Caisse Larsson: Week One

Part of being in the trial program is not sharing our personalized workouts with anyone else. So rather than outlining what my workouts for the week were in detail, here’s how I felt about them.

Ground workout #1—I think that my first day could be described as “Ow, my poor hip flexors!” Which is a good thing, because strengthening my hip flexors is something that I need and requested. It took me about fifteen minutes longer than suggested to do the full circuit plus warm up and stretching afterwards, but I was moving through everything at a slower pace to make sure I was doing it correctly. Left me pleasantly sore the next day. This is definitely a workout I’ll save for future reference.

Aerial workout #1—Conditioning, conditioning, conditioning. Again, what I need and requested. I need to push myself to get through each circuit without being distracted or trying to avoid specific exercises; this also took me longer to do than the estimated time, but I paused to spot and coach people, help figure out the start position of a move, and to give myself pep talks over every rep of one of the exercises. I’ll be saving this for future reference, as well.

Overall, I think both workouts are spot on as to what I said I wanted to focus on. I like that one solely focuses on aerials, and the other is solely ground based, which makes it easy for me to schedule them into my week. Also, that they’ve put together short videos that demo each warm-up exercise, each part of the circuit, and the final stretches, in addition to the written instructions. Both left me feeling like I did a good workout session without leaving me exhausted. I’m looking forward seeing what next week brings.


New Workout Excitement

Back in March, Caitlyn Larsson (a guest instructor at Vertical Fitness last year) did a giveaway contest on Instagram for filling out a circus fitness survey. I didn’t win the tank top, but I did get selected as a potential candidate to testrun tailored circus workouts, which meant filling out another questionnaire. I didn’t think much about it since, because it wasn’t a guarantee that I’d be chosen. Last night, I received an email with my workouts for week one of the program!

Looking over both workout outlines—one ground, one aerial—I can definitely say that each workout is tailored towards my questionnaire answers. And they arrived in Google doc spreadsheets (which makes the geek in me happy).

I’m really excited to get started; I’ve already got them printed out to take with me to the gym & studio.




A post shared by Rachel Hullett (@leiadarling) on

March Straddle Progress

I missed a full week’s worth of daily stretching due to All-Con, but even with that my end-of-the-month wall straddle measurement was 60″. It might be a little off (wider than actuality) since I had someone else put the tape at my heels on the wall this time, but it’s still progress.  The goal for this month is to not miss any days of stretching; I’m trying Habitica to see if that will help me keep on track. (Habitica is an app that turns making habits and completing to-do lists into an RPG of sorts. Experience points, quests, parties & guilds, armor & pets. I can level up my avatar while I work on leveling up my straddle!)

Ten-Foot Ropes

Vertical Fitness’s new trapeze is amazing. Purple python-printed elbows (with pink glitter which is already rubbing off), with black, ten-foot long cotton ropes. Ten-foot ropes! I think the other two both have seven-foot ropes.

Now that there are three drop-down rig points, Karen bought a third trapeze for VFD so that Michelle doesn’t have to rig her personal one each week. This time, they picked one with longer ropes for us tall people. Also, with cotton ropes because none of us are fond of the white nylon ropes. (Michelle is taping them black, so they’ll be less slick and match the other two trapezes.) It arrived yesterday, so today was the first day we got to play on it.

So happy. I can invert in the ropes on this one without worrying about where my feet are going to end up—carabiners, bearclaw, or higher. There’s rope to spare! And I have room for moves like handstands. Whee!

30 Days to a Sassier Straddle Challenge

On January 30, I started Laura Witwer’s straddle improvement program. My initial straddle measurement then was  55 5/8″. Ugh. Not much of a straddle at all, really—it’s more like a 90° angle. (Technically, 109.8°.) Probably one of the (many) reasons I still struggle with inverts more than I should.

I fell off the straddle improvement bandwagon last week, which coincided with the extremely busy week at my day job. So, I’m back on it again. I figure that if I begin a 30-day program on the first day of a month, I’ll have an easier time keeping track of where I am in the program. (And, if I publicly post that I’m doing this, I have to finish it. Accountability!)

My starting measurement this time around is 57¾”.

I’m actually surprised at that. Even with a week of not working on it at all, I gained 2 1/8″ in my wall straddle! Hopefully at the end of this month, I’ll have gained another inch. If I keep repeating the straddle challenge, my straddle should be noticeably improved by the end of the year, even if it’s not inches each month.

Eye Opener!

