Beginning Aerial FAQ’s

Commonly Asked Beginner’s Questions
How strong do I need to be to begin training aerials?
The quick answer–you don’t need any amount of upper body strength to begin training aerials–that said the stronger you are, the easier it will be for you to progress quickly. Most aerial instructors assume that new students coming in have never tried anything like aerials in their life, and are not used to lifting/pushing/pulling their own body weight. Many will start you in a sling (a set of fabrics with a knot tied in the bottom) to get you used to the feel of fabric before making you support your own body weight.

[ This FAQ was lifted from: http://www.airtemple.com/classes/beginner-silks-faq ]

I’m really excited for my first class! What should I do to prepare?
Anything physical that you can do, including cardio, will help to get you in shape for your first lesson. Aerial work really targets the upper body and core however, so putting more of your focus on those areas will be a boon to your training in the long run. For core work hollow body holds or leg lifts will help you, and for upper body pull ups are hands down the most helpful training you can do. If you can’t do pull ups, try horizontal rows! It’s really important to make sure that every exercise you do you’re doing with proper form and engagement to prevent injury. Check out the good folks at /r/bodyweightfitness for beginner bodyweight fitness programs to compliment your aerial practice.

I’m afraid of heights, but I really want to try aerials! Help!
Never fear! Pretty much every aerial teach starts their students doing everything on the ground, while they learn the wraps and techniques for any given trick. From there instructors will usually ask you to try the trick you’ve been practicing from a climb. Then two climbs, etc. Every aerial instructor’s number one concern is your safety. If their number one concern seems to be something else, you should probably find a new instructor. Even if you start out with a fear of heights, you’ll soon find that you’re climbing to the top of the silk because you feel confident there. More than a few aerialists are scared of heights, but because so much prep goes into training that they feel comfortable in the air on their apparatus because they’re one hundred percent in control, whereas even ladders may still make them queasy.

I’m worried that I’ll be terrible at aerials.
It’s entirely true that you may come out of your first class having done everything totally wrong. Does that mean you suck? Absolutely not! There are a few things to keep in mind when you start aerials (and never forget them), and whenever you’re feeling frustrated. 1. Learning aerials is incredibly hard. A skilled aerialist will make everything they do look easy–that’s their job. However it makes it confusing for you the student, because everything feels hard. That’s just how it is. If aerials was easy, it wouldn’t be cool and anyone would do it.

2. Aerial class is not a contest. Yes, that former gymnast next to you may have a perfect straddle, and you’re just barely hitting 90°, but who cares? Everyone has different strengths, and learns at a different pace. Some people are stronger, some people are bendier, some have the ability to see a trick once and do it. If one person has all those things as a beginner? Lucky them, but it doesn’t reflect on you. If you find you’re just not getting something in class, and are getting frustrated ask your instructor if you can move on and come back to it later.

3. The most important thing to get out of an aerials class is accomplishing your own goals. It doesn’t matter what those goals are; to just have fun, to get strong, to learn skills for a performance, whatever.