I've been chatting to a few other aerial class attendees over the past few weeks and am reassured to find that I'm not the only person the circus lion has taken in his hot, obsessive jaws. I've discovered at least two others who are as addicted as me, or more - one of whom is signed up for four classes a week and the other who is doing an intensive course. My new enabler, Gravity Circus, do an incredibly tempting-sounding 'prep' course, which entails six weeks of 13 hours training per week (all in the evenings and weekends so that normal working mortals can join), covering rope, conditioning, silks, stretches, hoop, pilates, handstand and tumbling. It costs £800, which is quite an investment, so I'm pretty sure anyone who does this course has it REAL bad for circus skills.
This here is a v bad quality photo of my very own personal post-rope-class leg. The bruises looked way more dramatic in real life I swear.
I've also found myself pondering the pain aspect of learning aerial and/or acrobatics a lot recently, mostly because, well OWW, hurting myself on a regular basis! It is really quite hard on your body, at least when you're crap at it (my theory is that the better you get, the less you hurt yourself in a muscle pain, bruisey-burny way, but the more likely you are to have a big injury like breaking a bone). When I creak around the office unable to lift my arms, or show people the giant bruises on the my legs, they are mostly appalled and baffled as to why I would want to do this to myself*. In the classes themselves, also, there is a fair bit of 'oww'ing and complaining about how much certain things hurt. Yet this is an integral, predictable part of learning pretty much every discipline I've tried, and anyone who's done more than one class knows it.
So why do we keep coming back for more? Well, apart from all the obvious and wonderful benefits of aerial which I have blathered on about it in past posts, I think there's also a big element of testing your limits, seeing how far you can push your body, how much you can take before you give up. This is actually inherent in the learning process. For example, getting to the point where you can happily hang from equipment by the back of one knee, or your heels, your toes, etc. involves spending as long as you can in each position before the pain gets too much, i.e. hanging for 10 seconds each class, then 15, then 20. It hurts, yeah, but it's also kind of... interesting? Like a scientific experiment with pain.
I also think there's a weird kind of enjoyment in seeing the evidence of your labour and hardship displayed on your body, like battle scars I guess. I'm not quite sure of the psychology behind this, but I've never met anyone who can resist showing people when they've sustained some kind of injury, whether its a crazy rainbow bruise or a giant wound. And so it is with circus bruises - there's even a Twitter handle: @circushurts and hashtag (#circushurts), to satisfy this very need!
Lastly, and this is possibly more controversial, I do slightly wonder whether there's a hint of masochism going on? It's kind of taking pleasure in pain after all. If you don't enjoy pain even a tiny bit, then going to classes which involve systematically hurting yourself probably isn't going to be for you. So by that logic, does that mean all aerial fanatics are masochists? Hmmm, might need to think about that one for a bit longer...
* This is a partial truth - their actual reaction is usually more along the lines of 'MM-HMM, yes MORE bruises Felicity, yaawwwwn'