New Year, New You!

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12 week program - 3 tier system

~Create monthly goals with weekly check-ins  

~Monthly pot lucks for paying members

               ~Weekly journal reviews

               ~Bi-monthly group destresser activities (weekly options are given)

Weekly Meeting Topics include prioritizing fitness, clean eating and nutrition, cooking methods, stress management, and more!

Tiers:

Tier 1: 6 weeks FREE

● FREE before and after pics

●FREE Facebook page access

●FREE before/after measurements

●full price meal plans, destresser activities, & weekly meetings

●$10 potluck entree fee

Advocare 24 Day Challenge add-on option: FULL PRICE


Tier 2: 9 weeks $15/month

●FREE before and after pics

●FREE Facebook page access

●FREE measurements

●FREE weekly meetings

●FREE Fitness journals

●destresser activity ½ off and 25% off meal plans

●$5 potluck entry fee

Advocare 24 Day Challenge add-on option: 10% off


Tier 3: 12 weeks $20/month

●FREE before and after pics

●FREE Facebook page access

●FREE measurements

●FREE weekly meetings

●FREE Fitness journals

●FREE destresser activities and 50% off meal plan

        ●FREE POTLUCKS

Advocare 24 Day Challenge add-on option: 15% off


Why Pole Dancing for Fitness Will Change your Body and Your Life

Pole dancing for fitness will change your body and your life. You will gain confidence and a positive self image, create long lasting friendships with your fellow pole classmates, and you will be in the greatest shape of your life. Pole fitness is functional fitness; pole dance is art. Try it for yourself...what are you waiting for? Come discover your beautiful strength.

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Don't Freak: How to Prepare for an Aerial Performance

Performing in front of an audience can be quite daunting. It's easy to become full of anxiety and for your mind to go into full throttle freak out mode. But it doesn't have to be that way. Since our student showcase is about a month away I thought I'd share some tips to help you be as prepared as possible, stay zen under pressure, find the right costume, and on how to make your audience love you!

Be as Prepared as Possible:

1. Visualize your routine everyday. Listen to your song, close your eyes and visualize yourself fluidly transitioning from movement to movement. Trust me, visualization is a KEY to performance success. Even video taping yourself and watching it frequently will help the visualization process.

2. Practice makes permanent. Practice your routine so frequently that it becomes muscle memory. That way if you do end up getting a little stage fright, and your mind just blanks when it's time for you performance, your body will remember the movements without a hitch. Don't overdo it though, listen to your body. If it's tired and sore take a rest day.

3. You will perform the way you practice, so practice right! When you're practicing, pretend like it's your performance. Act like there's an audience there watching you each time you run through your routine. The more you mentally prepare yourself the better off you're going to be. Also, if you're practicing with floppy feet, you will most likely perform with floppy feet (and nobody likes a flopper!). So as you go through your routine be sure you'r focusing on the small details like your body's lines, pointed toes (or flexed feet if it fits your theme/character), and your facial expressions. Should you be smiling if your song is slow and angst-y? No way. Make sure your facials match the theme/feel of your song.

4. Sufficiently warm up your muscles before you perform. It's science: people perform better when they put their body through a vigorous 5-10minute warm up. If you have movements that require flexibility, be sure to give yourself at least 30 minutes to warm up and stretch. You WILL perform better if your muscles are warm. 

Stay Zen Under Pressure:

1. Create a playlist that will keep you focused and calm. Whether you need to get pumped up for your performance or calmed down, choose your favorite songs to put into a playlist, bring your headphones, and plug yourself in before you perform to get into the right mindset. Some people prefer to play their performance song on repeat & visualize prior to performing. Do what's best for you.

2. Think positive! It's so easy to think of everything that could go wrong in your performance. But that is unproductive and toxic to your mental state. Be conscious to only think positive thoughts & tell yourself that you're amazing (because you are!). Remind yourself that you've put in the practice time so you can be confident about your routine.

