Thursday, 29 January 2015


Wow! It seems part one of this post was a very popular one - i'm glad you all loved Katie's post about the benefits of Pilates, I hope it inspired some of you to try it. As promised, here's the second part of Katie's two part special - a few exercises you can try at home before your try Pilates or Aerial, or if you already do either these are some great exercises to do in-between classes to keep you strong! Now i'm going to pass you back over to Katie… 

The 100 

 The hundred is a classic Pilates mat exercise. It requires that you coordinate your breath with the movement, and be strong and graceful at the same time. It is challenging, but the hundred is an easy exercise to modify.  


-Lie on your back with your legs bent in tabletop position with your shins and ankles parallel to the floor/ceiling. 
 -Exhale, bring your head up with your chin down and, using your abdominal muscles, curl your upper spine up off the floor to the base of your shoulder blades. Keep the shoulders sliding down and engaged in the back. Your gaze is down into the scoop of the abs. 
-Exhale, at the same time, deepen the pull of the abs and extend your arms and legs. Your legs reach toward where the wall and ceiling meet in front of you. You can adjust them higher if need be, or lower for more advanced work. 
-Your legs only be as low as you can go without shaking and without the lower spine pulling up off the mat.  
-Your arms extend straight and low, just a few inches off floor, with the fingertips reaching for the far wall.  
-Hold your position. 
-Take five short breaths in and five short breaths out (like sniffing in and puffing out). While doing so, move your arms in a controlled up and down manner - a small but dynamic pumping of the arms. 
-Be sure to keep your shoulders and neck relaxed. It is the abdominal muscles that should be doing all the work. ---Try to pump the arms for 100 pats. 


-Arch your lower back
-Strain your neck
-Have one leg higher than the other  

Make it easier:

-You can keep your legs in tabletop position. You can also do the exercise with your knees bent and the feet flat on the floor, lifting only the upper body. 

The Double Leg Stretch  

This exercise increases the strength and range of motion in your shoulder girdle, so you can reach higher, lift more efficiently, and maintain better strength and balance in every extended movement you make. The Double Leg Stretch is also a terrific way to build strength and flexibility in your hips.  


-Lie on your back with your shins in table top position, parallel to the floor/ceiling. 
-Exhale, pull your abdominal muscles in to curve your upper body up off the floor. Deepen the abs, bringing your forehead toward your knees.  
-Grasp your shins or ankles. 
-Inhale, your shoulders stay away from your ears, and your abs stay pulled in, as you simultaneously reach your arms and legs in opposite directions. Extend as far as possible while keeping your abs pulled in and the lower back on the mat.  
-Your upper body stays lifted as you reach 
- Do not let the extension of the arms drop the level of the chest.  
-You might need to adjust the height of your arms and legs as you reach. The lower they are, the more difficult it is to keep your lower back on the mat. 
-Exhale, as you sweep your arms out to the sides and reach around to grasp your shins, your abs deepening and pulling the legs in to centre. 


-Drop your upper body curve. Your chest and head remain lifted for the duration of the exercise.  

Make it easier:

-Do it with one leg. 
-Keep your head on the floor. 
-Make the range of movement smaller. 


 The Plank 

The Plank is a balance and core conditioning exercise. There are two major types of planks, the full plank, where you balance on both arms, and the side plank, where you balance on one arm. 


-Lower both your forearms to the ground so that both your elbows and fists are flat to the ground. Your fists should be directly underneath your shoulders. 
-Curl your toes under and engage your abs by tilting your pelvis (find your neutral spine) and pull your belly button towards your spine. 
-Straighten your body but keep your neck and spine neutral. Imagine that you’re a plank of wood, and that you’re straight as an arrow!  
-Flex your abdominals and squeeze your glutes ( your bum! ) These are the two major muscle groups you’ll be working out in this exercise. 
-Hold this position ideally for at least 1mim, or until after the burning begins. 
-Keep your eyes on the floor in front of you.  


-Let your butt lift or sag (dip the lower back). 
-Lift your head.  

