Work Out Wednesday – Join The Circus

The Who, What, Where, When & Why of my fitness regime

Join the Circus

“Damn everything but the circus” – Corita Kent

You’re never too old to run away and join the circus.  

For the past few weeks Rydell Suicide & I have been doing Aerial Hoop Classes at Tantra Fitness in Vancouver. 

As you can imagine, a lot of strength and flexibility is required to master this apparatus.  Our classes were introductory, however, thanks to my background in pairs skating, and some dabbling in aerial arts, I was able to try a trick or two that were slightly more advanced.  

Each class began with a warm up, and stretching, followed by strength and conditioning exercises, like crunches and push ups. 

After that, we hung around.  Literally.

As I mentioned last week, it’s a lot harder than it looks!  Before you can lift, or flip yourself up onto the hoop, you have to warm up properly.

Our instructor Heather is a veteran of circus style acts.  

She has had her fair share of injuries, including a near tear to her right shoulder, which left her quite dear the first time we met.  With that in mind, she was quick to caution us against over doing it, and insisted we condition properly before tryng any thing like, say… hanging upside down.

A proper warm up not only gets you activity ready, it also lubricates and warms up your connectors, joints, and muscles.  This step is every bit as important as the work that follows. 

Shoulder warm-up:

Arm circles:
Swing your arms in circles, 10 – 15 times, beginning with large circles that slowly become smaller.  (A slight bend in your arm is fine, but the main motion should come from your shoulder, not the elbow.)  Next repeat the same circling motion, from small to large, this time pointing the fingers down towards the ground.  

Rhomboid stretch:
Kneel on the floor, with your bum resting on your heels, and your face towards the floor (In Yoga this is often referred to as Child’s Pose.)  With your back parallel to the floor, stretch your arms out above your head.  Keeping your palms down, gently press your weight towards the floor, relaxing your shoulders and armpits into the stretch.  Be careful not to force your shoulder past what is natural and comfortable.  

Crossover shoulder stretch:
Cross one arm over your chest, keeping it parallel to the floor, and palm facing inwards.  Place your free hand to the elbow of your outstretched arm.  Gently pull your elbow towards you, being careful not to force your shoulder past what is natural and comfortable.

Whether you’re swinging from the ceiling, climbing a rock wall, lifting weights, or taking on push ups, warming up your shoulders is the first step.   

After years of being swung by my arm on the ice, I have a touchy rotator cuff, so I know first-hand how important it is to warm up and engage properly.  After all…

If all the world’s a stage,  the last thing you want to do is miss showtime.    

PS> I got my first legit circus blister!  

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