Find the Right Costume:

Make sure that whatever you wear will not get stuck/tangled up in the silks. To ensure this, you must practice multiple times in your costume. Unitards and leotard/leggings combinations are great and won't get in your way. Some great places I've used for costuming and aerial dance wear:

- Harmony Threads on Etsy http://harmonythreads.mysupadupa.com/

- onlyleggings.com http://www.onlyleggings.com/

- Discount Dancewear http://www.discountdance.com/dancewear/unitards/page1

- Dancewear Solutions http://www.dancewearsolutions.com/

  *I just bought this one! http://www.dancewearsolutions.com/performance/leotards_and_unitards/mt3875.aspx

- Primadonsanddonnas http://www.primadonsanddonnas.com/

Make Your Audience Love You

1. Eye contact: make sure to look out at your audience while you're performing. The audience WANTS you to connect with them. If eye contact doesn't come naturally to you, PLAN when you're going to look at the audience in your routine. However, don't stare at them the whole time...we don't want to creep them out ;)

2. No matter how awesome your song is, don't mouth the words! If you ever go to a professional show you never see the dancer, aerialist, or performer mouthing their music. Mouthing the words will take away from your act; your body, movement, & facial expressions will get across the meaning and theme of your song/act sufficiently enough.

3. Go all in: really get into the feel of your song. If your song is slow and dreamy, your movements should be slow and fluid and your face should also reflect that feel. If your song is silly, your movements and facials should match! Just think about the emotion that the song you chose elicits from you; that's the same emotion you want the audience to feel, except 10 times more because you're pairing beautiful movements with it. 

4. Be confident. There's nothing more beautiful than a confident performer :) 

 

Hopefully those tips help you as you are preparing to perform! Break a leg

Stay Fit and In Flight,

Jessica

Stretching keeps you limber, healthy and youthful

Let’s figure out the mystery of muscles tightness, flexibility training and how to help you progress.

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Stretching has so many benefits to the body, which is why it contributes to longevity and staying healthy as we age. Several benefits of stretching that help us stay (and feel) young include helping stress relief, improving circulation, helping to prevent injury, improving and preserving our range of motion (which means less joint and muscle pain), and promoting good posture. Let's not forget to mention that with more flexibility comes more possibilities as an aerialist :) 

Flexibility is actually an ability we’re born with, but most of us lose it due to leading fairly sedentary or restricted lives. Through years of non-stretching combined with the aging process, our muscles lose hydration and we become less bendable. In fact, the typical person loses about 15 percent of their moisture content as they become an adult. Think about how an animal’s skin would harden as it turned to leather; that’s similar to the natural aging process our body goes through, our elastic fibers getting bound up and less pliable. Because of this natural aging process, if we don’t stretch, we FEEL bound up…because we are. Stretching not only increases the elasticity of connective tissues (the cells that bound muscle fibers together), but it actually slows the process of dehydration by stimulating the production of muscle lubrication.

Minus all the science speak, let's face it, the more you stretch and move the better your body will feel (and by move I mean move through your stretches and experience all different types of stretching. Don’t just sit in static stretches. Allow your muscles to experience dynamic, resistance and active stretching as well. Each type of stretch affects your muscles differently making you ultimately more mobile. Not to mention that improving flexibility with static stretching only takes a very long time to see improvement.)

 

TIPS to HELP your flexibility gains:

 

1.     DRINK LOTS OF WATER – your muscles, tendons, & ligaments will love you for it

2.     DECREASE YOUR CONSUMPTION OF INFLAMMATORY FOODS such as dairy, wheat, sugar, fried foods, & foods high in sodium.

3.     STRETCH AFTER YOU WORK OUT – after you work out your muscles are nice and warm…perfect conditions for lengthening and elongating!

4.     COMMIT TO YOUR FLEXIBILITY ROUTINE – staying consistent is the KEY to improving your flexibility. 4-5 times per week of flexibility training will make you see faster gains. Wishing you were more flexible won’t get you there, folks!

5.     DO NOT BOUNCE IN YOUR STRETCHES – this can cause injury and even regression in your flexibility. Be careful with ballistic stretches that require bouncing. (Keep in mind bouncing is different than lifting)

6.     FIND A BUDDY to go on your flexibility journey with you. Find someone who will keep you motivated, someone to stretch with on a regular basis, or just someone to relate to about how sore you are the day after a deep stretch sesh. Send each other pictures or videos of your progress, schedule days/times to stretch, and create flexibility routines together! Just someone to hold you accountable may be enough to motivate you to get off the couch & get stretching

7.   TAKE CLASSES THAT FOCUS ON FLEXIBILITY such as a flexibility training class, yoga, or aerial yoga

 

My flexibility journey started shortly after I discovered aerial fitness.  Just like with dance or gymnastics, flexibility is extremely beneficial to have when trying to progress in the aerial world. When I would watch professionals I always noticed that virtually all of them were not only strong, but also extremely bendy. I knew if I wanted to progress and continue to grow to my fullest potential as an aerialist, I’d have to get to work.

