I have a lot to say about aerial silk classes because I love the craft, and I have been to many classes–both good and bad.
I have also experienced some injuries to know well enough how to avoid them the next time. This is perhaps the reason why I have grown to become a total bitch about judging the quality of instructions that I get from the classes that I sign up for.
The reason? I don’t want get bruised, fractured, burned, or sprained/strained at the end of every class.
Aerial silk, after all, is a dangerous activity. Its risks increase when there is no professional instruction at command.
Earlier this year, while I was in Manila, I attended an aerial class in XYZ.
Based on their Facebook, which features photos of their awards and achievements, I am led to think that their instructors experts.
True! They’re highly proficiently in performing.
However, teaching 101s is an entirely different discipline.
I wasn’t exactly given a warm welcome by instructor 123 (not a real name, duh) when I arrived. First impressions matter! Especially when I had to walk some blocks to get to the studio. At least diba like make me feel welcomed and all. Tell me where the changing area is and blah blah. 123 was leading the class that afternoon and we’ve long been acquainted in Facebook because I like the Idea of adding aerialists in my network.
I expected some good instruction from the award-winning studio. However, 123’s teaching proficiency could only go as far.
123’s warmup and stretching sequence has a lot to improve on. Kulang ng description. It was the “look at me and follow me” kind of warmup. No biggie. Baka tired lang talaga si 123. I didn’t feel “warmed” enough before the actual climbing started. Ugh. I also wished that more time was dedicated to conditioning and strengthening before practicing tricks.
Sometime in the middle of the class, while we were doing ankle hang inversions, I asked which muscles should I strengthen to hold the wrap in the right form (the fabric binds the ankles; these hold the entire body weight). The instructor nonchalantly replied that I should just get in and out of the pose repeatedly until I get used to the pain.
Hala! Red flag!
I don’t find that answer satisfactory. Explain more, 123, please!
Or ako na lang mag explain?
Ankle hangs require strong calves–especially the tibialis. I wish I were told to do reverse calf raises. But parang kebs si koya about that. These things matter!
I put up with the teaching methods the entire time. I wasn’t going to push myself or do something new anyway. I don’t want injuries.
123 taught me a sequence with little verbal description. It was another “I’ll show you, follow me” kind of instruction.
Like, ganito, and then ganito, point your toes, ganito and then unwrap” kind of instruction. Who likes to hear that crap?
What flipped my switch is how stinky the fabrics are. It has a strong musk that’s just repulsive. It made climbs and hangs more difficult for me because then I had to hold my fucking breath.
Amoy vinegar the fabrics. Ew.
The studio stays true to their branding that alludes to strength and the state of being feral. Pati amoy ng fabric, strong and feral din.
I think that teaching aerial classes requires high levels of communication skills and expert proficiency in the craft and the science behind it.
Based on my experiences with the aerial classes that I’ve attended so far, only three instructors have set the bar high. I’ll write about them in another blog post.
Unfortunately, 123 of XYZ studio isn’t one of them.
Throughout the entire class, I never heard him say the most important aerial class reminder ever: engage your shoulders.
My classmates, who were beginners were hanging with relaxed shoulders. Not a good habit to develop, says every aerialist in the universe.
My limited experience with XYZ reinforced the idea that students have to have some aerial background from Google, at least, before signing up for their first class ever. Read Laura Witwer, Rebekah Leach, or Jill Franklin.
Maybe I also came in the wrong day, in the wrong class, with the wrong instructor. Maybe 123 was just being lazy that day and couldn’t give great instruction. I understand. I’ll sign up for another class next time. Maybe.