Thursday, February 27, 2014

What it means to truly dance with the pole.

This past week has been extremely stressful.  Over a week ago, I had to race back home to Chicagoland for a family emergency.  I was told things weren't looking good for my Dad.  I arrived post 3 hour drive five minutes before Dad returned from a procedure with grim news.  I knew from the look on his face that things were about to change.  Dad's heart was in bad shape- he needed a balloon pump placed in his heart and was transferred to ICU where he waited 3 days to have open heart surgery.  On Wednesday February 19, 2014, Dad underwent a roughly six hour surgery.  Seeing your parent in the ICU with a ventilator hooked up to tubes can be a traumatic experience.  I also work as a Registered Nurse and have seen my fair share of people in critical care.  I've never really known someone personally that has gone through the experience so I never really knew what their level of awareness was while I took care of them.  Dad was alert relatively quickly and was using his finger to spell out his requests on the bed.  He has since been released from the hospital and is recovering.

Taking care of the studio and teaching classes while working a full time job as a nurse had to be put off for an entire week.  It was nice to come back to teaching and get back into the daily routine.  I will still be traveling back and forth to help out back home with my family, but during the week I must continue to work and operate my health clinic and maintain the studio.  I think I felt a renewed appreciation this week for dance as I let loose and enjoyed dancing with my students.  It has been a huge stress relief and something I don't think I could give up easily.  As life begins to change- as it always does, we find ways to adapt.  I've had to really think about some major life changes lately and what direction I feel things need to go.  I have been grateful for having the luxury of being able to maintain a relationship with my pole through all of this.  And eternally grateful for a supportive husband. 

Back to the main reason why I'm writing this blog post.  Throughout the past eight months of owning and operating Pole Harmony, I can now say I've had my fair share of ups and downs.  Through all these circumstances, I've danced.  I've had to dig deep at times to find my usual chipper self to present to students who may not know what is going on in my life but I've managed to come through each class feeling rejuvenated and most times, on top of the world.  A student told me the other day in class that she doesn't mind when it's just the two of us in class.  She said, "This is my escape." I have to agree as I am finding peace through Pole Harmony.  The studio is my sanctuary.  Where I feel safe and can dance it out.  Whatever I need to figure out in my life or if I need a pick me up- I dance it out.  As I write this, I stumbled across a recent online forum topic regarding pole dancing and healing.  I can honestly say that pole dancing has been a useful tool for me through healing physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I'm at the point in my life with my dancing where my body craves it.  I crave dancing for myself and I crave dancing and teaching others.  This moment and every moment like it, is what it means to truly dance with the pole. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

PDBA February Blog Hop: Pole Dancing and Men

It shouldn't come as any surprise that the number of men that participate in pole dancing for fitness is on the rise.  I get numerous calls from men wanting to take classes at my studio.  Currently, my studio only offers classes for women.  There are many reasons why I've chosen to keep my business as a women's only business.  One reason being, I don't know how to teach men how to dance.  Just as I wouldn't know how to teach children how to pole dance, I have adapted my teaching and studies to women and how our bodies move.  After all, I am an expert in women's bodies- I am one. 

Not knowing how to teach men can be met with varying arguments.  I understand some men don't mind learning the same movement that I teach women.  This brings me into the next reason for my decision- not every female student is going to be comfortable taking pole classes with men or admitting that they aren't comfortable with coed classes.  Some women don't mind and some do.  I get enough women coming to class feeling apprehensive and not even wanting to watch themselves dance.  I can only imagine how those same women coming to a coed class for pole dancing would feel.  Most would feel as though they are being judged (although in my experience I know the men taking pole classes are not judging them in any way), the reality is, you can't simply tell someone they're not being judged when they've already convinced themselves in their mind. 

The final reason, my studio is in what most would consider the conservative Midwest.  Men taking and teaching pole dancing classes is not the same here as it is in Los Angelos and New York City.  I think the trend is much more accepting for cities on the east and west coasts.  There's higher populations and a much more fast paced lifestyle.  Theatrics and dance studies are more prevalent in those areas thus breeding men and women that are much more diverse in the movement arts. 

Although it's probably not going to be a popular stance that I have taken, many people will disagree why I don't open my business up to men.  In the bigger picture, I am just looking out for what is best for my business.  I operate in a shared space with limited days and hours.  The class days and times that I do have must be used wisely in order for my business to succeed.  There hasn't been a huge demand for men taking classes in my area so for me to create a class specifically for men on an already tight schedule, it would hurt my business more than help it.  There just isn't a demand for men's pole dancing classes here. 