 Make it easier: 

-Hold the position for a shorter period of time. 


 Shoulder bridge  

The Bridge is an excellent Pilates torso stability exercise. This means that one of your goals is to keep your torso really still during the exercise. This exercise strengthens the butt and the back of the legs and teaches core stability. 


-Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, approximately hip distance apart. 
-Your feet should be in a comfortable position — not too close to your butt and not too far away. You should be able to easily find the neutral spine. 
-Experiment with different placements of your feet to find the best fit!

Inhale, take a deep breath in, expanding into your back and your lungs. 
-Exhale, keeping your torso in one flat piece, press your feet into the mat and squeeze your butt as you lift your hips up off the mat.
Come up high enough that your body makes a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. 
-Don’t press up so high that you can’t see your knees.  
-Inhale, maintain the Bridge position. 
-Exhale, still holding the bridge, think of knitting your ribs down to your belly, squeeze your butt, and try to lengthen through the front of your hips. 
-Inhale, hold the Bridge position. 
-Once comfortable here, trying squeezing the knees together and release (x 4) 
-Exhale, maintain neutral spine as you come back down to the mat. 

Monday, 26 January 2015


So for today - I thought I'd bring a little something different to my blog. As many of you may (or may not) know - I train in aerial on a regular basis. During Christmas time, my training centre closed for a month, now I know what i'm like...I have no motivation to train on my own, I NEED to go to a class and do exercise with people. This is where Katie's classes come in, located in South London - predominantly Balham and Tooting, it was not only convenient for me but Katie is also a good friend of my cousins who attends her classes regularly, so I knew I'd be in good hands. I chose Pilates because of it's benefits on your core (amongst other things of course) and that's what I really needed to keep strong, I knew if I didn't do anything over Christmas attempting to invert a few metres up in the air on a pair of silks could prove to be very dangerous and it worked! I went back to silks feeling strong, not only that, I also found Katie's classes also helped me massively with my Seasonal Affective Disorder - I loved classes so much that I've been going back almost every week. So I thought it would be interesting to have Katie write a little guest post on Pilates and it's benefits in your day to day life or if you're considering starting aerial. This will be a two part post, the first will focus on the benefits and later on in the week I will post the second part of this post - a few exercises from Katie that you can try at home before attending Pilates. Additionally, I would really recommend doing a couple of Pilates classes before starting aerial. So without further ado, i'll pass you onto Katie... 

So, when Natalie asked me to write a blog on Katie's Pilates for her site, I felt honoured and chuffed...but I also thought, yikes, I've never written a blog before, what do I say?! What do people want to read? What will be interesting? I'm not going to throw at you a load of healthy tips on dieting and how drinking loads of water cleanses your body. We have heard and read it all before, right? So I'm going to attempt to give you a little insight to me as a teacher, my classes, and why I think core strength is so important. I hope maybe, just maybe, you will feel inspired. Here goes!

I trained as a professional dancer, graduating with a BA Hon’s degree. Dance has always been a large part of my life; from starting ballet at the tender age of 3, to dancing in the bedroom, putting on shows with my sister for my parents in the garden, to dancing at the weekend on a night out. I just love it!

I’d like to give you a little insight into me and how I was inspired to start Pilates. 11 years ago, when I was 19 (ouch!), I was fortunate enough to go to Fiji to see one of my dearest friends who was on a gap year travelling the world. My goodness Fijians know how to dance! They put rhythm, soul, love and joy into their lives primarily through dancing and food - they have a genuine zest for life that I had never encountered before. Coming from a western, commercial, and one might argue, shallow society this was a breath of fresh air! I loved the fact that the people I was meeting there had next to no material possessions in their lives - a lot of them had never been in or seen a car! They had a real gratitude for life and were happy to be healthy and alive. It taught me a hell of a lot and was the beginning of a personal healing process for me; it allowed me to start loving my body (and food!) again. At the time I was battling an eating disorder - anorexia. I'm not going to go into this in depth, but I will remind anyone who screws their face up or gets frustrated when they hear or see people who struggle with eating - or over-eating for that matter - that it is far more complex than most people realise. It is not something you choose or can control (although you think you are in control at the time!) and it takes a lot of patience from loved ones to get you back on track. I guess I wanted to take this opportunity to say how important it is to love yourself, it has taken a long time for me to do so…and I suppose that is a beneficial bi-product of teaching Pilates; it’s not just a job to me – it’s a lifestyle choice. 

