Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Fitness Fad of Weight Loss Programs

I was watching Dr. Phil today and was introduced to one of the latest in the ever growing popular fitness programs, The Pink Method. The Pink Method is a weight loss program specifically for women. The program offers work out regimens via DVDs with nutritional support and online interaction to track your progress and dedication. This concept has become quite popular, simply because it's working for so many people. There are many other programs out there offering the same support systems. P90x is another popular home exercise program. It allows the participant to use the program and cater the work out specifically to meet individual needs. Participants can even take a test to determine if the program is right for them.

Many of these programs offer an instant gratification to a weight problem, however the desired effect require a lot of dedication and self discipline. The desired effect also requires more than just doing the program. The program introduces a lifestyle change. In order to maintain a healthy state of body and mind, the participant must make a complete lifestyle change with incorporating dietary and activity habits. With continued exercise and healthy dietary habits, the hard work one puts into the program can be maintained.

The downside to some of these programs are the at home aspect. Participants must have the will power to initiate, perform, and maintain the program. The online support does help, however for some this may not be a reliable method. Some people may require a more personal experience. Another downside to the at home programs are the repetitive exercises. Many programs offer a variety of DVDs each offering a different work out. The repetitive usage of these DVDs can create a monotonous work out creating boredom with the program and failure of the participant to continue.

An increasing trend among pole fitness studios have transitioned to offering similar programs which enable participants the push and support they need to maintain the program to reach their fitness goals. Women can now take part in the fun and sexy work outs offered at pole dancing studios- all with the nutritional support and information necessary for success. A pole fitness studio has the ability to offer fun and exciting forms of alternative exercise- letting the participant take part in a sexy dance routine that otherwise would never have been thought of or considered with the idea of exercise. As the pole industry changes from just anyone can teach pole to implementing standards of instructor and fitness certifications- the average woman can feel comfortable in knowing that her needs are being addressed by educated professionals that can support her in reaching her goals. However, it still holds true that when searching for a pole studio you must do your research and understand not everyone is trained or has taken formal educational courses to support the information they are providing you. This is a practice that with increased movement towards the importance of knowledge within the community will bring a better awareness of the unsafe practices of many studios to encourage them to seek out opportunities that will benefit the community as a whole. Until then, if you feel as though you need a guided support then make sure the credentials of your program are suitable to your needs. Following a program through a pole studio can open so many doors to a healthier new you that gives you the power to take control of your own health.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pole Up, LLC Holiday Donation Event

Yesterday I got to participate in Pole Up, LLC of Indianapolis' first Holiday Donation Event benefiting The Cheer Guild of Riley Children's Hospital and Indiana University. 100% of proceeds from the event were donated to the cause along with 15% of all purchases made during the event. The event offered participants an opportunity to learn three routines and to get a taste of what types of classes are offered at Pole Up- all while supporting a great cause.

The evening began with a saucy holiday burlesque routine. The routine was easy to learn and proved to be quite a workout. My favorite part was the use of a silk handkerchief as a prop. The burlesque demonstration was followed by a chair routine which consisted of a wall dance, floor work, and the use of a chair as a prop. The routine was also really easy and flirty.  I loved how the routine flowed and so many different elements were incorporated. The last demonstration was a pole routine. The pole routine included a spin, floor work, and some basic dance transitions. All of the participants did really well during the pole routine. I always love taking pole classes, even if they're beginner level curriculum as I am constantly learning something new.  That is what makes pole dancing so special.  It never gets boring.  There is always something to learn to feed my hunger for creativity within my dancing.

I really enjoyed participating in the Holiday Donation Event. I found myself walking away with three dance routines and feeling great in knowing that it all went for a special cause. I really hope everyone else had as much fun as I did coming out of the event. The ladies that worked hard to put the evening together did such a wonderful job. I look forward to participating and working with Pole Up in the future for more wonderful events that benefit such amazing charities like The Cheer Guild.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pole Safety Spotlight: Inverting and Injury Prevention

I came across a well written series of articles by Climb & Spin Blog author Kira Lamb, incorporating the concept of inversion readiness for injury prevention. This is an important focus in pole dancing that anyone can agree on. Safety is always a number one priority. In the pole community, I strongly advocate education as being a key element to injury prevention. Teaching is a responsibility. It's imperative that an instructor is knowledgeable about every aspect involved in the curriculum they are teaching. You must be aware of your self and your students all while maintaining control over your class. Maintaining control can involve sticking to a curriculum of progression that will enable a student to reach a desired level or goal in their dancing. Some students will not agree on this strict adherence to the rules and you may be at risk of losing students due to your persistence in playing it safe. In these circumstances, we must remember to build an understanding with our students and explain to them the reason why we are doing things the way we are doing them. The eager student will always feel as though they are ready, even if they are not. It's crucial to their safety and yours to reinforce your plan of progression and only moving forward when you and your student are both ready. Bottom line, students should never invert on their first lesson. This is a dangerous and neglectful practice on the studio/instructor's part if this is happening. You must build a trusting working relationship with a student through a series of progressive conditioning. The key to success in pole dancing is to remain patient in your progression and maintain a persistence within limitations. The overall goal is safe progress with the continued ability to dance.

Below are the links to Climb & Spin Blog's 4 Part Series “Safety Trumps Tricks: How Soon Can I Invert?”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pole Shoes 101

As you begin to get indulged in your pole dancing addiction, you will find yourself at a point when you're ready to splurge and treat yourself to some necessary attire. When one thinks of pole dancing, the most common form of attire that comes to mind are shoes. Shoes to a pole dancer are like ice skates to an ice-skater. Your shoes not only enhance your performance, they serve as a protective and often in certain moves, a necessary key element to the illusion of pole dancing.

Picking the Right Shoe
Pole shoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, height, and colors. The perfect shoe is different for each person. Two popular shoe brands out on the market are Pleasers and Ellie. My personal favorite are Pleasers. Both brands can be found at any local adult novelty store such as popular U.S. franchise chains Lover's Lane or Cirillas. In order to familiarize yourself with the fit and feel of a particular manufacturer’s shoe, I recommend visiting one of these stores to try on the shoes to find the perfect shoe that feels right for your foot. Pole shoes have a tendency to feel small and tight, however after continual use over time the shoe will stretch and form to your feet. When you're picking your first pair, you want to pick a shoe that has a lower heel. As you progress and adapt to wearing heels, you will be able to upgrade to a higher heel. Another important consideration for choosing your shoes are ankle straps. Ankle straps offer support and will ensure your shoe will stay in place on your feet where they belong. It's important to think in terms of safety in every aspect of pole dancing- this includes learning a new move to relearning movement in shoes. A shoe will change your entire dancing experience. Shoes bring about an entire awareness of your feet. They elongate your legs and the focus shifts to the pretty new eye candy on your feet. Shoes can also change the way you feel. There is a magic about them in that they make you not only look but feel sexy.

Pole shoes come in many different heights. Common pole dance shoes can be found in three to eight inch heels. Bad Kitty Exotic Wear is one of my favorite online shoe retailers as they have their shoe selection organized by heel height. As the heel size increases so will your shoe's platform. The platform is the portion of the shoe supporting the ball of your foot. The platform's purpose is to alleviate stress placed on your foot from an increased arch.  Higher platforms assist with increasing stability for higher heels. 

