Although I’ve done circus for many years now, and tried a huge variety of training devices and gear, if I had to pick the most useful training tool I’ve used it wouldn’t be any of the foam rollers, mats, or even the gear itself. No, the one thing that has stayed consistent over my time doing circus is my training diary.
It’s changed shape, size and content over the years, but the one thing that has stayed constant is the importance of having somewhere to record what I’ve been learning. My way of doing things is simple (these days anyway, I’ve started and given up on a bunch of different formats that didn’t work for me!). I put a trick list at the front of the book where it’s easy to find, with bullet points listing every single trick I can think of on the apparatus I’m working on (I’d recommend separate trick lists for each apparatus). Then, as I need them and in no particular order, I insert pages with:
Trick descriptions. Sometimes I’ll learn a new trick and there’s something particular I need to think about that makes it work. Or I’ll make something up and give it a silly name, then come back and not be able to remember what I meant. Stick figures and diagrams will be your best friend in this section
Classes. Whenever I attend a class or workshop, I like to have a page or two where I write out the tricks I learned and any exercises that we did that helped them make sense
Goals. This one is super important!! Know why you’re training and what you want to get out of it, it will give you something to work towards and help keep you motivated. There’s a whole other blog post in this, so I’ll simply say that you want to find something that excites you (maybe creating a student showcase routine or, nailing that particularly hard trick) and pick a date to do it by. Try and keep your goals measureable e.g. do 10 pullups, rather than vague e.g. get stronger, so you know what you’re aiming for and can tell when you’ve achieved it.
Routines. While not everyone wants to perform, creating routines is a great way to challenge your brain, work on your transitions and build your endurance. Leave yourself some space to experiment with combining the tricks you’ve learned, to really hone your skills.
Conditioning & flexibility. If I’m working towards a specific goal, I like to have some drills to work on away from the studio that will help me improve. Ask your coach if you aren’t sure what else you should be doing.
Pick and choose from those sections, add anything else you need, and find a format that works for you. I prefer a hardcopy book, but there are a bunch of journal apps or electronic systems that may suit you better. Just find a system, keep it simple, and take the time to update it regularly to stay on top of your training.