Throughout my entire childhood I was an athlete. I’d rather shoot hoops than play with dolls, rather play catch than take ballet, and would rather run around than focus on keeping my muscles elongated. In college I started running long distance, running in many half marathon races to stay active and motivated to live healthy. Let’s just say that long distance running is far from helpful for one’s flexibility. So after college when I discovered aerial fitness, I had A LOT of catching up to do to lengthen my muscles to where I wanted them.

In pole acrobatics, the top move is called "Chopsticks" and the bottom move is called the "Jade Split"; both were moves I had set my sights while flexibility training. It's always good to have a goal in mind! (In case you're unaware of why we are wearing such a small amount of clothing, that's the only way you can stick to a vertical pole. Clothes = sliding = falling on your face!)

In pole acrobatics, the top move is called "Chopsticks" and the bottom move is called the "Jade Split"; both were moves I had set my sights while flexibility training. It's always good to have a goal in mind! (In case you're unaware of why we are wearing such a small amount of clothing, that's the only way you can stick to a vertical pole. Clothes = sliding = falling on your face!)

My first focus in my flexibility journey was my front splits. I stretched 4-5 times per week with methods I had learned from professional aerialists and contortionists. Each workshop/convention I went to I made sure I signed up for the flexibility course, writing feverishly in my notebook whilst stretching so I’d have notes to take home with me for my nightly stretching sessions (nerd alert!). During my stretching sessions I would ALWAYS focus on my front splits, and would alternate training a bit for back flexibility and middle splits.

Through lots of persistent training I’ve become all around more flexible and met my goal of having over-splits on BOTH my good and bad side front splits. Now I’m working toward my next goal of having my middle over-splits, and still slowly training my back flexibility. It’s all about patience and persistence, my friends. In my mind I still have a long way to go, even though I’ve already made it so far. Always stay focused on that next goal! So come up with a flexibility plan that you can stick to and follow the tips I gave and you'll be sure to be progressing toward your first goal in no time.

 

Stay Fit and In Flight,

Jessica

Why cross training is important for aerialists

For many of you, no other workout really compares to your aerial training classes. An aerial class rarely gets “boring” like other types of workout classes can; your mind is constantly engaged as you work towards the next challenging pose or drop. But, you’ve got to change it up for your body’s health and overall wellbeing.

After a few months of aerial fitness training, you might feel like you’re getting into the best shape of your life (which you totally are!). But let’s say you take a long weekend and go skiing with your friends. By the time Sunday hits, you can barely move. What’s up with that? Cross training, my friends, is what’s up with that.

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Cross training defined: Cross training consists of a workout that focuses on a different set of muscles OR a workout that works your muscles differently. For example, if you’re someone who does lots of aerial work you are frequently utilizing your “pulling” muscles (biceps, lats, forearms, etc.). So a great cross-training exercise would be Yoga because you are utilizing your lower body as well as your “pushing” muscles (triceps, shoulders, etc.) against the floor. Yes, you’re still using your lats, forearms and shoulders when you’re holding that plank, but you’re using those muscles in a different way than when you’re climbing and pulling your own body weight up.

As you can see from the two diagrams above, some of the same muscles are being used in a push up and pull up just in different ways. There are definitely different muscles being worked too. Are we starting to get the gist of this whole cross training thing yet? Here ‘s some more for ya…

Performance Cross-training vs. Recovery Cross-training

So let’s say you’re trying to become a top-notch aerialist. Should you be training hard on your apparatus EVERY DAY? No, absolutely not! You should be cross training a few times per week.

So there are 2 different types of cross training.

1. Performance cross training is a workout that is going to enhance your performance. Usually it works the SAME muscles you use in your main workout regimen, in this case it would be the muscles needed accomplish new feats in the air (arms, core), but in different ways. Here’s an easy example for you: Think about how you hold a silk when you climb. Now think about doing a pull up. They are the same, but different. Now think about inverting on the silk, and then think about how you engage your muscles differently when you do leg lifts holding onto a pull up bar. Both exercises are essentially working the same muscles, but in slightly different ways. So doing pull ups and leg lifts on a pull up bar would be performance cross training for an aerialist because it’s giving your “aerial muscles” performance enhancing capabilities.

2. Recovery cross training consists of doing a workout that allows one group of muscles to rest (in this case, your “aerial muscles”) while you work a completely different set of muscles (i.e. legs!). Stretching is also considered a recovery cross training method due to the restorative nature of lengthening and breathing into your muscles. Let’s say you took an aerial fitness class yesterday. A great recovery workout would be one that focused on lower body or cardio (like doing sprints, a dance fitness class or barre class) because you’re allowing your upper body to rest/recover.

