“Before You Are Amazing, You Must Be a Beginner”
I’m not even sure of how many times I have said this sentence to myself. On repeat, over and over, like a mantra, while I gracelessly bounced through a mixed level Pole Dancing class with girls that could literally float horizontally at eye level. Am I supposed to know how to do that?! I’m not even able to pick both of my feet up off of the ground yet.. I’m not even sure I’m walking properly, and that’s something I thought I had pretty well under control!
Well here’s the answer: NO.
You are not “supposed” to know how to do anything, and that is more than okay!
The biggest detriment to success and accomplishment that I have ever met is self-doubt. How many times have you heard of someone starting a health or fitness regimen just to give up a few weeks in? They always say the same things, “I just can’t keep up with it; I can’t stick to that diet; I’m not strong/athletic enough to do this program; I’m not [insert self-depreciating adjective] enough for that gym”. All of these sentences that begin with “I can’t” or “I’m not” are born from self-doubt and a continuously forgotten concept:
Everyone starts somewhere.
The most beautiful ballet dancer was once uncoordinated. The strongest woman you have ever met could pick up no more than the weight bar once. Those agile, graceful pole dancers couldn’t even lift their feet up off of the ground in their first class. What do these women have in common that allowed them to make their progress and accomplish those goals?
Self-doubt did not win.
They, instead, said: “I can and I will”.
So how are you supposed to do that? How are you supposed to kick self-doubt in the teeth when it’s been whispering negative thoughts in your ears forever? That’s what Suspended in Motion is all about. I’m here to hopefully help you, the scared beginner, the doubtful intermediate, or the frustrated professional, to continue on even when it seems impossible. This feeling is not exclusive to any level, and is so overwhelmingly normal, that it should never be the reason to stop your momentum.
SO, let’s move on to some tips for getting over your fears and grabbing that program with both hands, shall we??
#1 Research your area of interest.
Before you ever begin, really look into what you are starting. This is very important to put your expectations into perspective! Watch videos on Youtube, look up tutorials, read others’ experiences, even look into the history or origins of your particular movement. Are there prerequisites? Should you have taken a “Beginner” class or program before moving on? This can really help you in the long run and keep you from becoming discouraged right off the bat!
#2 Speak up for what you want.
Never done yoga before? Tell your instructor! Need extra help because of a previous injury? Tell your instructor! Feel like you’re ready to move on to a harder composition or build on your foundation? …you guessed it; Tell your instructor! They are there to help and, trust me, they love it when people are upfront and say what it is they want or don’t want. But what if you’re not taking a guided course? Speak up to your peers! There are so many venues in which to talk to others that have been exactly where you are now; why not take advantage of that wealth of knowledge? You can even start right here at Suspended in Motion, where I can guarantee you a safe environment!
#3 DO NOT compare yourself to others!
This one is the MOST important to me and, essentially, why I decided to write this blog. Comparing yourself to another person is the fastest path down that road of self-doubt we were talking about. [Unless, of course, you are a competitor, but that’s another form of comparison that can be productive]. We can all relate here! Now let me give you some perspective on this…
A new girl walks into my pole dancing class and kills it:
Me to myself – “That girl started at this studio after I did.. How can she do that? I can’t do that. I’m not as graceful as she is. I’m definitely not able to dance like THAT! Well.. maybe I just shouldn’t do this?”
Her to herself – “She is so strong! Look, she can do pull ups! I don’t think I’ll ever be that strong. Well, that’s discouraging..”
What are we missing? EVERYTHING. The only thing the new girl was “new” at was Pole Dancing; she had 5+ years of dance experience under her belt! Prior to my start at this studio, I was a beginner weightlifter. Do you see how this information could have greatly influenced how we felt about ourselves and our current capabilities? Of course, I wasn’t going to be graceful like she was! How could I?!
Every person you come in contact with has vastly different skills, experiences, and natural inclinations. Without knowing these, you’re not comparing yourself realistically! So, if you really want to compare anyone, compare YOU now to YOU yesterday and no one else.
We’re all pretty freaking awesome here.
#4 Record yourself, watch those videos.
Go through my phone, I promise you will find at least 50 [very embarrassing] videos of me flailing around my living room, studio, life… And I love every one of them. Each video can be a representation of where you were or the steps you are taking to get where you’re going. A difficult flow on a Lyra Hoop is made much more difficult when you can’t even see yourself and, let’s face it, no one can successfully keep a Lyra from rotating your body juuuuuust out of vision in a mirror. So tape it! Often! Then go back, watch your mistakes for corrections and, more importantly, watch your progress from one video to the next.
