Hi! Below is a copy of an email I sent out two weeks ago to my newsletter. I will post the second worksheet as well. Sign up to get on my list and receive helpful content like this!
Do you ever feel like you're wandering through a maze of possibilities of aerial skills and tricks, and you're not sure which way to turn next? How do you choose what to work on? There are so many skills, tricks, and poses to explore, and that number just multiplies with every apparatus you add to your repertoire.
With so many exciting directions to take, it's not easy to wrap your head around it all. You have many options, but limited time and energy. You have to figure out a way to forge a PATH, or you'll be stuck wandering in the maze forever.
I have had a lot of success with aerial planning. Like a LOT. Without it, I wouldn't have had nearly as many breakthroughs and I wouldn't be as strong as I am now. And I am not the most organized person by nature--it took a lot of discipline to create a system I could rely on.
I wanted to offer you some materials that would help you to reflect on and plan your aerial goals too. I have developed a series of worksheets that will serve as a touchstone for your aerial training.
Each worksheet directs your attention to a different important aspect of your training. While the worksheets provide a great template, I did find that many of my entries needed more space. I took those entries to my aerial notebook (and I have ONE more in stock if you want a place to track your goals and training plans too).
The first worksheet prompts you to reflect on the past year and write down new skills you learned, skills you improved, major breakthroughs, and stuck points/skills you are working on.
Hey aerialist! How are your biceps, core, forearms, shoulders, back, and glutes?
My guess is that they're pretty damn sore! Or at least, if not now, then at least on some kind of regular basis.
Aerial disciplines definitely present opportunities to target every muscle group in many ways, but there are several common positions and actions that repeat themselves a lot, including straddle, hollow body, pulling, and hanging with hands at chest.
My guess is that mooost aerialists are not thanking their hardworking muscles with adequate stretches.
The right yoga class (restorative, yin, gentle) can work wonders on an aerialist's body, but some yoga classes can actually make you more sore. It can be really difficult to find the right yoga class and teacher for you. If you can find a gentle yoga class near you, see if you can get to class on a weekly basis.
In addition, or perhaps instead, do stretches at home. It takes a LOT of discipline to do this, so you may need to find a way to incentivize stretching. Maybe it's when you listen to your favorite podcast? I also have an amazing resource called Fit4Flight, which guides you through these and more counterpoint stretches at the end of aerial-specific workouts. One thing aerialists say they love about Fit4Flight is that it provides an easy-to-follow template for conditioning that can be done anytime and anywhere. The reality is that aerial requires great discipline. Every time you set an intention to care for or develop your body, you strengthen the very mindset that will take you further as an aerialist.
Try the following stretches after training to help soothe your hardworking aerial muscles.
Available Now! First 10 to use code WAKEFULASCENT receive 30% off!
It's not news to anybody that hydration is important. We've all been told more times than we can possibly remember that we should drink more water.
As an athlete you'll want to pay particular attention to hydration. We can't get away with forgetting to drink water--that's no small "oopsy." There are consequences to our health, our training, and even our happiness. After I got 3 migraines in 2 weeks, one of my mentors recommended that I drink 64oz per day for 10 days. I'm on day 4 and life is definitely different this way. I can feel myself functioning better, feeling better, and I'm literally feeling happier. I also pee 10x more than usual but this is a side-effect I'm willing to accept lol.
So instead of just vaguely telling you to drink more water, would you like to join the same challenge? Half a gallon of water aka 64oz per day for 10 days. And here's a tip: to make it easy for myself to keep track, I'm using a giant mason jar to drink out of. It has a measurement mark at 24oz so I drink about 2 and 2/3 of these per day. Turns out I really am this thirsty and it does not feel excessive at all. On some days I even drink more.
Some implications are:
I recommend finding a friend to do the challenge with. My aerial partner Caitlin (@cait.wellwood) and I have both been doing the challenge together and it helps me stay accountable to know that she's putting in the mindfulness too.
