aerial silks

All posts tagged aerial silks

Nothing Else Matters

Published February 26, 2013 by Susan Woodward

A whole lot of things have been changing for me…for the better.  Right now, I feel stronger than I have in — well, I can’t even remember when I have felt this strong.   I’m not just talking about physical strength here…that’s coming as I continue through the Cirque du Rochester Challenge.   I mean, I feel like a stronger person overall.

I had the strength of will to quit smoking;

I’ve had a strong determination to change my eating habits;

I’ve had the strength to begin going to the Fitness Center on a regular basis after my aerial arts classes (while I am already in workout clothes and in need of a shower anyway);

I’ve had the strength to walk away from what I know is not good for me, and never will be…

and with strength comes confidence.

I feel more confident at my job, in spite of the strain of the APPR, Common Core Standards, and PARCC national testing looming;

I feel more confident in attempting new moves at silks, in spite of my fear of falling;

I feel more confident in taking some personal risks that I formerly would have shied away from;

I just plain feel more confident and happier as a PERSON…

And nothing else matters.

I don’t know how long it will take me to get to the point where I will be able to complete an aerial silks routine, but I am making that one of my goals.  You know, the ol’ Bucket List.  I will work until I am finally able to fly for just over three minutes.  And I know that three minutes is the target because I have already selected the music I want to use for my someday-routine.   Click below to hear Apocalyptica play a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”:

And so I will continue to work hard to get to the point where I can actually “fly”… these are a couple of tonight’s attempts (thanks, Jen, for playing videographer for me!):

I managed to get into the side plank position…briefly…before plopping out of it.  But I got in by myself for the first time!

The Layout turned out to be a rather painful move to hang in… I guess I have another area of this body that requires strengthening!  I have to hang with the silk tucked into the crease of my…ummm… let’s say upper thigh area.  That led to a pretty nasty bruise.   No pics will be appearing on the Aerial War Wounds page, but this would qualify…ouch!  In spite of that difficulty, I DID actually “climb” out of the move with my arms.  My first climb!!!!  And Will even verifies it as an actual climb in the video!

And finally, my first attempt at an aerial flip.  Well, on the mat anyway!  Will models for us what we will be working toward, and then I gave my first try… and here it is:

As you can see, I have a long way to go before I will get to performing a routine…but I will one day get there.

I will keep getting stronger, physically and emotionally.  I will keep gaining confidence in all that I do so that I will continue to be happier and healthier in the second half of life.

And nothing else matters.

Cookin’ With Jojo

Published February 23, 2013 by Susan Woodward

What a busy Saturday… Wegman’s tour with Patty to see the best that Weggies has to offer Health-wise, Nutrition class with the girls, Cirque Fit (with Patty, too!!), and then open aerial practice.   I am sore, sore, sore…but in a great way!  While I might have trouble making a fist (achy hands), I know that my hands are stronger than they have probably ever been in my life.  I do not want any of this to end!  Well…maybe the aches and the soreness can go away, but I want to stay committed to being physically active!

The Challenge Ladies have been great!  We are already planning a 5K in June, and there is talk of joining the Dirty Girl 5K in September!  (I’m not exactly sure what that is, but it apparently involves teamwork and obstacle courses…)  I will be researching that one more!

After a grueling workout and with arms like rubber, I left the studio with my granddaughter Jojo in hand to go shopping for dinner ingredients at Trader Joe’s and then head home to cook with my little Munchkin.

She really is a good little cook!