Relearning Movement in a Shoe
Once you've purchased your new shoes, you will be eager to try them out with your pole. To get acquainted with your shoes you will want to prepare yourself with a few simple steps for a successful beginning to a new love affair with your feet.

Step 1: Assess your floor. Your floor surface will make a huge impact on the success of your shoe experience. Hard floor surfaces such as hardwood are recommended. You want to make sure the soles of your shoes are intended for pole wear and do not have a slick material. Pole shoes have soles that are designed to grip hard surfaced floors. If you have carpet, moving in your shoes will be difficult. The soles of your shoes will grip the carpet making it nearly impossible to smoothly move- which is a huge part of maintaining dance flow. A trick to get around this barrier is using packaging tape on your shoe's soles. This will create a slick sole that will allow smooth movement over carpeted surfaces. Please exercise caution as your shoes will lack grip therefore requiring you to have an increased control of your movement to prevent injury.

Step 2: Maintain Stability. Use the pole to your advantage. Always hold onto the pole when starting out in shoes. The pole will enable you to maintain stability and can prevent injuries.

Step 3: Start Slow. Begin with a toe drag walk. Beginning along side your pole, start with stepping forward with your inside leg. Your outside leg will then drag along the floor with the toes of your shoe and swing forward into a forward step. Make sure to maintain contact with the floor as your drag your foot towards your stationary leg. Once your back leg is even with your opposite leg you can break the floor contact and start off with your new step in a smooth and fluid movement. Repeat the sequence into a walk around the pole. The consistent contact of dragging your back leg will assist with maintaining your stability as you shift your weight to hold your balance.  Click here for a video tutorial for this concept of walking in heels. 

Step 4: Avoid Learning New Tricks in Shoes. The weight of shoes will increase your awareness of your feet. When learning new tricks, it's important your focus is on the trick and execution. Performing new tricks in shoes will direct your focus to your feet, therefore increasing your likelihood of a potentially dangerous error resulting in injury. This is a bad idea all around. Solidify your trick then you can progress it to executing it with shoes.

The Magic of Creating an Illusion
Pole shoes are utilized for more than being just a costume piece in a performance. Shoes protect the feet from pole related injury. Common minor injuries of the feet include bruising and skin tears or burns. As you progress in your dancing, these injuries are inevitable. Your skin will adapt like any other part of your body that comes in contact with the pole. Implementing shoes during your practice helps alleviate habitual insult to existing injury.

Pole shoes also can assist a dancer with tricks. The material used to make shoes creates a stick to the pole creating a natural grip aide. This is beneficial as an energy preservation in pole climbing. In aerial work, I've learned it's important to incorporate moves that allow me to preserve my energy. Utilizing shoes as a tool for this concept have proven to be beneficial in performances where multiple tricks are displayed. Energy preservation is an important safety mechanism in injury prevention. Another form of trick assistant that shoes have become notorious in their magic act are creating the illusion of increased flexibility. I have found that the space of my shoe helps close gaps where I lack flexibility. A perfect example of this is when I want to pull my foot closer to my head in certain inverted moves. I find by having a point of secure contact such as my shoe's heel helps me to hold my foot in the desired pose. Of course it helps to have an active flexibility regimen in conjunction with performing tricks that implement this concept, however for those that are at that point in their practice- using shoes to get to your goal can be quite beneficial in your progress. As for a simpler example of using your shoes to your benefit, a split grip plank slide is best performed with shoes in order to prevent toe burn as you slide your feet across the floor to an upright position. This is a move I have performed without shoes and have paid dearly for in the aftermath. I would not recommend doing this move or any move similar without shoes. Your weight is balanced on your shoe's platform, therefore the chunkier your platform, the better results in these type of tricks you will have.

This concludes Pole Shoes 101. Over all, pole shoes are a beautiful piece that every pole dancer should add to their collection of pole attire. Your shoes help shape you as a dancer and bring about their magic to enhance your performance. In the world of pole artistry, the shoe is just a paint brush the artist uses to paint their performance into a masterpiece.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bodily Adaptation to the Aerial Life

I'm over a month into my aerial lessons and have been experiencing many of the typical beginner aerial effects. The other day, I noticed that my outer legs and lower back were so full of bruises that I looked like a cheetah. It surprised me at first then I remembered that when I'd began pole dancing, I experienced the same effect. (This is where that previous blog about Epsom Salts comes in handy.) Bruising comes with the territory in the aerial arts. It's inevitable. When working with an apparatus such as a pole or the fabric, your body will experience trauma in the areas of contact where pressure is forcefully applied. In the case of a beginner, force is typically applied in every area of contact with the apparatus. Over time, after my body began to get used to the pole, the bruises were less severe and rarely ever evident unless I'd had an intense work out with new tricks. I am hoping that this is true with fabric too. Only time and experience will be the determining truth here. Another remedy aside from Epsom Salt that I have tried to alleviate unsightly bruises is the use of Arnica gel. I personally have not seen a reduction in the severity of bruising with the use of this therefore I am not a good resource for this product. However, I know people that use this product and have had positive experiences so it was worth mentioning here in case someone is searching for some bruise relief alternatives. I can honestly say I used this during a period where I began intensely training so the occasional bruise was over shadowed by a time when I could have easily passed for a giant human bruise. I have since come to terms with my bruises and accepted that they are going to be there as a result of my activities and trying to cover them up will be rendered useless at this point.

Another long forgotten beginner experience I have been revisited with is hand soreness. I'm not sure how much of this is related primarily to the fabric and the fact that one must rely on their grip for every movement or being related to a family history of Rheumatoid Arthritis with early onset, but I have noticed the joints in my hands to have a lingering soreness lately. This hand soreness is often experienced with beginners in pole dancing. When beginning pole, a student often grips the pole with such intensity that their hands feel the effects for days later. It's often unnoticed until you actually experience the post death grip soreness. As you are learning a new maneuver it is only natural you want to have a strong grip on the pole. Bringing this to a student's attention often helps alleviate this problem and one can adjust their grip based on what they are doing with the pole. Simple beginner dance moves do not need an intense grip. To help relieve the tension built up in the hands from over gripping, one can perform hand exercises and stretches. I find using a regular tennis ball helps a lot. You can also purchase a Trigger Point Massage Ball if you find your tennis ball losing it's shape when you're applying pressure during your work outs. I prefer a high pressure massage and know all too well the benefits of utilizing a simple tennis ball in my post work out therapy in addition to my Epsom Salt soaks. Getting into a post work out regimen of pampering your body is a great habit to implement. It's a welcomed treat for your body that has a multitude of healthy benefits that you will enjoy for a healthier you for years to come.

A Time for Change

I've been contemplating for quite some time to shut down my Pole Harmony website. I have taken necessary steps in my career to get myself ready to return to school to further my degree in the medical field and in order to commit myself to my studies, I will cease offering private lessons through my home studio.  I have a few regular clients that I will maintain at this time, however I will no longer have the time to dedicate teaching more than those few people unless prearranged private lessons through Pole Up or scheduled weekly classes via the studio.  I have also decided to pursue other opportunities within the pole studio I am working for and will dedicate my extra time working on promoting and helping the business grow. 

