Things to know before your first aerial straps class

I attended my first ever straps workshop during Maactober 2019 and I can safely say I was completely blown away with the discipline. Even though it does require a certain degree of strength, I would encourage anyone who is interested to give it a try regardless of previous experience.

We can all agree that aerial straps is not only super cool but incredible to watch. If you’re thinking of joining the aerial revolution and learning to perform on straps, then here are a few things you should know before your first class.

Long sleeves and wrist wraps

As straps are predominately wrapped around your wrists, you’ll want to have a layer of protection between the nylon and your skin. Tubular bandages are the number one choice for aerialists. They’re super cheap and can be picked up from most chemists or supermarkets. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have long sleeves on as well.

Sore hands

Even though your wrists will take most of the tension, your hands may still end up being sore due to ‘beginners death grip’ on the straps. The nylon material can be pretty hard on your hands until you learn to trust your wrap.

Top tip – If your hands continue to hurt, try extending your tubular bandage to your knuckles with a hole cut out for your thumb. This will protect your palm and ease the pain.

Tell your instructor if you have any injuries

This may be a given but its good practice to always inform your instructor of any injuries you have. If they’re aware, then moves and exercises can be modified so you can still take part and train safely.

I was training while recovering from a sprained wrist so please listen to your body and if it hurts, STOP!

Lats not biceps

Aerial straps is mostly trained using straight arms so that means no biceps! As I found out, the lats and shoulders need do all the upper body work which makes transitions and shapes flow more seamlessly so this is a challenge in itself.

Bonus… if you keep at it, your back will look amazing!

Leave your ego at home

Even though straps requires strength and (some) flexibility, this doesn’t mean you’ll be expected to preform a perfect flare or touch the floor with your toes during skin the cat.

Working hard to achieve your goals without comparing yourself to others is more beneficial than giving up straight away because you can’t nail a flawless meat hook on your first try.

And finally… just have fun

As the old saying goes – “Work hard and play hard” sums up most aerial disciplines perfectly. Enjoying your class while learning new skills, meeting new people and being the best version of yourself when training will help you develop your skills.

If you want to find out more about straps, send me a message or leave me a comment.

How to tape up an aerial hoop

Training on a “naked” hoop can be tough if you’re wearing leggings as the lack of skin contact makes holding on near impossible. Many aerialist tape up their hoops to improve grip, prevent skin chafing and to add a bit of colour.

What’s the correct way to tape up my hoop?

One way is to tape all the way around then add an extra layer of tape on the bottom third. However, not only will this increase the chance of the tape being unstuck and coming off but it’s also a waste of tape.

Alternatively, you can tape from the bottom up on side to the top then repeat on the other side which seems to be a bit of a time waster as well as again, there’s a chance the tape will roll and unravel after a while.

The best way I’ve found it to just start at the top, wrapping with a third of the tape overlapping and voila – a lovely dressed up hoop with minimal effort.

What will I need?

Your aerial hoop, a couple of roll of sports tape, some chalk and patience. That’t it!

What tape do I use for wrapping my hoop?

Most aerialists will use cotton based athletic tape with Mueller M-Tape being the popular choice. It comes in a wide range of colours so there is not limitations to how creative you can get. 

There are many other tapes available on the market so try different brands until you find the best one for you.

How long will it take?

It only takes me 15 minutes from beginning to end. I find the best way is to sit on the floor so I can rest the hoop on my knees and move it around easily.

Having a nice clear space and everything you need in arms reach makes the whole process quick and efficient.

How many rolls of tape will I need?

I used two rolls which are 9m each. This is enough for a 95cm hoop with a little left over for patching up wear and tear.

How do I get rid of the stickiness?

Every aerialist will know that new tape will make your hands sticky and the annoyance of the tape sticking to your clothes. However, you don’t need to buy anything fancy or expensive to prevent this. 

After consistent use, the tackiness will subside but if you want an instant fix then a light dusting of climbing chalk is the easiest solution. Don’t have any chalk? – then use some talc instead then brush off any excess. Easy peasy!

