We all have one of those gold nuggets of advice when it comes to aerial arts. I interviewed over 20 aerialists to find out what their best pieces of advice are.
Get in touch with what you love about what you do. Aerial can easily seduce you into an achievement mindset, which can blind you to all the other gifts it has to offer. Make time for play, flow, and exploration. Don’t overwork yourself, and do not base anything off of how you compare to someone else. If there were no social media, no competitions, no performances, what would keep you interested in aerial? Connect with that and you will find the energy source you need to really blossom in your discipline. – Sara Liana
“Learn the technique and movements slow and controlled before adding speed Even if you can’t do the full motion of the trick you will develop the muscles and proper engagement much faster than throwing yourself into the trick” – Ben Girvin
“.if you’re serious about achieving a high skill level and want to progress faster write down everything! One of the biggest barriers to your progress is your memory. Make notes either in or after classes if you’re serious about getting good and want to get better faster, I wouldn’t be where I am without the notebooks I took (and still take) to every class. The other biggest barrier I see is strength so I would say do your pull-ups homework” – Rosella Elphinstone
“Have a working relationship with failure. You might miss a new trick dozens of times before you do it correctly, and you’ll practice it 100 more times before it looks seamless. You might forget your choreography during a performance, or mess up a skill in front of your students – learn from it, and give yourself permission to own your failures with grace, and translate them into growth. ” – Mackenzie Prather
Below is Mackenzie in action!
Compare yourself to when you first started, nothing else. Look to others only for inspiration. – Shannon Siebel
People are strong in different ways just because you don’t have it yet doesn’t mean you can’t get it…work hard and you’ll see that hard work really paid off. – Nuri Reyes
You’re never too good to revisit the basics! They’re the foundation for everything you’ll do in aerial arts so don’t dismiss them. – Artemis Jade
Learn about anatomy and how it functions in relation to aerial, specifically the rotator cuffs. Your shoulders include some of the most important muscles for executing aerial moves. There is a big difference between focusing on the arm muscles and getting to really know the rotator cuff. Understanding the functionality of how the SITS muscles relate to aerial will change your relationship with your body and help maintain the longevity of your body. – Madamn Burnz
Don’t take warming up for granted. It’s so important to talk to your body, health, and safety. It’ll keep you going the longest – Artemis Jade
Aerial Yoga Tips
It’s okay to trust the fabric to hold you. Feel yourself sink into the fabric a bit and allow yourself to be in the moment but noticing how much lighter you feel the more you give away to it. I always encourage you to surrender, not only expectations but also surrender the fear you have. As long as you have a grip on the fabric somewhere, then you’re totally supported! – Natalie Brown
Aerial Hoop Tips
“The way you grab the hoop will be imperative on how long you can train for. Many students grab the hoop with the top pads of their hand compressed against the lower finger. This creates unnecessary pain and discomfort in the fleshy pads. To correct this when gripping the Lyra ensure that you bring your hand fractionally higher than the bar of the hoop. Ensure that you grip with your fingers only and the pads below the fingers are on the other side of the bar.” – Vanessa Barthelmes
I always carry a pair of socks and leg warmers in my aerial bag. When you go to class and you suddenly start training foot hangs you will need them! – Vanessa Barthelmes
You will eventually fall in love with your bruises and wear them as trophies. Fluid, on the other hand, can prevent you from training in those areas of the body. Always have some arnica gel in your medicine cabinet to reduce fluid and bruising. – Vanessa Barthelmes
Aerial Training Tips
What assisted me most in my aerial training was having a targeted strength-based training program, that I complete 2 to 3 times per week. This has helped me to build and maintain strength in my entire body, but particularly in my upper body. Without strength training, my aerial progress would have been much slower. – Emma Hall
