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S2 Episode 51: The Handstand Press Magazine

2022-07-04T16:15:01+01:00

In this episode of the Handstandcast, Emmet and Mikael have two very special guests: Elise who runs Motion Impulse and Sonja of Handstand Diary. Together they are part of the team working on The Handstand Press Magazine, a print magazine that aims to capture the emerging culture & discipline of handbalancing. They talk about the inspiration for the magazine, what they’ll have inside, their Kickstarter and how they’re finding the experience of putting it all together. We hope you enjoy it!

You can support the Handstand Press on Kickstarter today!

Want to have your say on the Handstandcast? You can now leave us a voice note here with your Q&A questions for Emmet and Mikael! If you have any specific topics you’d like us to cover, or want to send in questions for our Q&A episodes, please get in touch via our contact form.

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S2E51 – The Handstand Press Magazine

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Transcript of Episode 51: The Handstand Press Magazine

EL: Hello and welcome back to the Handstand cast with me, Emmet Louis, and my cohost Mikael Kristiansen.  Today we are joined by two very special people for us.  We have Elise and Sonja from Motion Impulse.  

Those of you who don’t know, Motion Impulse is the publishing company behind Handstand Factory and podcast, and general whip crackers for me and Mikael getting our shit together.  They are here to talk about their new venture, the Handstand Press magazine.  It’s a new independent magazine for all things hand balance, I suppose.

How is it going, everyone?

EM: Thank you so much for having us.  It’s good to be here.

SSN: It’s awesome to be here, and I love your intro music.

EL: Thank you.  One of our favourite things is chip tunes and dodgy video game music.  We had someone make the ultimate Final Fantasy Factory hybrid music a while back.  I think we actually gave them Final Fantasy music

MK: And Mega Man.

EM: We’re still waiting for the video to accompany the music. 

EL: I think we should just make a video game: Mega Man but you’re balancing handstands.

MK: Incidentally, the guy making the art also makes video games.

EL: Video podcast coming soon.

EM: And…another project..

EL: First thing’s first.  Tell us what Handstand Press magazine is, briefly.  Then I’d like to talk to you about your individual stuff and practice, things like that.

EM: The Handstand Press magazine is just coming into existence, which is why we’re super happy to have the opportunity to speak to you guys about it now.  It’s essentially going to be a magazine that is only and all about hand balancing.  It’s community centred, so it will feature voices from hand balancers, from all walks of the practice – total beginners, very advanced people.

We want to give a connection point that’s a bit slower paced than what you usually find on the internet.  The community is huge, but it’s also very dispersed.  There’s a lot happening on Instagram and blogs, podcasts.  At the same time, Sonja and I, when we started talking about it, we got really excited about the idea of having it in print, and something that’s a bit more timeless that can be a connection point for hand balancers all over the world.

SSN: it will be like a melting pot.  What we found was the element of discipline of hand balancing is one that connects various sports and disciplines all around – calisthenics, yoga, gymnastics, movement world…so many backgrounds come together through this ‘emerging’ discipline.

We’ve seen the interest has gone up in the last couple years, a general fitness movement world.  People coming from a mainstream background have an interest in handstands.

We’re running a Kickstarter right now-

EM: It was launched yesterday.  It’s just coming into existence; it’s being crowd funded at the moment.  We’re hoping to get our first print run funded by hand balancers who want to know things.

EL: It’s quite cool.  We all know Elise kicks quite a bit of ass.  Sonja is possibly the first handstand journalist in the world.  If you’re listening to the show, hopefully you know her.  If not, check her out on Handstand Diary, where you have a lot of video interviews with a basically who’s who of the hand balance world.

It’s taking fast mediums like video, instagram, and putting it into something slower.

SSN: With print, it takes so much effort to produce just one issue, and so much time.  We’ve been working on the first issue for the last three months, gathering all the content – we’re not putting it together by ourselves.  We want as many people involved as possible; it’s supposed to be a magazine from hand balancers, for hand balancers.