I am now a qualified Pilates instructor. You have no doubt heard of Pilates. It has become more and more popular in recent years. Maybe you think it is the same as Yoga? That’s common, a lot of people do, but really it is very different. In short, Pilates strengthens your whole body, improves posture and helps connect your mind and body. Fundamentally though, it focuses mainly on strengthening your core (your tummy and back). You will work, and maybe discover, muscles in your body that you never thought you had! These muscles are worked in such a way that you will improve your shape, tone and posture. Pilates is mainly performed on a mat (you can get Reformer too, but we’ll leave that one for another day). It isn’t just for girls, I want say that plainly. In fact Pilates was first developed for men, by a man, named Joseph Pilates. I believe that everyone can benefit from Pilates; men, women, athletes, couch potatoes, people of all body shapes and weights, people of all levels of fitness and coordination! It truly does offer something for everyone.

As a Pilates instructor, I get a lot of questions about Pilates: “what is it?”, “how will it benefit my body?”. Recently someone asked me, "What is the best workout I can do for my core?" It's a common question! And no reason it's so confusing. Many of us equate core strength with a flat belly or six-pack abs and there are so many abs gizmos, belly-fat-burning pills, and ab-centric workouts available, that it's hard to make sense of it all. But I do believe that Pilates is the absolute best core workout. Why? Because it includes every aspect of core training. It targets every single muscle group in the core (not just the outer layer of abs, which many exercises target). Now, while I do believe having a toned tummy is a motivating goal, there are so many more benefits that come from improving core strength than how your midsection looks; including improved posture, better balance, reduced back pain and easier breathing.

So how and why will taking part in Pilates classes help you achieve a stronger core - well as with anything you need to make a commitment to attending classes along with a healthy diet. In fact, I don't like to use the word “diet”. I believe the key word is balance! You can balance eating good food 80% of the time and naughty stuff 20%! Find a percentage that works for you. Do not count calories and don't deprive yourself - we all need a treat from time to time! I am against any kind of “replace meals with juice” calorie-restricting nonsense. In other words: eat clean; regulate your intake of processed foods, sugar, dairy, caffeine, gluten and alcohol.

Your core is the vital “foundation” of all your body’s movements and there are many ways that you can work on core strength, through a variety of Pilates exercises.

What, and where, are your core muscles, you may wonder?
Many people mistakenly think that their “abs” or abdominal muscles are the only core muscles. In fact, the core muscle group also includes all of the muscles that are located in your torso (pelvic muscles, mid and lower back muscles and even your hip muscles) that keep the body stable and balanced.  It makes sense when you think about it; it takes many different muscles working together to keep your body well-aligned during different daily activities. Your core muscles can be split into two types of muscles: stabilisers and movers. The stabilizer muscles attach directly to the spine and support its movement.  The movers are the muscles that support the stabiliser muscles and work with them to move your body. Ok, that's about as biological I am going to get…!

Why is core fitness important?
Think of your core as a muscular corset that stabilizes your entire body, helping to give you a centre of gravity whether you’re at rest or moving your limbs: just as the ballet dancer uses his or her centre of gravity to keep balance as he / she spins across the floor, you draw upon your core strength whenever you walk, sit, exercise or perform pretty much any activity. These days, as our lives become increasingly sedentary, we spend more and more time sitting, with our core muscles relaxed.  This sedentary time happens at home, in vehicles and at work. Reversing the trend towards more sedentary lifestyles is a challenge; a vital part of meeting that challenge is to engage those core muscles that relax while we are sitting.

A great way to start working your core can be as simple as being aware of your posture throughout the day.  For example, several times a day, take a minute to stand tall, relax your shoulders and think about your posture. There is some evidence to suggest that core stabilisation and core strengthening can help to improve back health, balance and overall functional fitness. 

Researchers continue to study the various ways core strength improves health and wellbeing. Here are a few of the proven benefits of having a strong centre:

Alleviates Back Pain: Research shows that people with weak core muscles have an increased risk of back ache and injury, since they lack adequate spine support. Core-strengthening exercises and core-engaging workouts, like Pilates, can help reduce discomfort, improve mobility and improve support for the spine in people with both acute and chronic pain.

Improves Posture: Core-strengthening exercises work all of the muscles of the torso from top to bottom and front to back, helping you stand tall with your limbs in alignment. By improving posture you decrease your risk of disc herniation and vertebrae degeneration. Another benefit to better posture? Better breathing. That same balance that helps you stand up straight also opens your airway, making inhalations and exhalations easier.

Better Athletic Performance: You’d be hard-pressed to find a sport that doesn’t rely on core strength for performance. For example, core exercises can keep runners’ legs and arms from tiring quickly. Rowers engage their cores as they paddle; a stronger core allows them to pull harder and faster. Baseball pitchers get the power for their curveballs as much from their cores as they do their arms - maybe more. Your core is the link between your upper and lower body, it is what allows a golfer to swing the club to strike his ball, or a tennis player to serve and optimize her racquet speed. It’s critical to sports performance.

Improved Balance: Poor balance is a complicated condition, but lower body weakness, vestibular dysfunction and neurological deficits are often contributing factors. Studies have shown that dynamic balance improves as core strength increases.

Safer Everyday Movement: Daily tasks - such as maintaining balance on an icy road, carrying all your shopping, hoisting children and walking up a steep flight of stairs - are easier and less likely to result in an injury when you core is strong. Not only do you have better control of your muscles, but you can more easily find your centre if you’re caught off-balance. In addition, being able to rely on a strong core will make it less likely that you’ll overtax other muscles.

If you attend one of my classes, I should probably warn you, the first 5mins will be all about connecting with yourself while you stand, engaging your core, inhaling, exhaling and simple stuff like that. In fact, it’s so easy you might actually nod off. Enjoy it while it lasts, because it gets a lot tougher from then on! Men in particular, pay attention to that...I am all too aware that you may be of the misconception that Pilates is easy and you’ll breeze through it. That is certainly not going to be the case, and as soon as you’re instructed to raise those legs while your back is pinned to the floor, you’ll be in serious trouble! You’ll be instructed to hold your legs at a 45 degree angle to the floor for 30 seconds, and of course, you’ll realise how out of your depth you are! Ha! It’s going to hurt where it shouldn’t so just accept that the only way to learn is to go again the next week and probably for the next 10 sessions…and remember to breathe, okay?!

In Katie's Pilates classes I will remind you of the six main Pilates principles, which are:

As you move through the exercises in class, try and apply these principles and perfect your posture.

I have listed some exercises to help strengthen your core, hope these help and inspire you to look after your body. Keep an eye out for those in the second part of this post. 

Thanks for reading, keep well, stay safe. Love, Katie x

Sunday, 4 January 2015

2015 GOALS

I'll be honest with you, I don't believe in new year resolutions nor do I ever stick to them...promising myself that i'm going to change just because it's the start of another year just doesn't quite work for me. However, having said that, this year i'm setting myself some goals instead - things I would like to achieve by the end of the year, things I would like to work towards. I think this is by far more productive than a resolution i'm not going to stick to and will have forgotten what i've resolved to do by the end of January. This will also allow me to look back at this post at the end of the year and tick off anything I have or haven't achieved and hopefully at the end of this year I will be adding things to the list that I didn't know I would achieve. 

Unlike the start of other years, I feel incredibly positive about this year - call me crazy but I just have a good feeling about it. I had an amazing start to the new year which has already set that little ball of positivity rolling so here are my things I would like to and firmly believe I will achieve this year. 

1. Start styling on interior photoshoots and generally carry on working in shoot production - basically get myself firmly established in this industry as a freelancer. (This is my dream job, something i've always wanted to do and managed to get the ball rolling on this in late 2014, so this year is the year to really focus on that and make that dream a reality). 

2. Blog more and build a little online community based around this blog. I have realised I love blogging, so I would like to have grown this blog considerably by the end of the year. I want to bring you content you want to see, content that'll get you excited and inspired to try new things. This could be anything such as Aerial, or a new product or even travelling somewhere. 

3. Be performing in Aerial Silk by the end of the year (even if it is the annual Christmas show at the end of the year) - this is a really big one for me! 

4. Be competent on Hoop/ Spanish Web/ Aerial Chains - one of these or all 3 would be great.

5. Believe in myself - i've gone through a lot of my life telling myself 'i'm not good enough' and having negative thoughts about myself as well as serious anxiety. Since August last year, i've made a conscious effort to think positively and tell myself I can do anything I want, because I can. I know i'm good at what I do (i'm the kind of person that puts EVERYTHING into the task at hand) and it's only natural I want to strive to be better. But by striving to be better doesn't mean I was awful in the first place. I found that thinking positively has worked wonders and opened a whole bunch of doors for me so by the end of this year, I would like to have curbed the anxiety...pushed it out of my body and really truly believe I can do anything without any little negative thoughts trying to push their way into my mind! 

These are the 5 main things, obviously each thing splits into 'sub goals' but then this would be a really long post. I'm going to start off by focusing on these and see how I go - of course things change over the course of the year, but this year if there are any changes i'm determined that they'll be for the better ;)

I hope this post has really inspired you, have you set yourself any goals for the year?

Natalie x

Saturday, 3 January 2015


Firstly, apologies for being a bit M.I.A over the festive period, it was a time where I wanted to switch off from the internet for a while and focus on my family and friends. Now that the festive period is over i'm back and promise posting will become a bit more regular again! My blog will be going through some changes as well in the next couple of keep an eye out for that. 

I thought i'd start off this year with a trip to one of my favourite places just outside London, near the M25. It's somewhere i've been driving to for years, it's approximately a 20-30 minute drive from where I live in London yet it has beautiful rolling hills and winding country lanes that make you feel like you're hours away from civilisation. Welcome to Shoreham and Eynsford. 

I drove out there yesterday with two of my close friends, it was a beautiful sunny day, the air was crisp and we fancied a pub lunch and nice long walk. (Plus it was a good excuse to give my little Fiat 500 a good run, London can take its toll on a car ya know). Sorry for the quality of the pictures, I took them on my phone - i've also included some pictures from previous trips as I didn't take that many yesterday. 

(I seem to have misplaced my eyes in these photos, if anyone happens to find them please return them to me asap) 

We decided to stop off in Eynsford, a quaint little village with a river, bison in its fields and cosy tea rooms. I gave the girls a little tour and we stopped off at The Plough for a pub food pictures for you i'm afraid, I was totally marvin' and forgot to take some but I can assure you the food there is fantastic. 

After I drove us to Shoreham Woods and we went for a little stroll, stupidly none of us had wellies (my mother stole mine and then lost them) so we were desperately trying not to stack it in the mud, but it was still a pleasant walk. Plus I had to eye up the trees and see which ones had silk rigging potential ;) (aerialists will understand this problem, we're always looking at things we can potentially hang off of). 

Overall it was a lovely day and if i'm honest, I didn't want to come back to London. Do you guys like going on country drives, if so are there any places I should check out? 

Natalie x 

Monday, 8 December 2014


Apologies for the lack of posts in the last couples of weeks, it's been a time of reflection for me. A lot of things are changing in my life at the moment - for the positive thankfully, however I have been taking some time to reflect and be grateful for what I have and what i've achieved this year. I have included a few Instagram pictures from my year as well, so apologies for the quality of some of the images! 

This year has been full of highs and lows - it's been the most difficult year yet. I'm a very positive person when it comes to everyone but myself, no matter how hard I work on something it's never good enough for me (despite what people tell me) i'm always striving to be better and I find it hard to be positive about what i've achieved, always thinking I could have done better or gotten further. Having said that, looking back i'm actually proud of how far i've come this year and have come to appreciate the small things. 

This year I made the very big step to quit a full time job to go freelance - it's difficult but the best decision I could have made. Following on from that, I could not have done it without the support of my family - my parents have been incredible and so have my cousins, they have all come through for me and helped me along my way and i'll be forever grateful for that. It's because of them, I have managed to get into the field of work i've always dreamed of working in but most importantly i've been able to spend a lot more time with them and grow closer to them which means a lot to me. Because of this, I've also had the opportunity to watch their band SOLSINE grow, which has been amazing - i'm so proud of them, i've linked to their website if you want to check them out...these guys are going to go far. 

I also made the leap to try aerial silks this year - you can read that post here. It's been a challenge but i've fallen in love with it and can't wait to be good enough to start performing. 

I've grown up A LOT, a certain experience has taught me BIG life lessons, as my dad says 'you've had an experience this year and learnt an important lesson, that's worth years of experience'. He was right, i've come away a much stronger person and on reflection quite thankful for it. 

I've lost friends and gained friends. I've learnt whose worth my time and who isn't. I've also reconnected with a few friends from my past which has been lovely. 

I've been able to start up my blog - I finally took the plunge and did it, yes i'm still finding my feet with it and my niche so to speak but i'm absolutely loving it. Plus I have a very exciting project starting next week that involves blogging. I'm excited to grow my blog next year! 

I've become a godmother - one of the major highlights of my year. Although my godson lives in Madeira which means I don't get to see him as often as i'd like, it was such an honour to be asked. 

I've had great trips away with groups of friends from my dance school, those memories I will cherish forever as they were some of the happiest times of my year. 

I started off the year by working with one of  my closest friends and developing my love for interior styling. Epic banter whilst playing with patterns, colours and fabrics equals some hilarious memories. 

One thing i've also learnt this year - pets are always there when you're sad and need to squish them in a cuddle...ahem crazy cat lady ;) 

These are just a few of my reflections from this year - I could go on and on but I thought i'd post a few of the pictures from my instagram that make me smile. If you want to follow me on instgram my username is @nataliecaroline4. I'm looking forward to next year, I think it has a lot of exciting things in store for me. 

Have you got any reflections from this year?

Natalie x

Monday, 1 December 2014


Coconut oil is well known in the beauty industry as a multi purpose product thats great for skin, hair, nails, teeth you name it. If i'm honest, I never got into the coconut oil hype - I had mainly tried coconut oil based hair products and they were just far too heavy for my hair and made it lank and greasy, but i've come to realise my mistake - I wasn't using PURE coconut oil. I was using products where coconut oil was far down the ingredients list and didn't really have any of the benefits written on the bottle (for me anyway). 

My hair is in great condition, however the colder weather was making the ends start to feel a little dry and it was over due a hair treatment. Having run out of all my hair treatments about a month ago, it really was in need of a bit of TLC but I didn't want to spend £40 + on a hair treatment that had excellent results in the short term but not so much the long term. I was having a mooch through Sainsbury's and came across extra virgin raw coconut oil and picked up this pot for £6. Now for cooking purposes, i'm not going to spend £6 on a pot of coconut oil - sorry. But for beauty purposes, where it can be used as a multi purpose beauty treatment with excellent benefits, and by excellent benefits I mean the same benefits you'd get from a stupidly expensive beauty cream or hair treatment, I think £6 is a bargain. As the coconut oil is solid at room temp, the pot will last me ages as a little goes a long way.

I've been using it on my skin and hair and have noticed a massive difference in both, my skin is soft and glowing, pores are minimised and make up goes on beautifully and as for my hair it feels nourished and bouncy, with not a hint of grease (I used it as a pre wash treatment) so having been inspired by the wonders of pure coconut oil - here are just a few of the benefits and uses of coconut oil:

- Overnight cream/ face mask - coconut oil minimises pores, detoxes the skin therefore minimising fine lines and wrinkles and moisturises. 

