March 5, 2020
As a kid, one of my favorite parts of the summer was going to gymnastics camp and bouncing the day away on the long trampoline. However, I eventually stopped liking gymnastics and have not touched it for nearly a decade.
My sister has done aerial silks on-and-off for years and was bugging me to try it. Well, Zoe? You win.
Monday, January 28th, 3:25 PM. My dad and I arrive at the gym for my private lesson. The instructor, Michelle, was a family friend and the first person in Alamance County, North Carolina to teach an aerial silks class. Michelle taught me that the art itself originated from pirates who liked to artistically swing from softer ropes and was made famous by none other than Cirque du Soleil.
Of course, before every long workout, one must warm up. We did a couple of basic exercises like jumping jacks and different types of push-ups, along with some stretches that really tested my right hamstring.
After the stretching was over, I had to do one last thing before I started: apply rosin to my hands. Rosin is a substance extracted from pine trees often used by baseball pitchers to help them grip the ball better when throwing. With the rosin applied to my hands– and a little on my feet because you need all of your limbs to perform well– I only feared for my life a little bit.
It was time to actually start using the silks. First, I learned how to properly wrap the silks around my feet so I could stand up for certain tricks. I practiced doing a backflip while hanging on from both strands of silks. I was not necessarily far from the ground, but I had not done a backflip before so the experience was riveting. Eventually, I learned more and more tactics, including a pose called “Titanic,” a position resembling the iconic shot of Rose extending her arms out as Jack held her at the bow of the ship.
After one pose I felt a little nauseous and we had about ten minutes left in the private lesson, so Michelle taught me how to do my favorite part about aerial silks: the cocoon. The cocoon, as pictured, is intended to act as an enclosed space where you can rest. The steps are as follows: First, tie the two silks into a knot that is at about waist level. Next, straddle the knot as if you were getting on a horse. After that, scoot backward until you can fully sit on the silk in the back. You then kick your legs up and over the knot, and the final step is to relax.
Going into this experience, I was very scared that it would require a lot of strength to perform some of the basic exercises, but I was simultaneously excited to try something very new to me. Perhaps it was that the only previous experience I had heard about was my sister Zoe climbing to the top of the silks on her first day there, but I did not think I could do a backflip on silks with great ease. Not only did I accomplish that, but I also spun and swung around like never before. Even though I do not think I will start doing this regularly, I would easily recommend giving this a try at least once. In aerial silks, you too can fly high.