With the nature of it taking so much time and effort, as well as the cost of printing it, makes it a natural bullshit filter.  The threshold of posting something on the internet – everyone can do that, can create a channel, whatever they want.  When you put in the risk of creating an actual magazine, it’s different.

EM: I like how it fits the medium so well.  Anyone who is into hand balancing knows it’s a very long term thing, if you’re going to do it, or want to put considerable effort in.  Mikael talks about this a lot and so does Emmet.  If you have something slow by nature, and very slow progress, you keep chipping away at it.  Especially when starting, there is so much info on the internet to filter through.  Lots of very interesting discussions as well.  I know Mikael and Emmet had an episode on forums and social media and how that changed the discussion around handstands.

By no means is it a bad thing, but we do love the idea of taking a very long term practice and putting it into a long term medium, such as print.

MK: It’s a cool project.  One part is interviews of people and their perspectives, I’m excited to see what sort of ideas you have around it.  I haven’t been involved in this at all, which makes me much more interested.

SSN: Well I did interview you for the magazine, but so long ago that you probably forgot.

MK: I do remember the interview you did in Oslo, right?

SSN: No that was for Handstand Factory, on video.  I don’t know if I should give it away, but I think it’s fine.  The first issue contains an article about shows in times of Covid.  I interviewed several professional hand balancers-

MK: Oh right, that thing.  I don’t have a…memory.

SSN: It was late at night.

MK: I do remember we had a conversation.

EL: That was the interview…

SSN: Maybe you suppressed it.  That was when we were going into the second wave and things were starting to get dark again.  Maybe that was part of it.

EL: That dark Norwegian winter kicking in.

MK: One thing I’m really tired of with internet mediums: this is very much a digital fatigue of having to watch everything on a screen.  How many thousands of handstand pictures have I seen on a phone, and how many have I seen on a wall?

I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve seen an exhibition with actual pictures on the wall in print.

EL: One thing I’m looking forward to is, since handstands are very much done for the ‘gram, for performance, despite it being an internal and physical skill, there is a visual geometry we engage in when doing it.

When Mikael said digital fatigue, yeah.  I’ve seen so many handstands and form checks of people doing stuff, either on my phone or on my screen.  I’ve never held a handstand picture.

MK: I actually have one…no, fuck, I gave it to my mom.

SSN: It’s not only the getting information part, but also connecting the people.  If you are going to publish an article in a magazine, you can’t erase it.  Once it’s out there, it’s out there.  On the internet you can erase stuff, it’s so fast paced, things get buried.  The context is very different.

EL: Trust me, if you say the wrong thing on the internet, people will still bring it up in 7 years time.  The one time I mistook internal for external rotation….

EM: While we’re on the content of the actual magazine, Sonja mentioned the article on shows in the time of Covid – that is actually the only Covid specific thing in the magazine.  While it is obviously a very prominent topic at the moment, it’s also a topic that is so over-prominent that I look forward to putting something out there that has absolutely nothing to do with it.

A lot of times, I would almost say that this year, hand balance has had even more a boost than before.  It’s something you can do at home and learn off the internet, which is amazing.  It’s something you can get your coach onto Zoom and there you go, you’re doing a handstand in your kitchen.

At the same time, what we mentioned before is with the timeless medium, you have this magazine.  If our crowd funding is successful, there will be more issues.  The idea of having a shelf with magazines that come out 3-4 times a year, and you’ll have the “oh that’s when I was training one arms.” With those articles in it.  It’s kind of like, the way we envision it, is if you’re training, it should be like a tea party.  What do you do in your trainings if you’re not chatting to people?  You’re on your phone.  But what if you have a really nice magazine you can leaf through.

Mikael was just mentioning @ekopics, who does beautiful photography.  I love seeing it on my phone, but imagine seeing it bigger.  We still have to actually track them down for that, but we will!

EL: I think there is this interesting thing, which popped up recently.  Digital stuff isn’t unique.  You can infinitely make… say I have a .jpg or image or .mp3, I can infinitely make copies of it.  It’s missing online, but coming up now.  These tokens that say you have the unique one you can’t copy.  

