The Cost of Joy
The anger leaked out of my father, polluting everything around him. It bled onto the bench seat of his old Chevy pickup truck, sticky and uncomfortable. The smell of it was thick in my nostrils, causing my lungs to hold a continuous inhale. I sat there, shoulders hiked and braced. Frozen to not show any emotion for fear it was the wrong one. Frozen, hyper sensitive to any movement caught from the corner of my eye. Frozen, hoping by freezing I wouldn’t feel the hurt. Frozen in fear.
He was angry about how much gymnastics cost. It was the continual trigger for the bomb that existed in my family home. It divided my family, my siblings, my parents and caused an inordinate amount of suffering, the effects of which are still felt today by each of the members in my family. All for acrobatics.
It’s hard for me to confront this. I find myself trying to face my feelings but the complexity and spectrum of emotions are too great and I simply turn away. There is too much damage, there has been too great an impact, to do anything besides move forward from where we are.
The guilt I feel and felt, even then as a child, for being the cause of such trauma to my family is immense. The thankfulness and indebtedness I feel towards those who supported me through gymnastics is paramount. The joy I have both in memories of a childhood doing something I loved so much and now as a teacher and performer because of the skills I gained as a young athlete, is so great that it is overwhelming. Finding the lesson, focusing on the positive, and living out the joy and thankfulness are my coping mechanisms. I cannot change the past, but I can change the future.
When I started coaching sports acro at 18 I was always hyper aware of the toll a competitive sport took on families, both in expense and time. When I took over running my own program a few years later, I looked for ways of lowering the fare, or enriching the experience, trying to find options for families at any end of the financial and busyness spectrum. Shorter seasons, less fancy leotards, older athletes doing choreography instead of pricier, more experienced options were some of the ways we tried to offer the joys of being on a competitive team, with a smaller price tag. What was created was more focus on our team as a family, supporting one another, and less focus on what happened at competitions. It is one of the better things I was able to be a part of in my lifetime.
When I moved away from that team to begin a new life in LA, I was back to being the one who needed support. Financially, I was in a bad spot. Bird and I shared a bed in a studio and I worked a 9-5 to
come home pick up Bird from the sitter to go to teaching private handstand lessons in whispered voices while Bird slept on a little blanket on the floor until we finished. I would carry her up the stairs late at night and climb into bed next to her just to do it all again the next day. We completely survived on the kindness of others.
It was here that I learned the value of my time. People in LA are good for that. Everyone will pay you your rate, regardless of how good a friend they are. They will also recommend you to everyone they know, have you over for dinner, and make you yummy vegan banana ice cream. This was a new concept to me. The idea that my time and knowledge had value, regardless of someone’s financial situation. Kindness is given freely.
LA is a place that can chew you up and spit you out, or shape you into someone much stronger than you ever thought possible. Within a year I was able to quit my 9-5 and support Bird and myself with my income from teaching, which saved an huge amount of money on childcare, allowed me to be working less hours so I could spend more time with Bird, and meant I could put time into performing. Mostly what it meant however, was I could finally feel like I was no longer dependent on the support of others, and could pay all of the love forward.
I am here, in a hotel room in the UK, writing at 11am instead of working for someone else in an office, getting prepared to go do acrobatics on a stage with my best friends for hundreds of people because of the support and sacrifices of others. 100%.
So how do I offer the same generosity while still respecting my own time? This has been a constant battle for me. It bothers me that I could not have afforded my own coaching when I was a young athlete. However, every hour spent working is an hour away from my daughter. That time away from her still must serve her, in quality of life or in life lessons. This balance sometimes feels impossible.
It has been a long term goal of mine to provide good coaching and instruction at any price point. Movement has no income restrictions so why should its teaching only be available to those who have financial freedom?
I like to have a lower cost, lower commitment option for those who have less time and who feel private instruction is out of their financial comfort zone. My weekly classes were once that option but with touring I was unable to keep up with the schedule and had to cancel them. I do offer lower cost workshops and will gladly donate my time to those in need, but it’s rare that my schedule allows me to do more consistent group teaching. Therefore, I am SO very happy to once again have some options for students looking to start or supplement their practice!
As of today, acromegan.com has a new section of Instructional Packages that are made to target a specific skill with no subscription commitment and at a much friendlier cost than live private instruction. Currently there are four packages with more in the works, once we see what people are most interested in.
My personal favorite because anyone who wants to do handstands should be able to do them! This is a package made for those who have no handstand experience whatsoever but want to safely progress to starting a practice. The focus is strengthening, mobility, and developing proprioception (body awareness) to confidently move forward into inversions.
Beginning to Balance:
Ever feel like you are stuck on the wall? Moving your handstand from the wall to the open is a BIG step with a lot of moving parts. I always describe this skill like two concentric rings. The very center ring is our understanding of perfect-perfectly balanced, perfect line. The o
uter ring is everything that is not perfect, but still holds. We want to approach balance both by trying to narrow our inner circle, and by trying to widen our outer circle. The drills in this program, which is set to last around 6 months, are designed to guide you through building the tools to develop your line and hone the awareness of when the shape is unbalanced, why, and how to implement the proper correction to bring the shape back to balanced.
Intro to Hand to Hand:
This has been one of mine and Axl’s goals for a long time! This program is based around a live class with real students so you can see the drills in action and the slight modifications of each drill to individualize them. The class is paired with the isolated