“I guess it’s ok. But…”
That back-handed self assurance we have all been guilty of inflicting upon ourselves in class.
Think about all the times you’ve made a self observation on your progress in pole and/or aerials – Can you fairly say the number of times you’ve said or thought something positive about your skill you learn in class every week?
I thought so – you can probably see that the negatives have outweighed the positive things you’ve had to say or think for yourself in regards to your training and progress.
We’ve all been there, even the best of the best polebrities and champion aerialists. Negative self-talk is a habit that is as easy as 1-2-3 to get into, but yet like learning how to invert for the first time – it almost seems impossible to learn how to get that negativity out of your life and be more nurturing and kinder to yourself and your bod.
But here now, you must be thinking, yes, I know – negative self talk is bad. But I am bad at x/y/z on the pole or silks or, “it is what it is.” (cue the defeated shrug). But what can I do to turn my thinking and self-talk into a GOOD habit that will greatly benefit my training?
Well I’m glad you asked! Here is one small thing you can start with that will make big differences in your performance in class.
A small disclaimer before we continue: This is not an overnight fix – you need to make the time for #1 (yourself)! Patience and persistence are key in achieving the amazing feats we dream of doing in this sport. You got this!
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE (and more practice)!
Now, I’ve put this here for good reason. Mostly because when we begin to learn to spin, climb and go upside down – one hour a week of practising in your class is just not going to cut it for most individuals, especially when progressing into higher levels. Are you fresh off the couch? Or never done any sport before and probably just swim or go to the gym? Then come to practise.
When learning new skills in our classes, we begin at The Cognitive Stage of our learning process. This means learning new skills requires plenty of conscious thought.
This is when having an instructor to help you learn your new skills is super important to go over the most important parts of learning the tricks (safety, directionality, transitions, progressions, regressions etc.)
Sure, you still would not have smashed that trick out as soon as you’d learnt the bare bones of it, but this is when practise comes in handy. It’s like pre-heating the oven before you bake some cookies – the process becomes more refined, and the end result is much better.
Regular practise will help you move on from the Cognitive stage of learning and into the second of all three stages: The Motor Stage.
Muscle memory is generally the term that comes to mind when first learning about the motor stage. Although not entirely correct, muscle memory is actually your brain develops new movement patterns that our central nervous system remembers. The trick you’ve been practising becomes a little smoother, more fluid, and a little less scary.
You now know what you need to do, and less time is spent on thinking about how to do the trick, and more time is spent on working on it. This leads to the third and last part of our learning process: The Autonomous stage.
As the name suggests, this is when through discipline and dedication of your time and effort, the movements become automatic. The muscle memory is there, the pathways are solidly programmed into our brains and memories, and now that you’ve got the trick down, you can now concentrate on even more refining! Remembering the next move in what’s now a combo with your trick, pointing your feet and so on!
Not sure what to do next? Well, then, as you hear it like a record stuck on repeat – now train it on your other side! Mwa ha ha ha ha.
But in all seriousness. Practise is key to getting the most out of your classes and time at the studio. So what are you waiting for? Book one in now! You’ll find that negativity will begin to melt away and you will find yourself watching your tricks with a new sense of pride and achievement, like you should!
My suggestion is to start by adding in just one practice a week so as not to overload your body or schedule, then as you progress, you can add one more every few weeks until you find balance that is right for you.
Happy training everyone!
-Danielle Umar, Pole and Aerials instructor at En Pointe Aerial Academy