I was complaining to P, my L5 classmate, that I’d completely lost my climb eagle (a.k.a aerial invert), and now I’m only doing ‘climb/hook on with my toe/haul my ass up awkwardly into caterpillar/invert’.

P suggested I build up towards that by training with straight-legged eagle from the floor. And I said: ‘no problem, I can do that, easy’ (and proceeded to demonstrate nonchalantly), ‘but I just can’t do climb eagle’.

And P responded: ‘that can’t be true. If you can do straight-legged eagle, you should definitely be able to do climb-eagle’.

I was sceptical, but decided to give it a go. So I climbed onto the pole, tucked the pole into my arm-pit, hands placed quite low (near the shoulders), released my legs to bring my body to the front of the pole, then – visualising doing a regular straight-legged invert from the floor – I lifted both legs smoothly in a straight-legged straddle up into a V. – I was there, I had done it!!

I did that several times throughout the night (albeit always near the floor, so that it’s easier to trick myself into believing I’m still on the floor), always visualising myself doing a simple straight-legged inverted-V from the floor. And it worked every time! Although I have to admit that my form became progressively worse as the night wore on, perhaps due to fatigue, or perhaps because I was concentrating less on visualising a straight-legged invert.

But clearly, in this case, it was all in the mind. I had a mental block about the climb eagle, and had a continuous of negative mental stream of how my core is weak, I’ve lost strength, I’ve lost my skills / technique etc. which was impacting my actual performance. But once someone informed me that it is possible, and in fact, it MUST be possible given another pre-condition, then the negative cloud lifted and I could do it easily.

I wonder how many of my other pole tricks’ progress, or other aspects my life in general are being held back by my own negative mental imagery and self-criticism. Food for thought…