If aerial fitness is your main squeeze, doing it 1-3 times per week is acceptable IF you’re also cross training an equal amount of that time.

Performance Cross Training for aerial fitness: check out the info-graphic below to help you figure out how to choose classes to take and exercises to do to enhance your aerial performance.

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Recovery Cross Training exercises for aerial fitness: these are exercises you can still do while allowing your “aerial muscles” to rest, recover and recuperate.

 

 

Benefits of Cross training:

·      PREVENTS injury from repetitive movements (that’s the big one, peeps)

·      Helps muscle recovery (so you can progress faster)

·      Helps to prevent burn out (getting sick of your workout, losing motivation)

·      Your body will FEEL BETTER because it’s balanced

·      Can help an injury heal that has been caused by your main avenue of exercise

So, why is cross training important for aerialists?

Here are some reasons why you NEED to be cross training in your aerial fitness regimen.

1. First of all, you don’t want to tire your muscles out. Training the same muscles over and over again is called over training and can actually cause you to regress. Let your muscles rest by either taking a full on rest day (no working out) or do a Recovery Cross Training workout.

2. Cross training will help your body stay balanced. If you are constantly working one set of muscles and completely ignoring strengthening the opposing set of muscles, one set of muscles is getting super strong while the other set is getting weaker. This is a formula for your strong muscles to overcompensate for your weaker muscles which can lead to, you guessed it, injury.

3. Shoulder injuries and tendonitis are the most common injury among serious aerialists, mostly due to repetitive exercise. Proper cross training is best practice to prevent these injuries from occurring.

4. Your body will feel good. You will feel balanced and will be all around stronger.

5. Cross training produces a higher level of total body conditioning. In other words, you will be more in shape and have more endurance implementing cross training than just doing one type of workout.

If you’re still not convinced that cross training is necessary, then just talk to me. I’ve got rotator cuff tendonitis due to repetitive training and ignoring a proper cross training regimen in my early aerial days. I was SO excited to train on aerial apparatuses everyday for the first two years, that I just forgot about other types of workouts! Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I’m trying to say that pretty much the only training I did for the first two years was aerial training while I should’ve been focusing on my other sets of muscles as well.  Now I’m paying for my rookie mistakes. BUT it has helped me become a better trainer and coach because it’s forced me to study how to prevent injuries and how to train muscles and tendons properly to produce the efficient results and proper technique.

GOOD NEWS! You don’t have to join another gym because you can get all your cross training in at Bella Forza Fitness! Here’s an easy guide to cross training at BFF:

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Stay Fit and In Flight,

Jessica

Top 10 Reasons to DANCE for Your Workout

Why add dance into your workout regimen? There are so many benefits to dancing for fitness and we've got the rundown for you.

1. Cardiovascular Fitness

Dancing is mainly a cardio workout, which means it can get your heart rate to rise exponentially, in turn helping you burn calories like crazy. The nice thing is the level of cardio you get is up to YOU. You can rev your dancing up to make it a high intensity cardio workout, or take it easy to steadily increase you heart rate but not push yourself too far.

2. Calorie Burn

You can burn between 200-400 calories for every 30 minutes of dancing you do, depending on the intensity and speed of your movements. That means just a one hour dance fitness class could burn almost 1,000 calories! 

3. Rediscover Your Playful Side

Let's face it, dancing is FUN! Dancing allows you to express yourself freely, let loose and forget about the responsibilities and tensions of the real world, and reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. As adults we can tend to take things too seriously, but dancing reminds us to enjoy life and enjoy the beauty our bodies can create.

4. Rehabilitation

Dancing is a great way to return to exercise after being injured or after simply being out of the fitness game for a while. It's a great way to get back into a fitness routine because it's low impact and does not put too much stress on the body.

5.  Balance and Coordination

Studies have shown that since dance improves overall balance and coordination, people who dance on a regular basis are less likely to have incidents of falling as they get older. Dancing also maintains healthy muscles and bone structure which are key components to staying balanced and coordinated as you age.

6. Brain Food

Activities (such as dancing) that involve both physical and mental activity simultaneously can vastly slow down the onset of Alzheimer's Disease, studies have shown. In addition, learning dance choreography forces the brain and the body to be tightly coordinated, keeping the brain sharp.