With a magazine, you’re making something Real.  It exists.  It is almost like…for me it’s like when you can start seeing a subculture becomes real: when it gets a magazine.  It gets content that will survive. 

I remember back in the early days when I was inline skating, which I used to do quite a lot.  I skated most of my teen years, but there were no magazines until I was 14 or 15.  Then two magazines came out.  That was the point when, even though it had just got into the X Games, this made it a real thing that survives.

If we think about other subcultures – gaming, table top gaming, yoga, DIY, fishing, PC – I remember getting into linux, it was through a magazine.  You had to type programs out yourself just to run them, but the paper medium was the way of transferring and establishing a subculture.

MK: All the mediums have become faster and faster (blogs, websites).  In fact, I have an anthropology lecture today about the various user interfaces changing from being very reading into this intuitive touch and go thing.

The point I want to make is a blog can have a longer article.  But having substantial, longer reads is very nice.  You can get to know people better, and into stuff you won’t necessarily with the shorter term quick fix posting that we mainly do nowadays.

It’s also cool in terms of actual journalism.  You have to spend time finding a subject matter you want to write about, track them down, do all that work, transcribe it, then make it into print.  That process alone is going to make it something different.  

It used to be the thing before, but this particular community hasn’t had that.  It will be very interesting.

SSN: That’s a really big point.  When you search for handstand related content on the internet, it’s more about who is the better marketer, who knows how to navigate the internet and use it for their benefit, not who offers the best quality.

Our role as journalists or editors is that, to look for the best quality and find people who have something to offer, and bring them all together in the magazine.

EM: What I’ve enjoyed the most is the curating of it.  There is so much…the more Sonja and I started researching who we wanted, the more we realized it’s infinite.  The people who have interesting things to say, the people who are doing interesting things, the people that never talk about what they do.

SSN: It gets really personal, you go in depth.  Once you have people writing, it really gets into deep personal things.

EM: The first issue, we grouped it around “Common Ground.”  It really is because hand balancing plays a role in so many different disciplines.  The best known is probably the circus discipline of hand balancing, and also gymnastics.  But it’s in so many- Sonja also mentioned calisthenics, yoga…pole dance has started doing hand balance, with one hand on the pole and another on the floor.  Break dancing…these are all facets of so many different cultures.

The internet has made a thing where there is handstand specific hashtags and groups, and people from all these different cultures meet there.  It’s not only a circus professional meeting other circus hall balancers.  Or I’m a yogi and go to my studio and that’s where I learn handstands with other yogis.  The internet makes or helps bring all these different disciplines together in the common goal of trying to learn a handstand.  That’s what we’re trying to showcase in this first issue.

MK: Maybe find all the people who never advertised themselves.  Even now I can think of 7 people who do their art or craft on their own, but aren’t much about an internet presence, or posting about how they do this or that.  I’m sure a lot of those people have an interesting story to tell.  More importantly, stories you won’t hear otherwise.

EL: This is the editing thing – the people you come across easiest or soonest are the ones who are better at the internet.  That’s definitely a thing.  If you think of a lot of subcultures, there’s a lot of enthusiastic amateurs.  Their main source of income is something else, but they’re really enthusiastic about this.  You get it everywhere – fishing, shooting, climbing – these people can be very talented or good, and have interesting things to say.

MK: You still have insular communities you never hear from, but they are better than you and you don’t know about them.

EL: There’s actually a secret hand balance underworld we don’t know about.  You’re not good enough unless you’re doing a one finger Figa.

SSN: Something I’ve come across in several interviews with professional circus hand balancers is they feel they have to be present online nowadays and learn this in addition.  That is just how our time works.  Adding something of high value will be a great addition.

EM: It obviously won’t replace all the stuff on the internet.  There’s so much good and free content out there, and good paid content as well.  There’s a whole range.  The idea was also to show case community in a way that’s not based on just your skill level or know how or how famous you are online, but to talk to beginners as well.

