Friday, March 22, 2013

Exploring the world of Fitness Certifications

I've decided to pursue getting my AFAA Primary Group Exercise Fitness Certification.  I chose AFAA over other certification programs mostly because of the overall price and availability of affordable continuing education courses that are offered online.  There seems to be more online courses available through AFAA that appeal to what I'd like to utilize my certification for.  I think this is a smart move for me as it will make me more marketable to teaching fitness classes as well as open up opportunities.  I currently work in a nursing position where I have my summers off, therefore filling my off time with fitness classes only seems to be the ideal solution.  I'd like to expand my ability to teaching group fitness and taking it outside the pole studio.  Currently, I work with children and their parents as a Registered Nurse.  I have many opportunities to expand upon my role as a nurse by introducing physical fitness to the community where I work within.  Next month, I will be participating in a Family Fun Fitness event where parents and their children will participate in activities geared towards education about exercise and nutrition.  Just recently, I participated in a fitness fair sponsored by the hospital organization I work for advocating health and fitness.  I really enjoy getting out into the community and teaching children and their parents about the importance of integrating a healthy lifestyle for their over all well being.  Next month, I will also participate in a Health & Fitness Expo sponsored by one of the major news stations in our city.  The pole studio I work for has decided to participate in the event and I will be working the booth promoting fitness classes. 

For quite some time now, I've been considering whether or not to pursue my group fitness certification.  For the longest time I'd decided against moving forward with this process as I never foresaw myself teaching anything outside of pole dancing or aerial silks.  I have my pole dancing certification and for awhile I was completely content with just that.  As opportunities have been presented to me, I've decided it'd be in my best interest to seek out an additional certification that will broaden my capabilities in classes I'd really like to teach. 

When searching for a certification course, you want to make sure you are choosing one that meets your individual needs.  Some questions to ask are:
  • What is it you want to accomplish with your certification?  
  • What types of training do you want to pursue once completing your certification?  
  • How much is it going to cost you? 
  • How flexible is the program?
  • How reputable is the program?
It's important to research the available programs to make sure you are getting the best course for your needs.  With AFAA's certification course, I am able to do independent study at my own pace.  I have a year to complete the exam and obtain my certification.  I'm very self motivated when it comes to online at home study, therefore I felt the program offerings through AFAA were suitable to my needs.  I'll continue to update you all on my progress and overall thoughts about AFAA's program so stay tuned for future updates! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Thought Provoking Stance on Teaching...

I stumbled across a recent blog post about a teacher struggling with teaching young adults in a professional dance class atmosphere.  The tendency of structured dance curriculum is that it is focused.  There are aspects of the curriculum that are taught a certain way.  It is the responsibility of the teacher to incorporate motivational techniques to keep their students enriched with the curriculum.  To teach them in a way that the information you are providing reaches them.  I've never taught professional dance classes.  My main focus in dancing has always been aerial- a world of gray surrounded by dance disciplines that are often black and white.  I have always enjoyed tapping into my creativity when teaching pole or aerial.  There are so many ways to approach the curriculum of the aerial world that the main struggle one could argue is what approach works best for what situation.  The truth is, there are countless approaches for all the countless situations instructors will encounter.  It's all about reading the moment and having the ability to assess your student and situation to reach for what will work the best.  All this while making sure you clearly communicate the message you want your students to receive.  It can be challenging.  It also can be very rewarding.

Being an instructor is often portrayed as knowing it all.  This is not the case.  An instructor teaches what they know all while continuing to learn. An instructor is a teacher and a student.  After reading through the blog post that provoked my need to write this, I found myself contemplating the message the writer was trying to convey.  I found their message to be originated from frustration due to the lack of self motivation their students were displaying.  I've encountered situations in the past where students were frustrated all while I felt tapped out of my ability to offer anything resourceful. This left me feeling frustrated. I don't think my students have lack of self motivation- this is something I don't believe I've encountered past a beginner pole class.  I can relate to the writer in feeling their teaching isn't reaching.  My instincts told me I'd hit a wall and I decided to seek out another resource- a fellow instructor.  I'd like to say that this experience was an overall wonderfully positive one, however I can only elaborate on the situation to say that the intended result for the student was achieved. It's unfortunate a negative experience was encountered when the only intent was to help a student meet a goal that had been an ongoing struggle.  Something I took from that experience was knowing what resources I can depend upon in the future and feel comfortable relying on.

As an instructor we sometimes need to consult with our peers- or even our students, to develop a strategy that suits a challenging situation.  Overall, regardless of the outcome when pursuing a resolution, there will always be something to learn and build upon.  The world of pole is such an interesting one.  There are people so willing to lift others up and there are people so willing to cut each other down.  It's where business meets passion.  A combination that could be really great or really ugly- no in between.  Instructors get to have a front row seat to all the different faces the world of pole portrays.  As an instructor it's important to remember why you began teaching the form of dance you teach.  And to remember that you too once were a student, and still are.  Rely on your trusty resources when you feel at a standstill.  In the end, you and your students will benefit from a fresh approach.  Sometimes that is all that is needed. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

My Quest for the Perfect Athletic Shoe

Friday March 1, 2013: The Research Phase
I thought conducting a Google search for "Can you use running shoes for walking?" was a silly question to ask, but as the old saying goes- the only silly questions are the ones not asked!  Apparently, buying the wrong shoe for the wrong activity can have an impact.  So, can you wear running shoes for walking?  I found an informative article online provided by WedMd (which is a Health on the Net Foundation Certified site) that summarizes the importance of choosing the best work out shoe.  According to WebMD, walking shoes differ from running shoes.  It basically comes down to the physiology of walking versus running.  Walking involves primary impact in the heel area while running involves primary impact in the forefoot.  So when choosing an athletic shoe for the purpose of a specific activity, it's important to take into consideration the areas of the foot that will be embracing high degrees of impact.  These are the areas you want to assure your foot wear is supported to reduce impact stress which over time can lead to health complications affecting more than just the anatomical structures of the foot but the entire body. 