7. Social Benefits

Dancing in a fitness class is typically done in a friendly, laid back, and fun environment that makes it easy to meet other like-minded people. It is much easier to socialize in a dance fitness or social dancing class then going to a gym, running on a treadmill with your headphones in, doing a few machines, and walking out without speaking to one single person! Not only does a structured dance class allow you to easily meet new people, but it's also conducive to creating long lasting friendships.

8. Stress Relief

Any psychologist, therapist or doctor will tell you that in order to stay healthy you need to find a productive way to deal with stress. Dancing is a great stress reliever because it's an easy way to express your emotions through movement, counteracting the need to bottle up negative feelings and stress. Many times, dancing simply allows your mind to escape and focus on the movement for a while, allowing you to forget any worries or stresses from the day. 

9. Bone Health

The wide variety of movements used in dancing strengthen weight-bearing bones to help prevent loss of bone mass as you age.

10. Creative Expression and "Flow" Improve Overall Well-Being

Dancing, especially when choreographing or free-styling, allows your creativity to come alive and enables you to get into a state of "flow". Studies have shown that creative people in general are happier and have shown a direct link between creativity and overall well-being. See this article to read more on how "flow" and creativity are linked to health and happiness. It's true that practicing creativity in your daily life will make you a happier person!

 

So what are you waiting for? GO DANCE and experience all of these benefits, plus so much more. Even if you can't find a dance class in your area, just put some headphones in and shake it for a while! Or make like Cameron Diaz in "The Sweetest Thing" (check out the video clip! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_LSrWRF_Bo) and dance on your way to and from work! However you go about it, your body and brain will reap the benefits.

Stay Fit and In Flight,

Jessica

The Aerialist's Christmas List

Once you start flying in the air with the greatest of ease, it's very typical that it quickly becomes the highlight of your day. Soon it's all you think about. Most times, items start popping up on Birthday and Christmas lists to help the aerialist become more prepared and most fashionable for training. This "Aerialist Wish List" is the perfect gift-giving guide to share with your gifters or your aerialist friend or family member! You will be sure to please this holiday season with a present to help that special someone along in his/her aerial journey.

The Aerialist Christmas Wish List:

1. FUN Leggings:

Leggings and/or tight running pants are essential for any aerialist, or even for those who participate in Aerial Yoga (aka Supspension Yoga, anti-gravity Yoga). Everyone most likely already has a pair of black leggings...but c'mon, you're dressing for aerial class not a funeral! Some great places to find fun leggings are from Blackmilk Clothing, IndieFashionMarketplace, Dancewear Solutions, and Discount Dance Supply. But if you really want to dress to impress, check out Womack and Bowman's exclusive Aerial Onsie that is both fashionable and practical (no more silk burns, yay!).

2. Grip Aid

Cramer's Firm Grip or Rosin will get the job done for days when your hands are a bit too sweaty or your grip is a bit too tired. All aerialists, budding, professional, or casual, should always have some kind of grip on hand at all times! 

3. At-home pull-up bar

Pull ups are by far one of the best exercises to improve strength for aerial fitness. You can find very reasonably priced pull-up bars online if you do a little bit of searching. Not only are pull-up bars useful for pull-ups, but also to improve grip strength, forearm strength, and core strength (leg lifts while hanging are a KILLER!). This is a great gift for someone trying to improve his/her strength in order to make faster progress in the air.

4. Foam Roller

Let's face it, aerial fitness is not easy. It makes your muscles work super hard, maybe harder than any other type of workout has ever pushed you. Foam rolling your muscles before and after aerial class will work WONDERS on your muscles. Your body will thank you for this, trust.

5. A gift certificate to the aerialist's favorite aerial training studio!

What better to satiate the aerialist's wants, needs, and desires than a gift certificate to their aerial studio?! Doing what you love AND saving money...what could be better?

 

I know I've either asked for, received, or purchased for myself all of these items. So what are you waiting for? Make that aerialist in your life a happy flying ninja!

Stay Fit and In Flight,

Jessica

Pose Sequence: Sail Cocoon Fan Thursday Tutorial

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In this week's tutorial, learn to link 3 poses together into a sequence. Learning individual poses is both challenging and rewarding, but sequencing the movements together fluidly is where the art  of aerial silks is created. This tutorial is merely a building block to the endless options of sequences you could create. SO get creative! Try this sequence, then attach some other foot lock poses to the beginning or end of this sequence. HAVE FUN and make it yours :) 

Stay Fit and In Flight,

Jessica