Forget about the new skinny or the new sexy. Strong is the new strong. Actually it's not even new. It's also probably the most disappointing answer to the most commonly asked questions I get in class. No one wants to hear they're simply not strong enough, yet....
It's the same thing we've known for years. Strength underpins everything. Note: I'm not talking about conditioning. Strengthening is based on gains, an increase in capacity, in order to lift, or lower or hold. Conditioning is maintenance, restoring balance and making sure joints, ligaments and tendons are protected against the strain of vertical toil.
My students ask..
How do make I it look better? Strength.
How do I invert when I'm spinning so fast? Strength.
How do I control the exit properly? You guessed it, strength.
Sorry to burst your bubble, you may not wanna work on strength, but you have to.
Oh so you just wanna be creative? You're gonna need strength for that. If you want to be inventive and find positions nobody's ever stumbled upon before how do you imagine your body is just magically going to be prepared to control and hold those positions?
Strength moves aren't your thing? You're just flexible? You're gonna need strength for that too, unless you wanna have hip surgery at 40.
You don't wanna get big? Ok, you let me know when your muscles start busting through your shirts and I'll let you get out of strengthening ;-)
The benefits of strengthening may be obvious and well documented but we seem to have trouble applying this knowledge. Strength helps you make the best of your flexibility, it improves execution, it helps you train control which in turn lends itself to creativity and invention and it conditions your body for the inevitable wear and tear of this wonderful monkey business we call aerial.
So why do we neglect strengthening? In short, we get bored. We don't see the point, we need something to show for our efforts straight away and learning a trick is so much more tempting because it's a much easier way to asses our gains. But eventually, the cracks in your armour will show, your improvement will plateau and the discontentment sets in.
Which is why I strengthen seasonally. That way I get a chance to enjoy my skills, create routines, play with presentation - because I know the time for drills is coming. For me, winter is for strengthening, it's a time when performance work is quiet so I'm in the studio more and I get to focus on leveling up with the goal of emerging in Spring, a better version of myself. Let me encourage you to do the same - it's a great process. Pick a skill you're not strong enough for and set yourself the goal of being able to achieve it in 3 months. When you break it down into small, achievable steps and work towards it steadily you'll be amazed at what you can achieve!! Happy Strengthening!