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.

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