Recently a friend pointed out that perhaps I was in the habit of judging things I’d never tried and it surprised the heck out of me! First of all, we were only acquaintances at that point (instantly became friends coz I respect that level of bluntness haha) but it was hard to take the fact that I held opinions about something that I had zero experience with.
But he was right, I did.
And it got me thinking..how often do we say we WANT something, but what we really mean is that we want it under certain circumstances. Our desire comes with conditions. We want it as long as we get it instantly, or in a reasonable timeframe, or it doesn’t cost us too much. And when those specific circumstances don't happen, we end up NOT getting what or where we want. Because that’s not how it works. If you’re waiting for an easy way to get rich, you’ll die waiting. If you want to be fit, so long as it only takes a comfortable amount of effort, money, dedication etc....it won’t happen.
We want Abs or we want to be stronger but we don’t want to learn HOW to get there; we aren’t really WILLING, or else we would already have what we wanted - wouldn’t we?? With the exception of specific knowledge that can only be taught to you if you pay THIS much money, or see THAT trainer or go to THIS University...most of what we want can be found in the DOING. It’s in the effort. The experience of the thing itself, pushing through the ‘usual’ amount of discomfort, following rules that don’t make sense to us yet, submitting - in a way - to that new process and the journey. That’s the only way any real transformation ever happens. The reason why any diet or any type of exercise “works” is because you commit to it and DO it.
We want the results of the effort, not the actual process. And yet that is where true learning happens. In the process. And in the case of fitness, its all about learning what you're capable of. We deceive ourselves (as did I) when we think that wanting something BADLY is a indication of our actual desire to give effort. I’ve wanted to be stronger for years, but I’ve never committed to be(coming) stronger. I’ve gained strength in fits and starts, but mostly due to increases in workload, stress-induced weight loss (yes you can feel stronger by being lighter) and other stuff that wasn’t in my control. In other words, not due to my efforts. And this is what happened to me - I had plateaued and I couldn’t understand why! Because I couldn’t see that I wasn’t WILLING to do the work to get to where I wanted to be.
The outcome, the end product, always comes from EFFORT.
Every time I DO, I learn. Nothing is wasted. I cooked Risotto for the first time last night and I already know what I’ll do better next time (follow the recipe for starters hehehe!). Knowing what your body can take, is a very specific type of self-knowledge, and I think it's important to know that when you start out aiming for fitness, this is one of the first lessons you'll learn. In my case, I had to forget about my self-imposed limits - within safe boundaries of course. Learning not to give up when you fail is the lesson, and the teacher was "Rach trying to get fit". Humans are made for change. MADE for it, NEED it even. We are adaptable, which is what makes fitness a never-ending journey.
So here’s what I learnt from a few workouts with my friend, several on my own and an “Intro to Crossfit" class.
Product (p)review: Aerial Spinning Reference Guide by Aaron Kozloff feat. Angela Prescott PT, DPT, CSCS
The first time Aaron Kozloff and I met we immediately struck up a conversation centred around mutual values of teaching, anatomy and the application of tried and true principles. So when he asked me to review this new work, the physiotherapist and performing artist in me was overjoyed to be reading something not only of scientific value but something practical to apply to our work as aerialists. This in-depth guide is part-drill part-skill based and chock full of gems that come with years of practical experience in this niche industry of ours. Straight up I will say this isn't for the faint hearted, both the theoretical information it covers and the drills, exercises and skills on which the guide is based (two/one and a half/one arm spinning flares into a variety of ending positions including meathook and flag) are high level. However I think that's where its value lies, in giving that middle-to-upper level group of circus artists some real anatomical and biomechanical meat to sink our teeth into. And I don't say that lightly, seeing as there is an abundance of STUFF out there, not all of it good, and not all of it readily applicable. This is a great resource, and personally I found a lot of it very useful to build on my current level of strength and knowledge of the physics of spin.
The inclusion of physiotherapy tips throughout the guide on injury prevention and adequate strengthening are fantastic and an Anatomy Appendix serves to define a lot of the scientific information that grounds the theory of the drills and will please the movement geeks (like me). However the text itself IS lengthy and can be a bit jargonistic so take it slow or do as Aaron suggests - skim read the whole thing and then savour it slowly in bite sized pieces for more detail. My advice, watch the videos and follow along with the pictures and attempt only a few drills/skills each training session.
At first glance the drills seem basic (they always do, in fact they must be because in essence they are a watered down version of the full skill) but I'd never heard the term 'floorial' - which describes a drill or mini-tutorial to practice part or all of the action on the floor - so I spent some time reading through the entire guide and practicing these "floorials". In terms of training the muscular patterning and neurological connections they are great but they mostly give you some muscle memory for the leg action and so don't expect to jump from the floor based drills into the full skill in the air.
Because the guide is specifically addressing spinning strength and technique it is most applicable for straps and split-piece work on silks or hammock. Personally I've learnt more steps to progress towards a reverse flag and one arm flare to meathook and readers will still gain lots of overhead positioning technique for spinning and one-arm skills in general. It certainly hits at a niche for advanced students but I will go as far as to say its a must-read for any teachers who include flares in their spin repertoire and any of these higher level one arm skills. Release date is set for April 6th and right now Aaron is doing a free giveaway challenge on both his Instagram (@circkoz) and Facebook (Aaron Koz) pages! You can also check out their websites: