Hi Melissa, thank you for speaking with us! Where do you live and where do you train?
I’m from Kalamazoo, Michigan, and have been training aerial and circus arts for 3 years (since July 2017). I train in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Ferndale, and Detroit (all in Michigan).
How did you get into aerial?
I work at the local hospital and was looking for a way to incorporate artistry into my life as a stress release. I saw on Youtube the Disney Showcase videos from Onyx Pole and Aerial’s show back in 2015–specifically Megan’s lion king lyra routine and Carly’s Hercules pole routine--and I was so mesmerized by their strength, beauty, and flexibility. I didn’t know that style of dance existed, and I became obsessed with watching their showcase videos. I then saw Janel Parrish on hammock a bit later and signed up for aerial classes as soon as I found a studio nearby. Onyx is still on the top of my list of studios to visit. :)
I started training with silks and knew from my first class that this is what I wanted to do with my life—I was a former gymnast who quit when things got difficult (and when I hit my growth spurt—it was just too painful), and I always regretted it. I am currently training hard to prepare to apply to a professional program, and also would like to begin teaching and exploring choreography with students. I have gone through Nimble Arts’ Intro to Silks/Trapeze/Lyra program, as well as the Aerial Physique Level 1 Teacher Training program last March.
What is your favorite apparatus, and what is your favorite move?
My favorite apparatus is currently lyra, and my favorite silks move currently is spinning in spanish web style shapes from belay.
Tell us about your aerial journey thus far!
My Instagram profile is not perfect—I show my full journey there—all my struggles and gains are documented. I try to be transparent that success does not happen overnight.
What do you feel you need to work on in aerial?
My biggest area of weakness is currently flexibility and movement quality, so that is what Gabe worked on with me in the Aerial Edge Virtual Coaching program—specifically trying to minimize microbends--and he pushed me toward straight leg inversions and focused on pointed toes, as well as active flexibility and oversplits. I submitted my last lyra routine and will be refilming it in the next week for him to see how much it has improved.
What has your experience been like with the Aerial Edge Virtual Coaching program and with the TrueCoach app?
I love the TrueCoach app for submitting footage back to Gabe—it kept me accountable every week, and the ability to message him whenever I wanted was amazing. He could see my progress as the days went by and it was very user friendly and easy to use. I saw improvements with flexibility in my splits, as well as with my inversions, so I’d say Gabe’s coaching was spot on for my needs! I also saw improvements in my s-wraps for double star. I love working with him and your team—it was a huge honor to be chosen for this opportunity and I’m grateful.
Another great thing I liked about Gabe’s workouts is they were different everyday. He mixed strength and flexibility training with dance choreography so I never got bored. The workouts all matched my level and fit well with my goals. I was never overwhelmed by them, and was given time to rest in between. The hardest thing was that life got in the way occasionally, so I like that I can go back and submit things later on if I missed a day.
I also feel the price point is perfectly reasonable for the amount of time and effort spent—it’s worth it for people who are serious about reaching their goals and putting in the work to get there.
I definitely plan on applying for another session in the future when I’m able to, so it was definitely a 5-star program for me and I highly recommend it to everyone!
Thank you so much, Melissa! Giver her a follow @melissamw19.
Apply here to receive personalized one-on-one coaching with Aerial Physique Master Trainers Christine Wunderlich or Gabe Hilden-Reid through the Aerial Edge Virtual Coaching program. Spots are limited!