If you are practicing handstands, even as a beginner, and crave a deeper understanding than you might be getting from a coach’s demands: “Tight!”, “Push!”, “Again!” THIS book is for you. It's important to know that this is not a drab, gimmicky, step by step guide to get from zero to handstand. This is a collection of Nicolo’s experiences doused with bits of wisdom he’s collected by years training with masters, practicing endlessly, performing internationally, and coaching himself.
Training handstands is definitely a journey! The ups and downs that will teach you about your patience and perseverance. I really enjoyed that Nicolo makes this clear and in every phase of the book he gives you personal experiences and relays anecdotes from his own training. Even in the later sections when Nicolo talks about drills and exercises, he gives a very broad range of them but is perfectly honest in telling you which he favours over others. Even if a drill did not work for him, however he includes it for completeness in the text.
Nicolo begins with a highly detailed description of handstand positions, from foundations (even against a wall) all the way through highly advanced one arm maneuvers. The vast list of body shapes is accompanied by beautiful photos to support the words. This really helped me, as a visual learner, truly understand. Going through the beginning pages of the book informs you what level you are, as he categorizes the forms by basics, intermediate, and advanced skills. This can feel really overwhelming but Nicolo quickly transitions into a section on practice.
In this middle chunk of the book you are given a number of example training programs for different levels. I really enjoyed that the programs are rooted in different styles and consider the accessibility of a coach or spotter. Even if you are training alone you have options for programs. Don’t think that this book only offers a list of drills to repeat over and over until you have a handstand (do 100x tucks and 100x straddles a day until you die!). Nicolo passionately delves into pre-hab and conditioning. I love that there are complimentary exercises in this book, most of which work with elastic exercise bands, to develop your handstand muscles while you aren’t just holding handstands on the wall for an eternity!
Sticking true to his style of familiarity and experience, Nicolo finishes the book by discussing some major questions about training handstands. There is a really great discussion about how much to train in this book. The quick answer I took away from Nicolo’s advice is “It depends”. If you pick up this book, you can decide for yourself what that means for you! He does not simply tell you what drills to do and how much to train, but gives guidance on how to train with the intention of success. This is a lesson I am relearning over and over through my own journey it seems and I was grateful he included this point of inspiration. Concluding with a story on patience, Nicolo leaves you feeling like it can be done!
Applied Anatomy of Aerial Arts is jam packed with SCIENCE, informative images, aerial technique, useful exercises, and the highly sought after topic of injury prevention. Emily masterfully presents a huge amount of information in this accessible and concise text.
Emily sets up a great foundation for the reader right off the bat by starting with the vocabulary used to talk about the body and the space it occupies. Her beautiful use of metaphors to explain scientific jargon and detailed supporting images help the reader to really understand the information, regardless of their background.
Organizing the book in the way that Emily did, not only presents the information well but, guides the reader through the physical process of moving from ground to air. Emily describes the body from the inside out, which expertly sets the tone for the later discussed aerial technique and exercises focusing on proximal stability of the spine as the first step. After we are given an understanding of what our bodies are made of, the text goes on to discuss fundamental body positions on the ground first then translates this information to the air. This flow of form then function and ground then air makes this book accessible to both aerial students and teachers, but is also useful for body practitioners (LMTs, DPTs, Personal Trainers etc.) that are not aerialists, but may be treating them.
Applied Anatomy of Aerial Arts aims to get you curious and inspired to think about how you move and Emily achieves this wonderfully. She describes the functionality of the body and exercises in the book so well, including technique and common errors, that I found myself getting up and moving my body along with the text. If I had to choose one thing to say about this book that stood out to me more than anything else, it is that Emily puts the “why” on concept for which we are often just given the “hows”.
Hey Circus Cats far and wide! Over the last few years I have been traveling to teach workshops around the country and I have discovered just how much I love to visit new studios. As I trek around the world teaching and performing, I want to take you with me...everywhere...in my pocket…but I can’t, so I will share my journey with you here! The first studio I am writing about is AerialWorks! I visited AerialWorks to collaborate with Rebekah Leach on her upcoming book The Rope Manual: Volume 2 which actually turned into two books while I was there, but I will save that one for another time!
AerialWorks was established in 2016 and is located in Castle Rock, Colorado, just 30 minutes south of Denver. This beautiful studio was founded by the one and only Rebekah Leach, published author of aerial dance manuals used in studios all over the world. Tucked in the foothills of the breathtaking Colorado Rockies, this studio prides itself on offering a curriculum that allows anyone from the recreational fitness enthusiast to the future professional performer to enjoy movement in a whole new way! There are many things I love about this studio but here are my top five favourite things:
Rebekah is the founder and director of AerialWorks and she’s definitely my favourite thing about visitng AerialWorks! Rebekah has over 10 years of aerial dance experience and has published 8 aerial arts manuals (Order Manuals). Not only is she an acclaimed performer and instructor, she is also an astonishing researcher and aerial theorist. She uses her unique knowledge base to classify the skills we perform in the air as well as develop methods for discovering and creating new material, presented in her manuals. If you crave a deep and thorough understanding of our craft, I cannot recommend Rebekah Leach enough.
More about Rebekah!
AerialWorks is nestled right in the middle of the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, halfway between Denver and Colorado Springs. When you first step outside of the studio, you are surrounded by beautiful peaks, some of which are ice-capped even in the summer, sprawling endlessly in every direction. The vastness and beauty are overwhelming. One of the most interesting rock formations in the area is a castle and tower-shaped butte near the center of town that gives Castle Rocks its name. When you aren’t training at AerialWorks, you should definitely get out for a hike and see the sights!
AerialWorks is over 2700 sq. ft. and features a custom beam and truss system loaded with adjustable rigging points between 15 and 20 feet high, depending on where you are in the studio. Every point is on a pulley and has its own accompanying tie line so they are adjustable, interchangeable, and they can be entirely swagged up for a dancey ground-based warm-up using the whole studio floor space.
It’s easy to see that Julianna Hane is dedicated to education! She is a resident instructor at AerialWorks and is the director of the Aerial Teacher Program through Born to Fly. Julianna holds a B.A. in Dance, an MFA in Modern Dance, and has completed the professional program at NECCA. She is also certified in Laban Movement, is a RYT-200 certified yoga teacher, and is currently working towards a Pilates certification. Julianna wrote the Aerial Teachers Handbook which I, myself, referenced when developing the aerial curriculum at The Space. This woman understands movement and the body so deeply that nerding out on anatomy and body mechanics with her is such a special treat!
5. Super Clean and Equipped Studio
This is hands down the cleanest and most well-equipped studio I have ever been to. Not only is the studio spotless but everyone does their part to keep it so. This makes rolling on the floor to warm up and stretch so lovely and comfortable. The space is inviting with a cute lobby complete with a small aerial, dance, and anatomy library and plenty of seating for guests. Aside from obviously new and state of the art aerial equipment and mats, this studio is loaded with foam rollers, therabands, yoga mats, grip trainers, and more!
I really love this first studio I am writing about. Rebekah’s years of experience, care for aerial dance, and attention to detail truly show at AerialWorks. I will definitely be coming back for a visit and if you are ever in the rockies be sure to check it out!
Click Here for Studio Info!