After a hard workout (Will my abs hurt, and so do my ARMS!!!), protein was definitely on the menu.  Patty had whet my appetite with the quinoa salad she made for the Challenge Girls, so I thought about cooking with it.  I was feeling creative, so while Jojo and I were at Trader Joe’s, I concocted a stuffed veggie recipe:

First, I prepared the raw vegetables:

– 3 large green peppers, halved and cleaned for stuffing (so that will make six)

– 1 medium eggplant, halved and hollowed, ready for stuffing (that will give me two)

We (Jojo and I) then mixed in a large bowl:

– 3 cups cooked quinoa

– one 8 oz. package Trader Joe’s Organic 3 Grain Tempeh (crumbled- Jojo had fun doing that part)

– one 10 oz. package Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala burgers (crumbled- Jojo broke the burgers into chunks, and I crumbled the chunks for the stuffing)

– the chopped up innards of the raw eggplant

– one 10 oz. jar Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade

After mixing all ingredients well, we stuffed the six pepper halves and the eggplant halves.

Jojo cooking 2

Jojo cooking

It looks a bit like she’s trying to make me an offer I can’t refuse, but after four pics and she kept doing that, I guessed that a smiling picture wasn’t going to be part of the deal today.  She said she wanted to make silly faces.  Ok…so I will publish the silly face.  When you look back on this at 16, Jo, you will thank me for publishing it!

Back to cooking…

After we stuffed with veggies, I poured a bit of  Trader Joe’s low sodium vegetable juice over the top before baking.  Popped it into the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes, so that the veggies were tender.  Voila!  Dinner for the family for a couple of days!

The spices came from the Tapenade, the juice, and the veggie burgers.  No added spices (including no salt).

We had supper ready when her mom came to pick her up after she had been teaching silks at a birthday party.  Protein was on Mommy’s menu, too!

This has been a great family thing, joining the Aerial Arts program.  Once I sign up for classes after the 12 Week Challenge is over, Illy will keep me motivated (as my future teacher, she will kick my ass if I miss class), and we can both eat healthier while cookin’ with Jojo!

What the Hell… I Smell Already Anyway…

Published February 22, 2013 by Susan Woodward

When I got home from Aerial practice, there was coincidentally only one parking spot left in the lot, and it was right in front of the Fitness Center.  My guess it was the Universe saying to me, “Oh, what the hell… you stink already anyway.  You may as well go in and do something.”

So I did an 11:48 mile on the elliptical!

THEN I took a very long, very hot shower!  I feel better, though, because I took an extra step tonight.

And then it took three hours to load a few freaking videos to the internet from my camera!  All the relaxation of my Soul Food at the Art Gallery and the hot shower took a hike as I had choice words for both my computer and my camera tonight.

However, I DO have a finished product as evidence of my progress in the Aerial Arts.  Still a far cry from Cirque du Soleil, but a definite improvement.  As proof that improvements have been made, I shall re-share my first attempt at a roll-up…

This is the 7 Week improvement:

After trying and trying and trying, I finally did the hip key and was able to to it again for posterity!

This move (the inverted stag) I just learned two nights ago… but since I was semi-successful in getting into position, I wanted to get it on video:

Ok, so I fall out of it.  But I did get into the position (sort of).  I just have to remember to keep my supporting leg straight!

Well, after all the video broo-ha-ha and uploading fiascos, I am going to bed!

Finally in an Inverted Position!!

Published February 19, 2013 by Susan Woodward

After last night’s Cirque Fit and subsequent extra workout, I was pumped for tonight’s aerial silks class!  While there may be a lot of moves I cannot yet do because I am either thinking too hard when trying to do them, or I just don’t have the strength yet, there ARE moves that I am able to do…and those are what keep me going.  For me, my successes outweigh my “failures” (if you want to call them that… maybe I can just say “failed attempts that have not materialized into successful moves yet”), and that is HUGE.

A year ago, I never would have imagined that I would even attempt what I am doing.  Circus moves…me?  Really??

Well, guess what!!  HELL, YES!!  I am trying, and I am going to KEEP trying till I get it!!  And I DID learning something new tonight!

Woo Hoo!!  I may not be able to get into a ball position yet, but I managed to do an inverted stag!!!

Inverted Stag Me2

Ok…here I am just flipping back for the first time, preparing to get the leg up in the air…

Inverted Stag Me1

And I did it!!

