And Then There Was That Time I Decided To Be an Aerialist

So I somehow came across BAM Academy a while back.  I think it came up in my search for Ninja gyms.  While they don’t do any ninja warrior training that I know of, they do have a huge parkour space, which is where the association probably came from.  In looking up their classes, I found a lot of really neat stuff.  Besides lots of parkour classes, they have tricking classes (I honestly don’t really know what that is), stunt work classes (are you an actor that needs to learn to fake take a punch and fall?), light saber classes (yes, it’s just what you think it is), and aerial classes.


I’ve seen enough America’s Got Talent to have a small understanding of what aerial is, and it always looks like so much fun, so I knew I had to try it.  Life got in the way of me getting up there until Wednesday night.  It was a fairly significant drive, about an hour and 20, but man, did it turn out to be worth it.  I’m hooked!

So when I got there, Reuben got me all signed in.  I had to sign a waiver saying if I broke my neck I wouldn’t sue them (I’ve signed a lot of waivers these past few months, should that make me re-evaluate my activities??).  ‘Aerial’ wasn’t one of the options on the waivers, but he said to circle ‘circus arts’.  Being the dork that I am, I said, “Oh, I always wanted to join the circus!’  His obligatory chuckle immediately told me I was not the first one to make that joke.

I was there a few minutes early, so he showed me inside the gym, and where to wait for class.  It’s a pretty neat place.  They had every shape you could think of, made out of plywood, set up in multiple parkour courses.  For the aerial class, they had 2 silks and what I was calling a hoop.  I have now learned it’s a lyra.

IMG_1364There was a junior high-ish girls’ class finishing up, so I sat and watched.  The teacher, Gigi, came over to say hi and I introduced myself.  She asked if I had taken an aerial class before.  ‘Nope’, I said, ‘first time’.  She asked if I had any experience with any similar disciplines, like dance.  ‘No’, I answered, almost apologetically.  She then asked me if I had done any rock climbling, since that was actually applicable.  ‘I took a rock climbing class once!’.  It didn’t seem to impress her.  Had I thought about it, I would have offered that I had also taken a couple gymnastics classes, but I didn’t think about it at the time.  I couldn’t get a feel for her right away, and I didn’t want her to dread having a total newbie in class.  She didn’t ask if I had happened to have been training for American Ninja Warrior for the past few months, so I didn’t offer that information either.  At the time, I didn’t know that it would be that applicable.  Turns out, it totally was.IMG_1381So there were 3 of us in class.  One of the other girls was probably mid 20’s?  It seemed she had been taking classes a while because she seemed to know Gigi on a personal basis, they chatted a lot using aerial lingo, and she was working on more advanced skills.  And the other lady was actually older than me!  I think this was the first time I have walked into one of these brand new experiences the last few months and not been the oldest.  I was so excited to see gray hair!  She was probably late 40’s or early 50’s?

IMG_1365Anyway, to make a long story not quite so long, Gigi started me out with the basics, and seemed genuinely impressed with how well I was doing.  She told me she couldn’t believe it was my first class, and that I was a natural (she probably tells all the newbies that).  And I overheard her and one of the students comment on how I was able to just hang there on the silks while trying to get my feet situated.  She taught me 2 different climbs (classic and Russian, I think?), a couple of footlocks, I did an inverted tuck hang into a handstand, the superhero pose which is butchered in the picture below, wrist locks, and some other things I’m probably forgetting.  Every time I did a move and she said ‘when you’re more advanced, you can do…’, I immediately had to try it.  I wanted to do that thing where you’re all bound up at the ceiling and then you unwrap yourself and plummet to the ground, stopping only inches from death, but apparently they don’t teach that on night one.  Go figure.

I’ll be honest, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I was able to do, too.  It was all grip strength and upper arm strength.  All the stuff I’ve been working on at home.  Hanging on those silks was just like the towel dead hangs I’ve been practicing.  Had I gone to this class 3 or 4 months ago, I would not have been able to do any of it.  I would probably have had a totally different experience and left feeling very defeated.  So I do think I was probably more capable than the average first-timer, which is a pretty foreign feeling for me.  But I didn’t ever tell her I had been training upper body at home.  I just let her think I was a born aerialist off the street for the first time.

After class was over, I said, “I have a silly question.  Can I do one of the things you taught me in class and will you take my picture?  My kids will think it’s pretty cool.” (Spoiler alert: my kids were totally unimpressed).  She laughed and said that wasn’t actually a silly question, everyone asks.  So we did.

IMG_1370Anyone who reads this that is an actual aerialist is probably shuddering at my form.  But I thought it was pretty cool.  And just a little bit painful.  And it turns out, aerial is more of a ‘thing’ than I thought it was, and she told me about several other places I could go that might actually be a little closer to me.  And a couple of them have a huge variety of circus arts classes to take, including the silks, lyra, trapeze, rope, handstands, hand balancing, flexibility and contortion.  Um yes please, take my money.  Sign me up for all of it!

