Curvy Girl Aerial
Attitude is Everything
In aerial arts, as in the rest of life, perspective can greatly inform your experience. If you have an idea of how you think an aerialist is supposed to look or to be, throw that idea out the window. Aerial arts are for everyone.
Contrary to popular belief, most of us don’t start training as children. Aerial arts are practiced and performed by people of all ages, backgrounds, shapes and sizes, all skill levels, and all abilities, too.
If you don’t already know, people are celebratingcurves in aerial arts on Instagram, on blogs, and elsewhere across the interwebs, not to mention at studio communities, schools, and performance venues around the world. There are countless plus size aerial artists who share the love of movement off the ground.
The Power of Plus Size
Everyone brings great gifts to the practice. As an aerialist, you find gorgeous, creative ways to move in space. The expressive quality and freedom of movement in the aerial arts are incredible, but not without their challenges.
Some aerialists with bigger bodies find that their weight distribution varies from that of other body types. This can affect balance. For example, front and back balances may be a little trickier, and sitting up from a knee hang could feel different too.
You’ll find your body in highly unusual positions with lots of pressure in odd places. Aerial can be uncomfortable, even painful at times. But don’t let this deter you. Keep in mind thatyourunique physique can create beautiful shapes and lines that others’ cannot. It’s important to be kind to yourself, celebrate your victories, and acknowledge that building strength takes time and patience.
Photo from @a_silent_woman
Spotting Considerations for Bigger Bodies
At any stage in your aerial training, work with a qualified instructor. A good aerial teacher will be competent at teaching techniques for all body types, and not let any student try moves they aren’t ready for yet. Your instructor should be able to modify exercises for you to accommodate and emphasize your unique abilities. They will help you feel supported both mentally and physically, and they will adjust sequences to avoid moves they are not able to spot safely. All aerialists should work with a thick crash mat.
To build strength gradually and feel successful during the beginning stages of your training, try shoulder shrugs on silks, trapeze, sling, or hoop, always using good form. You can also lift your feet off the floor with control to strengthen your abdominal muscles. You’ll be strengthening your grip with these conditioning exercises, too.
If you get a questionable vibe from a school, studio, class, or teacher, it may be worth looking for another one.
Photo from @adventuretimeopal
Making it Happen
If trying your hands at aerial arts is your dream, don’t wait. If you want to deepen your practice in aerial yoga, Lyra, aerial silks, or another aerial apparatus, the time is always now.
Everyone should check with their doctor before starting a new form of exercise. Find your local aerial school and ask to observe a class, or jump right into a beginning or mixed level course and get inspired! You will amaze yourself when you find what your body can do in the air. As a curvy girl aerialist, you’re not only living your own dream but you’re also helping to change the world one climb at a time.
Photo from @aerialfreak
A quote from Deidre Ingraham (@aerialfreak)
"What if I fall? Oh, my darling, what if you fly?!
Being a plus-size aerialist makes you a rare flower indeed. You don't see many of us out there, but we ARE out there! Our struggle is different from ours not as a curvy sister and brother. There is more to work around, more to lift. We deal with the mental games of watching others succeed, that girl over there just pulled off a move I've been working on for 5 months in one night kind of thing. Despite the fact that we know we shouldn't compare ourselves to others, we still do it. It's hard, I've definitely had moments where I just wanted to throw in the towel. But I didn't. I kept showing up. I kept telling myself, this is the thing I love, I'm not going to let these small(ish) details hold me back from doing this thing that creates so much passion and joy in my life. I notice the way flying makes me feel. How my curves hold me in place better than the next person in certain moves. When I make shapes (making shapes is one of my favorite parts!) I notice that the way my body curves looks nice in all the shapes.
Once again, it can be hard when you lose sight. It's important to remind yourself, this is YOUR story! Not hers, not his, not theirs, YOURS! If you want it, do it! Don't let anything, or anyone, especially yourself, stop you!"
For many aerialists and aerial yogis, an outdoor setup is ideal for the practice. It’s true that a portable rig makes aerial arts accessible in virtually any location. It can open doors to opportunities and offer rigging solutions to that familiar dilemma: where to find space to work.
What better way to celebrate these values than to fly free out in the open air?
Whether times are good or extremely challenging, many of us need a community to embrace -- even if our only way to connect has been virtual for much of 2020. Now that some aerial studios are allowed to start to open up again, many aerialists and aerial yogis will be breathing a sigh of relief as they anticipate getting back to the practice.