Let’s talk about how to straddle like a mofo!
Straddle inverts are a must have for the aerialist - you've probably realised that this move is used ALL the time as a way to climb, mount or transition into other moves. They are also considered a bit of a milestone in your aerial journey.
You will remember that champion feeling of nailing your first straddle forever!
For a beginner they can feel impossible (and more like a ‘struggle up’ than a straddle) and it may take months of persistence and dedicated work on them to get those bums in the air. However my friend keep your eyes on the prize during these frustrating times because are they worth it yes, yes, yes. You’ll be sooooo proud of yourself when you’re straddling like a boss - it’s when you can really feel like you own those moves.
Good, clean, sexy, straight leg straddle inverts are what you want to aim for so lets get you moving towards that goal.
Top tips for nailing your straddle invert
1.) First up understand that there are three parts to this move. The first is bringing the knees up to the chest, then second is tilting back to get the hips up (a bit like a backward roll) and lastly pressing through the chest to hold the move and stay in balance.
2.) Start in short arm. Make life easy for yourself and start in a short arm position, hands in front of you at shoulder height. (Long arm straddles come later as they are way more advanced).
3.) Tuck your pelvis under and engage your core. This is super important (think Rocky Horror Show and all that hip thrusting). This helps to centralise and lighten your weight as you lift your bum in the air.
4.) The think of your body like a seesaw. For your hips to come up your head must go back. So don’t stay focussing on your hands or feet - look up at the ceiling and then back at the wall.
5.) Take off cleanly both feet pushing off the floor. This means you won't wobble off to the sides. As a beginner you’ll be pushing off the floor but the more advanced you get the more you will lift off the floor with you arm and core strength.
6.) Push your hips up so your invert will deepen. Once your up in the air make sure that the hips stay lifted so that gravity will naturally send the legs down and help you to balance. Otherwise your butt will look heavy and your straddle saggy.
7.) Beginners should do the ‘froggie’ bent leg version. If you are struggling to get up – aim to get your feet onto the equipment and then invert from there. Yes you can kick up if you need to and yes use the equipment to hoick yourself into the inversion.
8.) Intermediates work on not using the equipment to get over. As well as getting your legs as straight as possible. Remember straight legs are sexy legs!
9.) Advanced students need to work on aerial inverts. That’s straddle ups without using the floor. So start from a hanging position and lift up from there. If it’s impossible to do with legs straight – then go back to froggie legs and work from there until your strength improves.
10.) Work on the reverse straddle move ie the exit. Coming down slowly with as much control as possible will really help strengthen all the muscle groups involved and build good habits. As a beginner you will smack down with zero control whatsoever but the more you practice the slower this will become as you start to engage all the right muscles.
11.) Work on your hamstring and hip flexibility to increase the wideness of your straddle. Do this on the floor in a seated straddle working your chest towards the floor, or lying on your back in straddle with your legs against a wall. Hint Extreme Stretch is the perfect class for this and you can find out more here.
12.) Train your straddle inverts consistently as a conditioning drill. Once a week is just not enough - add in some extra practice hours and you will get the results much much faster. Gradually work up to doing sets of ten. Dedication is required as a good straddle invert doesn’t just happen overnight. Hint Pop Fit is an awesome class to come and practice in a group environment and you can check it out here.
13.) Don’t be too hard on yourself - this is a difficult move and so patience and persistence is required. In the words of Mae West “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it”. So if you're struggling and beating yourself up about it - stop! You can always work on something else for a while and then come back to them with fresh energy.
14.) Relish and enjoy your straddle inverts – engage your core and your quads, think energy out the toes and laser beams out of your feet! Yeah baby now we’re talking – that’s what I mean by straddle like a mofo!!!
So I hope that has been helpful and that you now have some pointers for turning those struggle ups into oh-so-gorgeous-straight-legged-little-wonders!
I believe in you and I know you can do it!