Updated: Apr 12, 2019
Happy first blog of the year! I know you all are working hard to reach those New Year Resolutions, so we're going to talk about the behaviors that allow successful students to improve faster than their less committed counterparts.
First let’s get something clear: being a good student isn’t easy. Someone can go to a billion classes and never grow because they don’t put in the work that a good student does. We often forget how much work it takes because we have so much fun along the way! I would say there are five main aspects to truly being a good student: 1) being punctual 2) being present 3) taking notes 4) execution 5) minding your manners. On top of these are a myriad of other concepts but for now we’ll stick to these five.
1) Being Punctual: if class starts at 7:00 pm, you should be there at 6:58 ready to go. If you live particularly far from your studio or have to deal with the whims of traffic, be sure to give yourself extra time to get there. Personally, I live on average half an hour away from my studio, but the entire route consists of side streets across the San Fernando Valley. On one occasion I got to the studio in 13 minutes and another 51 minutes. My solution? I leave an hour beforehand and usually show up early. By doing this I ensure that no one is waiting on me before they start class and I don’t make the teacher nervous by showing up halfway through warm up. Remember, teachers use their warm ups to get your bodies prepared for class. If you haven’t had a thorough warm up, you may injure yourself. Your teachers love you so please don’t take that risk. Plus, by showing up early you’re setting yourself up for success in our next point.
2) Being Present: Just because you’re in class doesn’t mean you’re really there. Mental preparation is a big part of improving your skills, no matter what they are. This means that when class starts you’ve prepared everything you need to so you can dive right in. Phones are on silent or in airplane mode, any emotional baggage has been left at the door, you’re in the correct clothes, you have any drinks or supplements you need, and your head is clear to start. If you’re sure to do all this beforehand, you’ll get a lot more out of your class than if you don’t.
3) Taking Notes: Once class has begun make sure you’re not just running through the motions. Any notes whether directed at you, to the general class, or given to a peer should be considered and applied to yourself. In fact, to improve more efficiently you should be following the teacher around and listening to every note they have for every student. Then you get to watch it being implemented. When you’re in the apparatus keep those ears open for any comments from the teacher. I know sometimes the brain shuts out sound when trying a new move (literally, your brain shuts out everything unimportant to it when in physical stress), thus listening is an active task. Who knew aerial was a workout for the body AND brain!
4) Execution: Don’t just fly through everything (pun intended). Slow it down and be sure you understand every single part. Engage everything you can from warm up to cool down and don't worry so much about 'saving energy' through the class. You should get to the end of class exhausted so you earn strong, beautiful control of your body. Once again, listen for the teacher’s comments and don't assume you already know what they'll say. There's a strange thing that happens to some students after training 1-2 years. They think they've learned everything, so they stop taking notes. They often don’t listen, especially when they’ve learned the combo previously, and they struggle to improve. I give notes and they do it again exactly the same. It's sad, but I can see in their faces they have no intention of taking notes when I give them.
Let me be clear: you will never master aerial arts - EVER - if you think you’ve learned it all. We should always be pushing for perfection because once we’ve accomplished it there’s another level to be mastered. There will always be more to learn. That’s the beauty of aerial arts. ❤️
5) Mind Your Manners: While in class, don’t get your phone out to check Facebook, text a friend, or upload a video to Instagram. Once again phones should be on airplane mode when they’re out in class. The only reason phones should be out is to record yourself or the teacher with permission, or if there is a specific reason you must readily be available (such as your kids are sick and you need to be alerted if anything worsens). If you must be available, let the teacher know beforehand so we can work to get whatever you need.
Your teacher has worked hard to create an agenda for your class, so lack of attention is rude. We know every single one of you are wondrous beings of light who would never do that on purpose, but we all make mistakes. Just be active and aware.
Please do not go live on any app. I’ve had a few students do this and not only is it distracting but they often don’t get permission from the rest of the class. Not everyone wants to show the world their aerial accomplishments. Sometimes aerial classes are simply a therapy. Showing all of this live would make this person anxious. Going live, especially without everyone’s permission, is not for the classroom. Save it for your personal training days.
Your teachers are the authority in your class. You may have learned a similar combo, or a different grip, or a small difference in the same climb... doesn't matter. Whatever your current teacher says, goes. You signed up to be a student in their class, so it's not appropriate to tell the teacher you learned it elsewhere and not listen to them.
It's completely appropriate (and encouraged!) to explain to the teacher you learned it differently and ask why they teach that variation. This means you get to try different techniques and decide which is best for your body. Working multiple variations means you can begin to really understand the ins and outs of that move. That being said, even if you don't like their answer, you still need to work on the techniques they're teaching you. The only exception is if you genuinely think their technique is going to hurt you.
I know each and every one of you reading is here because you love aerial and are committed to being the best you can be. I hope this helps you work hard in the classroom. Also, know that even if you slip up your teacher doesn't hate you. We love you! We just want to see you progress!
What does being a good student meant to you? Let me know in the comments!