Do I need to buy ‘Pre-prep spray’?

The answer is no. It’s just a quick sale for most companies and is a completely unnecessary spray. The tape is plenty sticky without any added help.

Do I need to clean my hoop before re taping?

Not really but if you want to you can. Who am I to tell you how to live your life.

Finally…

Let your creativity go wild and wrap that hoop in the way that it makes you happy. After a few re-wrappings you’ll find your flow and what techniques work for you.

Beginner aerial hoop moves

Aerial hoop is an extremely dynamic sport and requires a lot of concentration as well as strength and flexibility. As a beginner is can be easy to get carried away with what you want to try after watching Instagram videos.

It’s important to build a solid foundation when training aerial hoop so before you start wanting to try the advanced moves, you’ll need to learn the basics first.

During your first few months of training, you’ll master the basics so check some of them out below:

Man in the moon

Use your top hand to help you balance while pushing through your feet. Try to keep the hoop parallel to your spine for good balance. If you’re feeling brave you can let go.

Star on the bar

Use your glutes to create a shelf on the bottom bar and use your hands to steady yourself until you’re secure enough to let go.

Walking man

Squeeze your thighs and keep your hips square. This will hold you in place allowing you to release your hands. If you fancy a challenge, try pointing those toes.

Pike seat

Make sure your shoulders and core are engaged to provide stability and squeeze your legs together for additional support.

Single leg cradle

Engage your shoulders and squeeze your thighs you lock you in place. Try to keep the hoop parallel to your spine for good balance.

Mermaid

Engaged shoulders and flexed feet will hold you in place and make you look more mermaidy!

French gazelle

Hooking your heel will add security to go hands free. Try bending your back leg for a gazelle variation.

Arabesque

Make sure the hoop sits high up on your thigh and not your knee or this will be painful.

Hock hang

Ensure your hands hold the top bar equal distance apart to maintain your balance. If you don’t you’ll just wobble everywhere.

Happy hooping!

How aerial hoop can help get you the body you’ve always wanted

I’ll be the first to admit that my lifestyle used to be less than ideal… three takeaways a week, zero exercise and lots of late nights. Apart from always being tired, I hated the way I looked but didn’t have the drive to do anything about it. That’s until I decided to try something new, something just for me and that’s when I discovered aerial hoop.

So I signed myself up to a 6 week fundamentals course at Leeds Aerial Arts with the determination to stick it out and not give up after a few weeks.

Well those 6 weeks quickly turned into 6 months which turned in a year… ONE WHOLE YEAR and I have no intention of stopping. Without aerial hoop, I would still be that unhealthy person with zero fitness, zero strength and zero (body) confidence.

So if you want to find out how aerial hoop can change your life and help you get the body you want, scroll down to read more…

What is aerial hoop?

Traditionally a circus act, aerial hoop or Lyra is a suspended steel ring and is used to perform acro based routines.

Aerial hoop offers a fantastic full body workout designed to improve strength, build muscle and increase flexibility. This makes it the perfect balance of getting fit and having fun at the same time… so what’s not to love?

Super fast spins, daring drops and graceful gazelles will be part of your training but don’t worry, as a beginner you’ll learn the basics first. If you want to learn more about what to expect from your first aerial hoop class, click here.

Super Strength

During your first few sessions of aerial hoop, you’ll find conditioning exercises hard (I really struggled) and unless you’ve trained previously, moving your own body weight around will be a challenge.

Seated pull ups, leg raises and even straddle mounts will seem impossible but stick with it. It was months until I managed by first pull up and now 5,6 or even 7 in a row aren’t a big deal.

The more you train, the stronger you’ll get but I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s easy but when you start to see results – it’ll suddenly feel worth it.

Top tip: If you’re serious about training, invest in a gym membership. A few weight lifting based workouts each week will accelerate your progress, making hoop class a bit easier.

