Silks and Lyra

Published on: Nov 26 2012 by
Silks and Lyra

Ever since finding out my studio offers Lyra (hoop) and Aerial Silks classes I’ve been intrigued.

When I was little we had a finished basement that was our main play area. We were very active kids so our play consisted of acting out the Power Rangers, flipping off of furniture, play fighting and real fighting and having pushup races.

When I was really young and did a brief stint in gymnastics my parents set up a trapeze bar and a set of rings in our basement that were at the perfect height for a five year old. I remember loving swinging upside down, it felt very freeing. Even after outgrowing the bar and rings I was always drawn to the jungle gym at the playground. (And when no one is looking I like to do somersaults on the high bar at the park by my house.)

So upon seeing a routine done on hoop I was immediately brought back to carefree afternoons spent swinging and somersaulting.

Finally the stars aligned and a workshop was offered that fit my schedule.

I went out and bought a pair of bicycle gloves and waited, giddy with excitement to finally lay my hands on that 20lb steel hoop.

Now, the workshop was for both hoop and silks but in my mind I was only going for hoop. For the first year of Ellie’s life I liked to carry her in a Moby wrap. It was easier than dragging a stroller through the snow, I could breastfeed discreetly and Ellie really loved it! But getting her in the wrap? Ugh! The fabric is very long and heavy and requires a complicated wrapping technique. I’m not the only one who has a hard time with them as searching for Moby Wrap Instructions on YouTube yielded videos with half a million views. Even when I got the wrapping technique down I felt very claustrophobic from being enveloped by a long train of fabric. And then there’s having to re-wrap once you get out of the car because somehow your child seems to have gained 10lbs in 10 minutes and the whole thing falls in the dirty slush and ARG!!!

Little Ball of Love

Little Ball of Love

So long story short, the idea of wrapping my body in silks gave me flashbacks. However, I’m not one to write something off without having an honest go at it so I tried my best to move forward with an open mind.

I got to the studio and joined everyone in warming up. The silks were down and we were informed the first half of the class would be spent on silks with the latter devoted to hoop. I reached over and wrapped my hand around the bright red fabric and was pleasantly surprised by how light and stretchy it was. Suddenly changing my mind about silks I immediately wanted to jump in and throw myself upside down. But knowing this would probably give the instructor a heart attack I did my best to resist temptation and settled for simply standing next to them and occasionally running my hands over the silks as we waited for instruction.

Like any class, this one started with a warm-up. And if this wasn’t an indication of what the class would be like then I don’t know what is,

“Ok, so start in your center splits…”

As panic started creeping in I looked over and saw the class drop instantly and effortlessly into perfect splits with perfectly pointed toes. Thankfully there were a couple other girls (and guys) who were silently panicking along with me, but it was then that I started realizing what I was getting myself into.

After a long warm-up and stretching session we got to learning our first knots and inversions. I was expecting it to be painful, but the silks are so soft it was actually relaxing. My partner and I (also a first timer and a pole student) had a lot of fun and both found a lot of the moves similar to that on the pole.

SuperPrincess

This one felt like a princess and a superman. A SuperPrincess!

While it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be (could also be because I didn’t try anything advanced), it was definitely a lot more tiring than I thought it would be. Having to manipulate the unpredictable fabric while at the same time supporting your own body weight is a lot of work. While taking a breather I looked around the room and watched some other students who had tried aerial arts before.

Holy. Cow.

Mid-air splits! Legs being twisted up behind their heads! Upside down splits followed by right side up splits!

I got over feeling jealous over others’ flexibility a long time ago. I know a lot of these girls have a background in dance and have devoted a good chunk of their life to stretching, so how the hell am I supposed to be mad or expect myself to be even in the same league as them?

Flexibility takes time and patience, and that is all.

So instead of feeling bad about myself I sat there in complete awe as these beautiful graceful ballerinas floated like angels in Lululemon.

And then the moment came. Out came the ladders and up went the hoops!

I was trying really hard to not go overboard with my excitement but as soon as the instructor gave the ok it was like a gun went off before a big race and I pounced on that hoop, went into a tuck followed by pike and pulled myself up.

Hoops

This move felt like the Bridge or Crescent

“What next??!!?!?”

Oh, do an upside down straddle split…

Not to be defeated I simply modified some moves. My partner wasn’t into the hoop as much as I was so she stuck to silks while I played around on the hoop (and bossed the poor girl around like my personal paparazzi).

While hoop was as fun as I thought it would be it was by far more painful than I had imagined. For shits and giggles (and because there was a crash mat below me) I went upside down, rested the tops of my feet and toes on the top of the hoop (maybe called a toe hang?) and tried to see if I could get a secure grip.

However, the second I bore weight on my toes I immediately stopped bearing weight on my toes because holy fuck. That hurt. (Putting my shoes on after class felt like I was sliding a cheese grater over my foot.)

Splash

This one felt like the Splash

After all that straddling, pushing, pulling and contortion-ing, I was exhausted. At one point after trying a move I felt so tired I didn’t want to put in the effort it took to get down (because even that is tiring) so I wiggled my way into some sort of position where I was relaxed and laying back inside the hoop. It was then that I felt totally at peace, just straight chilling in a hoop in mid-air.

All in all I have to say that the aerial workshop was not what I had expected. It turns out I love silks as much as hoop but overestimated my ability to perform on either apparatus.

I thought about signing up for a six week course but I think I will use the idea of doing aerial arts as motivation for my flexibility training. What’s the point in pursuing it (and investing money) if I won’t be able to do the basic beginner moves? Aerial arts seem to require a contortionist level of flexibility. Then again, I was able to get into the Ballerina move pain free last night in class. Is that because of the torture I put my back through in the workshop?

While I don’t know for sure, I am sure, however, of the obvious flow between pole, aerial silks and lyra and how mastering all three will make you the best aerial performer you can be.

But the pole will always be closest to my heart. Always where I need her to be, always sturdy and reliable, albeit sometimes cold-shouldered, Pole: you are my number one bitch.

Category: Featured, Fitness

About Lindsay Rogers

I started pole fitness lessons in February 2012 and have been hooked since my first spin. For me there is no greater feeling than finally, FINALLY, mastering that move you swore you would never be strong enough, or flexible enough to do. That sense of accomplishment then stays with you for the rest of the day which gives you that sure-footed gait and aura of "Don't Fuck With Me".

I didn't set out with any particular fitness goals when I started pole fitness. I didn't do it to lose weight, or become flexible, or to even gain muscle (although I love knowing that if my stroller breaks down on the way home from the grocery store I am capable of carrying my toddler and the groceries home in one trip.).  I signed up for classes because I wanted to challenge myself and see how far I could take it.

And then it turned out I had finally found the sport where being 4'11" and 95lbs put me at a huge advantage over everyone else. I've found my "thing". Something I plan to stick with as long as my body will let me.

I am a busy mom, musician and online record store owner but I will always find time for a little pole! Mopping floors? A little lower on my priority list.

Visit Lindsay's Flying Spinner Blog

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2 Comments to “Silks and Lyra”

  1. […] You can now find it over at Pole Freaks […]

  2. Nicole Smith says:

    Great read!

    I’ve done ballet all of my life and I will tell you the first time I did aerial I wanted to die! I had no upper body strength and as a result found that I too found myself twisting into something until my arms could lower me down. But don’t give up on this, it is by far the greatest strength training I have ever endured besides “crossfit” but way more fun and exciting than that. Flexibility does take time. Does your studio offer flexibility classes? If not invest in yoga the deep breathing with the stretches will definitely help you in your aerial arts! Excited to hear when you go back!

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