Friday, February 22, 2013

Work Place Wellness

Obviously I’m getting my dose of wellness in the physical sense as a fitness instructor.  However, being a fitness instructor is only a part time gig for me.  I also have a day job.  As much as I’d like to devote my entire existence to the world of pole, in reality, that is just not feasible for everyone.  For those of us who can’t make a career out of pole, we must have another form of income and for many of us; this is accomplished by a Monday through Friday nine to five.  For me, my day job used to be a night job.  Yes my friends, I’m a nurse.  Nursing offers you the ability for a wide range of positions.  I used to work in the most critical elements alongside the nation’s best physicians giving people a second chance at life through organ transplant.  Now a days, my day job is little more low key in the stress level and consists of primarily educating a vast pediatric population in a school community health clinic.  I work for one of the highest ranked hospitals in the state that focuses their care on the patient spiritually and as a whole.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to work within ministry health as it encompasses more attributes I’d longed for as a nurse rather than just treating the patient like another diagnosis.  

In addition to the quality care of patients, the organization also focuses on wellness of their employees.  I participate in a program offered through the organization called Virgin Health Miles.  This program lets participants get physically active while offering paid rewards.  In one year, I can earn up to $500.  Participants wear a pedometer to log daily steps.  Challenges are also available where a set number of steps must be acquired in a specified time frame.  Those completing challenges or uploading daily steps receive points.  The point system is divided into five levels.  The completion of the level allows the participant to receive a monetary award.  You can choose to bank your reward or cash out and start your journey over again.  The amount of physical activity you do and your diligence in recording in your activity journal also awards you points toward completing your one of five levels.  I find the program to be extremely rewarding and something that keeps me motivated.  

My goal for the program currently stands at banking enough money to purchase a purple kayak I found online through Bass Pro Shop.  A friend and coworker of mine used her money to buy her first fitness pole through Xpole.  I think overall the program is a wonderful idea.  I’m surprised more companies are not participating in these types of programs.  I’d never heard of these types of programs until I started working in my current position.  I’m hoping as time goes on more companies will offer these incentives for their employees.  As the saying goes, if you don’t have your health, you’ve got nothing at all!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Book Review: The Aerial Hoop Manual Volume 1

Aerial dancer and instructor, Rebekah Leach, just released her latest addition to her aerial manual series, "The Aerial Hoop Manual Volume 1."  This manual was recently made available for pre-order on her website The manual is co-written by Julianna Hane who is also an experienced aerialist in multiple forms of aerial apparatus.

The book is very well put together.  Aesthetically, the book is very pleasing to the eye.  The front of the manual shows a picture of Rebekah dancing with a single point hoop on a high gloss cover.  The colors of the book are themed with shades of purple- from the front cover and throughout the content with Rebekah and Julianna's outfits in their featured pictures.  The overall layout of the content is easy to read both literally and visually. The main content of the book begins with a disclaimer about the risks associated with aerial work, a specific table of contents, and a detailed note from the authors. 

The content of the book initially begins with the introduction.  I found this to be an important piece to the manual and worth reading for both instructors and students.  I find a lot of times there is an eagerness to skip through the book to get to the good stuff. Doing this would not benefit the reader in any way.  You must crawl before you walk, therefore it is important to keep in mind every bit of information from the introduction to the appendix is important to your progression as a student and instructor.  Just my opinion if you want to get the most out of this manual.

The introduction lays out how to best utilize the manual followed by terminology and movement theory.  The first chapter starts off with essential basics that are very similar to Rebekah's Beginner Aerial Silks Manual.  Important body positioning is introduced and for the reader familiar with the author's previous manuals, also includes extra information regarding conditioning and progressing from the ground to the air.  I found the text to be interactive, not only with the material being presented but the additional information provided such as where you can reference for further information on certain exercises for conditioning specific muscle groups.  I really liked this aspect and I did take full advantage of the suggestions. 

Another feature in this manual that really stood out and impressed me was the addition of introducing spotting technique.  As an instructor, I know the importance of spotting, however I find there is a lack of resources and education out there for proper implementation of technique.  This manual introduces the practice of spotting in resourceful ways that will benefit both student and instructor.  I would like to see more implementation of spotting within the aerial community as it is growing.  This is a safety standard highly experienced and trained aerialists have been implementing for years and with the addition of aerial arts in non-circus trained facilities, from my own observances, I feel like this is something that has become neglected.  This manual emphasizes starting with your hoop as low to the ground and gradually progressing as your body becomes ready.  With any aerial work, it is important you know your body and know your limitations.  I think this manual does an excellent job highlighting this concept.  

Overall, I think this manual is another wonderfully articulated piece full of information that really targets proper technique and progression.  I think this manual is a great tool for every aerialist's collection and highly recommend it.  It can be purchased at  The website also offers a sneak peek download of the index, table of contents, and a few random pages of moves.  Currently the paperback version is only available, however the website states there will be a pdf version of the manual in the future. Thank you Rebekah Leach and Julianna Hane for your hard work and dedication in putting this manual together.  I personally am grateful to have this information in the manual as I know it will benefit me and my future students greatly. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Exercising in High Heels...It's an Art Form- with the Right Shoe...

A new form of fitness trend is explored in the recent healthy living yahoo! article titled,  "Would You Exercise in High Heels?"  After reading the title, I said to myself, well of course! I do this already!  As a certified pole dance instructor, it isn't uncommon to have an occasional session in a pair of your favorite 6 3/4 inch heels.  However, after reading more into this article, I discovered this trend is not about the classic dance heels traditionally worn in a pole class- the author is referring to your typical work day heels.

In my earlier pole days, I have slipped on a pair of my dressy black heels.  Now I can look back and realize that act alone was very much a rookie mistake.  No one can successfully transition the desired movement in a pair of every day heels.  That is why there are heels designed specifically for pole dancing.  If you're unfamiliar with the differences, I encourage you to try on your favorite pair of pumps at the same time as you try on a dance heel.  Just to clarify, when I say "dance heel", I'm referring to the heels commonly worn by pole dancers or also known as stilettos.  My favorite brand of dance heels is Pleasers.  Although there are many different brands out there for dance heels, two of the most common heels are by Pleasers and Ellie.  For more information on what exactly are "dance heels" read my blog post Pole Shoes 101.

So back to the article, in my opinion, women engaging in physical activity while wearing heels not designed to add extra support to the ankle, arch, and delicate structure of the foot is completely insane.  This article not only points out the potential for injury to your feet but also mentions the risks associated to other areas such as your knees and your back.  So when you're eying up that pair of killer heels and thinking it might be a savvy idea to take them for a spin around the pole, make sure to ask yourself whether or not those shoes are intended for more than walking and looking cute.  Your future feet, knees, and back will thank you.