Increased Flexibility

If you struggle to even touch your toes, no worries – the more you practice, the better you’ll get and the best part is that you might not even realise until you nearly drop into the splits or get a near perfect back bend without trying.

The shapes and flows you‘all learn and practice will push your body to new limits helping to figure out what you’re naturally good at and what needs practice. For example, my splits have come along way in a short amount of time with little training but my shoulder mobility is poor.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that regular stretching and flexibility training is important to really push your progression as well as understanding the fundamentals of how to stretch properly and safely.

For more information on stretching, check out The Bendy Series. Covering getting your splits in 12 weeks, back flexibility and shoulder mobility, just 10 minutes a day can really help!

You can eat more!

No I don’t mean you can stuff yourself with crisps, bags of sweets or bars of chocolates. By eating meals packed full of the good stuff will give your body the fuel it needs to build muscle and recover. After a hard slog during your gym and aerial hoop training sessions, your body will thank you.

The misconception is that to lose “weight” is to go into a calorie deficit meaning eating less but that’s not right at all. If you want to have a more defined figure then you need to lose body fat and build muscle – ignore the scales, muscle weighs more than fat but you will look and feel slimmer.

Just to put it into perspective, when I was at my unhealthiest I weighed 63kg and was a size 12, now I weigh 65kg and currently a size 8/10.

Make sure you have a good breakfast to start the day off right followed by lunch (and a second one in my case) then a lovely big dinner. You can snack inbetween as well if you still feeli hungry but try to stop eating 3 hours before bed time – this gives your body chance to digest your food.

And finally…

It’s a confidence builder

It can be daunting signing up for a class when you don’t know anyone and for many that can be a turn off. But how can you learn a new skill or meet new people if you don’t step out of your comfort zone every once in a while?

It’s important to remember that EVERYONE is in the same boat so when you arrive at your first class just smile and say hello to everyone – it’ll break the ice and before long you’ll have your own little aerial hoop family.

Enjoy your aerial hoop fitness journey!

Looking after your body: Calluses

You can always tell an aerialist by their hands and calluses are seen as a badge of honour but how well are you actually looking after yours?

What are calluses?

Calluses are a build up of hard skin on the parts of your hands that experience the most friction and pressure.

Usually they can be found at the bottom of your fingers and across your palms. Callusing of the hands is expected when training aerial hoop and is a form of natural protection. However without proper care, the skin can break or rip which is sometimes painful.

How to prevent rips and tears

Use chalk and rosin sparingly

Dry skin is more prone to breaks and tears so try to keep the use of chalk and rosin to a minimum. Also,after every training session, wash your hands thoroughly to ensure all remaining residue is removed. This will prevent your hands getting unnecessarily dehydrated.

File down rough skin

This is a simple yet effective tip that can be done on a daily basis. Using a coarse emery board or pumice stone, gently file down any rough skin to a smooth finish. This will stop any loose skin catching and ripping as well stopping the temptation to pick at it.

Moisturise, moisturise , moisturise

Keeping your hands moisturised will stop the skin becoming dried out and cracking. Using a nourishing cream such as O’Keeffe’s Working Hands hand cream after training will keep them lovely and soft while minimising tears.

Practice correct grip form

Source: Video Blocks

A full reach around grip with the middle of your palm over the hoop and thumb held firmly over your index finger will keep your hands locked on making it the idea grip position.

Sometimes after a particularly intense session or when your hands fatigue quickly, the burning sensation can make you change your grip but try to be aware of this and correct your positioning.

What to do if you get a tear

Wash your hands immediately

To prevent unwanted infection and help the healing process, wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water and pat dry. It may hurt depends on how severe the tear is but if its just a bit of rough skin, it shouldn’t hurt at all.

Don’t pull the skin off

This goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway…don’t just pull the skin off! – It’s likely to make it worse. Instead, use a clean pair of nail scissors or cuticle nippers to remove the loose skin without further damage.

Remember, prevention is better than the cure so by giving your hands the love they deserve you will be able to train harder and longer without injury!