What is your experience as a beginner hand balancer?  Do you have a community?  Do you meet with people to handstand?  What does that look or feel like?  It’s really about, not so much the showing off, but making it accessible to more people.

Someone who comes from, say pole dance, saw someone doing a handstand, and starts looking for it.  Then they can see it’s something they can do, they can learn this.

There are obviously so many good coaches out there.  That is encouraged and how you go, but seeing hand balancing as a thing and a hobby, or a potential career – that is one thing I’m really looking forward to putting out there more.

EL: Question.  Can you give us a sneak peak of some content?  Maybe each of you can give a hint of your favourite piece of content coming out in the first or second issue.

SSN: Crossword puzzle!  It has no value in terms of learning something.

EM: No it has huge value!  Sonja is our managing editor, and has worked on so many amazing articles.  I can’t wait for all of them.  But weirdly enough, the crossword is really what I’m excited about.  Only someone into handstands can do it, but they will know immediately.

It’s like, yes, you have spent time on the internet and know the lingo.  You’re a nerd.

SSN: The most interesting thing about issue 1 is the common ground segment.  Our original idea was to showcase the perspective on hand balance from different backgrounds.  We had someone who was a professional gymnast talk about her handstand practice now, because she’s now a hand balancer.  Then we had a breakdancer, then several different backgrounds.  We interviewed people.

We got so much content that we couldn’t fit it all into the first issue.  We decided to keep the segment ‘common ground,’ because it’s so interesting to hear from people with different backgrounds, how they train and approach handstands.

EM: The more we looked, the more we found disciplines that had handstands in them.  We started out thinking maybe 4,5,6, no.  So many.

SSN: You have vaulting, high diving, acrobatics, dual or group acrobatics, all the different forms of dance…really vast.

EM: In terms of structure of the magazine, every issue will have one main feature part or theme.  Common Ground is the first, but we’ll have community as one that is likely recurring, for showcasing events or different jam sessions.  Some cities have a very vibrant handstand scene, so showing that.  Even also showing how I can make that happen in my own city, have my own meet ups.

SSN: Get handstand hot spots.

EL: Create a Handstands and Coffee jam.

EM: Exactly.  That’s going to be the main feature of every issue, but then we’ll have segments that are recurring in every issue.  One of them will be common ground, but we also have-

One of my favourites is called Weight Shift, showcasing going from being an amateur hobbyist to a professional.  When you want to quit your job and do this full time, either as a coach or performer or whatever.  Also shifting weight from “I am a professional circus artist and perform” to “I want to move into coaching,” and showcasing people who have done that successfully and talking about their journeys.

That’s one of my favourite segments coming up.

SSN: We have another really good one…actually they are all good.  Let’s just mention the Nerd Corner.  It’s for everything research, maybe scientific, artistic, practice based.  It will showcase articles that are written by other people.  

The Nerd Corner will be an interesting segment, also for opening up discussions.

EM: A big facet of the magazine we want to bring forwards is facilitating different opinions.

EL: So If I disagree with someone I can write in a letter to the editor?

EM: Yes.

I’m going to write a really long article on how core is the most important thing, then get Mikael to write a reaction.

SSN: That’s a topic you can have big discussions about.  Core, what do we mean by that?  But that is something different to go into in a different episode.

EL: Within the fitness industry for what actually defines the core, it ranges from everything that isn’t your limbs or head, to these very specific muscles inside your abdomen where everything else is superfluous, then everything in between.  Core doesn’t exist, when we get to the core of it.  *tumbleweed* 

This is sounding really cool.  

SSN: Let’s talk about our survey for a moment.  This podcast is going to come out soon enough that people can still participate.

EM: We can leave it up a bit longer.

We just thought it would be really cool to know how the community actually trains.  How does it differ in how people train?  You have full-time circus artists like Mikael, who have been training over ten years and have a very working thing for themselves.  Then a beginner who is training very differently, then everything in between.  