What I need to do to improve the move is to grab down lower on the silks, and then arch my back more, bringing that leg higher.  But for a first try…pffft!  I am upside down, and I am happy with that!!!

And my arms are killing me right now…time for a bit of ice and rest.

OHHHH… AND I did a roll up all by myself, and I know that Will didn’t help because he was across the room!!  AND I ROLLED OUT OF IT SMOOTHLY!!!!!   No falling and no face plants!  🙂

solo roll up3solo roll up2

I can’t type anymore tonight… even my hands hurt.  But I am feeling GREAT about what we have been able to accomplish so far!!!!!!

Getting Off the Ground is Getting Easier!

Published February 12, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Nope…not Cirque du Soleil ready yet, but in a one person show of Cirque du Suzanne, I would be the star!  Ok…not many tickets would be sold, but I could still pacify myself with saying that I have top billing…

BUT I am off the ground a little easier each time!  When I did a roll up today, I actually did it myself (Will says I did it all by myself, but he was right there…hard to tell if I had any nudges while I was struggling to pull myself through the silks…).  But not only did I roll up, but I unrolled rather smoothly (for me!).  Yay!

And today’s surprise success was getting into a new move, the side plank, not once, but a couple of times!  I even did the last one all by myself!  My right forearm will be screaming at me tomorrow as I was having a little bit of trouble catching the left arm wrap right away.  But here it is:

Side Plank

Just in case you cannot tell what’s holding me up, I have my right foot locked in one side of the fabric while my left foot rests on top of it; that is supporting about half of my weight.  The remainder of my weight is primarily held by my right arm on the other half of the fabric because I don’t have my left arm at enough of an angle to better share the burden.  I mention these things because the bulk of my body is suspended in between my right arm and my foot…and I have gained enough STRENGTH to hold myself in this position long enough for a photo op!  Certainly not of the Superman variety, but I am so much stronger than I was just a month ago…

And before this Challenge is over, I WILL get into that inverted ball position if it kills me!

Also, the ladies and I measured ourselves at this half-way point…so far, I have lost one inch from my waist, another inch from my belly, an inch from each thigh, and an inch and a half from each my arms!  That may not sound like a lot to some people, but to someone like me, it’s a MIRACLE!


Wait…What? Weights?? WHAT??

Published February 10, 2013 by Susan Woodward

My arms currently do not wish to go above my head.   Can I MAKE them?  With an incredible amount of effort, yes…depending on the motivation.  Washing my hair after that arm-killer Cirque Fit is motivation enough.  How many pounds, say you?  Hey, it’s not the poundage, but the repetition and the continued movement that led to the fatigue!  But how many pounds, you ask again!  Ok, ok…. THREE!!!  EACH!!

Oooohhhh…. I had an hour and a half drive to Buffalo not long after class, and my arms were fighting with the steering wheel.  So we won’t mention the difficulties I had trying to pull myself up onto the silks IMMEDIATELY following Cirque Fit!

In spite of the tiredness in my arms, I DID manage to complete a sailfish all by myself (on the slippy-silver silks, no less!) AND I think I managed to do one roll-up with just a little aid from Will.  I know I was already in the foot-lock when I decided to do the two moves back to back (look at me, I’m creating a “routine”… ha!).  I DO remember rolling out of it pretty much on my own, though!  I’m getting better at keeping my hands higher up on the silks so that I don’t get too much slack in the fabric.

Also, I held my feet off the ground for a count of ten on the trapeze!!!  Not quite an “L” sit yet, but off the ground for more than a couple seconds?  Holding the position??  That’s a victory in my book!  And I did that after the Killer Cirque Session!  🙂

One of the things we are doing to chart our progress is to share three surprise successes each week, so here are mine:

1- I got up into a new foot lock position this week the first time I tried (now I have to ask Will how to do that again… I have forgotten how the wrap goes before leaning back into it…)…oops.  And I did do the double rond-de-jambe to get the silk wrapped around my foot for the first time without hands!  Ok, so I had to use hands to get the fabric UNDER the foot, but the wrap I did with foot power alone!  🙂

