Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Review: Vertical Athlete: Fundamentals of Training Pole Fitness and Dance

ACE certified Personal Trainer, PoleMoves certified Pole Instructor, and Neuromuscular integrative action white belt, Bethany Freel recently released her 2013 book, Vertical Athlete: Fundamentals of Training for Pole Fitness and Dance.  I purchased this book from The book consists of 114 pages and 5 chapters of content written in the form of research based articles complete with continuing education review questions and references at the end of each chapter.  The contents are as follows:
  • Chapter 1: Cultural Influences on Training (page 9)
  • Chapter 2: Sports Physiology (page 15)
  • Chapter 3: Principles of Training (page 33)
  • Chapter 4: Overtraining (page 45)
  • Chapter 5: Training Program Design (page 83)
I thought the book was well written in a basic enough terminology that included integral aspects of the necessary knowledge athletes should know regarding training.  The book covers essentials that potential competitors wanting to progress towards higher levels in their training should be knowledgeable about.  Freel discusses the societal norms within the sport and clarifies the risks athletes are subjected to in traditional training.  This book does a great justice at dispelling the ignorance that exists in the competitive culture of the pole community.
Because this book’s main focus is on training, the content regarding overtraining is of utmost importance.  Chapter 4 begins with defining the term overtraining.  Freel further defines the term in relation to physiological, psychological, and performance effects related to pole fitness.  To further support the effects of overtraining, Freel discusses the numerous factors that lead to overtraining.  I felt like this list of factors was a real eye opener as I have witnessed many fellow pole dancers training for competitions exhibit behaviors that Freel discusses as high risk behavior for serious injuries.  By educating yourself as an athlete in pole fitness, you can prevent injury that can complicate your lifelong progression.  After all, isn’t your ultimate goal to progress injury free?  The culture of pushing yourself to be better faster is a dangerous culture.  Freel defines these issues that are rampant in the pole world.  I hope more people read this book.  Instead of pushing ourselves beyond safe limitations, wouldn’t it be better for our culture to continue to shift towards embracing a safe progression of training?

In conclusion, I recommend pole fitness athletes and instructors to read this book.  You may feel as though some of the literature is redundant- especially if you possess any number of fitness certifications.  However, even though much of the content was review, I did feel as though I learned a lot that I can integrate into my own knowledge base for teaching my own students.  As the pole community continues to evolve, I hope that more research based literature becomes available.  It’s through education that the culture of aerial dance can effectively and safely evolve.  For additional information on Vertical Athlete: Fundamentals of Training for Pole Fitness and Dance, visit:

Freel, B. (2013). Vertical Athlete: Fundamentals of Training for Pole Fitness and Dance. Poler North: Anchorage, Alaska.

Monday, October 14, 2013

PDBA October Blog Hop: The Sanitization of Pole Dance: Trick or Treat

Me circa early 2011 at Pole & Body
What do you think of when you think pole dancing?  More often times than not, I get the stereotypical responses from people about pole dancing and the adult entertainment industry.  The vast majority of people don't realize there is a whole world out there of men and women athletes that train hard for pole dancing competitions and elite world titles.  It's a growing industry that is not restricted to it's exotic night club origins.  There's a real athletic and highly respected industry of pole dancing that is making head way towards the Olympics.  Debating the reasons why or why not and for or against are an entirely different discussion all together.  However, one of the key elements in the various Olympic debates has been the "sanitization of pole." 

What does "sanitization of pole" mean?  PDBA board member and fellow blogger, Sheena states, "When some people talk about “sanitizing pole”, they are referencing the need to take the “sexy” out of pole (October, 2013)."  It is no secret that pole dancing in the United States has origins within the adult entertainment industry thus explaining the high volume of misconception that still exists when people respond to the mention of pole dancing in such manner.  Or the shock many display when they find out children are participating in pole dancing. 

