If you have been following me on Instagram and Facebook, you may have seen my most recent achievement – flipping my grip! I have always gained strength much more easily than flexibility, however a quick scan through my posts from the last few months and I’m starting to change my mind.
A long time ago I read somewhere that if you desire to be flexible you should start doing flexible tricks (der!). This sounds super obvious, yet it is surprisingly common to see people avoid certain aerial tricks or transitions because they have convinced themselves they can’t do them.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for ignoring signs that your body has had enough. Always listen to your body and never push your joints and muscles too far. But, with safe training in mind, have you considered that there could be some front split or side split moves that you can do, even though you don’t quite have a flat split floor?
At the beginning of June I made a commitment to myself to try more flexy moves rather than avoid them based on my assumption that I am not flexible. After just one week I was sorting out the videos of my phone and found screen shots like this –
If you look closely in the third photo you can see the reflection of the pose in the mirror. I’ll be honest, appearing flexible is just as much about perspective and angles as it is actual mobility. Regardless, I felt that I was on to something!
Each training session, whether at home doing yoga, or in the studio in the air, I reminded myself to try a splitty trick, or a back bend pose. During my warm ups I also incorporated more dynamic kicks, silencing the voices that told me “your kicks are not high enough”, “you look silly”, “just do 5 pull ups, it’s much more impressive!”
Exploring these new poses, I was also able to find a way to make them work for me. Having hips like Cleo the Hurricane is not one of my short term goals, but in the right poses my splits can still present with good lines and be dramatic enough for an audience to say wow!
The final push into completely re-framing my perceptions of my dance abilities came during aerial hoop class just last week. I have a tendency to skip through the pose of splits under the bar, never thinking it was worth holding because my splits on the ground were still rubbish. But since adding more front split moves into my aerial repertoire, guess how they looked? My training buddy called out, “look at your splits!” and when I took them time to extend through the pose, I even shocked myself.
So my advice to you is to get out of your head! Stop comparing your body to other people’s and start focusing on what you’ve got. Visualization works for learning choreography and routines, so why not apply the same techniques to your flexibility training? Fake it, ’til you make it, and you might find you make it sooner than you think!
On a final note, before there are too many questions, I am continuing to train my square splits diligently, as well as doing my contortion drills from circus class. Believing you are flexible is just part of the journey, but a very important one to share.