I think this is changing.  I do get quite a few calls every once in awhile.  I know other studios in the area have tried to conduct classes for men, however I have yet to see this become successful locally.  I know there is a huge population of great men out there in the pole community and by no means do I want to think about where they would be if the studios that opened their doors to them had shut them out.  I know one man in particular who travels great distances throughout the Midwest to participate in events and attend classes.  Social media has been a great outlet for these men seeking to learn pole as a fitness alternative.  Just as YouTube was for women six years ago, social media has become a great way for men to network and create a community for themselves. 

I do look forward to the future of pole to continue to evolve and hope that one day there will be a successful men's class here in Indianapolis.  Pole dancing is an amazing hobby to embrace as it is always changing. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog piece. Please contact us for more information or inquiries about participating in a local men's pole dancing fitness class.

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 February Blog Hop entries: Click Here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Instructor Perspective: The Aerial Diaries. Instructor Turned Student.

Day 1 Tuesday 8:10 PM Session
My new beginner series has begun!  There was a slight hiccup in getting this class started due to weather.  The first class was a one on one experience and the remaining students are making up their missed class.  I perceive this as a good thing.  It's letting me see the necessary revisions as this first group has officially become my trial group.  I feel as though I too am a student.  My students are teaching me just as much as I'm teaching them.  I look forward to the makeup session this Sunday and will write more based on my assessment of the class.

Day 1 Sunday 1:00PM Makeup Session
A few students missed their first class due to a weather cancellation.  I offer occasional makeup sessions during open studio.  The open studio session ended up consisting of three classes being made up at the same time.  It was a little chaotic but I was able to address everyone and go over all the essential points of the curriculum.  The aerial silks students required more attention and one on one since it was completely new material for them.  I started with having them work on their climbs and some shoulder and postural conditioning exercises.  After they worked on those exercises, we moved on for some review of foot locks then we began integrating moves that utilized the foot lock.  The class finished with some basic extra conditioning moves appropriate for beginners and concluded with a group cool down.  I did take note that the students were physically exhausted by the end of the session, therefore they received a good workout.  What I learned- and this is something I've observed in both pole and aerial- is the need to focus strongly on shoulder engagement.  When I cue students to engage these muscles appropriately, I have noted that both my pole and aerial students are then successful in performing the desired movement.  Consistent reminders are a necessity.

This concludes my evaluation of week 1.  I'm excited to see this program take off and work more with students as I teach them and learn from them at the same time.  Thank you for reading my journey.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Let's Talk About Knees

A delicate area of the body that is used for practically every form of movement in the dance arts.  Yes, I'm referring to the knees.  In pole dancing, we do a variety of moves that involve applying pressure to the knee area.  In my classes, I teach my students how to avoid creating uncomfortable bruising and sore knees during floor work and pole moves, however even the best of instructors can agree that no matter how many times you preach the proper technique, you will still find many students don't have the necessary strength to properly distribute their weight every time they attempt to implement said proper technique.

There are tricks we teach to increase strength in areas that assist dropping pressure into your knees.  The whole point of coming to specialized dance classes is to learn these techniques.  I don't expect my students to walk in the door fully capable of initiating these techniques right away.  They take practice which over time builds the necessary strength that will allow them to effortlessly experience movement while protecting their precious knees.  Protecting your knees is extremely important for the longevity of your dancing career.  This is why at Pole Harmony, we have made it our mission to provide safety measures for our students when it comes to going the extra length of promoting body awareness and safety. 

Through our dedication for promoting body awareness and safety for the knees we have done research on exercises that focus on conditioning stronger muscles surrounding the knees and invested in equipment that will fully protect our student's knees during floor work or movement that may be stressful to the areas of and surrounding the knees.  We hope by implementing protective devices into our practice will create an environment that continues to be accepting of personal safety.

Interested in investing in your own pole dancing specific knee protectors?  Mighty Grip, a pole dancing fitness equipment distributor, currently sells knee protection pads with tack and open back to allow dancers to enjoy an effortless and painless floor work to pole transition.  The knee protectors come in a variety of sizes based on height and weight.  At Pole Harmony, we currently utilize Mighty Grip Knee Protectors in our classes for students that want the extra protection for their knees as they develop the necessary strength and technique for protecting their knees in dance.  We have found these knee protectors to be of high quality in their durability and added the desired level of comfort for protection in all of our floor work moves in our Pole & Flow, Sensuous Flow & Flexibility, and Pole Foundations series classes. For more information on purchasing these knee protectors, please visit Mighty Grip's online distribution catalog