Recently i’ve been training more in Lyra, aerial yoga/hammock and TRX to diversify my knowledge and increase my aerial ability. One of my 2017 Goals and an overall goal on my Lyracorn journey, was to complete Lrya certification. As with my first pole certification, my objective was to build on my lyra foundations, rather than just jumping into teaching lyra. I am proud to say that a few weeks ago I took the first step in making that goal a reality. I attended an intense two-day Spin City Beginners Aerial Hoop Instructor Course here in Dallas, led by Kimberly Meinhart and Shelly Courtney. I’ve successfully completed couple of Spin City’s other training courses including: Anatomy & Physiology and Flexibility, although I did these online. The 16-hour training was torment on my hands, but so fulfilling to my aerial heart.
Before I dive into the awesome training, I want to point out how much of a perfect fit Kimberly and Shelly are as leaders and master trainers for the Spin City Lyra Program. I’ve known both ladies for years now, and have trained with them many times. Their talent and professionalism extends beyond their work as aerial athletes and into their training and leadership. Throughout the training both ladies brought enthusiasm and consistently exemplified the principles that we were learning.
There are several different instructor training courses out there, each worth the time and financial investment, although I’ll leave it to you to do your research to see which is the best fit for you. Rather on focusing on what was taught over the weekend, I want to highlight the differences I noted in how the program was designed and ran in comparison to other certifications I’ve completed – and my overall thoughts of the program.
Leading up to the training we received a handful of thoughtful reminder emails that kept us excited and in the know, but of course this is not the kind of thing that we’d forget was on our calendar. Within those pre-training emails, we received a PDF copy of the training manual – about a week before the training session. Because I was so used to receiving a printed manual at the start of training, I was initially caught off guard by the PDF manual that I needed to get printed on my own. It wasn’t until I had the printed manual in my hand that I realized the benefit of having the manual ahead of time and not just the day of. All it cost was a quick trip to FedEx-Kinkos and less than $20, but the value I got in return, by having the manual ahead of time, was the opportunity to nerd out and get familiar before the start of training. And when I say I nerded out, I NERDED OUT!!!
The 16-hour training was split into two days. Day one we jumped right into the manual and hands-on work. Often with two-day trainings, much of what is to be learned in “jammed” into the first day and the second day is dedicated oral/written/demonstrative testing. What I like about Spin City’s training is that they removed the testing portion from the 16-hour training so that both days were focused on learning the material. We spent both days examining the beginner moves, breaking down moves, teaching moves, learning various cueing techniques, creating and teaching choreography, and we even got some hands-on spotting interaction amongst the attendees. Having done a variety of testing iterations at various certifications, I must say that I love and respect this change. The Spin City team hit the nail on the head with this altered program design. Forgoing the typical written exam and focusing on the practical hands-on portion, is ideal because these are the actual skills you need when in the aerial classroom. More on this testing change in a bit.
The 16-hour training was well laid out, with a plan of attack clearly posted each day. The material focused on classroom management, the role of an instructor, and beginner-level warmups, tricks, conditioning and choreography. Side note: I also appreciated that we were taught moves/variations that were not included in the manual; it was a sweet added bonus! The teaching objectives were solidified via a mix of reading, group discussion, demos and hands-ons activities. The activities were a great way to immediately put what we learned and discussed to use. Sometimes we worked in groups of two, sometimes groups of three, and instead of always selecting our partners, we were often paired up. This ensured that we all got time with each other and you were gently forced out of your comfort zone and talking interacting with other people.
Choreogprahy was a major focal point in training and had several activities surrounding it. As an instructor and competitor, I know first hand how crucial and how difficult choreography can be, so I appreciated the focus that was put into the choreography excursuses that we participated in. We are provided and taught beginner level lyra choreography and then given the challenge to not only come up with our own choreography but also to teach that to our fellow trainees. I felt like a proud (soon-to-be) lyra instructor. And shoutout to my fellow attendees, since pole is my primary apparatus, naturally I kept calling the lyra a pole but they didn’t hold that against me lol. We also discussed a few of the different type of student personalities and participated in a few exercises that highlighted and tested our ability to maneuver around those while teaching. I think that exercise was extremely helpful to anyone who hasn’t taught before, or those who haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the many types of personalities you can encounter while teaching.
In lieu of the on-site testing, participants are required submit written curriculum and a host a full 1 hour class of their teaching ability via recording – post training. Your passing is based on an actual observation of your teaching ability, incorporation of the learned training skills and classroom management. It’s not just a, can you teach this one trick that was assigned to you, but can you actually do what you are training to do and thoroughly plan and safely execute a successful class? I think this is a better representation and demonstration of a person’s ability to properly plan, execute and manage an aerial class, and their retention of the Spin City learning objectives. Although, as of writing this, I have not completed the portion of my training, I am looking forward to knocking it out in the coming weeks.
One of the most beneficial parts of the training for me was the group discussions. I believe that it’s extremely helpful to share ideas, experiences and mistakes…this makes for the best learning. Personal experiences are can help solidify learned principles and often highlight factors and situations that general outlines and trainings overlook or aren’t able to include. I enjoyed the fact that Kim and Shelly allowed us to gear off-track at times to share with one another. If added an extra level of learning to the training and helped us connect with each other.
Since I’m already an instructor, learning “how” to instruct wasn’t a focus or a big takeaway for me. What did walk away with was a better understanding of the lyra foundations and a new goal for my personal/professional growth. I was really able to observe the impact that Shelly and Kim had on all the attendees and it was a wonderful experience to see them blossom as instructors. I’ve decided that in addition to teaching students, I also have the desire to help train instructors, and I will pursue that in the near future!