- Hair treatment - use it as a hair mask or a small amount after washing to seal in moisture and tame frizz. 

- Scalp treatment - pre hair washing, massage coconut oil into scalp to soothe an irritated scalp or to promote new hair growth. 

- Make up remover - coconut oil will dissolve even the toughest of make up, this includes waterproof mascara. 

- Teeth whitener - oil pulling has recently become a thing, now I can't stand the feel of oil in my mouth but if you can bare it, coconut oil is a great gentle way of whitening your teeth. Swirl some coconut oil round your mouth for 20 minutes every day and not only will your teeth be whiter but it'll also kill all the nasties - meaning fresher breath.

- Moisturiser - use it as body moisturiser after you get out of the bath or shower, it sinks in quickly leaving skin soft and smooth, plus you get the added bonus of smelling like a coconut!

I could go on and on about my new found love for coconut oil but this post would then turn into somewhat of an essay.

Have you tried using pure coconut oil for beauty benefits?

Natalie x

Monday, 24 November 2014


Today, I thought i'd talk about my love for dance, fitness and aerial. I have danced from a very young age and have extensive ballet training. Due to an injury at the age of 10, I would never be able to dance ballet professionally but kept it up as a hobby and always loved it - that feeling of being on pointe moving fluidly to music, I would just lose myself in this amazing world of dance  where i'd forget about the outside world and all my problems. Unfortunately, due a particularly evil manager and their lack of health and safety knowledge, an old knee injury was made 10 times worse earlier this year therefore meaning I will never be able to return to ballet - even as a hobby. Sure, I train at home occasionally but am unable to spend more than half an hour on pointe without my knees giving in. 

Back in March (pre knee injury re-surfacing) I started Aerial Silk, its something i've always wanted to try and was fascinated with but I was focusing on ballet and dance so much at the time I wasn't able to try it. I had the opportunity to try it in March and despite being told it may not be the best thing for me (I also have hyper mobile hips, shoulders and ankles which means I can dislocate parts of my body and pop them back in easily) I went ahead and did it...and I haven't looked back since. 

Aerial Silks allows me to use my ballet training and translate it all into the silks - whilst up in the air, it also means I've been able to progress really quickly. It takes a lot of upper body strength and core strength, but luckily it's not as taxing on the knees and ankles as ballet. Sure, I need to use my knees and ankles - you can see that I have foot locks and wraps on my legs, but I would say most of it is core based and I haven't had any issues with my knees post knee injury resurfacing whilst on the silks. If anything, it's my hips and shoulders that have taken the brunt - my hip has actually popped out mid air once and I have to be careful to not hang out of my shoulders. 

There's something incredibly liberating about hanging in the air, in amazing positions (my favourite ones are the ones where I can show off the flexibility in my back) without a harness of any kind and basically dancing in the air. When you are up on the silks, you can't think about anything else - you are forced to focus on what you're doing, because it is a dangerous sport. You're not strapped into anything, so when you're a few meters up in the air you need to have your wits about you, one wrong move and things could go very wrong. I can't even begin to explain how much silk aerial relaxes me, I'll go into class or practice with a million things on my mind and leave after a couple of hours not knowing what was bothering me so much before. 

Unlike ballet, you can perform in aerial at later stages in life - and my aim is to eventually perform professionally. For the time being i'm just training in silks (although I have been on the static trapeze a couple of times) but eventually I would like to also train in hoop. Silks is the hardest out of all three, so really it'll be a case of translating that training into a different piece of aerial equipment. Don't get me wrong, I still have A LOT to learn on the silks and there's a long way to go before i'll ever be able to perform professionally, but one day I WILL get there! 

These are just a few images (I have soooo many) of my training. Hope you guys enjoyed reading this epic essay and that it also inspires you to try something new! If you like i'll occasionally update you on my silk aerial journey and training. 

Natalie x