#5 Give yourself time.
When you were younger, time seemed an immeasurable thing. It would go on forever! There was nothing you couldn’t accomplish because there were no time frames in which they needed to be accomplished. You could jump on your bike and immediately fall over again and again because there was always tomorrow! And who cared when you got it, anyway? Man, you had so much fun then and guess what : You learned to ride your bike.
Why is your workout any different?! Do you want to be able to do a wide-grip pull up? Well then give yourself some time, have fun, and I can promise that it will happen. The more you worry about how long it is taking or how many attempts you have made, the less fun you have and the more you really limit yourself on what you can actually accomplish. Every time you say “I’ve tried that ten times! I’m never going to get it. Just forget it”, you are making your own negative thoughts come true.
You will never get it if you give up. And you will always give up if you don’t get out of that instant gratification mindset.
#6 Make friends or bring one with you.
People need people! That’s why we build big cities on top of each other, collect in communities, and thrive when given true support from our peers. Maybe you are better on your own, but for most of us, feeling alone can really halt our progress or make us rethink our decisions. It can also keep us from seeing a different perspective or positive things about ourselves that are too often clouded by that pesky self-doubt creature.
I can’t stress this enough: Your workouts should be fun. Do you have more fun surrounded by others? Then surround yourself! One of the best things about Aerial Fitness is the community. Strong, creative, kind people come together for an adult playground like you have never seen before. I can tell you from experience, sharing a Lyra Hoop with a partner can really turn your whole day around and at the end of the class you ask yourself, “Did I just workout????”
If you’re not ready to make friends just yet, how about bringing one?? Friendships are built on common themes, or interests, so what better friendship could be made than one surrounding a common interest? One that is started, supported and skyrocketed by a goal shared between two [or more] people. You could do weekly Pilates days [a little wine and physical activity, anyone?], go rollerblading in the park with your bestie, or take a new friend to a class you are already established in. Each of these is full of positive outcomes for everyone involved!
Aerial is better with a buddy, anyway! Just look at how these two besties support each other!
#7 Break a bigger goal into multiple smaller goals.
In order to do a headstand, you must have core engagement. This is a fact. You will either injure yourself or never complete the goal without a strong, engaged core. If you have never attempted to really control the muscles of your abdomen or keep them tight around you, this will be very difficult! So, first thing has to be first! Take that headstand and begin with a smaller movement; a Boat pose [Navasana] or Dolphin plank [Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana] will begin to get those muscles ready for a larger pose.
Breaking things down in this manner will give you realistic goals and keep you from getting discouraged if at first you don’t succeed.
#8 Remember, there is only the goal vs reality.
A pretty bad ass Yoga Instructor named Bethany once said to a beginner’s Vinyasa Flow class I was visiting that “you’re not supposed to be anywhere, there is only the ultimate pose and your current reality!” As long as you are working towards that ultimate end, you are working the correct muscles, and will eventually achieve. This really resonated with me and I thought, why can’t we apply this to all physical fitness, nutrition, and overall health? She would show the final pose, what our goal would be, and then the steps to reach that goal; one at a time. Wherever your maximum was, that was your reality and you would work from there, eyes on the prize style. Once you reach that goal, create a new one and work through the steps again. This is a great technique to keep focused, form realistic expectations for yourself, and track progress in a definable, palpable way. Have you ever felt anything more encouraging than progress? I know I haven’t!
“you’re not supposed to be anywhere, there is only the ultimate pose and your current reality!”
As long as you are working towards that ultimate end, you are working the correct muscles, and will eventually achieve. This really resonated with me and I thought, why can’t we apply this to all physical fitness, nutrition, and overall health? She would show the final pose, what our goal would be, and then the steps to reach that goal; one at a time.
Wherever your maximum was, that was your reality and you would work from there, eyes on the prize style. Once you reach that goal, create a new one and work through the steps again. This is a great technique to keep focused, form realistic expectations for yourself, and track progress in a definable, palpable way. Have you ever felt anything more encouraging than progress? I know I haven’t!
Come post your progress pictures, videos, stories, or poses in the open Forum and don’t forget to create a username to keep track of all your conversations!
Like this beautiful yoga progression!
Thank you all for reading my very first blog entry; I hope you were able to get some goodness out of it or, at least, I’ve piqued your interest enough to come visit me again! Don’t forget to stop by the About Me section to see what got me into all this mess and why Aerial Acrobatics is so damn cool.
You guys are the best,