And then I drove an hour home, with visions of being in Cirque du Soleil someday.IMG_1375




Fun fact:  When you’ve birthed 4 babies, things don’t work the same way they used to.  I thought I had escaped the bladder weakness since I stay dry when I laugh and sneeze.  But there’s one thing I couldn’t have anticipated.  One thing the kegels weren’t strong enough to overcome.

The trampoline.

When I think back to my first private gymnastics lesson, I will remember 2 things.  I will remember walking in to the gym at my lesson time, seeing all the little kids having class, and realizing for the first time that I would be having my lesson in front of all the parents that were there watching their kids.  I would be a middle aged person with stage fright, trying to learn to do a cartwheel in front of a bunch of people.

And I will remember being mortified as I discovered that every time I bounced on the trampoline I peed myself, and not being able to do anything about it.  And that my younger, male teacher had me on the trampoline for what seemed like an eternity.  In front of a bunch of people.

#reallife #momedition #thankfulforalongshirtanddarkpants #canwebedoneyet? #canyouhashtagonablog?

It’s a Weird Thing

When my 69 year old mom was here recently, I was either just about to start taking gymnastics lessons, or had maybe taken one already.  We were sitting on the couch talking about it and she said, ‘I can do a cartwheel’.  So we went out in the backyard and did a couple of (really ugly but successful) cartwheels.  I was so impressed that she was willing and able to do that.

The next day her foot was hurting pretty good and she ended up not being able to walk very well for a couple weeks.  Presumably from doing the cartwheel.  She said something to me that has stayed with me.  She said (paraphrased), “It’s a weird thing to get older.  I can still do all that stuff in my head.  It’s just my body that won’t cooperate.”  My mom was a tomboy and athletic when she was younger, so it was nothing for her to be running, jumping, climbing, and playing ball.

One of the many traits my mom has passed on to me is the overconfidence that we can do anything.  If we see somebody making something neat, we immediately think, ‘I can make that.’  It doesn’t matter how skilled it may be, we just know we could do it too.  Or when we see people doing neat things, like the American Ninja Warrior course (or cartwheels), we just know we could do that, too.  It just never really crosses our mind that not everyone can do everything.

As I’ve been on this training journey, I’ve had many times where I’ve experienced those ‘I can do it in my head, my body just won’t cooperate’ moments.  And it’s made me realize that I am actually getting older.  I may not feel older in my head, and I may roll my eyes when sports announcers talk about an athlete’s age being a factor, but I’m starting to understand the reality.  Things get pulled a little easier, I stay sore a little longer, my flexibility has definitely deteriorated.  I do think that these things can be improved on, but I have to work a little harder, a little longer, to get the results.  It’s a weird thing getting older.  And it’s a weird thing working towards a physical goal for the first time in my life, while getting older.

I remember during this past ANW season, I think it may have been during the Vegas finals, that Akbar was commentating Travis Rosen’s run.  He got to the warped wall, and Akbar said something to the effect of, ‘He’s got to get those 40 year old legs up the wall.’  I’m sure I rolled my eyes.  But there’s something to that.  Getting 40 year old legs up the wall isn’t the same as 20 year old legs.  (Although I’m sure Travis could smear most 20 year old’s with his ability).  But it does make you stop and think.  It’s a weird thing getting older.

Checking In

I figured it was time for a check-in, although I don’t have much to say.  It seems the plague has visited our house, and some combination of the 6 of us have been sick for a solid month.  Just as I thought we were getting to the end of it, it finally got the best of me and now I’m stuck in bed.  This really sucks.

I’ve still been plugging along on my exercise, working on getting stronger.  I’ve been eating well too, except since being sick.  I have zero willpower when I’m sick and got some ice cream to wash down all my medicine.

I had planned to go to Power Park Fitness today, even wrote it on the calendar, until the germs knocked me on my tookus.  This past Wednesday I planned on going to an aerial acrobatics class at BAM Academy but ended up picking up an extra shift at work.  So it seems that life is getting in the way of all my plans right now.  I’m hoping to go out to BAM next Wednesday, and hopefully Power Park soon.  David Yarter runs that place, whom I met at Alpha Warrior a few weeks ago.  And they’re about to open a second location which is much closer to me than the original, so I’m pretty excited about that.

I have had 2 private gymnastics lessons which have been tons of fun.  I’ll write about those soon.  Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures since I didn’t have anyone there with me.  And I’ve been back out to the rock climbing facility once for practice.

I have an exciting/terrifying Ninja-related trip coming up soon, so I’ll give the details on that at some point, too.

NNL and UNAA have come across my radar.  NNL seems to be mostly in the northeast, nothing close to me.  UNAA has a couple close events in the spring that I’m thinking about possibly signing up for.  Anyone know anything about that?  What it’s like?  What to expect?

OCR World Championships are going on this weekend in Canada.  I would love to compete in those someday.  Maybe 2019 will be my goal.  I don’t know, I’ll be a couple years older by then…will they take people that old??