10 things you should know before your first aerial hoop class

If you’re not one for the gym but want to get fit while hanging upside down, then this discipline is definitely for you.

Not only will you get a full body work out but you’ll also develop strength, flexibility, coordination and stamina.

As a newbie, it can be nerve wracking starting a new class so we’ve put together our top 10 things you need to know.

What to wear

Comfortable gym leggings, a sports bra and a tight fitting top will be your uniform from now on. Forget wearing anything loose or skin bearing as this will hinder your performance, making your session less enjoyable. Loose clothing is likely to get caught and if you’re wearing shorts, your skin is going to get really sore and irritated.

Arrive early

Don’t be that person who turns up late and disrupts the session. Try to be 10 or 15 mins early which will give you enough time to find the studio(in case you get lost), change into your kit and sign any necessary disclosure forms. If you know you’ll be late then give your teacher a heads up with a quick phone call or text.

Have something to eat

You’ll be working really hard on your first lesson and doing it on an empty stomach isn’t clever. There’s no need to go all out and demolish a three course meal but a sandwich or a light snack is ideal. Also, drink lots of water before, during and after your session. Your body will thank you.

Don’t worry if you can’t straddle first time

The straddle mount is one of the first things you’ll learn and is how most aerialist get into their hoop. It can be hard and involves a lot of trust in your arms and grip. Not everyone gets it first time and some students don’t get it even after a couple of weeks. So keep practicing and don’t give up!

Your hands will super sore

Since you’ll spend 60 to 90 mins holding onto a steel hoop, your hands with inevitably hurt and possibly some skin may tear. Don’t let this put you off, as over time your hands will toughen up and you’ll develop callouses. These will prevent your hands from hurting – even if they don’t look pretty.

The day after is going to be a killer

After your first session, everything is going to hurt. You’ll also have some funky bruises to show for it as well but don’t worry, it’s all part of the fun. If you’re not used to working out, your body will need time to adjust to using all those new muscles but you’ll feel really good afterwards. The pain doesn’t last forever and you won’t be able to wait to get back on that hoop.

Put your phone away

These days, people whips their phone out to take pictures of EVERYTHING and it’s great to load up your Insta feed with all the awesome shapes and flows you learn. Since this is your first class, there won’t be any time for getting snaps as you’ll be busy learning different mounts and a few basic moves. It’ll also be distracting if you’re trying to get a selfie while your instructor is demonstrating and could lead to you hurting yourself. Once you’re confident and have a bit more experience, you will be able to take all the photos you want.

Leave your ego at home

As this is your first class and probably everyone else’s as well, you’re not expected to nail everything first time. If you manage to mount the hoop straight away or smash your transition into inside mermaid then that’s awesome! But don’t brag about it to other students, especially if they’re struggling. It’s likely to put them off and irritate your teacher. Remember, no one likes a show off…

Say hello to everyone

We know it can be scary joining a new class but it’s about making friends as well as learning a new skill. Everyone will be feeling the same so try to introduce yourself. After all, the other students will eventually become your aerial family so why not take the plunge and say hello?

Finally…have fun!

Aerial Hoop Gang

Aerial hoop is all about learning, growing and developing as a person but it’s also about enjoying yourself while you do it. You might ache, be covered in bruises and have sore hands but you’ll be having so much fun and realise it’s all totally worth it.

If you fancy having a go at aerial hoop, then why not book yourself onto a taster class or fundamentals course at Leeds Aerial Arts – owned and run by Lorna Mackinder. Its only a short walk from the city centre and is one of the best or possibly THE best aerial arts studio in Leeds

12 things you should know before your first pole class

So you’ve signed yourself up to start a pole class? Yay… you’re going to love it!

Pole fitness is a great way to condition your body, build up strength, improve coordination and develop flexibility.

We know it can be daunting when you’re not sure what to expect so here’s a heads up before your first class to make it a little less scary.