In order to shut down my Pole Harmony website, I had to move my blog to a free hosting service.  From now on, all my blogs will be here via Blogger's service.  I want to thank everyone for their support during these past few months with my private lesson service. I really enjoyed teaching everyone that came into my dance space and hope that you all will come to Pole Up to continue with your journey and passion for dance. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  It has been quite the learning experience and for that I am grateful.

"I see dance being used as communication between body and soul, to express what is too deep to find for words." 
~Ruth St. Denis.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Definition of Pole Dancing

Is it a sport? Is it a hobby? Is it a job? Is it sexy? Is it fitness? Or is it just gymnastics? Pole dancing isn't “just” any one thing. I like to define it with a simple umbrella phrase as “an art form.” Art is such a broad form of something being expressed without limitations. I like to think of my dancing this way. There is no right or wrong way to dance. Dancing can take on a multitude of forms and often reflects the feelings of the dancer. Our music choice helps set the mood of our dance and therefore adds flavor to our movement. No one person is the same, therefore our dancing shouldn't be either. We are constantly striving for the next move or trick that can enhance our performances. As a community we share our progress and ideas with each other- every one of us performs a movement in our own individual way thus making it our own. A pole dancer once told me to own my movement. I don't recall who it was but I have adapted that into my personal psyche and now preach this very idea to my own students. For every transition, spin, or trick I teach them, I encourage my students to own the move and make it theirs. Change it to what fits their body the best. You are the only one who knows how your body moves, therefore you must cater the movement to your body and it's limitations. Don't think of your limitations as a handicap but rather your personal flavor. The individuality that you bring to your dancing. Embrace the aspects of pole dancing that you feel gravitated towards. Whether it be the sporty gymnast within or unleashing that saucy vixen, your dancing is completely undefined until you release it and let your movement become the characteristic you are feeling for that dance at that moment. No matter why it is done, pole dancing will always be rooted as a passion. So enjoy your passion and be yourself. After all, we are each unique in our own way and deserve to let who we are be freely expressed and what better way for the world to know us than through our dance.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pole Safety Spotlight: Shoulder Injury Prevention

One of the most common injuries in pole dancing is an injury to the shoulder. Shoulder injuries can occur from improper postural alignment or weak muscles within the shoulder and supporting structures. There are various different exercises one can implement to help condition the muscles of the shoulder. Range of motion exercises utilize the muscles in their working mode and therefore offer the most beneficial workout when conditioning. When conditioning off the pole, exercises for improving shoulder strength can include such devices as an exercise ball, resistance bands, or weights. Important considerations for utilizing weights in conditioning exercises of the shoulder include starting light and use a slow, controlled pace through a full range of motion. Rotator cuff work is not about how heavy you can train; It is to treat or prevent an injury¹. Focus your shoulder conditioning exercises on executing movements in slow and controlled repetitions. The overall purpose of conditioning the shoulder in pole dancing is injury prevention. As with any workout on or off the pole, it's also important to factor in a warm up. Warming up muscles prior to conditioning will help prevent injuries. Knowledge is key to a safe and healthy workout. For further resources on the anatomy of the shoulder and it's relation to pole dancing and examples of shoulder conditioning exercises, please visit www.PoleAthlete.com.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Felix Cane Flexibility DVD Review

Last night I decided to try out my new Felix Cane Flexibility DVD. The DVD is a part of the Felix Cane Pole Dance Mastery five DVD box set series. This DVD can be purchased with or without the other DVDs. The flexibility DVD does not tie into the other DVDs, therefore it is not necessary to purchase the others if you are looking for a stretching work out only.

The DVD is a total of 88 minutes long. It includes a warm up in the beginning that incorporates some great cardio exercises. The warm up is a little bit long (approximately 16 minutes and 45 seconds) and redundant in the aspect of static stretching. I like to save all my static stretching for the real deal and prefer my warm up to consist of exaggerated range of motion utilizing cardio. While following along with the DVD, I found the routine throughout lacks any emphasis on the neck. I personally need to warm up my neck muscles every time I work out or stretch and to have skipped this important area of the body seems strange to me. I have come from classes in the past where the neck had been neglected only to have my neck stiffen up an hour later. Lucky for me, I am well aware of proper neck exercises and they are easy enough for me to squeeze in on my own prior to resuming the stretching routine. My only concern is that since this is lacking, the lay person will not get to target this area properly.

Moving on, the DVD menu options have a feature that allows the user to skip the introduction and immediately get started with the work out. I like this feature. It also allows you to go directly to specific areas of the body. I found this to be useful for scenarios where I won't be able to participate in the entire routine, as I've said the DVD is lengthy, so being able to skip to an area of the body you'd like to focus specifically on is a great bonus to the DVD's concept.

As I began my work out, I found the stretches to be easy and Felix also offers variations for beginners. As the DVD progresses, the variations for beginners seem to dissipate. A video display of variations for advancing are also incorporated throughout the work out. As you are working through this DVD, some of the follow along becomes difficult. The video variations are often not shown long enough. I found myself to be concentrating on breathing during the stretches as the videos of variations flashed on the screen momentarily and quickly disappeared before I got the opportunity to evaluate the differences. If you are looking to utilize the variations, you will have to be quick to pause the DVD in order to transition yourself properly. The DVD lacks verbal cues. You must pay attention as the DVD has a strong visual learning component. I found this to be throughout the entire five DVD series. The entire series is strongly catered to visual learners. If you are following along, you will need to pay attention as in certain stretches, specifically I first noticed this in the king pigeon poses, Felix changes the stretch without warning.

Felix recommends stretching daily or three to four times a week. She states that doing a little bit every day would be beneficial. She also stresses that during the stretches, you should not be feeling uncomfortable with a lot of pain. It's important to review the introduction of the DVD as she explains how to use this DVD in the best way to suit your individual stretching needs. The key factor is to know your limits and work within them. While using this DVD, there were moments where I personally felt the stretches were moving too quickly. Some of the stretches require a great deal of maneuvering to properly get into the stretch. I felt as though my body couldn't acclimate to the stretch before it was time to move into another stretch. This is something that will be individual and the user will need to be able to pause the DVD in order to get beneficial results. You also want to make sure your body is warmed up properly before using this DVD. I felt as though I had to supplement my stretches in my own way to add to my experience. I found myself utilizing my foam roller to warm up my back before attempting the back stretches as I felt they were quite drastic and lacked preparatory transitioning stretches. The back is an area I yield extreme caution to and don't take stretching this area lightly. Again, this is based on personal preference and resulting from a training regimen I've become adapted to.

In order to get the best out of this DVD, the user will need to have on hand yoga blocks (I used my foam roller) and a resistance band or towel. I also made use out of my yoga mat as certain moves required me to roll the mat in order to protect my knees against the floor. I'm also a pelvic lifter in specific stretches so I found a rolled up mat to be quite handy. I really liked this DVD in the aspect that it is not just pole specific. I find it crosses over nicely into being able to be utilized in other aspects of aerial. I also liked the fact that it does not utilize the pole for the stretches which makes being able to use this DVD just about anywhere.

