“Bad habits are easier to prevent than to break. “ – Benjamin Franklin
When doing aerial classes, chances are you will hear a nagging voice from somewhere in the room reminding you to straighten your legs, point your toes or to keep your hips square. It might seem like an annoying little detail that you want to ignore while you concentrate on what movement comes next because who cares how you look in training, right?
Well, yes and no. Sure, during training, aesthetics are less of an issue and you might want to concentrate on not falling off your apparatus first, but unfortunately bad habits are hard to break. Pointing your feet is just as much part of the trick as every other movement. Have you ever watched an act where someone didn’t keep their toes pointes? It breaks the line and all of the sudden you can see is feet despite the performer doing fabulous tricks. Most people find it hard to point their feet when they first start doing aerial acrobatics but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. And do it, right from the start. Get someone to remind you whenever you forget and try to think about your feet whatever you do. Eventually it will become second nature to you and you will start to point your toes automatically. But it’s more than just a habit. Few people are born with ‘ballet feet’ and you need to make time to stretch them just as any other part of your body.
Same goes for straightening your legs. Most people are able to passively move their legs in the right position but struggle to hold them there. To stop your knees from sticking out, you need to routinely do leg straightening exercise to strengthen the muscles responsible for the movement. If you don’t have full range, talk to someone who is experienced with that kind of thing to assess the problem and help you improve your lines without damaging your knees.
Keeping your hips square can be tough. When you are upside down you suddenly no longer know what’s left and right and how to move your leg into the right position. I can be really helpful to get someone to adjust your position so you know where to move your leg. If you don’t have anyone who can help you with that, you can video yourself but it might take a few tries to get the right spot. Once you found it, repeat it at least three times so your body remembers the position.
Moral of the story is, most of the movements required in aerial arts are not natural and thus take a lot of work to achieve. The good news is though that hard work pays off and you will see improvement if you strengthen, stretch and practise regularly. Just make sure you ask for advise from experts so you do it safely.