There has been a huge debate among the pole community regarding the movement of many groups who prefer not to incorporate sexiness in pole.  Many feel that the sexiness is what sets pole dancing apart from other forms of fitness and dance.  My personal stance on this matter remains open minded.  I feel as though dance is such a versatile form of expressive movement that no matter what form the dancer decides to create, all is equal.  I tell my students there is no right or wrong way to move your body in pole dancing.  The only thing we should be concerned about is technique and form.  The possibilities within your own personal realm of movement are endless.  These possibilities breed creativity for you to explore the different forms of dance.  All of which have made their way into the world of pole. 

Many pole dancers have extensive back grounds in various forms of dance.  Dance exposure is important as it fuels one's own style and character of movement.  I never took dance classes prior to pole dancing.  When people ask me my dance back ground, I say pole dancing.  It wasn't until I felt I needed to enrich my own practice of pole dancing that I decided to participate in ballet and modern dance.  Understanding other forms of dance have given me a deeper appreciation and understanding of the way I prefer to move as a dancer.  It has also helped me gain insight into the movement of my students as well. 

So when it comes to the removal of sexy in pole?  I think it's a personal choice.  Some people want to continue to honor the sexiness they have always known as pole dancing while others want to tap deeper into the athleticism of the sport.  Whatever your decision, it's important to find balance and acceptance within yourself as well as a willingness to explore all the options presented to you.  Your practice will be more enjoyable and better for you in the long run. 

Blog Hop is a monthly blog topic involving pole dancing blog contributors from around the world actively involved in the online Pole Dancing Bloggers Association.  Each month we write our perspective about a given topic pertaining to the pole dancing community.  To read fellow Pole Dancing Bloggers Association October Blog Hop entries: click here.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October Playlist Picks

It's been requested per my students that I write a blog featuring some of the music selections from the class playlists.  For those of you that don't know, Pole Harmony offers a unique dance fitness class experience by only playing local independent musicians.  We've partnered with a local online radio station, Indy In-Tune, which plays only local independent musicians.  This concept at Pole Harmony basically started with my overwhelming frustration with local mainstream radio.  I can't count how many times I've been driving somewhere listening to my radio and a song comes on and I change the station to find that same song on another radio station then change to yet another radio station only to find the same song playing again! Now don't get me wrong, I do really like popular songs.  However, after the one hundredth time I've heard that song in an hour, it does have a tendency to get played out. As a business owner, taking these same pop culture hit songs and bringing them into my classes after they've been overly played offers no real inspiration for my students to explore within their dancing.  I want music to create an experience for my students by giving them something fresh to listen to and feel out while they dance.

Another perk to offering local independent artists in my classes falls into the category of strategic marketing.  I'm giving artists a platform for promoting their work to an audience that is using their music for what it was intended for: dance. Many of Pole Harmony's students are new to the Indianapolis area.  By playing local music in class, many women are being exposed to Indianapolis' local music scene.  Not only do women come to pole dancing for fitness classes to get in shape, many women come for the social experience.  I hope that another experience my students enjoy is the sense of community my business is all about and by learning about local artists, many will become fans and get to enjoy the local shows from making a connection through dance.  Aside from business motives, I have personal reasons for wanting to reach out to the local music scene.  Growing up, my family was heavily involved in local music.  It was a way of life that brings back such fond memories for me.  I believe local musicians deserve the exposure and I've found many are happy that their music is out there being heard in a different venue and by a different audience in a fitness studio. 

With all that said, I decided to compile a list of my top three picks for this month from the class playlist.  Many of these songs are what I've had the most feedback from and students asking the most about. I've also included links for download/purchase of this month's selections.  
  This month's top three music picks are:

1. Michael Miller's "Dance" featuring Zacaria James

2. Jessica Phenix "Dreams"

3. Bashiri Asad "Running on Empty" : Click to Listen and Purchase on iTunes

We are always looking for unique sound to add to our current eclectic mix of danceable tunes.  If you or someone you know is a local independent musician wanting to contribute your music to our class playlists, please email

Want to take Indy In-Tune Radio on the go? Download iphone/android app SHOUTcast Radio to your phone and listen to local music where ever you want.