The aesthetics of the DVD are nicely coordinated. The purple aerial fabric in the back ground are aesthetically pleasing to the eye and add to a feeling of relaxation. Overall, what it really comes down to it the content and I really liked many of the stretches within this DVD. I found it to be another beneficial tool to add to my collection and would recommend this DVD to fellow pole dancers looking for a wonderful work out to add to their fitness repertoire.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Epsom Salt: A Pole Dancer's Guide

It's no secret that pole dancing is a strenuous and physically demanding activity that results in soreness. Especially for the beginner level student. As a pole dancer, we utilize a series of muscle groups in different moves that require strength and flexibility. These maneuvers often lead to a soreness that often peaks twenty-four to forty-eight hours post pole work out, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness. It's an inevitable result of a beneficial work out. When you've worked your muscles effectively, you are going to experience fatigue. It's important to rest your muscles in between work outs. Just as we get a good nights rest, we must take into consideration a day of rest for the wellness of our muscles. This strategy is a good practice that is often recommended for beginner level pole dancers. Over time as the dancer progresses and begins to excel in the sport, the training regimen will change to reflect a strategy that is individually suited. However, for safety and injury prevention, it's important to respect your body and remain patient in your progress. Rushing into over working your body will not benefit progress in any way.

In conjunction with respecting your body, a popular and beneficial remedy to assist in alleviating post work out soreness is Epsom Salt. Epsom salts are naturally occurring minerals distilled from water. The main component of Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate. Magnesium Sulfate is a chemical compound. Magnesium sulfate can be detected in the human body by measuring levels found within the blood. Research has shown that deficiencies of magnesium sulfate have negative effects. By administering replacements of magnesium sulfate, many ailments can be corrected. According to the Universal Health Institute of Chicago, research has shown raising magnesium levels has had significant positive impact on cardiovascular, metabolic, neurological, and muscular systems. Some of the beneficial effects in relation to pole dancing specifically involve easing muscle soreness by flushing toxins from the body and creating a feeling of relaxation by increasing the release of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that when increased creates a feeling of well being and relaxation. In addition to feeling relaxed, stress levels are reduced. Epsom salt is also useful in reducing bruises, which a common occurrence for pole dancers of every level.

So how do you use Epsom Salt? The magnesium and sulfates are best absorbed through the skin. The Epsom Salts Council recommends for soaking of sore muscles to mix two cups of Epsom salt in a standard size bath tub of warm water and soak for at least twelve minutes. From experience, I have found the best results when soaking before my delayed onset muscle soreness peaks. I generally soak in an Epsom salt bath either immediately post pole work out or before I go to bed on the night of my pole work out. It's important to always incorporate a thorough post pole work out stretching session as your cool down, which will also help alleviate muscle soreness. Rest days can also be reserved for Epsom salt baths. These will be the days where your muscles experience fatigue therefore an Epsom salt bath will be a welcomed treat.

Where do you buy Epsom salt? Epsom salt can be purchased from any major retail chain or drug store pharmacy. Epsom salt can be purchased as a plain unscented white salt or as a bath soak mixture that contains aromatherapy agents. Plain Epsom salt is popular among athletes for it's low cost and ability to be purchased in larger quantities. Epsom salt can be purchased in various quantities and is often sold in recyclable friendly cardboard cartons. For more information on Epsom salts and the beneficial uses, please visit the Epsom Salt Council website.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Meditation Room

While watching one of the numerous design television shows on the home improvement channel, I was introduced to a young couple in search of an ideal place to call their first home. One of the required musts of this new couples home was a space they would dedicate solely for the purpose of a meditation room. A meditation room is a room where one creates a comfortable space full of relaxing furniture and spiritually significant items that help one to focus on a peaceful and calm sanctuary away from the every day noise and stress. As a pole dancer, over the years I have created such a room in my own home. I call it my pole space. My pole space has evolved over the years. It initially started out as an area in my studio apartment upstairs in the loft where I also kept my air mattress that I reserved for my bedroom. In the early days, my pole was neatly tucked away from visitors where it was discreet. However it was always the center of attention in those days as one had to go upstairs in my apartment to get to the bathroom. In doing so, visitors would always be greeted by my pole.

When I began the house hunt for myself, I made it quite clear to my realtor (unknown to me at the time was actually a few years younger than me- LOL), that he must find me a house with a space suitable for my pole. Ah yes, the pole took priority in the planning process for where I would come to find a place to call home. One must remember, I traded one relationship for another at this point in my life. I like to think that I was deeply committed at this stage to my love affair with my pole. It was almost as if my pole took on it's own life. A partner whom I was considering in this exciting life transition to home ownership. Little did I know, this perfect partner of mine would lead me to the perfect place to call home. A cozy lakeside home with a wood burning fireplace, beautiful and relaxing view of a lake with wildlife, and a man whom was selling the place. A man that would become my future husband. Oh- and of course, the perfect space for my pole.

Closing time came and went. I moved into my new home. It was all my own and I was more than excited to start the process of giving my white walls a bit of character. My pole had upgraded into it's own personal space. A room all of it's own. My meditation room.

I began a friendship with the previous homeowner which soon blossomed into a loving relationship that was loyal and honest. A relationship full of excitement and fun. I was shocked to hear from all my friends and family as they began cashing in their predictions. They all knew what I'd kept deep inside my heart. This was the man I was going to marry. From the first moment we'd actively engaged in our quest to court each other, I was open and honest about my passion for pole dancing. I laid it all out on the table. He was understanding and compassionate. Of course, what man would walk away from a woman who had a pole in the room you used to call your office? I think the pole dancing as my form of exercise added to my uniquely exotic charm I liked to exude from my persona. It's what made me sexually appealing. It gave me that edge that was necessary in such a competitive world of dating. Little did I know, Mr. Future Husband was juggling relationship decisions of his own. As we all were in those early days of trying to find a life long companion. Or even just finding someone you'd like to spend an evening with while enjoying great conversation. In the world of a young single female enjoying a life of independence, I was free to explore everything the modern day dating culture had to offer. I don't hold any grudges against my husband because he too was experiencing his own freedom. From the moment we decided on a monogamist union, I trust that he ended all other potential relationships and committed his heart one hundred percent.

Throughout the years as our relationship has grown and our living arrangements have molded into my dwelling or what I like to refer to as the house of karmic love, my pole space has evolved in many forms of it's own. From a separate room to again sharing a room with my bed and back to it's own room redefined with floor to ceiling mirrors, my pole has never once been neglected for long. I have created a special place for my pole where I can freely express myself through my dance. It had taken me three years of contemplation to design an area with a custom dance floor and large mirrors covering an entire wall. A situation causing me anger and forcing me to redefine my own dance space was the catalyst to my own pole room. A place solely for the purpose of my dance. My personal meditation room. Created through my desire for my dance with the loving help of my husband. I dance within the comfort of my space knowing that this is where my heart has led me.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

I'm an American. It's no surprise just looking around at the grocery store or anywhere else for that matter that we as Americans have a problem. Obesity. The disease that is killing millions in a slow and progressive manner. If obesity is the gun to our own suicide, then food is the ammunition.

Food can hold so much for an individual. The act of eating something can be therapeutic. People have a tendency to attach emotional ties to food. Food can hold memories that elicit pleasure. We as humans are a pleasure seeking species. We want to feel good. The natural high that a delicious meal can create can be quite satisfying. So satisfying that millions of Americans are now facing a problem created by over eating. The epidemic of obesity.

Tonight I watched the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead for the second time. A couple weeks ago after my husband had mentioned the existence of this film, I decided to check it out on Netflix. I sat and watched the entire documentary in complete awe. The stories in the film are completely inspiring and full of hope. I encouraged my husband to watch the film. Tonight we watched it together.

