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Raven's Journey - Finding Hope And Acceptance While Defying Gravity

This blog was written by one of our Altitude Aerials members, Raven💙

aerial hoop artist

aerial hoop artist

I’m Raven, and after over-coming decades of repression (unconscious & conscious), aggression, depression and addiction, I can say with all the love and truth in my soul that I am a Transgender Woman (she/her). I primarily practice aerial hoop at Altitude Aerials Napier.

Growing up in the USA, I was always the ‘weird kid’, and did whatever I could to try and find a group of kids I fit in with. I'd tried just about every sport available to me - both team and individual - joined all the mental performance/social/game clubs, and performed in multiple plays and yet, nothing felt right.

Eventually, a rock climbing gym was installed in my secondary school's gym, and I knew instantly that this was where I belonged. It didn’t matter if I clicked with anyone, my connection was to the wall; the movement of my body and the struggle against gravity. By graduation time, I was assisting with teaching the younger classes and working part-time at a local rock gym. Weekends and evenings were spent on outings to the cliffs of Colorado.

In University, I continued climbing as much as I could, but I also discovered my second love, electronic music and the late 90’s/early 00’s warehouse party scene. Here was where I found ‘my people’, a collection of society’s outcasts, non-conformists, weirdos and queers. Instantly accepted and connecting on a deeper level, we gathered for the sole purpose of spreading love and dancing to the beat all night long. I would eventually go on to immigrate to NZ where I am now a citizen.

aerial hoop artist

As an 80’s child, I was a product of bigotry and conditioning. My subconscious had my true self locked away, protecting me from the world and myself. Fast-forward 20 years, and this protection has become a prison. Locked in a vicious cycle of anger, depression, aggression and substance abuse, I was at a breaking point. A brief window of sobriety allowed me to take stock of myself and actually pay attention to what was screaming from within.

I allowed myself to accept the possibility that I may be Transgender and I knew almost instantly that this was my truth, what I had been blocking from myself all this time. I could feel years of mental pain lift away almost immediately, but I also knew there was still a tonne of work to do to repair the pain I had caused myself. But for the first time, I wasn’t just floating through the miasma, I had a reason to move forward with life.

Searching for new ways to explore my blossoming femininity, I was chatting with a friend from Hamilton who attends the Altitude Pole studio there. We got chatting about silks and how pretty they are and I mentioned how I've always been interested in Aerial Silks, and later that day I just happened to get a targeted ad for Altitude Aerials in Napier. I couldn't ignore the signs - I went in for a consult the very next day!

aerial hoop pose

The following Monday was my first Aerial Hoop class. I was quite anxious that others in the class would feel that I was invading their space, or that I would be bombarded with my normal experience of getting the same-old, exhausting, questions about my transition. I was wrong on both fronts, true inclusiveness, where there was no awkwardness, just me there as a person, to be present and learn a new skill. Once again, I had found ‘my people’.

Performing the moves was such a challenge, I couldn't stop spinning and I was so dizzy by the end of the class! But I got that same freeing feeling as from my first-time rock climbing, the sense of connection to a physical piece of hardware, the movement of the body and the struggle against gravity. Once again, I knew instantly this was for me, this was home.

I still have a long way to go, my body has suffered quite significantly due to my neglect of it over the years. But with each class, I can feel progress, a little bit more strength in that core as I try to get my legs up and over the hoop, and a little bit more flexibility in the hips with each class. It’s a process that I’m absolutely in love with and has really been a catalyst in my transition as a whole. I’m learning so much about my body, and what I’m capable of if I get out of my own way and trust that I can do this.

I’m so grateful for the Napier Altitude Aerials space, the classes and community are the highlights of my week. The bruising from hoop contacts reminds me throughout the week of the love that is present there. I am really looking forward to seeing where this journey goes, but I’m in no rush to get there, I’m having way too much fun along the way!

Thank you Raven for sharing your inspirational journey with us 💙

Keen to try Aerial Fitness at Altitude yourself? Click the button below and enter your details on the form! 👇👇

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