Learn how to access your lowest abdominal muscles and keep your back stable by using a post lateral breath. The transverse abdominal is a big rubber band muscle that sits underneath the rectus & obliques. By breathing in through the nose and out of a wide mouth, one is able to engage their abs using the natural power of the breath. I highly recommend learning this Pilates-based skill because it will protect the body in the long term. – Madamn Burnz
Go deep into fundamentals. Drill hip keys and inversions on both sides on a regular basis no matter how good you are. Incorporate technique training into your floor warmup–knee extension, toe point, core activation for a hollow body. Consistently incorporate at least one skill you can’t do into your training and do as much of it as you can, or work a progression or modification. Make time for stretching, foam rolling, and rest, periodically taking 4-10 consecutive rest days. – Sara Liana
“Do come to class on a regular basis to build your strength (at least 1-2x a week) Do not try to learn off the internet without your trained instructor there Do not rig from trees Invest in leotards or bodysuits for the class to avoid silk burn on your sides!” – Karlene Marie Founder of KamaFitTV.com
Whatever your aerial goals are, be sure to work mobility and strength equally to minimize your chance of injury. – Jessica John
“As a student who started at age 37 with no dance or gymnastics background, the best advice I can give is to stick with it! At first, your body will feel overwhelmed using all those muscles you’ve never used before. Things will seem impossible. But you will get better! And your body will amaze you. Things that used to seem completely out of my reach are basic moves to me now. – Erin Meyers
“Cross-training is KEY! Pilates is my favorite, as well as HIIT circuits (more videos for this on KamaFitTV .com ) The bruises do go away and the pinching does get better! Your body will toughen up.” – Karlene Marie of KamaFitTV.com
“Get more out of your shoulders by keeping your rotator cuff activated when you train. You need to train the muscles in the way you are using them. So, try activities that make your rotator cuff work throughout your range and in your skills. Place a resistance band around your wrists and gently press outward and you can increase the recruitment of your rotator cuff muscles. This stabilizes your shoulder joint allowing you to more effectively work the larger muscles around the shoulder in a stretch or even in a handstand.” – Dr. Emily Scherb
Listen to your body, and to your instructors. Be safe, but push yourself. Keep practicing those moves that seem unattainable, and you will get them eventually.” – Erin Meyers
“In a GOOD CIRCUS CORE engagement, the abdominals shorten bringing ribs down, narrowing your waist, and tucking your pelvis. AND your pelvic floor muscles contract to support from below.” Dr. Emily Scherb
Aerial Arts Instruction
It turns out, we humans learn faster and have more success when we let our unconscious processes take control and have greater accuracy with less effort. Dr. Emily Scherb
While these cues require a bit more creativity, the benefits are clear. So, have your students “squeeze a pencil between their butt cheeks,” “shove a sword through the patriarchy,” or “shoot lasers from their toes” and they will have great success!” Dr. Emily Scherb
“Never underestimate the power of professional attire. We are artists. We may prefer to live in pink and purple glitter, but tone it down when you go in to negotiate a deal. Many clients will not understand what we do or how we do it, and will expect to deal with someone they can relate to when closing a gig.” – Corey Ann
One of the great aspects of aerial arts is that when you increase your flexibility you increase the dramatic effect of the move.
While flexibility is a long term game you should be training flexibility at least three times a week. Contortionist Laura Proud tells us how she increased her flexibility and gives actionable stretches to start today.
If you are looking to explore what poses you want to aim for then check out my post on Contortion and How To Do The Poses. You will be surprised how many you can achieve or are not too far from.
Which was your favorite piece of advice on aerial arts? Have some advice to share, drop it in the comments below and I will update the list!
In happiness and health,
- Weak Ankles? Try These 5 Ankle Theraband Exercises for Ankle Strength and Mobility.
- Happy Hip Flexors
- Shoulders & Thoracic Opening & Strengthening
- Professional Dancer Sophia Noel ソフィアノエル
- Professional Contortionist & Aerial Silks Performer Adina Taylor
Get strong and flexible with my online flexibility classes and coaching.