more challenging than the physical ones. On my first day of Chinese pole class, my teacher, Master Lu Yi, gave me my first circus test in the form of this question, “How much time do you have?”
My reply, “Um…as long as it… takes?” PASS!
Test #2 was discipline. Each class, Mr. Lu Yi made me ‘monkey’ climb up and down that damn pole over and over for 2 hours. Considering I was the ONLY person in the class, my breaks were pretty short. After about a month of ‘monkey’ climbing, Mr. Lu Yi finally taught me my first tricks, sitting and fish. I had passed the patience, respect and discipline test.
Also thanks to all those ‘monkey’ climbs, I finally did my first overhand pull up followed by a victory lap around the gym!!! Go me!
Life and circus continue to present many tests. I am confident in saying that my commitment and dedication to learning and growing has helped me pass through many a checkpoint. I’m not here to flatter myself with flashy moves, but instead to follow my passion and continue to learn and cultivate the tools to express myself and feel empowered. Whether your goal is to learn recreationally or attain mastery of your craft, I believe the principles of patience, discipline and respect are wonderful guidelines for learning and developing a satisfying practice.
We can ask ourselves this question about aerial…or anything, “Why are we doing this?”
Over the last 15 years, I have coached hundreds of people with different goals different limitations, and different body types. I have cultivated a vast understanding of what it takes to create and maintain a body that is capable of doing aerial and acrobatics.
Now I teach people from all over the world at my intensives in Mexico. People come to learn skills and fill in the gaps. I see how many studios and teachers sacrifice many of the important fundamentals for cheap tricks—because that is what the Instagram generation is demanding. In addition, newer teachers are not always equipped to guide their students into a safe, efficient training regimen, and a lot of important things get left out.
We have to stress the importance of eating our veggies before indulging in dessert!
Let’s ask ourselves, “Why are we rushing?” and remember that we have all the time in the world. Shouldn’t the satisfaction of ‘getting to the top of the rope’ be deeper and more meaningful than the Instagram post of the new trick which we may or may not even remember tomorrow? Let’s slow down and focus on the juicy stuff.
I am on a mission to teach how to deepen the connection between learning and integrating our aerial training with living a more satisfying, fulfilled life. I mean, what are we waiting for?
I teach what is juicy for me, what moves me and makes me excited to be alive, what I have spent my lifetime obsessing over! These juicy parts are actually the 2 sides of the aerial spectrum–One side is functional technique, efficient training, strength and flexibility. The other side is personal expression, creativity, choreography, and musicality. The beginning and the end. Everything you do in between is your business (which I look forward to getting glimpses of from your Instagram posts).
In the meantime…
Here is some food for thought to help you cultivate a more satisfying aerial practice:
Stop rushing, and enjoy the ride! Experience each moment, and appreciate the small steps. Listen to your body, and pay attention to what is really happening. Remember that even the bad days and the setbacks (physical/emotional/lifestyle) are important to your process of learning.
What comes easily often gets left behind. What comes with patience and time can build a foundation from which to grow. -Me
Look for what is being left out, and try to fill in the gaps. Get interested in the details. Do your drills for maintenance, integrity and injury prevention. Take risks, and take care of your body. Look more deeply into each skill you learn to find the juicy parts. Make each moment count and develop an intimate love affair with exploring your craft, your apparatus, and your learning process.
Curiosity and obsession are severely underrated.
Respect yourself, the art form, the technique, the intense work, and discover reverence. Stop comparing yourself to others, and start building a deeper appreciation for every step of YOUR PATH. Give shout outs to your teachers and mentors. Support friends and community. We are a team of special humans with strange gifts. Respect the gifts and respect each other!
Circus is more than just thrills and tricks. Circus is hard work. Circus is magic. Life is magic. YOU are magic.
But HOW do we do it?
How do we integrate ourselves more deeply into what we do? How do we feel more fulfilled in our work, play, our bodies, and our lives through our aerial practice? How do we meet our personal goals?………Read more here.
Please feel free to email me at SweetRetreatsdr@gmail.com with any questions or comments. Live BIG! Love, Kerri