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 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

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.