Meet Megan Belanger
A Day in the Aerial Life of
When and how did your fitness journey begin?
I’ve always been unable to sit still! I was on competitive dance teams in high school and college, was a total gym rat in my twenties, and did a lot of hot yoga in my 30s. In my 40s, I suddenly got fed up with gym routines and “working out” and decided that I wanted to just PLAY. That’s when I was first drawn to dancing with hoops, which then led into the leap into aerials.
Why did you choose Sky High?
I had first taken a “taster class” at another studio closer to Boston, but there was no way I could stand that kind of haul into the city regularly. I had heard great things about Sky High from another student here, and so I decided to check it out with a private aerial silks lesson. From day one, I was hooked. The whole feel of the place was amazing. During my lessons, I would hear the pole classes going on nearby, and it just *felt* like a tribe was in place at this studio. A tribe who enjoys playing and being creative and having a great time. It’s both infections and addictive.
What did you hope to accomplish?
My first silks lesson was all about curiosity, and I remember coming home, more physically exhausted than I had EVER been in my life, and I wanted to be able to do ALL the things. I wanted the strength and the stamina and the coordination to do the things I saw the teachers and students doing. I feel like I still do this now – I walk around the studio with my mouth hanging open, constantly in awe, impressed, and inspired by what people are doing here. It’s amazing to feel a part of.
Who are you in real life?
I’m an oncology massage therapist and lymphedema therapist in private practice in Westborough. I’ve been married for 16 years and we have a super-fun 11-year-old daughter who thinks her mom is nuts but says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
What were your biggest struggles before/while starting pole/aerial?
My biggest struggle was and is feeling like I am not coordinated or graceful. I never had any formal dance training, and I seem to go about life not knowing where my body is in space (bumping into door frames and furniture when I walk). This is a challenge for me in aerial classes, when teachers are correcting me but I just have no concept of proprioception or knowing right from left or up from down (particularly when upside-down!). It’s something I strive to get better with all the time.
Did you exercise before becoming a Sky High student? If yes, what did you do?
Yes, sporadically. I did and still do some hot yoga, I used to run until I realized it’s just not that fun to me. I seem to do better with fitness when I have something to train for, not just exercise because it’s something I’m supposed to do. Sky High was huge in giving me something tangible and goal-oriented. Now I want to get strong/flexible/have stamina for very specific reasons, and I love that..
How do you deal with the physical strain that pole/aerial has on your body?
I am careful not to overtrain – and I have to be careful with my hands and arms because of my job as a massage therapist. If I get injured, I can’t work. I get massage somewhat regularly. I seem to know when my body “needs to go to the mechanic” with all the strain I put my upper body through, especially.
Do your family and friends think pole/aerial is cool or crazy?
They all think it’s cool, and they already know *I’m* pretty crazy, so it’s like “Welp, there goes Megan again, doing something totally out there.” I’ve inspired a few people to check out aerials for themselves because I’m always gushing about how much I love it.
How has a Sky High instructor helped you?
Sarah was my foundation and she gave me a lot of confidence. I never felt like I “couldn’t do something,” only that it was something that I had to work toward to be able to achieve. She made everything feel accessible with time and practice. Allie helps me trust myself while throwing challenges my way, and is teaching me to tap into creativity and expression while embracing the fun of it all.
How has aerial/pole changed your life?
I’m the strongest I’ve EVER BEEN in my life. People look at “middle age” and think things have to start going downhill, but let me tell you, our bodies are resilient and can do so much if we give them a chance and don’t underestimate ourselves. I also love being consistently challenged and feeling like I have this “thing” that I get to work toward getting better at, that I daydream about when a good song comes on.
We know it hurts! Why do you keep coming back?
My husband says I roll in at 10:15 PM after my Wednesday night silks class like I’m in love. I am chattering on and on about the things I learned and the laughs I had with fellow students, and I can’t fall asleep that night because I’m all pumped full of adrenaline and joy. That’s why.
Favorite Pole/Aerial Style
I have been taking Lyra classes for about a year off and on, and I’ve taken about a dozen pole classes, and I while like the creativity involved and the nuances of those apparatuses as well, my heart belongs to silks first and foremost. I almost can’t even explain why. I’m really scared of heights, but from the very first time I could climb to the ceiling on the silks, I wasn’t scared. It just feels like “home.”
I wouldn’t have said this in the beginning of my Sky High journey, but I love aerial silks drops (preferably the ones that don’t hurt as much, like the Bullet Drop or the Infinity Drop). The joy of the adrenaline rush is unbeatable. The FIRST time doing a drop, though, is scary as hell. Once I know I can do it and live through it, I crave doing it again.
Silks and Lyra. Really – I’m not just saying that for the sake of this questionnaire. When I’m not a work or climbing on things, I read and am a podcast junkie.
I like upbeat, positive stuff most of the time. I feel like it infects my mood in a good way. I turn to the “One Republic” Pandora station when I want a hit of that. On the flip side, I really love the blues and New Orleans-type music.
Fun Fact #1
I’m from Pittsburgh, PA.
Fun Fact #2
I draw cartoons sometimes.