So in my quest to find the perfect shoe, I must consider the activity I'll mostly be encountering while wearing my new shoes.  I am not a runner.  That is one thing for sure.  I do not enjoy running and have no intention of doing it.  I walk every day on a level ground surface with my husband and dog.  We generally walk about 1.5 to 2 miles a day rain or shine (unless there's lightening, of course.)  I just recently purchased a manual treadmill (InMotion's T900) from which has an incline.  Walking a good fifty minutes on the manual treadmill is what I consider a vigorous work out and comparable to hiking up one of the many mountain trails in the Great Smoky Mountains.  As a dancer, I am prone to walking on the forefront of my foot.  These are all considerations I must take into account when determining the areas of support a shoe must have to suit my needs.

Saturday March 2, 2013: My Shoe Shopping Experience
This weekend, I went out on a quest to find this perfect shoe.  I went into this experience with the knowledge that I would be looking for a "walking" shoe.  The first store I went to was Dick's Sporting Goods.  After searching through the selection, a sales associate informed me that they do not sell walking shoes.  The next store I went to was Footlocker.  The sales associate at this store was unfamiliar with the difference between a walking and running shoe so he consulted with his manager.  Upon consulting with his manager, he came back and told me that they also do not sell just walking shoes.  He did recommend I try another store called the Rack Room.  I meandered on over to the Rack Room and the sales associate at this store was able to direct me to foot wear that would better accommodate my needs.  I was able to find only one pair of walking shoes at this store.  Upon browsing through the selections at this store, my husband pointed out an interesting looking shoe he believed might satisfy my desire for heel support.  The shoe he choose was not one I would have thought to try out.  Once I put this shoe on, I realized I'd found the shoe I was looking for.  After leaving to search in a couple other stores, I ended up returning to the Rack Room and purchasing those pair of shoes.  My husband even got himself a pair as they were having a Bogo sale.  The shoes I instantly fell in love with are Reebok's ZigTech ZigKicks in size 6.5 color gravel, yellow, and berry.
This shoe has received great reviews.  It feels supportive of my entire foot and the heel area is cushioned.  One reviewer even mentions it feels like they are walking on pillows, which is exactly the comment my husband made on our post purchase walk this evening.  The one thing I did notice with this shoe is it makes a squishy noise.  I felt like I was in the classic SEGA alien video game Toe Jam and Earl as they often made squishy noises as they walked (sorry old school 90s gamer analogy).  The noise isn't anything overly annoying and probably wouldn't have been something I'd noticed if my husband didn't say anything.  Overall, I'm very pleased with this shoe and I feel like my feet and my joints impacted by walking will benefit greatly from this purchase. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Favorite Things: Pole Edition

I recently joined a pole dancing bloggers group online and as part of being a member of the group, each month there is a selected blog theme created.  All bloggers that are members of the group can participate if they'd like.  The creator of the group notifies everyone of the selected topic and creates a blog hop- which is a list of all the blogs that participated in the month's chosen topic.  Since this month is my first experience with the monthly topic, I decided I'd go ahead and participate.  I'm really excited because the ideas that were given got my creative juices flowing and I really liked the idea of writing about a list of items that are pole related that I consider my all time favorites.  So here is a complete list of my top five recommended items/companies with a brief summary and review of each.  Enjoy!

1. Xpole 45 mm Chrome Xpert: What's a favorite pole related products list without a pole?  This pole is my all time favorite of all my poles I own.  I love the smaller diameter of this pole as well as the easy installation of the bottom loading setup.  I've always had good experiences with this company whenever I call about questions.  This pole in particular I purchased from the lovely Karol Helms and she actually installed it for me for the first time during her visit!

2. Leg Warmers from Target: Affordable, stylish, and functional- a staple in every dancer's studio bag.  I love wearing leg warmers prior to working out.  It's no secret pole attire can be revealing and at the beginning of your workout showing off all that extra leg can be chilly.  I love pulling these on until my body is nice and warm then being able to easily remove them when I'm ready.  Not to mention they look really cute!

3. Bendability Fitness' Stretching for Pole DVD starring Amy Guion: I LOVE this DVD.  This is always my top recommendation whenever anyone asks me a good reference for gaining more flexibility.  Amy Guion is notoriously known for her amazing pole skills and instructing at the highly acclaimed BeSpun Studio in Hollywood, California.  Amy has a back ground in dance and obtained her Bachelor's in Natural Science from Loyola Marymount University.  Stretching for pole contains stretches that are easy to do in a structured layout that allows for progressive results. 

4.Studio Veena: This website falls more into the pole related company category as it is a combination of a social community and online lesson service.  I recommend my own students to become members of this site because it is such an amazing and supportive community.  I actively participate in their pole chat Fridays as well as pole related discussions.  I think this is an overall wonderful online community for pole dancers of every level.  StudioVeena exposes dancers to a multitude of information that allows dancers to grow in their skills and techniques.  I have made so many great connections within the pole community through this site and have maintained my membership since first joining back in 2008.

5.  Pleasers Shoes: My all time favorite brand of pole shoes! I'm a Pleaser girl.  These shoes just fit right with my foot and feel comfortable throughout my work outs.  I've never bought anything else!