Tag Archives: rope

‘Pain Is Weakness Leaving The Body’ – An Aerialist

27 Jan

Painful-Face

Circo-Masochism

How Much Pain Is Too Much?

Written by Laura Witwer (http://www.laurawitwer.com)

A really great question: how much pain is too much? For those of us who fold ourselves in half backwards or hang by one toe for a living, this is definitely a gray area (one of 50 shades of gray, perhaps?). So, how do you tell the difference between “pinchy pain” and “oh-my-gosh-my-ankle-is-being-separated-from-my-body” pain? How much of a masochist do you have to be to succeed in circus?

Pinchy Pain – Circus Hurts

Pinchy Pain is the sensation that accompanies most of the cool stuff in circus – single ankle hangs, toe hangs on trapeze, wrapping your leg around your head four times, etc. It can be intense, but beyond a little bruise or “apparatus hickey”, you shouldn’t be doing significant damage to your body. How do you get past it so you can smile at the audience instead of grimace?

  • as you’re transitioning into the pinchy part, BREATHE. It doesn’t get better if you hold your breath, because now you’re suffocating AND getting a bruise. Let’s not compound our pain.
  • understand that there’s a point at which the pain doesn’t get any worse, when it becomes tolerable. When you hit that level, lean into it.  (**a note for the ladies: your experience of pain intensity will vary week by week during your cycle, so something that feels Too Painful one week may be much more manageable the next)
  • RESPECT YOUR LIMITS AND INSIST THAT YOUR COACH RESPECT THEM AS WELL. I cannot overstate this. It’s your body, and if it breaks, you’re the one who has to live in it. So if your coach is pushing too much, you can say something along the lines of, “Wow – that’s intense! I’m going to work up to that!” Then back off to a level you’re comfortable (well, slightly uncomfortable) with.

Eventually, that toe hang that felt like it was severing an artery doesn’t hurt anymore, and you can move on to the next thing. Your coach will likely warn you if something’s gonna hurt, so check with him or her if something is super ouchie and you’re not sure it should be. Circus hurts, but it doesn’t hurt forever.

Damaging Pain – You Didn’t Need That Kidney, Did You?

Damaging Pain is exactly what it sounds like – pain that is warning you of significant damage to your body (sprains, strains, tears, serious bruising, breaks, bad burns, tendonitis, etc).  Pain is your body’s way of setting boundaries; it’s kind of like your body’s “safe word” – there’s a warning, then there’s the no-go zone.  It goes without saying that you want to avoid Damaging Pain whenever possible – you don’t get a gold star for injuring yourself. A little bruise or callous rip is one thing, chronic tendonitis or bruised kidneys is something very different. It can take some time to discover exactly what those boundaries are for you, so until you’ve got a good sense of it, play it safer.

  • You can feel sore in the days after a class (especially early on), but you don’t want to feel broken
  • Beware of burning, grinding, sharp, or tearing pain
  • When in doubt, BACK OFF. If you take one thing from this post, let it be that.

At the end of the day, you’ve got to find that sweet spot between pushing your boundaries so you can grow, and taking care of the only body you have. You have to KNOW your body, and circus is an amazing place to learn that. Be safe, and I’ll see you in the air!

Love and pull-ups, Laura.

 
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Rope me in!

30 Nov

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I’ve been training on the trapeze and lyra for a few years now but keen for a change and a challenge I decided to dip a very cautious toe into the world of rope/corde lisse.

I’ve always been in awe of people who train on the rope because let’s face it, it looks terrifyingly hard. Not only does it require brute strength it also requires a high tolerance for pain as the texture of the rope gifts you with all manners of burns, tears and bruises. This is before we even add in all the scary hands free drops. It’s definitely the preserve of the tough skinned kamikaze daredevil…

When I was at school, I can remember the evil sports teacher/crone Miss Miller asking us (A bunch of 11 year olds) to climb a rope without actually teaching us how to do it – an interesting teaching methodology. As you can imagine her method wasn’t a great success.

So it wasn’t until I started taking trapeze classes that I was reintroduced to the dreaded rope where it was used as part of our strength and flexibility building conditioning exercises. I was taught for the very first time how to climb a rope and boy was it hard work trying to haul my tired body upwards whilst holding on with weak kitten arms and a death grip in a desperate attempt to avoid falling off and dying. How I hated my climbing…

But then a strange thing happened. I got stronger and started to look forward to the rope!! Don’t get me wrong, it never got easier, mainly because of the amount of times we had to climb the rope in one class, but I started to actually enjoy it!

So this formed part of my decision making process to push myself by taking rope classes. I also thought that it would mean that I could feel more confident doing work on the trapeze ropes – use all parts of the equipment.

So far the classes have been tough and I have an assortment of rope ‘artwork’ across my body to prove it – particularly the bruise over my right hip which will not go…. I came to rope with pretty limited skills like catchers, hip lock, foot locks, knee drops, girl rests in rope and that’s pretty much it. I’m now being introduced to straddle climbs, hip lock climbs, scissor climbs, salto drops, the propellor and many more…

It’s early days yet and I am frustrated feeling limited in what I currently can/can’t do and I’m trying to overcome my fear – due to two falls in my first class – but I’m getting there and I’m getting stronger so watch this space. I’m won’t say that I love my classes just yet but I’m hanging on in there…. Literally!

Queen of the Circus

24 Jul

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Hello my name is Xylia and I’m a circus addict. Well more of an aerial performing addict…

I came to circus by chance. I was part of a dance troupe and was also an avid vertical dance student but I was looking for other skills to add to my repertoire. I heard about circus introduction days that were taking place at a London circus school and I signed up. I tried a variety of different circus skills including the flying trapeze, juggling, stilt walking, acrobalance and tightrope walking but fell in love with the static trapeze – straight away. I put my name on a waiting list and it took a year for me to be be given a place but I have to say that it was really worth the wait. I fell in love instantly.

Some 3 years later and I’m still hung up on circus, fitting in classes around my full-time work. Although my main practice is in static trapeze I have also taken classes in cerceau, corde lisse, silk sling and the swinging trapeze at schools across London which include, The Circus Space, Aircraft Circus (The Hangar), My Aerial Home and Gorilla Circus. I’m not a professional aerialist, I’ve never performed – although I plan to in a low key way very soon – and I feel as if I still have more to learn so that I become better but I’m up for the challenge.

Through my blog I hope to share various tips, history and my expansive love for all things aerial, for all things circus. Maybe I can even tempt a few of you over to the other side with me – the circus side…. See you there!

Photo credit: “Circus Alphabet”, Whitman Tell-A-Tale Book, 1954. Illustrations by Patric Hudson