2- I did a Sailfish the first time I tried it… and have done it successfully every time I have tried since!  So far, five Sailfish…BAM!   🙂

3- This one is not a success in the aerial arts, but in my personal life transformation.  After having pretty much locked myself away from the world for over six months, this Challenge was also to help me ease myself back into the world of the living.   My social life was pretty much non-existent during that time, but I am now doing something about it… and this was a HUGE step for me.   I went on a date.  It was nothing more than coffee, and since there didn’t seem to be “anything there,” a second date isn’t in the cards… BUT I went.  And if I can go on one date, I can go on others!  Successfully beginning to transition into the world of the living once more!    🙂

The ladies on this journey with me are incredible…and I hope to count them as friends long after the Challenge ends.  We are actually planning on entering a 5K together!  Michelle, Jennyfer, Katie, Annemarie, and Anita… let’s keep this up!  And Patty, you are definitely included in this!!

I have also met great people at Aerial Arts of Rochester!  Since I plan on staying after the Challenge, I am hoping to create more friendships through the classes!   I never would have thought that there would be so many people close to my age at a place like this…and it makes me happy!

Doing this Challenge is giving me more confidence overall, not just in the studio.  I feel ALIVE again… I may be sore and my arms don’t want to go over my head, BUT I CAN FEEL THAT!!  Much better than the desensitized numbness I was experiencing… and for that, I am extremely grateful to Will and everyone at AAofR for making this happen!!

Talk to the Foot…

Published February 5, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Anyone who knows me or has been anywhere near me when I am trying to learn something new KNOWS that I talk to myself.   I really believe that if I ever lost the power of speech, I’d be stuck in not being able to learn anything new for the rest of my life.   I literally have to talk myself through it…

For instance, I am NOT a tap dancer by any stretch of anyone’s imagination.  No one will ever have to worry about me coming along and taking someone’s spot in 42nd Street!  When I was cast as Sister Hubert in not one, but two, productions of Nunsense, my nemesis was that damned tap dance in “Tackle That Temptation With a Time Step.”  Fortunately for me, part of the steps was in the song lyrics.  I may have fudged through the rest of the number, but when it came to “step, hop, shuffle, step, flap, ball, change in your tap shoes…”, I was golden.  I managed to get THAT much of it because I could TALK myself through it every single time.  No matter how many times I did the rest of the number, I would sort of get it when I could speak the steps, but when it came time to sing and tap… forget it.  I need to talk to the feet.

That seemed to work pretty well tonight when I was trying to learn a new foot wrap.  I managed to get the first part, but then I had to lean back and try to use my free foot to finish the wrap.  I told that foot what for!  And when it was not fully cooperating, I yelled, “Get the ‘F’ in there!”  (I think I said the letter F… not the word.  At least I hope so…).  But the foot listened and I manged to get into the position the first time I tried it.  Yay!  Surprise success!  (That’s #1 for this week, Patty!).   It wasn’t listening so much when I tried it again, but by that time, it was the arms that really sailfish2needed the talking to.  They were getting tired.

Another surprise (Yay, Patty…that’s 2 in one night!!) was when I was able to get into the Sailfish pose the first time!  Woop!!!  I’m on a black silk, so I look more like the Caped Crusader, but I did it!


Makes you just want to go, “Na na na na na na na na…” doesn’t it?  I should have asked for a pic when I had it wrapped around me like a cocoon… Emergence of the Bat!  Blooa!  Blooa!  🙂

After feeling a bit like a failure (I’ll admit, I really was getting down on myself for falling off the other day…), it’s great to have that feeling of sweet little successes to keep me going!

And here’s a great pic that I snagged from the Aerial Arts page… but it SOOOOOO fits with what I am trying to do right now:

Dont Quit

I am in my fifth week now.  I am noticing changes… changes in strength, endurance, and control.  I am waiting for the visible changes that I hope will come by the time others start to notice at 8 weeks.  That gives me three weeks to begin to actually SEE change.  And I am looking forward to those “After” pics at 12 weeks.  I pray that there will really be some major differences!

