What are you training for?

I think that if you asked most of my contemporaries in the aerial and pole world “What’s the thing that you wished you’d learned when you first started training?” they’d all respond with some variation on the same theme:

“I wish I’d been taught more about HOW to use my body instead of just learning tricks”

“I wish I’d been taught how to support my joints instead of flopping into my flexibility”

“I wish I’d started cross training and prioritizing general strength right away”

Which is all different ways of saying “I wished I’d learned X, Y, or Z thing before I fucked myself up so badly”

Or, maybe “I wished I’d learned to train with longevity in mind instead of just pushing for the next big trick”, which is the general point that I’m trying to get to.


We have a whole lifetime in these bodies of ours, and I personally want to continue being capable and able bodied in mine for as long as possible. And not only do I want that for myself, I want that for you, too.

And this is why I’m asking you the question “What are you training for?”

I remember when I first fell in love with aerial, when I was in the thick of this passionate exploration of the limits of my physical capabilities. 

Every second that I wasn’t in the air, I was thinking about what I was going to do the next time I was.

At the time, it felt like it was my whole life.

But realistically, how much time was I really spending in the air?

8-10 hours a week, at the height of my training.

And yet everything I did revolved around those 8-10 hours.

Despite the fact that the other 158 hours of the week were spent on the ground, living the life of a regular person who has to do regular things like clean the house, go grocery shopping, do yard work, and empty the cat box. 

Many of you reading this probably also have jobs to go to that may be at a desk, and/or young children that require all of the things that young children require.

My point being that even though aerial or pole might be your love, it’s probably not your life.

And this is a worthwhile thing to keep in mind when you’re thinking about your training.

I’ve seen a lot of people throw themselves into their aerial training head first. Conditioning, flexibility training, getting the tricks, coming to all the classes.

And then getting injured.

Because they went too hard, too fast, and too specific.

And I get it! You found this new thing, and you love it, and you want to be really good at it. So you do it a lot, all the time.

But the thing that you might not realize is that diving off the deep end is not necessarily going to get you where you want to go.

Because Step 1 in getting good at aerial is moving well, in a general way. And that’s probably not what you’re learning in an aerial studio.

In your studio, you’re learning how to move well in the air (hopefully). Which is quite a bit more specific than moving well generally.

When I talk about moving well generally, what I mean is that your joints can do the things that they’re supposed to without a lot of restrictions. That you can move comfortably in your body doing regular daily tasks and feel pretty confident in your ability to manage most physical challenges that you may be faced with.

When people focus all of their training on the types of movements that we need to move effectively in the air, it’s not unusual for them to begin to move less well generally. The demands on the body for aerial are so specific that if we only train to meet those demands, it’s really easy for our bodies to become imbalanced. And an imbalanced body is a recipe for an injury.

However, if we train to meet the demands of our life generally, with some extra focus on aerial specific movement, we’re probably setting ourselves up to be in a pretty good place for both gaining skills at the aerial studio, and living the rest of our lives being strong and capable.

What does that look like in your real life?

It means that maybe instead of taking that 3rd aerial class, you take a pilates class. Or do some strength training. 

Instead of that intense focus on getting your splits, you spend some time strengthening your glutes and hamstrings.

Or that when you do your aerial conditioning, you include ground work like a dumbbell chest press or pushups to balance out all the pulling that you’re doing.

It means paying attention to how your aerial training makes you feel during the rest of your life. Is it causing pain in your shoulders or stiffness in your back? Do you have a “spot” that always feels tender or sore? These types of things are signs that things are getting out of whack in your body, and that you might be overdoing it at the studio.

And I know, I probably sound super lame and boring right now. I want you to skip aerial and take a Pilates class? Whatever…..

But even if you don’t take my advice today, I hope you keep this message in the back of your mind:

Train for your life, and you’ll be training for what you love now and when you’re 80. Because I want you to be as badass when you’re 80 as you are now.

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