The documentary begins with an Australian businessman, Joe Cross, as he is in the midst of his journey across America. In the film, Joe Cross is a man in his early forties. He has lived a life of luxury consisting of parties, beer, food, and lack of sleep. The choices of his lifestyle had caught up with him. He came to the realization that if he didn't make necessary changes, he would soon be dead.

The film follows Joe on his journey to a new Joe. All accomplished with a sixty day juice fast. For sixty days, Joe consumes only vegetable and fruit juice in place of eating meals. It's an extraordinary film that documents the changes he undergoes to a healthier lifestyle. I really enjoyed all the nutritional information in this film. The film also challenges the viewer to assess their own lifestyle and dietary choices. As Joe's sixty day fast comes to an end, another story begins. This is my favorite part of the film and because I'm writing this review to recommend the viewing of this documentary, I won't spoil the powerful story that unfolds.

Overall, I really enjoyed this film. What I really liked in this film was the fact that Joe and others participating are shown exercising in combination with the juice fast. I think a common diet misconception is that dieting alone is a cure all for obesity. That is not true. Exercise is just as important to maintain a healthy weight and this film depicts that reality.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I purchased our very own Breville juicer. I hadn't seen the documentary at the time. My husband was inspired by a coworker of his who was supplementing his diet with juice. The coworker had seen the documentary and recommended it. Juicing has been a fun activity and my husband has begun incorporating juice in his daily diet. Neither one of us consider ourselves to be extremists, therefore fasting doesn't appeal to us. The nutritional benefits alone of consuming fresh juice were enough of a motivation to implement juice into our diets. Not to mention the fact that juicing is a lot of fun!

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead has inspired thousands of people to change their lives. The trend that has transpired from the documentary has become known as rebooting your life. For more information on incorporating juice nutrition into your life visit www.jointhereboot.com. Participants can join in on a reboot program and get started on a healthier and fresh new life. Overall, I highly recommend this documentary. The impact it could have on your life and outlook could motivate you or someone you know to save their life before it's too late.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My First Aerial Silks and Lyra Training Class

Today was my first day of my aerial silks and Lyra training classes. I decided to start aerial silks and Lyra as a form of supplemental workout in addition to my pole training.  Aerial silks is an artistic acrobatic activity utilizing specialized fabric that assists in suspending the body in the air during poses and drops.  Aerial silks is often a performance activity. Aerial silks requires an immense amount of upper body strength. Although fun, aerial silks can be a dangerous activity as the performer must rely on strength an appropriate use of the fabrics. Lyra is also know as aerial hoop. Lyra utilizes a steel hoop where performers suspend their body in poses while the apparatus is fully capable of moving in multiple directions. The aerial hoop can be any shape other than circular. The specific Lyra I used during my lesson was a tear drop shape.

I began my lesson on the Lyra. I learned some basic holds while getting comfortable with using the Lyra. I found this activity to be quite tiresome. The Lyra requires a lot of total body strength to smoothly execute all the positions. The Lyra also requires a lot of balance. I found that my experience with pole dancing helped me with body awareness. I was able to catch on quickly and use some down time to gain confidence with my comfort level.

The second portion of class involved the aerial silks. I found that aerial silks is very similar to pole. I was easily able to climb up the silks based on my pole climbing experience. I also got to lift into an invert and practice a few of my favorite modified pole moves. The only negative about silks is the potential for burns. If you move your skin too quickly over the fabric, you can get a burn. I found I'd gotten a minor burn on my outer ankle due to climbing and practicing my foot locks.

Over all I was very pleased with my lesson. I was able to bring a camera and record my progress, which I found to be extremely helpful during the lesson as it enabled me to easily see what I looked like during moves and what needed improvement.  I'd recommend aerial silks and Lyra for those who have been training for a considerable amount of time in a work out that involves a lot of upper body strength such as pole fitness. This is not an activity that can easily be done if you lack the ability to maintain a slow and controlled movement of your body while in the air.  I look forward to sharing my progression and can't wait for next week's class!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pole Community Etiquette: When a New Studio Opens in Your Area

Pole fitness studios are a rare form of exercise.  In most cases many cities and towns are lucky to even have one studio.  New York City has at least four studios within a couple blocks of each other.  In larger cities, the proximity of these studios doesn't matter as much due to the larger population.  I have talked to a few ladies that work at some of the studios in New York City about how they deal with the competition of having other studios within the area.  Many of them say it isn't that big of a problem.  Most of the instructors will actually teach multiple teaching jobs and are friends with many of the other studio instructors.  It is also true that in a city like New York, every studio is notorious for a dance specialization, whether they are great at tricks, sexiness, or choreography, every studio will have something unique to offer the community.

So what happens when you're in a smaller city or town and a competitor opens for business?  First of all, for those considering opening their own studio, the important factor to consider when planning your business is location.  A favorable distance between competing studios should be as close as a fifteen mile radius.  Fifteen miles is ample distance as not to intrude on another studio's client base.  It's important to respect competing studios, especially being the new guy on the scene.  You want to build your own clientele.  It is true, that many avid polers will take classes at every studio possible.  Pole fitness is a shared learning process. However, many clients will not have participated in the sport, therefore keeping a respectable distance between studios is important for the success of the individual businesses.

When a new studio opens for business, generally the studio will advertise an open house event.  Open houses are great opportunities for new clients to come check out the studio, meet the staff, and learn all about the type of lessons offered.  For those already affiliated with a studio, this is a great opportunity to respectfully welcome the new studio to the community.  By respectfully, I mean dressing appropriately (don't wear any attire advertising your own studio) or in any way advertise your classes as the competitor to the new studio's guests and potential clients.  It's okay to be curious about a new studio.  Dedicated pole dancers want to see new studio layouts, meet people with their common interests, or may want to simply know more about the studio just like everyone else.  It's important not to be secretive about your intentions.  Remain open and honest with the new studio. You never know, you could be working for or with the new studio some day.

Some may disagree with being friendly to the competition.  I'm not sure I understand this rationalization of creating enemy lines within a community such as pole dancing.  The pole dancing community would never be what it is today without the online social networking sites such as Studio Veena.  Pole dancers from all over the world have come together to support each other and bring awareness to the benefits of pole fitness.  Many studios have worked together to better the community within the industry by setting standards and implementing programs that educate.  Without the camaraderie of studios coming together, our beloved pole fitness may not have come as far as it has within the recent years.  So, I say to one who asks why work together harmoniously with the competitor?  Why waste time with negativity when you could be accomplishing much more in the bigger picture?  On another note, one can really put things in perspective and realize that their business could cease to exist if it wasn't for all the work these studios have done for the community by working together.

This topic reminds me of a studio I visited this past summer in St. Petersburg, Florida.  The studio and all the surrounding studios in the Bay area were working together to organize a charity, Pole for a Purpose.  The event was a pole show fundraiser for Vixens Against Violence.  Vixens Against Violence is a group that brings awareness and education to the public about domestic violence.

What truly impressed me about all these studios working together for the event Pole for a Purpose was the fact that they were working together.  When I initially inquired about classes with one of the studios in the area, I was promptly greeted with an email answering all my questions and a referral to possibly attend a competing studio's classes if their schedule did not fit my needs or availability.  This shocked me that these studios would refer each other to potential clients.  A perfect example of the point I've been trying to make.  As a community we need to work together and remain supportive.

