Being spotted for the first time – here’s the lowdown

Hello hellooo! Today, I wanted to take a moment to write a little about being spotted in your pole and aerial training. The ins and outs of it, why it can be really helpful, ways around it if you prefer not to be spotted by another person – whether that’s your teacher or a mate in class- and lastly why we don’t want you to worry about falling and crushing your spotter! You’d be surprised how many people worry about this, so grab a cuppa, sit back and read on for all the info you need!

Why we spot

Spotting in a pole and aerial context is used as a tool to provide support, safety, confidence, and tactile feedback.

We use it as a way to safely guide the poler or aerialist through the movement, provide a bit of support when excitement and nerves are running high, it helps boost confidence as it allows you to try stuff you are a bit worried about solo. It is also a great way to build strength and power as the spotter can gradually remove input and make the spottee work harder.

Often, when we’re upside down, we struggle to know where we are in time and space, a little tactile feedback can then help us identify which leg to move, or where our arm is supposed to go. Therefore spotting can be a useful means to help with proprioception while our bodies are getting used to new moves and shapes.

Spots can range from super light touch that is more of a psychological help, to an emergency spot where we help slow down someone’s descent to the mat when they’re falling. No matter where are are on this range of providing a spot, spotting is a tool to mitigate risk and provide support. The spottee is still doing the majority of the work, spotting is not a way for the spotter to carry anyone through a move or trick. So if your teacher offers you a spot, it is because they know you are ready for the move, what they are doing is not carrying you through it, but providing a little helping hand for you to know where you are in time and space, get more confident or stronger in the movement or to provide tactile feedback.

Consent and not wanting to be spotted

Before we chat about why spotting can be a useful tool for your pole and aerial progression, and a valid means to build strength and confidence, we wanna say: totally cool to not want to be spotted. We will ALWAYS ask for consent before spotting, unless you are literally mid-fall and we swoop in à la emergency spot to ensure you have a softer landing 🙂 We’re all about minimising risk so if we see you’re about to have a sticky situation in class that will lead to you hurting yourself, we will always come in for an emergency spot to guide you towards the floor or onto the mat. However, in a standard class situation, you are fully in charge of whether or not you’d like to be spotted.

If you prefer not to, we have a range of options to still keep you safe: from using more mats, to lowering the equipment, trying the move on the floor and then gradually moving higher up, using resistance bands, yoga blocks, gym balls, chairs, yoga straps, and breaking the movement down into even more progressions, wearing a sock on just one foot to know which leg does what, we are sure to get creative and help you achieve your goals!

Will I crush my spotter?

Your pole and aerial instructors are trained in how to spot. This means your instructor will know what spot is required for your safety, and also how to spot for their own safety. In other words, your spotter knows when you are ready for a movement with a spot, and they also know how to not injure themselves while spotting. It’s all about minimising risks on both sides, so no, you will not crush your spotter. Even if you let go while on the pole for example, we as spotters know what to do, which is to push you into the pole, so you grip and stay up 🙂 Or let’s say you have a moment in aerial hoop or on silks where you feel a bit floppy and reckon you’ll just tumble on your instructor. Don’t worry as the aim is to a, minimise the risk of getting floppy noodley, and b, if you go all floppy noodle, to safely guide you to the floor, not catch you mid noodleing 🙂

When you are working with others in class and you teacher prompts you to spot each other, it is only ever a guidance or reassurance spot, never a heavy spot, and your teacher is sure to demo how to spot each other, and how to work on the move sans spotter for anyone who would rather not be spotted.

As a general rule when you train, we always want to work on skills that do not require a total aka “I’m carrying you fully” type of spot. So I hope this is great reassurance for all of you worrying about crushing your spotter that you won’t as we wouldn’t offer you the move and a spot if that was the case <3

Gah! I feel a bit self-conscious, sweat and all!

Often, we may feel a bit self-conscious about our glamorous instructor touching us while we’re 45 minutes into a tough class and feeling rather clammy! First things things, we’re fitness professionals, so sweat is part and parcel of our job! So in fact, when you sweat, it means you’re working hard, which gives us the safe knowledge of you putting in the work and us achieving our aim of putting on a class that challenges everyone! We don’t mind people sweating, and trust us, we sweat too when we’re training and being spotted! It’s normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

Equally, we all have wardrobe malfunctions one time or another, and there is no judgement from us if your top slips a bit, or gets caught on the equipment while we spot you. Again, totally human and normal and probably nothing we haven’t seen before. Lastly, body hair is normal, so please stop apologising.

At the same time, this is deffo a both/and situation. So if you feel more comfortable being spotted by putting another layer on, go for it, or you choose to sit out on being spotted one day because you just feel a bit too sweaty and don’t like someone being super close while you forgot your deodorant, we always support you to make the call you feel most comfortable with! We are guided by you!

The take-aways

Whether you want to be spotted or not, we got you covered! As much as spotting is a great tool to help you in your pole and aerial journey, it is also totally cool to work without a spot and many other options are available to train and achieve safely!

Spotting is never intended to carry someone through a move entirely, so both spotter and spottee are always working to minimise risks. Lastly, nope, you will not crush your spotter – you wouldn’t be offered to move or a spot if the teacher wasn’t confident in you executing and controlling the movement as you are working on it!

PS: Also some of the best laughs in class come from spotting. It’s so fun to work closely with someone else and go through a few giggles as you figure it all out, whether that’s with an in person spot pr working your invert on a gym ball and accidentally rolling the other direction!