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Why you need mobility and strength

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Mobility is the ability to move or be moved freely and easily. While strength is the state of being physically strong. Together those 2 things are what you want as you age. You want to be able to move about and do the things you want to do with ease or without barriers right? And the cool thing about this is there are different ways to help your body get to that point so that as you age, your body can move about in a way you want.


This week’s Fit Girl Magic podcast guest is helping your body move in ways it hadn’t before but by making it not only mobile but flexible as well! Jessica John is the Owner of Circus Mobility. She’s here to talk about the mobility and flexibility that we all need in our lives. That is her jam and that is why I had to have her on today! (Umm… she also did a stint in the CIA….. omg so interesting to me!! LOL You don’t know how hard that was for me to not get off track with that one!)

Alright so a little bit about Jessica! Jessica John is the owner of Circus Mobility, a company that coaches aerialists to peak performance worldwide. Jessica has a movement background as a circus artist, a dancer, and a competitive athlete. Before finding aerial arts over a decade ago.

For Jessica, she has always had a personal trainer, she went to the gym 4 days a week, and thought she was in good shape…. Then she realized very quickly that she could not do one of the fundamental things that you do in aerial. Surprisingly, she didn’t have the strength to invert her body in the air. From that point on, she was immediately hooked because she recognized a weakness, and she was so intrigued by it in general! She wanted to do more, so she continued to fail but kept going twice a week for 2 or 3 years. And at this point, she had hired a new personal trainer who was also an aerialist to help her gain the strength she needed.

I showed up and continued to fail… I LOVE this. Because how many people would show up to that first class, be mortified they didn’t crush, and say nope not for me. A LOT OF US! BUT as an athlete, you are trained to be persistent. I feel like so many of us as adults, get into our heads that we should just show up and boom I am doing it. Or that we get it right away.

“BUT, when you do something like aerial, you don’t realize how hard it actually is. It is so much harder, but it is also a lot more motivating. You realize you have this control over your body in a very different way. But you also have to learn that control. You don’t always have it where you think it is. There is constant learning and also requires you to sometimes think on the fly. Things don’t always go according to plan! When I go to the gym, I know I am going to pick something up and then put it back down. And I know what is going to happen. With aerial, you don’t always know. “

Breathing comes into play with this mobility and being able to move as an aerialist. The big problem with aerialists has to do with incontinence and how people are breathing, holding breaths and moving breaths into the pelvic floor. Take that and put that in the air and you are trying to control your body no matter what position you are in, your body is creating tone throughout the body to maintain some level of control. So, your pelvic floor is doing the same thing. Plus, you are doing things that are ab intensive. So, the pelvic floor gets tighter and tighter and aerialists don’t know how to decrease that tone.
(Check out more on my Pelvic Floor Podcast  and my Breathwork Podcast)

Back to the breath, if you can’t take a deep breath other things become more challenging. And this brings up why Jessica sustained a shoulder injury during this. If you are not breathing into the back and upper ribs, it’s really hard for the scapula to sit on the ribs that are really stable from a hanging posture, and this can cause a lot of problems.

“To do the aerial work, I had to change the way I was training to get stronger.”
So many of us start out our journeys at this bodybuilding working out and there wasn’t really an endpoint to WHY I WAS working out. Here, you had to get stronger. What were some of the things you tweaked between a typical gym workout and a just getting stronger workout? There was not much of an emphasis on pulling and hanging that she was doing before. It was much more pushing and lower body intensive training. (15 years ago) This was definitely a good base level of fitness, but she still didn’t feel strong or hold her body weight up with her hands for long periods of time.

When did you start to say, ok, it’s not only being strong? I also need to have some more mobility, flexibility, and stability, if I am really going to accelerate as an aerialist. This started with the shoulder injury, recognizing that I didn’t know how to breathe. I overcorrected in the wrong direction, and I was belly breathing all the time. Recognizing part of my shoulder issue was due to my lack of thoracic extension. In that first silks class, I recognized I wasn’t strong, but the chiropractor appointment after my injury helped me realize I wasn’t mobile. And that was the thing that was holding me back.

SO, because I was injured, I couldn’t do my sport the way I wanted to. I suddenly had a lot of time to fill with something else. So, this is where I became curious about Gyrotonic. I had taken a couple of classes and because I couldn’t do aerial. I knew it was going to help me with that mobility piece I was missing. And that completely changed my path!

How would mobility training help me and my day-to-day life?
Having a good general range of motion at every joint, is going to benefit you with whatever you decide to do in life. Even if you’re not experiencing any discomfort now. It could be what you do next in life. Mobility is one of those things that will help you to adjust to those changes because mobility is a way to prepare for the unknown.

When I talk about mobility, I talk about increasing your end range and controlling your end range. We are not talking about passive flexibility. We still need to increase muscle engagement! And there is a lot of activation happening. Activation is movement. We always think about preparing the body for the range of motion necessary for the task at hand. If your primary form of exercise is lifting, then you are mobilizing for the lift sets that you do and you are mobilizing to counterbalance the lift set you do. If you are someone who doesn’t have a lot of time in their life to workout, I feel like mobility work is something that can be accessible to all.

There is no end game going to the gym but with this, the end game is my long-term healthy longevity. You want to be able to get out of your own chair, live on your own, get off the toilet, play golf or tennis without assistance!

How many days a week are you putting mobility into the programs you give people or your clients?
This all really depends on the goals of the clients. Some people have mobility goals and others have performance goals that have mobility requirements. Some may require longer sessions that are devoted to mobility going through all types of flexibility. Others may do consistent mobility work without long sessions, but also need hip stability control, etc. Sometimes the movement in the gym you are doing is a mobility training movement like a squat, etc. so you may be thinking about your squat differently.

I think everyone can benefit from adding a lot of mobility to your workout! And doing less can sometimes be more. If you are overloading your system, it can be counterproductive. So be sure to recognize how stress impacts your body. If you are really stressed and continue to train normally, a heavy session can cause you to move backwards too.

When it comes to aerial, people have a lot of different reasons to do it. Some have to do with control and being able to control your body is very empowering. Especially while aging!! Being able to achieve new things as well. It feels great in ways that can’t quite be compared to anything else. And check your ego. You have to be like “ok, I suck at this, but I want to improve.” Push yourself into a place where you become consistent and consistent with your growth.

And another huge aspect that we may not realize that is really wonderful about aerial is being present! You need to be here to survive! And all the noise goes away. Find that thing in your life that makes all other noise fade into the background.

What makes you feel most magical.
What makes me feel most magical are certain moments in coaching. There is something really magical in giving a cue to someone to help them succeed in a way that feels like magic for them. So, what feels amazing is like a message I got today. “Jessica gave me this magic cue.” And it does feel like magic because cueing is so individual.
Queueing is very relational, and I think that is what makes it feel magical.

You succeed, you go to the next thing, you succeed, you go to the next thing. But when you HELP someone else succeed, it feels very different.

Free Hip Mobility Class:

Jessica John Circus Mobility Instagram:

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Breathwork Podcast:

Pelvic Floor Podcast:

Guilt-Free Summer Guide:


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