Learning With Maya, Episode 4: How To Fly On That Lyra Hoop Thang

February 28th

By Maya Malan-Gonzalez


Have you ever wanted to fly? I love climbing things, being lifted, feeling close to flying. So I’m going to learn how to fly like those beautiful aerial artists.

Christen being all fancy as she works on a routine

Christen being all fancy as she works on a routine

A few days ago I joined fellow ensemble member Christen Celaya at Womack and Bowman - The Loft for their Hoop 1: Beginning Aerial Lyra class. Christen and I performed together in The Times (Now Touring!) and she is currently performing in American Mariachi at Arizona Theatre Company, directed by Christopher Acebo. If you know Christen, you know she’s strong! She also does a lot of aerial, she dances with silks and she flies with that Lyra hoop thang.

I gotta say, my hands hurt, my arms hurt, my shoulders hurt, my armpits hurt, my neck hurts, my legs hurt, and my hands, my arms (I know I already said them, but damn- they really HURT!). I’m so, so, so sore! I feel like I got a super beating, I’m feeling muscles I’ve never felt before! And they feel so sore.

I took off my tights after class and found this little bruise behind my knee

I took off my tights after class and found this little bruise behind my knee

This 90 minute course for $35 was an awesome way to jump in to it! Literally, that’s how it all started, with a jump.

The How:

Step up to the hoop, grab the base with your fingers facing away from you and lift yourself up. Simple right?

The room had four hoops and probably about 10 students Luckily there were two other virgins in the class so I wasn’t the only first timer. They were friends, a young man and a young woman. The guy went first and he went right into the upside down pose and did the things with his legs, hooking them over the bottom bar of the hoop and letting go, so he was hanging upside down. His friend went next; she struggled but she got up there. Now it was my turn.

Oh boy.    

I should mention, I have very little upper body strength. My arms are little spaghetti arms. And I haven’t really been physically active since before christmas… so like it’s maybe been a month and a half… or longer...

I try to jump up.. Aw man that was a fail. I kinda kicked my legs up and nothing spectacular happened.

Try number two… wow! This is really hard! I kick my legs again and I’m like a sack of potatoes hanging from the hoop. A total dead weight. At this point, the instructor says, “one more try then take a rest”.

Oh hell no.

My legs hurt- but I am holding on for dear life. This is the look of joy and fear all in one.

My legs hurt- but I am holding on for dear life. This is the look of joy and fear all in one.

I’m a taurus, ya’ll. That means, I can get hella competitive and there is no way I’m gonna be the ONE newbie who couldn’t get on the freaking hoop. So I channel my inner monster driven by determination and on the third try. I kick my legs like my pride depends on it and my crazy jump  manages to bring my legs just close enough to the hoop, that I was able to grab it with my feet! I managed to shuffle my legs up and hook them over that damn hoop so I could hang upside down.

Once you’re legs are hooked you’re supposed to let go of your hands and hang there. I let go of one hand and I don’t think my legs are strong enough! I’m pressing my calves into the back of my thighs hoping I don’t fall on my face! Pressing like my life depends on it! I tentatively let go of the other hand. Wow, that was so scary!

And just when you thought it was over, now I have to lift my body, which is so damn heavy. I grab the bar and lift myself up. The parts of my legs squeezing on the lyra bar are so sore. I need way more meat on my bones! I don’t quite manage the lowering of the legs back the way they came up. I actually kinda just fall out of it.

I’m just as graceful as the chick behind me, right?????????

I’m just as graceful as the chick behind me, right?????????

After a few times doing the upside down thing, it was time to try advance to a spread eagle thing. You grab the bottom of the hoop with your hands close together, then somehow you lift your legs and spread them… I couldn’t figure out how to lift my legs straight into the spread. But I did manage to do my crazy kick jump to grab the hoop with my feet, then from this crazy spiderman position I managed to take my legs off the hoop. Now, since I can’t figure out how to get up there without doing a big jump, the jump makes my hoop swing- a lot. This isn’t supposed to happen.

It’s a very weird feeling to be hanging upside down, holding on to a bar with only my little hands (which are in so much pain- they are on fire!) and I’m swinging back and forth. By the end of the 90 minute class my body was done.

And now…. I’m so fucking sore.

But it was so fucking cool!

So happy I’m doing that spread thang

So happy I’m doing that spread thang

At the end of the class, they turn down the lights and people can practice whatever they want. I’m in awe seeing the people like Christen who have been training for a while, how they lift their bodies so flawlessly. They look so beautiful as they gracefully control their bodies dancing with the hoop high above the ground.  They lift themselves up like its nothing. Which makes you feel like you can lift yourself up like it’s nothing- Which is untrue. Very fucking untrue. These bitches are masters of deception, ‘cause this shit is hard and very painful.

Pero like… to be honest…. The instructor was cool, almost too cool. I kinda felt like she was too cool for newbies. So I’m going to check out another studio.

Come back in mid March to see what I’m learning next!