Your Presence Is Your Present:
How to Stay Present in Class

We’re all faced with distractions throughout the year, but as we head into the holiday season, they tend to loom especially large. We know you’re likely facing own a full to-do list packed with shopping, entertaining, and wrapping up end-of-year projects at work, school, and home. 

With everything our busy lives entail, it’s understandable that your attention might occasionally wander during class. When it does, here are a couple tips to help yourself stay focused.

Put Your Phone Away

We know this is one of the hardest things we can ask you to do. But how many times have you picked up your phone to take notes or video a new skill and then seen an email or notification that demanded your attention and broke your concentration?

When possible, take notes by hand instead. Our brains process the act of writing differently than they do that of typing. Keeping a notebook may help you retain the information better, and this format allows you to add visual aids (i.e., stick figure sketches) to written text. You can also use your notebook to set goals and track progress, record creative ideas, and make connections between skills you’ve learned.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a good substitute for taking videos on your phone; it seems silly to recommend purchasing a separate video camera. And we can’t deny how helpful videoing yourself can be to your development.

We can, however, strongly recommend doing whatever it takes to prevent your phone from becoming a distraction. Put it on silent. Turn off all notifications. Ask your instructor if you can review all new skills at the end of class, so you can video everything at once instead of reaching for your phone very few minutes. Install a phone app that blocks social media and other distractions. Do whatever you can to ensure your phone is helping rather than hindering you

Use Downtime Wisely 

Our classes are intentionally structured so that you’re not in the air the entire time. Make sure you’re staying engaged when you’re on the ground by employing any/all of the following methods.

Watch. It’s amazing how much you can learn from observing your fellow students.

  • If Student A places a hand higher up on the rope, does that give them more control as they turn or does it block their progress entirely?
  • Did Student B’s misunderstanding of the directions result in a super-cool variation?
  • Are Student C’s long legs a huge advantage in this particular skill and if so, what’s a shorter student to do?

If you’ve been looking at your circus training as simply learning new vocabulary and adding it to your bag of tricks, you might be surprised how much of a game-changer studying the intricacies of those skills can be (and how engaged those little details can keep you).

Condition. If you find yourself zoning out, put your body to work. An extra set of pushups or v-ups never hurt anybody. Work on finishing techniques, such as your toe point. Stretch out your hands and forearms to prevent tightness during your next turn in the air.

Review. Look through your notes and try to find connections between what you just learned and what you already know. Consider what might precede or follow the skill you’re currently working on in a routine. If inspiration strikes, ask your instructor about testing out a possible sequence.

Staying focused isn’t easy, especially in a busy studio, but it is one of the most helpful things you can do while training. Give yourself, your instructor, and your fellow students the gift of your presence in class – this holiday season and all year long.