The television segment for “Eye Opener” filmed last week at Vertical Fitness aired this morning! I definitely wasn’t awake to watch it on television, but luckily they also posted the clip online, as well. (I’d embed it, but the code and WordPress don’t want to get along.) My little interview portion starts around 1:11. Totally worth being at the studio at 8 AM.

Adding to the Ambiance

*First ambient aerial silks gig: check. Also, first gig outside of DFW: check.

Several of us were booked for a circus-themed employee appreciation event last night all the way out in Longview, which is about two hours east of the metroplex. Road trip time! It was a rather easy drive, although Sticks, who rode with me, and I were both very glad to get out of the car and stretch our legs at the end of it.

Along the drive leading up the the civic center where the event was held were these giant upright metal hoops, so of course I had to go take photos with one of them once we got the rig up and in position. Unfortunately, my phone didn’t actually take as many photos as Sticks thought he took, so there isn’t any evidence of my attempts to hang from the top or proof when I actually did.

I also did not take a photo of the new hairstyle I tried out—a looped bun faux hawk I stumbled across onYouTube. (This is the tutorial I followed: “Easy Topsy Tail Bun Fawk Hawk!”) I did take a photo when I was taking it down afterwards, though, because my hair attempted to eat two ponytail holders in the process. Despite that, I think it’s a keeper. It stayed up the whole time, I only lost one bobby pin out of the 15 crammed in, and it only got wispy because I skipped using hairspray. Bonus, it’s not a basic bun.

Two hours of silks feels almost like nothing now; I remember when just an hour-long class would leave me exhausted. With the exception of a 10 or 15 minute break halfway through, I came down periodically long enough to take a few sips of water before going back up. I’m rather pleased about that.

I’m not so pleased about having to ditch some of the moves I had planned to do. Earlier in the week, I wrote out a few sequences of moves that worked together so that I wouldn’t have to figure out in the air what to do next. Moves involving secretary, moves involving a thigh lock, a cat’s cradle sequence, an expanded “beginners” sequence (single footlock moves), drops I feel comfortable in my ability to wrap (even if I don’t like them), random moves that I feel confident in but didn’t have a written sequence for. Our red silks are still so slippery, I kept slipping on them—even in crochet climb, which is pretty secure—and didn’t feel safe trying to attempt a lot of things that required a bit of distance between me and the floor at the end of it. Or required a knee hang to start with. I know Russ wants to keep the red silks as pristine as possible, but with as little use as they get—a handful of gigs at full height so far, and slightly more rehearsals—I need to invest in some rock rosin. Even if I don’t use it, I’d feel better knowing it’s there for super slippery days.

Overall, though, I thought it went well as a whole. For someone who isn’t fond of them, I ended up doing a total of nine drops over the course of the event, if you include the cat’s cradle release down into a knee hang as a drop. And lots of spinning, wheee! In secretary, in a thigh lock swing, in flying fairy. Enough to make me need ginger during my break. The only mishap, besides an uncomfortable foot lock and the sliding problem, was getting the silks hooked around my left leg the wrong way in my final drop of the night. Not quite the dramatic finish I was going for!

Sticks made a really good silks roustabout. (Despite him telling me to pace myself after I had done just two climbs up and a few silks 101 poses. One day he’ll learn which moves take the most energy.) He took care of dissuading potential creepers on the ground, and to deal with those who continued to stare at my butt I came up with a new game: make eye contact with them while dangling upside-down until they look away. Something about the upside-down part made it really effective, much more so than when upright being the “unattainable goddess of the sky” (that phrase still cracks me up, it’s so full of “reach for beauty”). I should have kept a running tally; after all, pre-show everyone kept track of some extremely silly things in our green room area.

I do need to work on having a “reach for beauty” expression in place when I’m trying to figure something out (a foot lock that felt out of place, how I managed to get tangled in the Elsie drop, what moves to do when I’m sliding too much to do what I planned on the climb up). I was told I made everything look so easy, so I must not have made too many scrunchy, thinking faces. It’s just hard to remember sometimes to not make weird expressions without a reason the audience can see, such as reacting to action somewhere else. After all, nothing should disturb a sky goddess. (Although, how would one react to getting caught in a thunderstorm? Or extremely high winds? Hmm…)

Now that I have one ambient gig under my belt, I feel pretty good about them. It’s time in the silks, I have several sequences I can do smoothly, I don’t have to do drops if I don’t feel like it, and the mini panic attacks before certain drops can just be dramatic flair. I think that’s a win all around.


Hoop! #giglife #circusfreaks

A post shared by Rachel Hullett (@leiadarling) on