We came up with a quick 10-12 question survey and put that out at the very start when we put the Handstand Press magazine online as a thing you can find on Instagram and Facebook and such.  It’s just a survey open to anyone who trains handstands.  If you listen to this podcast, you probably are doing that.  Give us the info on what you do, and all the results and charts and everything that come out of that will be showcased in issue one.

EL: And it’ll turn out that handstand people..don’t…rest.

EM: It’ll be interesting to see.  Mikael, have you taken our survey?  No, I will send it to you.  It’s on the website, thehandstandpress.com

EL: I understand that the main team includes four people, and everyone is spread around the globe.  Everyone who is involved, I would say is in the enthusiastic amateur section of hand balance.

It’s interesting that none of the people involved are professional hand balancers, in terms of actual performance skill, but they might be professional – Sonja teaches, obviously; Elise organizes workshops.  But this community infrastructure is quite interesting when it starts building up. 

Coming from the juggling scene, it has the most unique sub section of the circus thing in terms of community events.  They were running conventions since 1953.  They have big events running thousands of people and multiple shows.  This is also facilitated that the skill level of amateur jugglers can actually surpass professionals.  It’s quite common to find amateurs who never performed for money, or maybe a little, but they set the world records, the trends, come up with the new styles and expression.  

It’s not really these high skill technicians doing a lot of the organizing.  Generally not; they’re just doing it.  It’s the infrastructure of very enthusiastic amateur people who want the community to grow, they’re the ones organizing events and shows, the whole structure around the community.  It’s interesting to see this come out of the online collaboration, the four of you around the world who are really into this and want to facilitate others doing it.

MK: You’re making stuff happen that no one else would do.

EM: The interesting thing is we all met more or less online through handstands.  Sonja and myself met at a Handstand Factory retreat I organized, the very first intensive for Handstand Factory Push Harder.  That’s how we met.  Then we have Katie who is the head of design.  She does the layout and all the branding.  It’s beautiful; you can see it all across our channels.  She’s a yoga teacher and works very closely with Sonja.

SSN: Katie and I met because we were passing through Portland, where she lives, on our trip around the world.  She saw we were traveling and interviewing all these hand balancers and that we were there.  She reached out to me and we have been really good friends ever since.

EM: That’s the beauty of online handstand friends.  Then we have Emma, who I met because she was training with Mikael.  I was in the process of building up the affiliate program for Handstand Factory, and reached out to her to see if she wanted to be an affiliate.  That’s how we started chatting. 

She’s since become our affiliate manager for Handstand Factory.  She joined Motion Impulse 8 months ago.  When we began working on Handstand Press, Katie, Sonja and myself, we asked Emma if she wanted to be our social media manager.

Then we have more people from Motion Impulse working on the project as well.  We have Sophie, my cousin, who does all the layout for Handstand Factory technically, normally.  If you’ve ever seen the Handstand Factory manuals, that’s her work, and all the branding.

EL: At this point, I’d like to point out: this is not a Handstand Factory project.  The infrastructure behind us is Motion Impulse.  Me and Mikael are content and course creators, but when it comes down to facilitating me and Mikael to do our thing, this is what Motion Impulse does.

The team behind that are doing this project separately, using all their know how.  Once again, it’s enthusiastic amateurs who facilitated us to do our thing.  Now they’re doing something else.

MK: Me and Emmet have no direct content input into this.  That’s important to point out.  These are separate projects.

EM: This is why it was very important for us to also not have any articles written by Emmet for the first few editions.  I know we interviewed Mikael-

EL: I feel left out.

EM: You will come in…. The idea is to have a completely separate platform where multiple, different voices from all over the community have space.  Whereas Handstand Factory is obviously Emmet and Mikael bringing out their views and teaching.  It’s very valuable, but having this other platform – and while the same team is facilitating it, it’s not connected in that way.

EL: Just a disclaimer on that.  Me and Mikael have enough writing to do.