As someone who always scores very low on spatial reasoning tests, cries while trying to assemble furniture, struggles to comprehend and learn (floor) dance choreo, has no idea what southeast means, and panic-clicks my way through multiple-choice algebra tests, I assumed I would not be very good at aerial silks, let alone creating new sequences.
However, I've turned out to be highly intuitive in aerial arts, I very strong body awareness, and I am able to design new-to-me pathways rather easily on a regular basis. As a teacher, I can quickly discern tangles and help a student free herself through step-by-step instructions.
I wondered if aerial silks had improved my spatial reasoning, at least according to standard tests. The answer was a b s o l u t e l y n o t. I got an F. 4/10. And I saw it coming because as soon as I looked at the first question I wanted to give up.
How are your spatial reasoning skills? Take the test to find out. I'm curious if most people who find aerial intuitive are good at this kind of spatial reasoning or if it's totally unrelated, so please take a second to fill out the survey at the end of this post! You do not have to indicate aerial intuition if you prefer not to :)
I have been regularly attending aerial silks classes and privates with Sara Kaiser for almost two years, and have found that silks and aerial are the most challenging and rewarding mind-body workout available, as well as a wonderful form of artistic expression. I am in my forties, with some injuries, and have a limited amount of practice time. Although my progress might not be a fast as other students, I am building strength and flexibility, and always feel the “full-body” workout after a silks session. I work carefully at my own pace, and in doing so, I have not experienced any further injury. I trust Sara, who is always patient, willing to explain or demonstrate, and has the experience to teach silks safely. Sticking with Sara and silks, I am getting stronger while continuing to be challenged, and I am happy with my progress. I love the safe space Sara has created in her classes- she is an outstanding and lovely instructor! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Got tingly muscles at night? Or foot cramps that keep cropping up in class? Worse yet, have you ever felt like there was a lacrosse-ball sized lump in your calf as your gastrocnemius seizes?
I've had all of these, and I actually used to get calf and foot cramps in every performance. NOT GOOD!
It's possible that getting more magnesium in your diet could help. Now let me be upfront: I am NOT a nutritionist. This is a synthesis of my own research. Make an appointment with a registered dietician if you want a professional perspective!
Some benefits of the mineral magnesium include:
If you have magnesium deficiency, you might experience some of these symptoms:
Now, of course, anyone can have this magnesium deficiency, aerialist or not. But since we practice intense muscle contraction such as in toe point, we might be a little more concerned than the average person about keeping cramps at bay.
If you want to up your magnesium intake, consider adding more of these magnesium-rich foods to your diet:
1. Squash & pumpkin seeds: 550mg magnesium/100 grams (131% DV)
Perfect timing for the fall and winter! If you are making pumpkin pies from sugar pumpkins, be sure to save the seeds and roast em! They're super yummy :P (Hemp, flax, sesame, and chia are slightly lower but also good sources)
2. Unsweetened cocoa: 499mg magnesium/100 grams (125% DV)
Wow this is amazing news. I recommend adding cacao to a protein smoothie. 85%+ dark chocolate is also a nice way to add in magnesium.
3. Cashews: 292mg/100grams (69% DV)
I'm excited about this because cashews are one of my favorite foods. And I always seem to crave them more right before my moon cycle, which is interesting considering they are hypothesized to calm smooth muscle spasms AKA cramps.
4. Almonds: 270mg magnesium/100 grams (64% DV)
If you think almond butter is expensive, you're right. I recommend buying raw almonds from the bulk aisle (with a reusable bag or jar) and snacking on those or blending them if you have a food processor.
5. Spinach: 87mg magnesium/100 grams (21% DV)
Chard, kale, and collard greens are also good sources. Cook with oil to improve absorption.
You can also supplement magnesium. I use the powdered form but you can also get it in pill form. I put a teaspoon in a glass of water and drink it for bed when I ramp up my training such as before a performance.
Next time you get a cramp, ask yourself: do any of these listed foods sound appealing? If they do, maybe that's something your body needs.
