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.