Being in the aerial industry for several years now I have heard some shocking aerial advice. After writing about aerial rigging and safety it came across my mind that it’s important to know what bad advice is! Why? So we don’t take it.
We look up to our instructors but they may not always advise us to the right or safe action. Here are a few advice shockers. If your teachers tell you to do any of the below head for the hills!
I remember being told when I first started silks to:
Grab a sheet and tie it to some monkey bars to practice on.
Looking back I am so glad I was smarter than that. There are so many things that could have gone wrong like the sheet ripping mid invert and leaving me with a split skull.
Aerial silks are made of poly tricot fabric, you want to ensure that your fabric comes from a quality manufacturuer beacasue that baby is your life line when you are performing drops and inverts in the air.
Swivel isn’t smooth. Teacher: nah it’s been like that for years, it’s fine.
When it comes to swivels you can’t back it up with rigging. That means that there is no way to ensure if it fails that the performer will not fall. You cannot add anything to the system to act as a safety if the swivel stops working or breaks. If the rigging does not feel right, get off it.
Practice inverts on doorframe pull-up bars…
Do I even need to explain this one?
From an instructor I was not used to working with:
“There’s no possible way you can fall out of this move, your gut instincts will kick in and you’ll shoot out your arms to prevent you from falling.”Guess what, I fell anyway lol.
There’s a huge difference between “it is physically impossible to fall because of the way your body is positioned in the apparatus” and “don’t worry, your subconscious mind will make sure you catch yourself.” If you don’t feel safe doing a move don’t go ahead with it.
“I had an instructor in my first year of doing silks offer to loan me some silks. I told her I had no place to hang them, and she said there must be a good tree somewhere in my neighborhood I could hang off of. I was pretty shocked because I had already done enough research on tree rigging to know that was unsafe.”
In a manual from an aerial yoga teacher training it encouraged rigging from trees for ourselves and our students.
A studio I used to go to, the owner once said “the weather is nice, we could take the hoops down to the green and hang them in trees”. When I tried to tell her that wasn’t safe, she just said ‘nah we’ll just use thick branches’
She hadn’t washed the silks in the three years that they’d been up because she couldn’t be bothered getting the ladders out. Which probably means she hadn’t checked the rigging in 3 years either.
Rigging needs to be checked every month. You need to inspect equipment for cracks, tears, fraying and so many other facets. Studios need to keep records up to date of monthly rigging checks.
“You’re overthinking this. An eye bolt is all you need.” Take a guess for what. Silks….
Never ever use anything except for professional rigging equipment. If you are thinking of rigging in your home ensure that a structural engineer checks your beams first!
Anyone who suggests falls and injuries are just part of the course and you need to toughen up and get used to them
“I’ll just use this old mattress I was going to throw away”
Using any kind of padding or safety mat that is not specifically designed for aerial is not ok. Like using mats for pole dancing for silks or Lyra. So dangerous.
Most pole mats I’ve seen are far too thin, designed for drops from much lower heights.Bouldering mats are probably good, considering they are designed for height and awkward drops. Gymnastics mats vary, some are meant for floor work and some for work at height, so it really depends.But just grabbing a squishy object and layering it with other cushioning is a big no.
A teacher once told me that it didn’t really matter if my carabiner was locked or not (spoiler alert: it definitely does)
The scary thing about this one is I have heard this too! Make sure you are locked in.
First I want to be very clear that this story does not involve the studio I started learning aerial in, nor is it the studio I currently train in. I was visiting a studio once when traveling for work and took a hammock private. I don’t have a lot of quad flexibility, and the instructor told me to just push through a transition that involved a lot of quad flexibility just to hit a final pose. Thankfully, I was experienced enough to know that the transition was not safe for me to perform and I declined. An instructor should never tell a student to push themselves past a safe limit, and just because your instructor tells you “you’ll be fine,” you know your body better than they do. Challenging yourself to improve is different than forcing your body into a position you know isn’t for you!
I damaged my shoulder ligament in my dominant hand, and twisted grip is a no go now in pole as a result. She got pissy with me because I refused to try a twisted grip handspring, even after telling her it hurt me and I had a previous injury
“If you’re not in pain, you’re not doing it right.” – My dance teacher growing up about literally everything. I later found out that was literally not even remotely correct and this woman had no formal training or physical education.
“I don’t believe in spotting.”
I’ve heard or seen the following:
Beginners spot beginners
Aerial owner and instructor purposely ignoring and making fun of aerial safety.
“Cirque du Soleil performs over concrete…”
Most adult gymnastics classes I’ve been to are either a) do whatever you want, we’ll show you how or b) let’s do this skill. Both without:* any questioning about previous experience, conditioning, pre-existing conditions that might need to be accounted for.
Do stiff-elbowed, bouncing pushups across a sprung floor. Never having done plyometric conditioning before, I was in surgery two weeks later for a massive SLAP lesion. Should I have questioned the coach (16yo)? Maybe. But when you’re being coached you assume coaches know what they’re talking about…
Jumping push ups are a nightmare if you’ve never done them before. One should NEVER lock elbows and that should have been communicated by your coach.