Only a few left!
Lined notebook with original aerial art by Amberlie Evelina Kaiser.
Track your goals, ideas, or simply use for school, work, or your to-do lists!
Free shipping within the U.S.
Amberlie Evelina Kaiser Model: Caitlin Wellwood Photographer: Sara Kaiser Aerialist art:
I am so pleased to be offering this original item! The final product was a collaboration between my aerial partner Caitlin Wellwood (the model!), my sister Amberlie Evelina Kaiser (the artist), and myself (the photographer).
To win a notebook, follow @wakefulascentaerial and @sara.liana.silks & join my newsletter if you haven't yet! On November 4th I will be announcing the winner.
As some of you know, I try to avoid creating waste as much as possible. I will mail out orders in a recyclable envelope!
Designating your level helps me to send you relevant content! E.g., if you say you are advanced, I will not send you a mini-workshop on how to basic climb, or if you say you are a beginner, I will not send you the ultimate guide to angel roll-ups (hypothetical, I haven't actually written that).
Happy Muscle Monday! Today's exercise targets glute and hamstring strength and isolation at the same time that it develops hamstring active flexibility. It also trains knee extension and toe point, two of the most important factors for beautiful lines. We call this "hip extension" when the muscles along the back of the leg and booty pull the leg backward. One example of translation to aerial: we perform this action for a straight-leg hip key! We also use this strength to scissor our legs when we need to lock in a hip key or thigh hitch.
What I also like about this drill is that your chest and shoulders are working to stabilize the position. This is great because it prepares the upper body for apparatus work AND it's great because even you're basically getting many beautiful birds with one stone.
So here's how you do it!
To see the drill and a new exercise every Monday, follow @wakefulascentaerial
Don't worry, even though I'm an ex-swim coach, I'm not going to tell you to swim laps (I certainly have no plans for the back-and-forth...I've done enough of that). Today's Self Care Sunday is about playful movement.
Note: If you have not had instruction in how to swim, use your judgment. You can still play in the shallow end with a friend and a lifeguard present.
Depending on the way you approach it, aerial can be a very playful activity. But chances are you also have goals that you're working toward. If you ever find yourself getting caught up in the goals and the drills and losing sight of the playfulness of aerial, you're not the only one! Our culture encourages and rewards progress and improvement. There's nothing wrong with that, but if we limited ourselves to only these aspects of aerial we would be depriving ourselves of one of its greatest gifts.
So why swimming? Like our medium of air, water allows us to perform a great variety of movements. You can go upside down, somersault without touching the ground, extend your body, twist, and bend in any direction. But here's the kicker: in aerial, you are only touched by your apparatus, or a partner if you are working on duo+ acts. When you swim, you are touched everywhere at all times by water.
I know I know. You're all, What are you getting at Sara?
What makes water interesting is that you can perform all the types of actions you normally do in aerial, but with additional stimulation that you don't normally receive. This can help you to move awareness more thoroughly into your body and observe familiar movement through a different lens. This is a key method for body awareness breakthrough.
Plus, water lends itself to play. You can do flips, handstands, and twirls--and all without the risk of falling. You can stretch your whole body in any direction, moving freely, structured only by your body and perhaps also by the pool floor or walls.
Playful movement can reconnect us with the happiness that is always resting somewhere inside the soul. It can break us out of overly rigid training patterns and help us remember spontaneous, creative, and joyful movement.
Water can promote a relaxation of mind and body, which opens doors for new ways of perceiving yourself and the world around you. Don't believe me? Try gathering a bundle of noodles and placing them under your knees, back, and neck and begin to f l o a t with no effort whatsoever. It's a beautiful sensation.
Finally, unless you are an aerialist AND a competitive swimmer, water movement does not contain the pressures you might find in aerial training. You don't have progress goals or role models you want to live up to. You're just moving for the sake of movement.
Anyway, I've found water to be transformational, but keep in mind I'm a Pisces! What do you think? Have you ever found water to be a therapeutic medium?