So I will not quit.  I will not give in to being tired or sore or frustrated.  I will persevere.

Oh… but one thing that is definitely different is that I HAVE QUIT SMOKING FOR FOUR WEEKS NOW!!!!

What Goes Up Does Come Down, and Not Always Gracefully…

Published February 2, 2013 by Susan Woodward

What goes up?  Me!  With only some help from Michelle, I managed to get up into the aerial roll-up!  I was so happy to actually get into the position, but what goes up must come down.

And that’s where I had my problem.  While twisting out of the roll-up, the idea is to let your body’s momentum and gravity un-roll you.  Yup… I had the momentum and I certainly had gravity pulling on this plus-sized body, so much so that my hands lost their grip on the silks, and I came crashing down.  While falling, the momentum kept my body twisting and the knee of the leg that was my pivot point kept in the twist.

Fortunately, there was a doctor in the house…several!  I checked out fine, and it was just the fall and sense of the knee twisting that scared me more than actually hurt me.  After she looked me over, I was able to stand up and walk…hooray!


I think it’s probably a good thing that I was pretty loosened up by Cirque Fit before getting on the apparatus.  I’m still waiting for the aerobics to get easier on my body… it has to get easier with time, right?  That is absolutely a killer workout!  However, I do feel myself getting stronger little by little.  I am so looking forward to when I lose the wobbling warble in my upper arms… that is one of my biggest goals for this whole Challenge.  I want to be able to wear sleeveless shirts in the summer without being self conscious about my arms.

Another thing that will be helping with getting to that point of being less self-conscious will be the work of our nutritionist, Patty.  Today she brought us protein smoothies as a treat after our Cirque Fit workout.  I’ve never been one to make smoothies or protein drinks, so maybe I’ll look more into some recipes.  I do have a juicer, so maybe I’ll get that back out and actually use it again.   I’m starting to be more conscious of everything I eat, and at this point I think I have hit a plateau in my enthusiasm.  I’m sure that it happens whenever anyone starts a new program.  All gung ho right at first, throwing oneself into it… but then waning a bit as time passes and I begin to feel a bit more tired.  I am sure that this is temporary, and I am sincerely going to work hard to get through this phase.

And even though I took a fall, I am not in as much pain as I was that first week when I did NOT do any falling (if that makes any sense).    That’s a positive that I am planning on looking at as I get ready to make that climb again on Tuesday!

I may have fallen down, but I am NOT out!

Not Quite Ready for Cirque du Soleil… but…

Published January 31, 2013 by Susan Woodward

I did make it off the ground!  Ok, not by myself… Will had to help me get into the Roll-Up, but I at least got off the ground.  While Cirque du Soleil may not be dialing my number any time soon, I at least have a shot at Funniest Home Videos!  I will be bravely (and I do mean bravely, given that I am very body conscious and not at all happy with the way I look at the moment) posting the video at the end of this post (yeah…I’ll make you wait for it…).

The reason I am going to bother posting the clip is not because I am some fabulous budding aerial artist, but because I am daring to try something I never thought I’d ever even get the chance to do.  I am working hard to make real changes in my life, and allowing myself to take risks in spite of fear and self-doubt is one thing I want to be able to look back on in my old age and say, “Yup… I tried that.”


I am very excited that I WAS able to complete the Froggie hang!  For the past three weeks, I have been trying to hang upside down from the silks.  I am not yet able to do so by hanging on and using my arms to pull myself up (a la the rings in high school), but having the support of the silk hammock on my lower back allowed me to finally get into an inverted position.  I think if I keep practicing the feeling of flipping backward on the hammock, I will eventually get to where I can flip my feet up when hanging by my hands.  That’s the theory, anyway!  And believe it or not, it really felt good on my back.  The hanging relieved any compression, and I didn’t even get dizzy or light-headed.  I think I will make this part of my warm-up every time now.  And I also think that the Aerial Yoga might be up my alley. That is something I am definitely going to look into.

