Updated: Feb 21, 2019
New students to an aerial class come from many different places. Gymnasts see a performance or video and recognize movement patterns that they have experienced. Dancers are attracted to the movement and the grace. Fitness buffs are always looking for fun workouts. And some new students will be coming off the couch. As an aerial arts and pole instructor you will likely have many fitness levels, strength levels and body awareness levels happening in a beginning class. A great instructor will have some tricks up her sleeve to help reach new students.
Making the choice to come to a fitness class or dance class is difficult for many people. All new students feel awkward, uncoordinated and not strong or pretty in the beginning. Most of us remember the first months of aerial arts or pole and it was exciting and new, but also required perseverance.
We define that average client as a person who does not have years of training in gymnastics, dance, acrobatics and therefore may not have the necessary body awareness or strength required to be competition or performance ready within a matter of months. There is nothing wrong with this, not everyone wants to be a gymnast or has put 10,000 hours into a related sport. This client could be very fit; he or she could participant in other sports or workout regularly. The other side of this is a client who is not very fit. In my previous post, Training De-Conditioned Clients , I discussed the psychology and blocks that new students face.
For some people the reason they are not in shape is that they have never found an activity that they love and a great instructor can help a new student fall in love with aerial arts and pole. Another important thing to keep in mind, working out is a lifestyle change. A student’s social groups influence their extra curricular activities. It is hard to change your pattern and start attending a class after work instead of going to happy hour with friends, spending time with family or collapsing into the couch.
Insider Tips for Teaching Successful Aerial Hoop Classes
Brand New Students
The number one problem you will have in your beginning aerial hoop classes is lack of strength. The irony of aerial hoop is that getting in the hoop can be the most difficult part of class, as it generally requires a pull-up of sorts and complete activation of the core and upper body. Most students are not doing pull-up training at home before they come to an aerial hoop class. Here are some teaching tips that can help you have successful aerial hoop classes and reach de-conditioned clients.
Lower the Hoop
Do not get caught up in ego or laziness, if a student cannot get into the hoop and is therefore struggling lower the hoop. At all Atmosphere Fitness beginning classes and trainings we lower the hoop to chest height. This way students use less energy. Doing a straight-arm pull-up is cool but is it a realistic request of beginning students? They need time to build strength and body awareness.
Teach the Vine Climb
The vine climb in a simple entrance that does not require complex strength movement. Most new students will have no trouble doing this entrance. Begin with the hands on one side of the hoop about halfway down or three-quarters down. Lift the opposite leg up into the center of the hoop and catch at the knee pit. Engage the leg muscles and core and walk the hands up the side of the hoop. When able reach across the hoop so that the hands are on opposite sides of the hoop. Come up to a seated scissors position. If your student is not getting this entrance, lower the hoop even more.
At our Aerial Hoop Level One Training we offer many different entrances that are not as taxing strength wise. We want students to be able to get into the hoop, and a surprising amount will struggle with the aerial mount. By the way, here are two posts I wrote about the Mechanics of the Aerial Mount and Working the Aerial Mount.
The reason students struggle getting into the hoop, is lack of strength and lack of understanding the mechanics of the movement. As an instructor you need to make the call when a student needs to not work full strength training moves, but to modify. Strengthing training is very important and especially with beginning students. They will eventually have to learn all the movement patterns and build the strength to perform the movement. Giving students easier entrances in the beginning is a good way to keep class flowing, but eventually students will have to learn the aerial mount. Progressing students and teaching conditioning moves can help students get there safely and with good form. Incorporating conditioning into a long dynamic warm-up is a great way to get the blood moving. Conditioning can also be adding throughout class and even at the end of class. Here are a few conditioning moves.
The Lock Off
Begin with the arms bent and close into the chest. Engage the shoulder blades back and down, release the shoulders down the back. Engage the core. With control, lift the legs up into a tuck position, hold, and slowly with control release down to the ground. No thuding!
Begin with the arms bent and close into the chest. Engage as above and tuck up one leg, come up on the toe of the standing leg for a little bit more. Slowly release down and try the other side.
Plank Roll Out
Begin under the hoop in an overhand grip. Scapular retract and shoulders and drop them down. Engage the core ( not just your abs, your obliques, low back and lower abs too) with control roll out to a plank position coming up on the toes. Feel the core working, stay strong in the legs and stay engaged in the upper body. Roll back to standing slowly.
Knee Tucks and Modified Knee Tucks
The knee tuck builds core and upper body at the same time, bonus!
Begin in a lengthened out supine plank ( face upward), engage the core, and pull the shoulder blades down and back, taking the shoulders away from the ears. With control pull the body up toward the hoop; this is a modified pull-up. Begin Students with this movement.
To work the knee tucks stay in the supine plank, engage the core and stay strong in the legs and tuck the knee up toward the face. Crunch the abs and connect the core to the leg muscles. Alternate sides.
Engage the shoulder blades down in scapular retraction and pull the shoulders away from the ears. Engage the core. As you lift in the pull-up add a knee tuck and hold at the top, slow release down with control.
Suggest other classes to build strength
If your student is only coming to class once a week, encourage them to attend another strength training style class. This can be pole, aerial silks, aerial yoga or weight lifting. Strength training two to three times a week will help students gain strength quickly.