What to wear

For your first class, you won’t need anything more than your usual workout gear. Leggings or shorts with a sports bra and vest top will be perfect. Since you will be learning the fundamentals of spins, don’t worry about investing in expensive pole outfits, knee pads or pleasers just yet.

Arrive early

Try to arrive to class 10 to 15 minutes early. This will give you enough time to get changed, fill out any disclosure forms and say hello to the other newbies. It’s not a great look if you rock up late and interrupt the warm up. If you’re going to be late, let your instructor know – they will appreciate it.

It’s ok if you don’t nail each move first time

No one is expecting you to be perfect and able to nail every new move first time. It doesn’t matter if it takes one attempt or 100 attempts to get it right. Just keep at it and never say “I can’t do it”. Determination is more important than your ego so just because another student might get it first time, don’t let that put you off. Practice makes perfect after all.

Bruises

Ah yes… lets talk about some of the weird and wonderful bruises you’ll get. You’ll have them on your arms, thighs, legs and feet. The best bit? The more you practice, the more you’ll get and then you’ll start comparing them with your class mates. They will be your badge of honour and you’ll be proud to show them off to anyone that will look.

Whatever you do, DON’T MOISTURISE!

Unless you fancy fighting a losing battle by slipping down the pole because you have zero grip, then don’t go near the moisturiser. Even when you get a bit sweaty, it’s hard to hold on so make wiping down your pole a habit. Trust us… we know.

You’ll get super dizzy

Practising spin after spin will inevitability leave you feeling a bit queasy. When you spin, the fluid in your ears sloshes about creating that ‘super drunk dizzy’ feeling. The secret is to alternate each side rather than training the same time continiously.

Another way is prevent dizziness is to practice ‘spotting’. Dancers train this by turning their head quicker than their body and finding one focal spot in the room. Try it – it might work for you.

Forget anything you’ve seen on Instagram

Don’t even bother trying anything you’ve seen on Instagram. More often than not, the people you see pulling epic moves on Insta have been training for a long time and make even the hardest moves look easy. Building up a solid foundation during your initial training is the best way to improve and develop a good skill set. Correct form is key to preventing injury and working your way up to those trickier moves.

Leave your ego at the door

Everyone is here to learn and no one wants to be around another student who thinks that they are better than everyone else. If you are able to nail a move straight away or have more strength than someone else then for the love of God, don’t rub it in! Being a show off won’t win you any friends and is likely to piss off your teacher as well. It’ll be awesome that you managed to do your first spin spot on so just enjoy the moment and be humble.

Forget the photoshoot

There will be plenty of time to get lots of pictures to fill up your social feed but not in your first class. Learning the basics and paying attention is more important. Being distracted by your phone will prevent you from listening and understanding the instructions from your teacher properly and at worst you might end up hurting yourself.

You’ll be sore in the morning

If you’re not used to working out or Are new to using your upper body then you’re gonna feel it in the morning. Your arms, shoulders and back are likely to hurt and will take a day or two to recover. Remember to eat lots of protein rich food, drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep.

Don’t be self conscious

View this post on Instagram

💕✨

A post shared by Positive Body Image 💕 (@positivebodyimage) on

Forget what you’ve seen on YouTube or social media – not everyone is super slim, rocking a 6 pack and a huge round booty. Pole is for ALL body shapes whether you’re short, tall, lean or curvy and you should be proud of how you look. Don’t worry about anyone else and flaunt what you have! If nothing else, pole will give you the confidence to strut around the studio in your sexy shorts without a care in the world.

Most importantly…have fun

Finally, just have fun. You’re not there to compete with anyone, you’re there to learn and have fun. Yes it might be tough and yes it might hurt but smiling and having a laugh will make it a lot easier.

If you’re interested in trying it out a class, then I highly recommend you check out Aerial Empire which is owned and ran by Emily Hawthorne. Located 10 mins walk from Leeds City Bus Station, Aerial Empire offer a range of classes suitable for all abilities and at very reasonable prices.