I DID get my feet off the floor while hanging from the trapeze for about a whole 15 seconds!  They are only about 6 inches off the floor (actually an improvement in itself), but keeping them up for more than a split second actually surprised me!

I also managed to get myself into a hip key all by myself tonight for the first time!  I was only able to do it once (because every time I tried after that, I kept rolling out of it), but I DID do it alone!

AND I managed to get myself into a foot wrap (maybe not by using only my leg for the double rond de jambe because the fabric keeps slipping on the second swirl of the leg…so I used my hands to help wrap), and then pull myself up into a standing position.  I started to do the roll up, and I even managed to push the fabric down around my ankle without it catching on my calf muscle (like in the video), but I lost it when I tried to roll myself around.  I was not standing flat on my foot in the wrap, and it was tilting sideways… and that hurts!  So I had to come back down… BUT I did manage to get up there solo!

Hey Patty!   Those are my three successes for this week’s challenge!  A solo hip key, a solo foot wrap/stand, and a solo Froggie…key word SOLO!  🙂   So I hope that means you’ll cut me a bit of slack when we have to report about the greens for the week… I’ll do better with next week’s protein challenge, I promise!

Ok… here’s the video.  Bear with me… it was my first attempt at the move, and I really needed help!

Trading Old Bad Habits For Newer, Better Ones– and a New Success!

Published January 24, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps… but each time I show up at Aerial Arts of Rochester, I get a tiny surprise that continues to encourage me that, yes, this pain is worth it!

The picture may not clearly show it, but I was able to get my heels off the floor about an inch or so while hanging from the trapeze… and I DO have six witnesses who were there when I was screaming my surprise.  I also hung from the bar longer than I was able to last week… about a whole 15-20 seconds longer, but indeed longer!


The hip key wasn’t there tonight, but I am not discouraged.  I do know that I can do it… I just have to make sure that I am consistent in getting into it correctly.  Today I was inconsistent, and that’s all it was.  Not a failure.  Laffy Taffy is much easier and actually feels GOOD when I do it because it stretches EVERYTHING!  That’s an improvement.  So I’m not going to beat myself up because I still haven’t hung upside down or been able to climb yet.  That will all come; however, I WAS successful in doing three pushups from my feet and not my knees!

Good things I have done for myself other than keeping up with my training efforts include NOT SMOKING for more than TWO WEEKS so far!!  I went cold turkey from a pack a day to nothing.  Quitting while in the throws of an upper respiratory infection made it easier… but I am happy to NOT go back to it!  The money I am not spending on cigarettes is going into the bank for a trip to Wales this summer.

Another new habit that is working for me is the cinnamon and honey regimen.  I can actually tell that my blood pressure is lower because my chest isn’t pounding and my pulse isn’t racing.  I’m sure that not smoking is contributing to the effect, but I think that the concoction is also helping.

Shopping at the grocery store is also now different.  I’m keeping more to the outer edges of the store in the produce section and the Natural Food section, and I am reaching for organic as much as I can.  I found a new grocery store (well new to me) while out on one of my jaunts to Barnes and Noble (an enjoyable pastime)…Trader Joe’s.  trader joes  It had a really wide selection of organic foods at really reasonable prices.  I found things there I’d never heard of, but was willing to try as I give up my usual Keebler cookies and chips.  One interesting (and surprisingly delicious) item was Chili Spiced Mango; dried mango slices covered with cayenne.  I thought it was a gross combination when I first saw it on the shelf, but since I am in the market to try new and different things, I figured this was as about as new and different as I could get (for now anyway).

I will be going back for more when these are gone… YUM!  I want to go when I have some time to spend going through and looking at all the different imported items they have to offer.  Seems like this might be a cool new place to hang out.

For now, I am providing a link so that you (and I) can check out what’s to offer from the comfort of my computer.

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