A Glimpse of Aerial Mom Life: Finding Strength and Balance

Article by Thema Frangias (photo by Nakita Mone)

I’m a mom; a mostly work from home mom, who moved to Buffalo a few years ago with a small child. We knew absolutely no one here. Because of that, I became the mom in the grocery store who blurted out every little detail of the past 3 weeks of her life onto any poor soul who would listen. I apologize to the Wegman’s employee that had to hear about how I accidentally spilled pee all over my toddler’s head while potty training; I know you just wanted to help me find the beans. I, or rather, my brilliant-faced curly-headed son, was popular with the retired old ladies who were also grocery shopping at 10AM on a Tuesday morning. I suspect my popularity ended there. Adult human interaction was limited to a few conversations at play dates, and that was starting to get old.

Thema performing at Music is Art (photo by Nakita Mone)

I convinced another mommy friend to dump the kids and join me on my first class. As we step into Buffalo Aerial Dance, I was immediately mesmerized with the space. Gorgeous silks swoop from the ceiling. The sun’s rays poured in through the massive windows and caressed the trapezes. As we poked our heads around the staged seating, our instructor invites us in. We signed our lives away and joined the rest of the class on the floor. We begin with a funky ice breaker where we had to name our favorite drink. Mine was water. How boring, and oh, how this was a horrible representation of the 10 heart attacks and strokes I was about to give Erica during the next 90 minutes of her life. Sorry Erica, for shaving some years off of your life with my adventurous spirit; but with every new skill you showed us, my brain and body decided to explore where I could go next. I wanted to do the big moves. Today. Teach me everything you know NOW! Please! Well, that was not entirely possible (because Erica knows a lot of stuff), but I made sure to take 2 -3 classes per week as well as attend open gym every time I could for the first few months of training.

Of course we had to get the little guy in the silks at some point.

Surprisingly, I had absolutely no goal. I just wanted to do it. But aerial sure did fix all my mommy problems. The casual conversations we all had during the class resolved my social issues. Yes, we were there to train, but the atmosphere is warm and open. My back no longer ached, my neck no longer hurt. If you think about it, moms are often in the exact opposite positions that are necessary to safely complete aerial moves. Our shoulders are often rounded. We are often in funky positions trying to nurse the baby all while folding laundry and trying not to burn dinner for the third night in a row. We often balance a toddler on one hip, diaper bag on our back and grocery bags in the other hand because no way are we making five trips from the car to the door. Trying to be super moms, we compress our spines, roll our shoulders, and create imbalances in our hips and torso. A lot of these physical discomforts were calmed in class; on the silks we did strength training, stretching, inversions to lengthen out the spine, and moved in a way that is more balanced than mommy duty.

Aerial is a perfect mental as well as physical challenge. Taking instructions while upside down is not as easy as it looks; especially when you have mommy brain. Hook which leg in front? What is front? My right, or your right? Isn’t that my left leg? Who knows! But within a few months, having conversations in all sorts of funky positions will become second nature. “This is really fun and solves all my mommy problems”, was my motivation to come to class. I had a strong athletic background, but I lost a lot of that conditioning after having a baby, which definitely had an effect on my self-perception. What a confidence booster taking an aerial class is! I was doing things I never thought I would be able to do, regaining strength and coordination, and looking pretty awesome while doing it. Just keep going to class!

Thema teaches on Sundays – Silks and Lyra at 11:00 and Aerial Fitness at 12:30.

I was shocked when Erica asked me to participate in the student showcase and eventually perform! Perform for who?  When? What!? You bet I was excited! I made my costume and immediately started choreographing a routine. I practically lived in the studio for the next two months. During the student showcase, Erica gave me a hefty intro which absolutely DID NOT help with my nervousness. I was lined up at the closing act. I watched some of the other amazing girls performing before me and almost pooped in my pants… multiple times. I have always been comfortable in front of a crowd but not doing something like this! Despite all of the nerves, I went out there, the show was a success and that jumpstarted the second chapter in my aerial journey as a performer and now instructor at Buffalo Aerial Dance.