Hey there! Before I get into the juicy tips on ''how to become awesome'' at whatever skill you are working on, let me tell you a little bit about myself. Don't worry, I am not going to talk about which competitions I won, where I performed, blablabla... That stuff is boring to read or at least, it feels weird to write. Instead, I will tell you how ungifted I was as a child, when it came to movement.
- The following examples are not even a bit exaggerated or fictional. They were my reality believe it or not. I feel the need to state that I am not an idiot, on the contrary, my problem was that I was overthinking everything. So my problem was, my mind not being connected to my body! -
You know the intuitive and automatic little things that your body does, without you even realising it, like swallowing or breathing? Yeah, my body did not do them automatically! There were times when I had to carefully observe other people around me, to see if they were swallowing or spitting out that weird liquid that seems to fill my mouth with no apparent reason! I was amazed by how everybody remembered to breathe! Walking was relatively easy, but climbing the stairs was a whole other story: ''How do they arrange their steps so they don't trip? They look like they are not even looking, OMG, now I am here I need to lift my leg up.... Sigh, I made it...''. I know, it does not sound possible, but that was my reality. I spent years tripping on my own feet in attempts of walking and talking at the same time (talk about multitasking...),
Against all odds, I started dancing! I sucked at sports and dance in the beginning, but I am a warrior, I like challenges. Unexpectedly, I fell passionately in love with dancing and discovering what I am capable of doing with my body... This love affair brought many things in my path, always staying a bit more on the hobby side, until I started dancing in the air. The first time I stumbled upon a circus space, watching all those aerialists moving effortlessly and elegantly in the air, I knew what I wanted to be a professional performer. Now, you may think that I would be at least A LITTLE talented to dream about such a thing, as common sense would dictate, but I wasn't :). In fact, my dad who has always supported me at ANYTHING I want to be (including a welder in a bike shop or a tattooist), offered me to rethink my decision. I was that BAD. But don't take my word for it, see for yourself:
- This is a video collection of me trying to learn aerial silk in NY Trapeze Schools. These are not my first lessons, mind you, I have been going there for at least 3-4 hours a day for 2 months... I thank my instructors who have been patient with me, even though I made them crazy...
Go on, please feel free to laugh :), I do! Now let's take a look at the dramatic change I went through, shall we? This is a compilation of my winning performances and planned/improvised shows from 2014 and 2015. I am happy to say that in 2016, I am stronger and AWESOMER then ever...
So... How did I do it? Obviously with A LOT OF TRAINING and DEDICATION, but there is some key points that helped me along the way. The list is very long, but I would like to share the 3 MOST IMPORTANT ones I cherish a lot.
1.BE DELUSIONAL...and take it SERIOUSLY!
What I mean by being delusional, is actually a concept that is very fashionable: Positive thinking. Now, I want you to take this ''Positive Thinking'' idea like a balloon and continue to blow air in it until it is ridiculously BIG! That is where your mindset to be at. ALL... THE... TIME...
- Remember the clumsy me at the video that we just laughed at? I was looking at those videos and seeing a beautiful swan back in the day! I could not believe how beautiful I looked on silk. I don't know if my brain was temporarily damaged or something, but it completely REFUSED to see the failed attempts and only concentrated on the details that looked good.
You may question this method, and you may be right, but you know what? It kept me going. Every day I was on that damn silks, training and failing for hours, just because I thought I looked good. In the end, when it comes to skill learning and physical training; all that matters is constant practice. Unfortunately, failure is an inevitable part of an athlete life and glorious moments are only %5 of the whole process. So get ready to embrace the suck and still enjoy the process by simply concentrating on the good bits. If you are not naturally delusional like me, you may need to fake it till you make it :).
- I suggest taking a lot of videos of yourself, in every training sessions and find at least 5 things that you like about YOU, at the end of each session. Sometimes, it may only be the fact that you were able to get your ass up and train! Hey, some days, it is really worth to praise that as well! Go easy on yourself and you will see that, eventually, you WILL get there.-
2. START CARING ABOUT YOUR POSTURE...NOW!
I can't stress how important this really is, especially for skills that requires you to isometrically hold your pose (rings a bell? holding flags and stuff?). To be able to engage your whole body, your muscles need to work in a very balanced way. If you are anything like me -not a natural athlete- your body is not very well aligned, and this means some of your muscles have actually never really worked. In my case, They have become lazy, while the others who were doing all the heavy work became too reactive.
- If ''I can't believe you are not able to do this, you are actually stronger than me'' is a regular phrase that bugs you in your training sessions. Going to a GOOD physiotherapist and checking your posture can be your salvation! -
My physio adventure took me a year, until I could really start feeling the effects. I am still visiting him at least once a month to get checked out for possible imbalances. You will be surprised how silly our bodies are and they really need or minds to keep them in check. Of course it does not help that I am doing a super unbalanced artsy thing called POLE DANCE :D. More on that later...
3.PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE... FIND A COACH!
If you want to move forward at anything that you do, you need to get stronger. I don't mean STRONG as in MUSCLE-STRONG though, you need to get stronger on your weakest points. This may be your coordination, flexibility, explosive strength, mental strength or anything that you are not good at. Take a pick, write down your weakest points and FIND SOMEONE to teach you how to get better. The fact that you have those weak sides means that you are not intuitively good at them, that is why you would pay a coach who is an expert on the subject. This coach person does not necessarily need to be in your field, there is a lot of information that will help you in all other athletic fields too. So be flexible in your search for a trainer, and work one weak skill at a time. Remember, you want to stay DELUSIONALLY POSITIVE in your training.
If you don't have the resources to find a good trainer, there is many online training systems available. My favourite online community is the GMB. They have a large variety of training programs for your needs and very easy-to-follow progressions/instructions. Also they have a membership system in which you can create a training log, for GMB trainers to help you with any questions or problems you might have. Other community members are also very helpful and supportive. Plus they have great articles on anything you might wonder... Go check them out nevertheless ;).-
Last but not least on this subject; it is so relaxing to have somebody looking out for you! Even if you are a trainer yourself and you have a pretty good idea of what you are doing, it is pretty hard to observe yourself objectively. That is where a trustworthy trainer comes in very handy. My next post will be about how to choose the right trainer. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it :).