The best way to handle a new studio in the area is to embrace the new business and accept that they are there doing their own thing.  It's okay to maintain a friendly ground with a new studio.  However if your studio or you don't feel comfortable enough to take those steps necessary to build upon a supportive community within your own city or town, then don't.  Just remain respectful of their business as your respect will reflect back on you.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Discoveries Dance Pole Instructor Certification Course Training

This past weekend I attended a pole dancing instructor certification training course with Discoveries Dance. The course was a two day training taught by course creator and multiple fitness certified educator, Angel.  Angel has an extensive back ground in fitness and education. Her material presented in the course was information she'd worked on to develop over several years. The entire course was developed based on injury prevention in pole dancing. Injury prevention in pole dancing is a highly important issue. Pole dancing is a fun and wonderful activity, however like every sport there is a potential for injury. I wanted to take a certification course for quite some time. I'd done a lot of research as certification programs have been developing in the United States. The main reason Discoveries Dance appealed to me was the emphasis of injury prevention within the course curriculum. The program was also reasonably priced compared to competing programs. The training course curriculum is also vastly focused on teaching, eliminating unnecessary information such as how to open and manage a studio, which was not a priority or focus for many of us participating this weekend.  After each day of the two day course, I wrote a brief summary of my experience.

October 22, 2011: Day 1

Today was day one of two for the Discoveries Dance pole instructor certification course hosted by Pole Up, LLC. I had a great time learning everything that was taught. Upon arrival students were given a folder and workbook manual for studying. Prior to the course, we were emailed a reading assignment to prepare us for the first day's lesson. I found the reading material to be very interesting and to get my mind geared towards the topics we would be learning about in the course throughout the first day. The first day was a majority of anatomy and physiology and it's relationship to pole dancing. I found all this information to be extremely well taught, organized, and highly beneficial to my teaching strategy. The underlying motivation of the program design is injury prevention which was clearly reflected in the material we learned on the first day. I found all the information we were taught regarding anatomy and physiology will be very useful to me in my future teachings in ensuring safety in my classes. The training also focused on teaching aspects and how as an instructor you can incorporate useful methods to communicate with your students thoroughly as well as finding comfort in becoming a teacher. Overall, I am very satisfied with the way the course is going. I find the course to be physically and mentally engaging. I can't wait to learn everything in tomorrow's portion of the training!

October 23, 2011: Day 2

Today started off bright and early. We began the training finishing up some anatomy and physiology from the previous day. The entire course was very thorough in the anatomy and injury prevention aspect of pole dancing. This was exactly the type of information I'd been longing for in a pole dancing specific training program. Day two's training also involved lessons on how to distinguish classic characteristics of improper body alignment in order to prevent injury in various dance maneuvers or on the pole moves. I felt that being informed in this area is extremely important in injury prevention. I'd never came across information in my previous research that had this information so clearly broken down and specific to pole dancing. In addition to the information on injury prevention, day two focused a lot on developing our teaching skills. This aspect of the program was great as it helped to get us thinking about situations and how to properly teach moves effectively. We participated in multiple activities throughout the day focusing on proper body alignment and incorporating various processes we'd learned to organize our dance instructions for developing our ability to articulate lessons in a safe and clear manner. As the course came to a closing, we reviewed all the requirements for completion of our certification. Post training, participants have a year to complete the requirements. From personal experience, I recommend not waiting long after completing the training to do this. It's best to complete everything within the two weeks post training as all the information is fresh in your mind and you're less likely to keep putting it off for a later date. Once it's done, then you're certified through the program!

My Course Experience Summary

I can't say enough how much I really enjoyed this program. Throughout the entire training, one of the greatest advantages I felt was the fact that so many levels of expertise were participating in the training. The insight from the other participants was beneficial as everyone had experiences that enriched the learning process. I truly believe that it is extremely important that pole instructors have a formal training in order to properly teach others in a safe and effective manner. There is so much an instructor needs to know in order to teach safely that I don't think many realize. The fact is, pole dancing is a dangerous sport, and if a person teaching isn't well informed then it is an even more dangerous activity. I really hope that the future of pole dancing continues to lean towards trainings and continuing education courses for instructors. I believe the future of pole dancing needs to have a mandatory training nationwide for all studios. Safety is and should always be the number one priority. As wonderful and fun pole dancing is, as an instructor, I need to always keep in the back of my mind that safety is number one. Teaching is a responsibility and as a teacher, I've taken the responsibility to educate myself for my students.

For more feedback on Discoveries Dance please visit the feedback section of the training.  Discoveries Dance also offers a home study course for those interested. To get started on your own pole fitness education training, please visit www.DiscoveriesDance.com.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How the Internet Keeps Me Fit and Friendly

While skimming through the latest forum posts on some of my favorite pole dancing fitness sites, I came across a post about a website community for fitness. This site is basically a general fitness community for people wanting to document their progress and to also “measure up” their progress against others participating in the same fitness activities. A supportive push from your friends. I got to thinking about the online communities I've been involved in with pole dancing and the effects it's had on my workouts throughout the years. It's true, I may not have progressed to the level I am at today if it weren't for the online support and the type of motivation it gave me to keep at it. Watching other women and men pole dancing in their videos was how I got myself motivated to workout. I'd see or read about a move I wanted to try and there was enough motivation to get me into a full on pole workout. Many times I'd make a list of moves I'd gathered from videos and take them to the pole. It's these types of online communities that keep us on track. Motivation is the biggest factor for working out. If you have it, you're getting fit. If you lack motivation, then I'm sure you're well aware of it's negative effects. Whether motivation is being found through an online community or through a live social interaction of being at the gym, the fact is we need motivation in our lives. Motivation from others participating in the same activities as us is the best type of motivation.  Working out with a friend can be rewarding in the type of personal connection that is both healthy for your mind and body. The online communities open a whole world of networking and connections with people we might never have met.  The world of pole dancing has become an amazing supportive community through social networking and it's this sense of community that keeps the sport growing strong.  Those who are truly successful in their fitness goals have support. In the modern day of fitness, the Internet has proven for many, including myself, to be an amazing source of motivation.

Below is a list I compiled from a quick Google search on general fitness sites and also a few specialty focused online communities. After my online search, I discovered that no matter what your choice of fitness activity, there is most likely to be an online community where you can further your knowledge and receive the necessary support to keep you motivated.
Online Fitness Communities:

Pole Specific Online Communities:

Hooping Online Community:


Saturday, October 15, 2011

What Pole Dancing has Taught Me Lesson #1: Discipline

Discipline: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. -Merriam Webster Dictionary Definition.

I began pole dancing in July of 2008. I was a member of a twenty-one an older singles group, High Life Adventures. The group participated in events all over the city. Members would sign up for events online and then show up not knowing who else was participating in the event and therefore be able to meet other single men and women while experiencing a fun new adventure. I met one of my bridesmaids at a High Life event. It was a time in my life when I was enjoying being independent and single. A time when I was in search of who I was and wanted to become all while having fun.

In July of 2008, High Life began offering pole dancing classes. I immediately tried to sign up for one of the classes and was placed on a wait list due to the high demand. As it got closer to the date of the class, I was notified that I would be able to attend the event as there was an opening. I confirmed my intent to attend and that is where my story in the world of pole began.

