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.