When Are You Officially An “Aerialist”…?

Things move quickly in the aerial world. Even if you only go to class once a week, you’re bound to see an increase in strength very quickly. You have that beginner’s high that gives you just enough caution and ambition to propel you forward. Many aerialists begin competing as soon as a couple months after they start. I plan on competing in a Lyra competition after only taking classes for a year.

So when can you call yourself an aerialist? Is it a title bestowed upon you by a teacher or a judge at a competition? Do you get to start it yourself? Is it after your first class, a competition, after getting a certain trick, or doing it for a certain amount of time?

Titles are a tricky thing. And it’s a discussion that happens in many different areas. People can’t agree on when someone’s a writer; is it when they get published or when they out their first words on paper. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. It hadn’t even occurred to me to call myself an aerialist until lately. Rather, I’d just say I do pole dance/aerial hoop.

So I decided to ask around and see when people began calling themselves aerialists. The owner of my studio said it was instantly. I asked around in a group on Facebook and got different answers. Some said they titled themselves after their first class; others after a few months; after becoming a teacher; after competing for the first time; after getting an invert; after making it a priority in their lives; after getting their first apparatus installed in their home.

One thing I loved about their answers (aside from how varied they were), was that it was a personal choice. No one else told them what they were, gave them a checklist before they could be aerialists, or discouraged them from calling themselves what they wanted. After hearing their answers, I decided to really think about my own journey.

While I hadn’t thought about it until a year after I started classes, I do know that it took me longer than most to feel like a pole dancer and aerialist. I began thinking of myself as a pole dancer after I could do a couple moves without feeling over strenuous. I could say it out loud after a couple months. With aerial hoop it came a lot quicker. It was nearly instant. I fell in love with it right away, and knew that it was the apparatus I wanted to focus on. I couldn’t do a whole lot, but I was an aerialist, and I couldn’t wait to tell people.

It’s not really a conscious decision. It’s just something that happens, and you realize it in your own way when you’re ready. There is no checklist for it, just a knowing. I think you’re a pole dancer, aerialist, dancer, as soon as you take a class.

Whether you’re at that point or not, I hope you’re enjoying the experience, and we welcome you to the family.

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Kathryn Lanham

About The Author

In 2015, I took my first aerial hoop class. It was hard, but beautiful, and after trying it once I fell in love. Now I spend all the time I can training on lyra and watching videos for inspiration. It makes me feel like I'm flying. I hope to perform and compete with it one day. When I'm away from the hoop, I'm either spending time with my husband or using my creative energy to paint or write. I'm so thankful for my aerial family, and I can't wait to see where my passion takes me. Visit Kathryn on the web HERE.
Read more of Kathryn's posts HERE.
2 comments on “When Are You Officially An “Aerialist”…?
  1. Lilitha Vain says:

    I feel so encouraged as an “aerialist” after reading this article and feel so much better! Thank you so much for writing and sharing it with the community.

  2. I’m so glad this post encouraged you, Lilitha! Thank you for your comment 🙂

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