I left my first class knowing that I was hooked. The instructor had given me a card for a dance pole I could order and put up in my own home. I utilized the internet to the best of my capabilities and discovered a whole world unbeknownst to me. I ordered my pole the next day and that following week I was spinning around my very own pole in my single girl studio apartment. I learned everything I could from the internet. As pole dancing began to evolve in the United States, more opportunities were presented to me. I attended studios, workshops, classes, and eventually I began to teach. For the first time in my life, I'd taken a path for a healthier me. Pole dancing was the first time I'd ever enjoyed working out.

At the time of my new found fitness regimen, I was experiencing my own personal battle with my health. I'd recently gone through the ending of a toxic relationship which brought about unhealthy habits. I started smoking in the midst of a dark time in my life and found myself carrying this habit into my new life I'd established for myself. To add insult to injury, a close family member had suddenly passed away. Growing up in a home of a smoker then dating men who also smoked, I coped with my grief in the only way I knew how. I smoked.

I smoked so much that four months into my addiction I was admitted into the hospital for respiratory distress. I was diagnosed with severe asthma and poor lung function. After my release from the hospital, I began outpatient treatments through the lung clinic. I was placed on several medications and throughout my course of treatment I routinely attended the clinic for pulmonary function tests to document my lung improvement. My doctor had also recommended routine exercise to help with improving the function of my damaged lungs. This was also the time I had attended my first pole class. So taking my doctors advice, I went full on and indulged into the world of pole dancing.

Quitting a habit that had the type of hold over me that smoking did was not easy. I had to experience another breakup within a short amount of time. I'd replaced the lost relationship with a man with a new relationship with my cigarettes. As if the previous relationship wasn't toxic enough, I had created a new relationship with a pack of cigarettes that would prove to be the ultimate toxic relationship that would affect more than my emotions. It is true when they say, if we don't have our health, we have nothing. I felt as though I had spiraled into an uncontrollable period of nothing. I had no one to blame but myself. And that self was not going to give up without a fight. I wanted to breath again without struggling. It was time to get to work. Pole dancing helped me at this time to battle the cravings, ups and downs of the steroid induced roller coaster my body was going through, and to teach me a strong lesson in life- self discipline.

Three months after my diagnosis, I was weaned off my daily medications. I was progressing with my pulmonary function tests. My lungs were healing and my energy levels were increasing. I was embarking on a path I'd tried so many times to travel. I was on the road to recovery with exercise. Three and a half years later, I am in the best shape of my life. I have eliminated unnecessary toxins from my life in my diet, social interactions, and every day activities. Laziness has become a pet peeve of mine and I will often opt for the alternative that requires an activity that will prove to be beneficial to my overall health. I have learned a discipline in my life that has shaped who I've become. I'm still traveling that road to a healthier me all while embracing pole dancing and everything this journey has introduced into my life. Pole dancing has done more than just create a body I've always wanted, it has given me a healthy mind and soul. A creative outlet to express myself spiritually. Pole dancing has become the discipline in my life that has shaped me into who I am for a healthier me as I begin to lay down the foundation to a future healthy family.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Patience, Persistence, & Pain

On October 9, 2011, I celebrated my one year marriage anniversary to my beloved husband. In celebration, we took on a physically challenging task. We climbed 4,501 feet to the top of a mountain. The entire trip took us four hours. The end result was rewarding in it's beauty. To stand on the top of a mountain and take in the breath taking view was indescribable. Pictures and words can not begin to explain the magnitude of our victory.

This utterly challenging task brought on multiple feelings that I have come to experience through my journey within pole dancing. I found my hike up the mountain was quite the meditative journey. A sense of enlightenment filled me as I patiently persisted to my destination. Many hikers rushed up the mountain and passed us, but I was firm in my patience knowing that I too would reach the top in hopes of feeling refreshed rather than fatigued. During my hike, I was reminded of the expression, slow and steady wins the race. It's important that during a dangerous hike up a steep mountain we are slow and steady as to avoid rushing to the end of the trail and becoming careless which could lead to injury. This saying is also true in pole dancing. It's just as important to exercise with caution by exhibiting patience with new moves in order to avoid injury. Everyone progresses at a different pace, so find your pace and be patient with it. You will benefit in the end result.

Patience is such an important factor when hiking up a mountain or while developing skills as a pole dancer. With patience, I found that I remained persistent in my hike. I've remained persistent in my pole dancing. There have been many times I've wanted to give up because I didn't feel as though I could accomplish my goal. I didn't want to withstand the pain. While hiking up the mountain my muscles and feet began to ache. I took many breaks during my journey and allowed myself to listen to what my body was telling me. I can tell you my body was screaming at me that future hikes better have proper hiking attire- if not gear, at least comfortable shoes! I've come to situations in the past while pole dancing where it was necessary to take breaks and listen to what my body was telling me. Often it was the pain of a certain move or just simply over exertion and time to rest. Pain is a key element that can not go ignored. There are moments where pain is a necessary process and there are moments where pain is indicative of something more- a warning that must be given attention to avoid serious consequences. When pain arises, it's crucial we stop and take a moment to assess the pain before advancing on our journey.

I've often preached to my students what I refer to as the three “P's” of pole dancing; patience, persistence, and pain. All three are essential to the journey an exploration of the dance as an athletic form of exercise. It is important to remember them as a developing dancer. Be wary of them in your practise and you will benefit in your reward whether it is a breath taking victorious view or the beautiful and graceful dancer of your dreams.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Opening Your Mind is the Key to Your Passion

Pole dancing began like any other relationship in my life. Initially the beginning stages were filled with infatuation and moments where I couldn't get enough. I spent hours tirelessly watching pole dance videos online striving for any and all information I could possibly get. There were brief moments where other things in life got in the way, but when I was once reunited with my love, the affair was a full on engagement. Pole dancing has consumed me at times. It's forced me to find a balance in my life with work and other relationships. As the years have pressed on and my devotion to pole dancing has remained strong, I find myself needing to liven up my dance passion by exploring other forms of dance. I have learned this type of thought process holds true for any relationship we encounter in life. With our partners or spouses, finding something to fuel interest and introduce adventure into a relationship helps keep the relationship nurtured for continual growth. It should come as no surprise that I've even implemented dance into my relationship with my husband. We both thoroughly enjoyed taking ballroom dancing lessons together pre-wedding and have found ourselves a year later revisiting our lessons merely as a means of a pastime together. I'm a firm believer that once a dancer, always a dancer. I can appreciate the art of dance in all of it's forms now. When I began my love affair with pole dancing, I was closed to the idea of being interested in any other form of dance. I didn't want to know anything about ballet, ballroom dancing, belly dance, hoop dance, or burlesque. These forms of dance held no appeal to me. As I got deeper into my devotion to pole dancing as my chosen path of dance, I have discovered those other forms of dance have had their share of influences on pole dancing and what it has become. I'm learning through my own journey that exploring these other forms of the art are important for my own personal growth as a performer, student, and teacher. The lesson I have learned and would like to pass along is, never limit your knowledge. Allow yourself to maintain an open mind. You never know what piece of knowledge will hold the key to your passion.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sensuous Flow & Flexibility Workshop at Studio Venus

Yesterday was my first workshop at Studio Venus in Merrillville, Indiana.  The workshop went very well.  A total of nine ladies participated.  I began the workshop with my trademark sensual dance warmup.  I've learned through my teaching experiences that depending on class size, sometimes my lessons have to be catered to allow everyone the experience of the workout.  Instead of utilizing the poles due to the student to pole ratio exceeding the number of poles, I incorporated simple floor work moves that got everyone's muscles warmed up in order to avoid stretching cold muscles.  The ladies appeared to really enjoy learning some of the simple floor work moves.  I wanted to make sure with every move we were doing as a workout, that I pointed out to them that these moves can also be used as dance moves while dancing with the pole.  I try to make my workouts useful in the actual workout as well as serve as a pole fitness lesson.

