Growing Your Confidence in Aerial Arts

pole dancing parties

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

pole studio with mirrors

If you’ve visited Bittersweet Studios before, you may have noticed one thing that all of our areas have in common…very large mirrors! While they do add to the overall aesthetic of the studio, that’s not their primary purpose. Those mirrors are there to help you, the student. Making friends with the mirror can have a huge impact on your progress throughout your pole and/or aerial journey!

When students first start attending classes at Bittersweet Studios, they usually fall into one of three categories when it comes to the mirror. There are the front row fanatics, who will show up early just to secure that spot if they need to. There are the back row babes, who could be the very first to arrive & still will not deviate from that back row. And then we have our floaters. They’re comfortable anywhere and don’t have a preference in their placement. Where do you tend to land?

If you are a back row babe, have you given much thought to why that may be?

pole class with mirrors

How is your relationship with your mirror at home? Other than brushing your teeth & getting ready in the morning, do you spend much time in the mirror? When you do look at yourself in the mirror, is it just a quick glance? Or do you take time to really look at yourself?

We all go through seasons in life. Part of being human is sometimes going through phases when you may not be happy with what you see in the mirror. That is completely normal. When you are in this type of phase, you may not like looking in the mirror very much. The good news is, if you are taking pole or aerial classes, or are considering it, this will help get you out of that phase & get your confidence back up.

One thing that every pole and aerial student, teacher, and performer have in common, is that they all had to start somewhere. If you ask any of them, they will likely tell you some version of the very same thing that you have experienced…they felt all kinds of awkward when they began their journey. Just getting your foot in the door for that first class is scary! And it is completely normal to feel like a fish out of water. It’s also common to look around you & feel like everyone but you knows what they are doing. Don’t let that bother you. They are on the same journey that you are, they’re just at a different phase of that journey.

forward split with arm stretch on aerial hammock or aerial yoga in front of a mirror

If you’ve been avoiding your reflection for a while, it can feel awkward at times to watch yourself in the mirror. You may have even been brought up in a household where mirrors were considered “vain.” If for any reason you are having trouble getting yourself to utilize the mirror, try starting out by thinking of it as strictly a training tool. Your instructor can give you feedback all day, but sometimes you need to be able to see what they are taking about. That is where the mirror comes in. The sooner you get comfortable checking on your form, your lines, your feet, etc., the faster you will progress. As time passes & you get used to watching yourself in the mirror, work towards taking the time to really appreciate all that your body enables you to do. Challenge yourself to find one positive thing even on your bad days. Maybe you didn’t quite nail that new move, but your toes were pointed the whole time. Tiny victories! Even on your worst training days (and we all have them from time to time), remember that you showed up. Continuing to show up and put in the work is always something to be proud of. So even if nothing goes right during a class, you still need to look yourself in the mirror and be proud that you showed up.

Similar to the mirror, recording yourself can also be uncomfortable for students when they are starting out. We hear all the time from new students how they “feel awkward” recording themselves, or don’t want to record themselves because of “how bad they are.” Remember, we all started out like a bunch of flailing fish out of water. You can’t get to the pro phase without going through the newbie phase. Documenting your journey will help you recognize tiny improvements that you may not notice otherwise. Your instructor may keep telling you the same thing over & over, but it may not finally click until you record yourself and can see what they are talking about. Having videos of moves or sequences that you are working on are great to have for reference when you want to revisit them. They are also extremely rewarding to look back on and see how far you have come.

pole practice in front of mirror

We allow for time at the end of every class specifically for recording. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is to keep focus during class & respect the instructor. If you are too busy doing it for the “Gram” during class, you may miss key points during instruction. The other is out of respect for others in your class who may not want to be captured in the background of your video. Always be sure to let those around you know when you are recording, so that they have the option to remain out of frame if they choose.

Just like life, your pole and aerial journey will have seasons. The beginning season can be one of the most challenging times. You are stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. That is tough on everyone. But for some, who may already be in a rough season of their life, it can be even more so. Always know that your instructors, and your classmates, are there to support you on this journey. One of the most rewarding parts of being an instructor is watching a student that came through the door timid & lacking confidence, blossom into a head-held-high, proud athlete. It is also heart warming to watch the bonds that our students create with each other. While you may have come to the studio to learn a new skill, lose weight, increase flexibility, etc., I guarantee that you will gain so
much more than that!

If you have been on the fence about taking a class, we encourage you to stop by the studio & take a tour. While you are there, talk with some of our students and find out how pole and/or aerial arts has impacted their lives.

aerial hammock or aerial yoga back bend in front of mirror