As the new year starts many of us are making resolutions to eat better, get in shape, read more and watch tv less, etc. This year, I find myself trying to recover from an injury and realigning my aerial goals with what is possible versus where I was just over a year ago. For the second time in my aerial career, I am working on defining what aerial, fitness and health looks like for me and reigniting my passion for aerial and movement. Both mental and physical obstacles can impede our ability to enjoy fitness or our hobbies and both are challenging to overcome.
The first time I found myself trying to ‘get back’ into aerial was several years ago. I had taught somewhere that wasn’t a healthy environment both physically and mentally. After several years of being called the fat instructor and told I was slow, I left. With no place to do aerial, it was easy to let the sport go for a while. I tried to find joy in other fitness classes. Spin, Zumba, kickboxing classes were just a few that I tried. It wasn’t until I found Barre that I started to feel whole again. However, every time I took a Barre class, I was thinking about how the micro-movements were the perfect conditioning for aerial! My love for aerial started to surface again.
Kelly, Lindsay and I poled in my garage for several years. The winter was cold, but we made it work the best we could. When it was just too cold, even with heaters, we talked and spent time together. Having other aerialists as friends was crucial to my aerial recovery and mental health! During this time, I had to have a minor shoulder surgery due to over-training while I had been teaching. The recovery was 8 weeks and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. I was just starting to take back aerial for myself and not associate it with the previous poor experience that I had. Determined not to let me quit, Kelly and Lindsay would hold me in pole tricks so that I could still participate and not lose muscle memory. I had one good arm and the bulk of my weight was on them. This is why aerial friends are the best friends!
Now, several years later, I am recovering from injuries that were no fault of my own. In September of 2018, I was hit at 80mph on the highway by a drunk driver. I have herniated discs in my neck and back, a fracture that didn’t heal quite right in my low back and my sacrum is now at a 45-degree angle. The migraines and nerve damage that I have as a result of these injuries has sidelined me for a great deal of the last year. Unfortunately, these things don’t heal overnight, and the side effects of my injuries are lifelong.
This year I decided that I am going to start putting back together the bits of aerial that I love. Putting the energy and strength into the apparatuses I love and redefining what my expectations are of myself. 2019 consisted of doing whatever I could just to get through the day without excruciating pain. Teaching involved relying on other students and instructors to demo the things that I couldn’t and talking my students through everything I could without having to touch apparatuses.
My aerial and fitness goals for 2020 have changed from doing the latest and greatest tricks that are on Instagram to focusing on flow and movement. Health has been redefined to performing movements that don’t aggravate my injuries rather than being able to teach for four hours a day. I had an incredible amount of stamina and strength because I have worked out my entire life. I was incredibly proud of being able to teach and train for 15-20 hours each week. In order to be successful at the physical goals I’ve set for myself, I’ll need to learn to be kinder to myself and not become frustrated because I’m no longer physically able to train like I used to.
Health and wellness do not need to look the same for everyone. They don’t even need to look the same for you, year after year. For the new year, I encourage everyone to assess what their true goals are for the year. Rather than just signing up for a gym membership or cutting carbs, look inward to see what would truly make you happy. If you want to be fit and healthy but hate running and lifting weights, look at aerial! It’s the only workout that has kept me hooked for years despite injuries that should have ended my career.
The great thing about the aerial community is that they will truly hold you up (we lift people all the time!), support you and keep you motivated. Whether you’ve never worked out, haven’t in a long time, think you’re too old to start something new, have injuries, hate working out, whatever your reason, aerial is for everybody. With so many apparatuses as well as conditioning and flexibility classes, there’s something for everyone to keep you reaching towards your goals. This year, no more excuses. Just redefine what fitness and health look like to you and you’ll be knocking the goals off your list in no time!