Once we completed the sensual dance warmup- which lasted the duration of one song length, we began the relaxation and flexibility portion of the workshop.  Studio Venus has pink ambient lighting installed which helped set the mood of the workshop.  With a pink dimly lit room and relaxing music courtesy of Peter Kater's Element Series and a mix of Massive Attack, I began guiding the ladies through a series of stretches working from head to toe.  The group was very comfortable in sharing what they felt during the flexibility routine- many said that the routine hurt because of the tight muscles in the areas we were stretching but all agreed that even though it hurt, it still felt good to be doing the stretch.  I tried to incorporate props within the routine and explain to the ladies the beneficial uses of the props to assist in stretching and how they can use them at home in their own stretching regimen.

During the flexibility routine, I was posed a question that I had never considered before.  A student asked if during my stretching routine if I ever felt my body being detoxified.  I'd never actually taken time to process how my stretching routine made me feel.  I knew it was deeper stretching and a routine I compared to a form of Yoga, however my stretches were all catered specifically to increase flexibility for pole dancing. By focusing on areas I've learned from experience and research I was able to form the flexibility routine dancers desired for beautiful clean lines during various pole poses and maneuvers.  After considering the question for a moment (actually while in a downward dog pose) I admitted that I did feel rejuvenated after my classes or post stretching at home.  This rejuvenated feeling, as I have come to research further now while sitting in front of my computer, is what was meant by the term of "detoxification."

Detox is often thought of as ridding the body of unwanted waste or toxins.  To achieve a detoxifying effect within the body with stretching, as you stretch and move your body into different poses and deep breathing, your blood is moving and carrying essential nutrients and oxygen throughout your body to organs and muscles.  Your organs and muscles are fed by the nutrients and oxygen.  The experience of detoxifying the body ultimately leads to the feeling of rejuvenation post workout.  Any literature out there regarding yoga will explain detoxifying effects of the exercise.  The rejuvenated feeling is a welcoming feeling that is enjoyed.  Anything that is enjoyed we want to repeat because it makes us feel good.

That is the beauty of pole dancing and pole dancing for flexibility routines.  They make us feel good thus posing a discipline within us to continue the regimen.  I sincerely hope that my class awakened that feeling of rejuvenation within my students.  I encourage them all to proceed down the path of exploration within pole dancing in hopes that they too find a healthier being and the benefits of pole dancing as a discipline within their lives.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My First Aerial Yoga Experience

Today I attended my first aerial yoga class.  I have always been one to advocate exploring the endless possibilities of supplemental workouts-(supplemental as in regards to pole dancing being your primary workout.) Pole dancing is a total body workout.  It's important to explore other workouts to integrate a specific focus in order to condition your body's muscles differently and introduce new movements.  With supplemental workouts, you get the opportunity to work on strengthening areas you may feel are your weaknesses as well as give you a break from the pole and allowing you to awaken a fresh creative dance energy.  Adding a new supplemental workout also teaches you something new to incorporate into your routines.  Pole dancing is a not only a workout, it's a journey of constant learning.  Learning about yourself mentally and physically.

I got to attend a free hula hooping workshop a couple weeks ago and when I walked into the studio where the hooping event was taking place, I discovered silk rigging suspended from the ceiling.  This peaked my interest and a week later I signed up for my first aerial yoga class. The rigging used is what is known as a silk hammock.  The hammock acts as a cocoon to your body in certain maneuvers.  I found the class to range from being easy to strenuous, depending on your level of experience with other forms of working out.  The workout was focused on upper body and core strength.  There were moments where my muscles were shaking as I felt comfortable enough to allow myself to push my limits.  (I'd always been told shaking muscles are good so I figure I must have gotten a great workout!)  I thoroughly enjoyed taking my normal stretches and suspending them in the air for more intense variations of the stretches.  I even got to invert and utilize the silks for handstands or just hanging upside down in an inverted straddle.  My lesson was one on one due to last minute cancellations so I got a lot out of my class time.  This allowed me to fully explore the silks and concentrate on properly executing the various positions.  Overall, I'd highly recommend trying aerial yoga.  I felt like it brought my flexibility training to a different level and I look forward to attending future classes.

-Photo Courtesy of Mindful Movement Studio in Indianapolis, Indiana. The above image is the hammock rigging utilized during my class at Mindful Movement Studio

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Beginning of a Journey Through Words

I began Pole Harmony when I was at a cross roads in my life.  I'd left my first pole instructor teaching job due to personal reasons and was developing a relationship with another existing studio.  My options seemed distant at that moment but offered promise only in time.  My desire to teach and continue my journey as a dancer in the art of pole fitness was much stronger than my patience, therefore I created Pole Harmony Studio.  Pole Harmony was more about the prospect of continuing my passion- whether I'd actually teach students or not, the concept of having a beautiful home studio to call my own was much more pleasing and gratifying than whether or not I'd even be a success.  Pole Harmony became my solace, my place to just be.  To be in the moment and dance.  A romance once again rekindled after a devastating decision forced a momentary disconnect.  I went into the decision of creating this place within the comforts of my own home knowing I'd always have an open door for my friends who also wanted to dance through this wonderful journey of pole dancing with me.  I must say, it was one of the best decisions I've made.  So many opportunities have been presented since I created Pole Harmony.  Not only am I enjoying teaching my friends all the benefits of pole dancing for fitness, but I have found a new pole studio to continue to teach others within the community.  I feel as though I am truly at home amongst my new found pole sisters who are exquisite and beautiful dancers  within their own styles that reflect their wonderful personalities through their passion.  I couldn't have asked for a better path to have been led down in my pole journey.  I find myself evolving each day with the exploration of many different types of dance that I have been exposed to since I began working for the new studio.  With every bit of information I obtain, I have found great techniques to incorporate into my teachings.  I currently teach my trademark class Sensuous Flow & Flexibility at the local studio.  Sensuous Flow & Flexibility is a class I created that consists of stretching routines to focus on specific areas of the body to increase flexibility for pole dance performances.  Sensuous Flow & Flexibility also focuses on creating fluidity and flow within dance performances by incorporating a sensual dance warmup that consists of techniques that allow students to discover their flow.  After attending a workshop in the Chicago area at a pole studio close to my hometown, I was invited to come teach my Sensuous Flow & Flexibility class as a workshop.  I'm very excited to be sharing my class with my hometown studio and look forward to the workshop on September 24th.  I have also incorporated Sensuous Flow & Flexibility into my Pole Harmony services which are available via Skype.  I am very pleased with the progress of Pole Harmony in less than three months since I began business.  I look forward to many more opportunities as doors continue to open and hope you will join me as I continue to write about my experiences as my small business Pole Harmony Fitness evolves.