Here are my experiences with clothing I’ve used for training in aerial arts. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Where I Started
I was crazy self conscious about my body in the beginning and didn’t want to wear tight fitting clothing. Before my first class I sought out information on what I should wear, hoping that it really wouldn’t matter and I could just wear something comfortable. By comfortable, I mean something loose that I felt less self conscious in. By the time I made it to my first class I had settled on wearing an almost snug t-shirt, and leggings…with a pair of shorts over them. I was still not super comfortable in this, but I accepted it because I felt that it was close enough to what others might wear that I wouldn’t stand out too much, and not so tight and revealing that it aggravated my self consciousness.
What I Learned
In general, protection is important, especially in the beginning. Protect your skin. There are a few key points where friction burns are common; including, but not limited to, armpits, elbow pits, waist, hip crease and groin, knee pits, ankles, and the tops of the feet. There’s a theme here, these are all places where the body can bend around an apparatus. Wear clothing that covers these areas; long leggings (at least mid-calf / ¾ length), avoid tank tops, and keep something long-sleeved with you, like a light weight hoodie.
With testicles, there are some other concerns with some skills. Some skills require moving parts of the apparatus from one side of the groin to the other, passing across/over the testicles. Most instructors I’ve worked with are aware of this, and can suggest alternate executions. You can also help prepare for this by wearing something that helps keep the testicles neatly out of the way. I prefer a padded dance belt. I find the padded dance belt not only accomplishes this, it also keep things in a predictable and constant location, provides more protection in that area, and helps to create a smoother surface for the times when the apparatus must pass across that area. Other people have reported good experiences with hammock style undergarments. The principal is similar; keep the external bits close to the body in a predictable and constant location during skill execution.
Hard and Soft Apparatuses
I quickly learned that there are some things I can wear on a hard apparatus that don’t behave as well on a soft apparatus. This difference was most noticeable to me between Lyra and Aerial Fabric. Some of the more creative and ‘fun’ leggings are made of very slick fabric which offer little to no friction on Aerial Fabric, and that lack of friction was more appreciated on the hard surface of a Lyra. A high cotton blend fabric may be helpful on Lyra in the beginning. I also found that tank tops, and shorts/joggers (a bit more exposed skin) can sometimes be beneficial on hard apparatuses like Lyra and Trapeze. On Aerial Fabric this would simply lead to more friction burns.
One of the big benefits to tighter clothing when training in aerial arts is that it enables the instructor to have a better view of the muscles you are, or are not, engaging. This allows for better feedback when learning a new skill, and when troubleshooting skills. Proper muscle engagement is a huge factor in staying safe in the air. In my opinion it’s well worth the self conscious feelings to make sure that I’m getting the best feedback I can to help me stay safe.
A note on searching leggings: The biggest difference I can find between “men’s leggings” and “women’s legging” is the crotch seams. In my experience, if you’ve got appropriately supportive undergarments, this is a moot point. Ignore the “men’s” and “women’s” labels and pay more attention to the fabric blend. The seam down the middle on “women’s leggings” will be just fine, and you probably won’t even notice its existence.
So here are my suggestions:
This includes Lyra, Trapeze, and even pole. More generally tolerable of ‘typical’ workout clothes.
- Mid-calf / ¾ length leggings
- Tank tops
- Long sleeves for for some activities
Pole often requires a lot of exposed skin for friction grip against the polished metal.
- Tank top (maybe even shirtless at times)
- Biker shorts, or Booty short
This includes hammock, silks, and rope. Less tolerable of ‘typical’ workout clothes, higher chance of friction burns.
- Full length leggings
- Best to use high cotton blends
- Long sleeves for some activities