Aerial Self Care: Take an Extended Break

Aerial Self Care: Take an Extended Break

This fresh condition of mind and body sets you up to have learning breakthroughs and connects you more deeply with your apparatus. ​

This is proooobably not what you want to hear…but here goes…

Taking more than two rest days in a row is okay.

I KNOW. 

It’s okay. 

For me, the thought of taking several days off aerial silks used to be nerve wracking. I was afraid if I missed my weekly conditioning then I would rapidly regress. I wanted to stick to my training schedule and not break my streak.

But there is actually magic in taking up to a week (or even two or three) off training. Well, it’s science, but it feels like magic. And why? Full recovery from high-intensity exercise–which in your case might be an aerial class or aerial conditioning session–takes 48-72 hours. For this reason I advise my students to take at least one day off between classes. This is also why I have a week-long break between sessions at my studio.

So what happens when you take more than 72 hours off? You lose all your muscles and forget how to hip key, right? 

NO!

If you don’t rest enough, you might end up with an injury or fatigue that puts you out for much longer than several days. Furthermore, overtraining can lead to irritability, mood swings, depression, and even a loss of interest in the very thing you’re so hell-bent on doing. 

​When you take more than a couple days off training, your body gets an extended opportunity to catch up with your aerial antics. Muscles and tendons have more time and energy available to recover and repair, and any injuries you’ve been living with can have a chance to really heal. Want to make this hiatus even more potent? Pledge to soak in hot water every one of those rest days. 

Last month I took five consecutive days off (gasp).
Did I lose all my muscles?
And forget how to hip key?
NO!

I felt like a BRAND NEW PERSON. I felt happier! My body didn’t hurt everywhere all day. I felt excited to train and I immediately discovered new pathways and sequences on aerial silks. I felt more cheerful and energetic overall. Now, I’m not saying you have to stop THINKING about aerial! When I rest, I stay connected to my discipline by studying aerial online and watching inspirational aerial videos on instagram. 

But I know what you’re thinking. Taking time off can be mentally difficult when aerial helps you feel more grounded and happy. It’s also easy to get so excited about what you’re working on that you don’t even realize how little rest you’ve taken.

Perhaps the hardest situation is when you are forced by circumstances to take more rest than you’d like due to travel, sickness, simple busyness, or a particularly juicy Netflix series (ok, you have only yourself to blame for that one!). 

There is no need to panic if you need to take some time off.

Research shows that it takes 7-21 consecutive days away from training to noticeably lose strength. I am recommending a mere 4-6 consecutive off days.

But it also makes a difference if you are a long-time aerialist or new to aerial arts. Athletes who have established a foundation of regular over a year or more in their sport or discipline can actually go longer without noticeable losses. If you are newer to aerial, research says you will be liable to lose your gains a little faster, but it’s totally still okay to take a break. This time off doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) sedentary. Switch up the types of exercise you do and keep it light to moderate. Walks, jogs, yoga, and playing frisbee with friends are a few great options. Explore other creative outlets that interest you, such as painting, singing, or sewing.

If you still feel anxious about taking time off, let me ask you this:

Have you ever lost sight of the joy and the fun of aerial because you were so fixated on a particular goal?
Do you worry about keeping up with people around you, or aerialists you follow on social
media?
Are you afraid of losing everything you worked for by taking a break?

These are common issues, often unconsciously promoted and reinforced through our achievement-oriented culture. This mindset actually works against your development as your own unique aerialist and also puts you at risk of injury and fatigue.

Now ask yourself:

1. Why do I do aerial?
2. What is my practice rooted in? (More on this in a future post.)

Now lets consider the benefits that rest can have on your brain and your aerial intellect. 

After a period of rest you may very well find that you come back to your apparatus with a clearer head and a heightened body awareness. You might notice that you feel especially connected and you might enter a flow state more easily. During your time away your brain has been processing your recent training sessions. I have a theory that there is usually a backlog of processing, and it gets taken care of when we take a break. You then come back “more in relationship” with the apparatus, a phrase I owe to a philosophy professor friend of mine.

This fresh condition of mind and body sets you up to have learning breakthroughs and connects you more deeply with your apparatus. ​ 

So try an extended break. Rejuvenate your body, mind, and practice by spending time away from aerial. 

Next Sunday I’ll be sharing a piece for women about strategizing rest around your menstrual cycle. I am VERY excited to open that conversation and eager to hear your insights and ideas, so please check back in to find out how to work WITH and not against your body. If you want to be sure not to miss it, sign up for regular updates by dropping your email in the box below. ​