Learning With Maya, Episode 5: How To Climb Fabric

March 15

By Maya Malan-Gonzalez

How’s March going everyone? Learning anything new? Remember how I went to that Lyra hoop class last month? Have you been keeping up with my learnings?? Well, if you have, then you know I wasn’t really vibing with my last instructor, so I went on a search to see where I could continue learning about that Lyra Hoop.

How do I get up there?

How do I get up there?

After searching a bunch of places I decide to take my next class at Artistic Athletics in Eagle Rock. I sign up for the Mix Apparatus class for teens and Adults Beginning / Intermediate, this class is supposed to touch on silks, Lyra and other flying devices. Their single class cost is normally $30, but your first class at the gym is only $25 (I love me a first time discount).

I get to the studio and immediately these two teenagers welcome me, offering advice for where to put my stuff. So sweet and super helpful.

We begin with stretches and this instructor was showing us some stretches that I’ve never seen before. Unlike the other studio, which was mainly adult students, teenagers make up the majority of this class, which means the instructor’s talking through things, rather than assuming everyone knows what to do.

After a really great stretching session we go up to the silks. It’s clear everyone’s been here before and they’ve all been studying for a minute. The instructor names a bunch of climbs like French, Russian, Bicycle, Crocheting (and some other names my brain just got overwhelmed and stopped listening) for people to do as a warmup. I don’t know what to do and she can tell I am hella confused. I ask in front of the class, super lame like,

“ummmm…. Is this the beginning level class?”

I am assured I am in the right place and the instructor teaches me how to do a French climb.


The How:

Stand directly under where the silks are falling. Grab both silks as one. Then you do this flippy thing with your foot- FLEX THAT FOOT! And with the second foot step on the flexed foot all pee-pee dance like. Basically you’re stepping on the fabric and up you go. Then you move your hands up higher, lift the second foot you placed on top of the one wrapped in fabric, this foot just kinda hangs out while you do this flippy thing with the first foot to go more up and you step on that foot with the second foot. Then just keep repeating till you’re at the top.

Then to come back down, you slowly lower yourself, one hand at a time.

I did this too fast. And I was sliding, not moving one hand at a time. I have silk burn.  My hands hurt! Thank God for the post-class cold glass of wine in my hand…. So Soothing.

The first time I tried starting with my right foot. Oh my god, I did not think I would make it to the top. It’s really scary. I love climbing trees, I love rock climbing… but climbing fabric is hella freaky. And I feel like it’s way harder than the Lyra hoop. The Lyra hoop is something I can at least hook a limb on. Silks are just hanging fabric. It’s actually kinda crazy when you think about it.

Look ma, I made it to the top!

Look ma, I made it to the top!

The second time I began on my left foot. Was it easier the second time because it was my left foot? Or because it was my second time?

The third time my arms are so fucking tired. My forearms are feeling tight and the instructor gives me a really helpful tip. I’m having a hard time with my feet and keeping that first foot all flexed. She says to think about lifting my pinkie toe to the ceiling. You point your foot and you fall. This tip helps me, but I’m so weak I slide down anyways. Ouchy.

I’m feeling my forearms in ways I have never. Wowza! These muscles are so awake and so confused. I’m rubbing my forearms and massaging them and a young woman shows me a stretch she does for her forearms on the ground. They say this crazy feeling is normal. They say it means I’m doing it right. Oh yeah, I’m going to be in so much pain tomorrow.

The instructor shows me a second move called the candlestick.

Praying my arms pull me up

Praying my arms pull me up

The How:

You separate the siks, wrap each fabric around your hand, lift your knees to your chest, then keep lifting so you’re upside down with your legs straight. You’re feet are like the flame- que cute!

And you know what was real cute? Me trying that candlestick! Oh, I lifted my legs to my chest… well… I lifted my knees to my stomach area. The instructor tried to help me lift my legs but my body was like


I tried a couple more times then it was time for a water break. I felt beat.

The class never touched on the Lyra. I asked the instructor and she said she only brings down the lyra if people request it- I didn’t request it because my body was feeling the buuuuuuuuuuuurrrrnnn. I love knowing I can work on two apparatuses in one class at this gym.

So I stretch and watch the other students in the class as they practice their various moves. I think all but one of them are teenagers. The teenagers come here often. The other student who is not a teenager says she comes on and off, when she can. Everyone here is super nice.

I’m definitely going to come back here.

Trying so hard

Trying so hard

I feel so sore, but it’s so worth it knowing what I did and how with practice, I’ll only get better. I still like climbing trees and rock climbing more. Maybe it’s because I’m an earth sign? But I dig that Lyra Hoop thang and there’s something interesting about knowing how to do silks. What if I’m in a life or death situation and the only way out is with my random ability to climb fabric…. gracefully.

The thing I Loved about silks is this concept of “Never Give UP!” When you’re 20 feet up in the air hanging onto fabric, you can’t give up. You have to figure out how to get down without falling.

I still wanna figure out how to fly, so I’m not giving up!

Come back at the end of the month to read about my next learning adventure! It’s going to be delicious!

Can you guess what I’m learning next????