EM: I wanted to go back to that enthusiastic amateur thing.  It’s really important, in terms of the circus community like Emmet discussed – I got into circus because I was going to the circus convention.  Emmet dragged me along when we met about 8 years ago.  Just us being surrounded by other people that do the thing you’re interested in.  You can always see the really high level skilled people that come to these conventions, share their knowledge, are there and do their training.  

Then you have the people that spend their time organizing these events.  Their skill is not as high, but there is just as much room in the community for them.

That’s what I really love about handstands on the internet.  There’s peoples of all levels giving input, and that brings it into the real world.  This is one thing the magazine is trying to do.

Myself, for example, I’m not a very high skilled hand balancer at all.  In fact, the question is when do you start calling yourself a hand balancer?  That’s a really interesting one.

EL: You’ll definitely need to unpack that can of worms.  I’ve seen it range from “until you can do a Figa and earn money doing that, you just do handstands,” and everything in between.

I have my own views.  We could probably cover that in the podcast.

MK: I guess it depends on who defines it.  The definition nowadays is more just however you’d place the term.  I think the term was clear in the pre internet era.  The term would be exclusively circus context persons.  Nowadays no, and to me that’s not a problem.

EL: There is a difference between, say, a climber, and someone who goes climbing.  I go climbing occasionally but I’m not a climber.  Why?  It’s not my main activity.

If my main activity is I train for handstands and all my training is focused on that in my spare time, even if only three times a week, I would say then you’re a hand balancer.  That’s your thing.  Once again, we’ll save that for later.

We’re going to get to the end.  If I want to get this magazine onto my coffee table, not that I have one though…actually, let’s face it.  Mikael is going to spill his coffee on this magazine.  Is it coffee proof?

MK: I don’t spill coffee on my paper.

EM: Not your origami paper, but I have seen-

MK: I have spilt paint on this one, but on purpose.

EM: The paper is definitely going to be untreated, so it will soak up your coffee.  You can still do a handstand on the magazine, if you so wish, because it will not be drenched by coffee.

EL: It would be interesting to have a Mikael stained variation.  Coffee art.

MK: Radical coffee art.  Maybe that is what I should start doing.

EL: I want to get my hands on this magazine.  How do I do it?

EM: Right now, go to our crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter.  It started yesterday, so by the time this comes out on Thursday it will be about four days in.  We have an early bird going for the first week of the Kickstarter, where you can get your magazine at a highly reduced price.  

This Kickstarter will run for 30 days.  Go to Kickstarter, type in “handstand press magazine,” and you will find it.  We will also put a link in the show notes.

EL: The main question though – after the Kickstarter runs, people who are listening to this podcast in the future, in two years time: where can I get this magazine?  What is the web address?

SSN: TheHandstandPress.com is our website.  

EM: Instagram is @HandstandPress.Magazine, and same on Facebook.

EL: Awesome.  I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it.

EM: One more really important thing – if you want to get involved, we have submissions on articles, opinion pieces, anything written that pertains to handstands – submissions are also open for all kinds of photography.  We’re always looking for really nice cover pictures, but also hand balancing photography that can go into the magazine.  

We also would love any type of illustrations.  If you sketch, draw, spill your coffee in the form of handstands, submit it to us at TheHandstandPress.com and we’ll be very happy to consider it for publication.

EL: I look forward to seeing what comes out.  And to writing opinion pieces and disagreeing with people.  I disagree!  Because that is not how I do things!  Your thing is different and therefore not as good as mine!

Other than that, thank you for coming onto the show.

EM: Thank you so much for having us.  I never thought I’d end up on this podcast myself.  Glad to be here.

EL: We have been the Handstand Cast.  I am Emmet Louis, joined today with Mikael Kristiansen. Elise Missall, and Sonja Smith-Novak.

If you want to support this awesome project, please check it out on Kickstarter.  If you’re listening in the future, pick up a copy of the magazine.  It will be awesome on your shelf, and awesome to have persistent content for when the global reset comes and the internet gets shut off and you’re just stuck with books.

We’ve been good, you’ve been great.  Thank you for listening in, and we are the Handstand Cast.

All: Bye !

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