Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Rape Culture and Pole Fitness

I don't usually talk about issues that are in depth as such as rape culture.  I've had friends in the pole community that have posted about this issue in the past and I've never really fully understood what it meant.  I knew the definition of rape culture but I've never really thought much of it and how I have experienced examples of this issue in my own life.  I have always just done my own thing, oblivious to anyone else's feelings about what I choose to do with my life unless it directly impacted me or those I share my life with directly.  I'm constantly immersed within a community of fellow pole dance enthusiasts that my sharing my progress and accomplishments via social media doesn't really register to me as offensive or something I should be concerned about.  We are all doing it in the pole community.  Social media has been the catalyst to our form of dance that has fueled its growth both artistically and to the masses of willing participants.  I often look to social media outlets for inspiration in my own practice.  It's just what we do. 

Yesterday, a long time friend privately messaged me voicing their concern for my sharing on my personal (non-pole) social media account.  I do have more than one social media account for this particular site.  One was for my family members and friends that are nonperformers and the other is from when I owned my pole and aerial fitness studio where I befriended fellow pole community members and former students. Prior to having a special account designated to my studio alter ego, I shared everything on my personal account. Lately, I have been sharing a bit more than I used to on my personal account.  I have everything linked to my personal account so it has just been easier to click the share button and it directly shares to that particular account.  Back to the message I received from a long time friend.  This person messaged me a story about someone they knew whose wife was sharing her fitness videos and was kidnapped, raped, and beaten by a husband of one of her friends.  Now, I appreciate my friend's concern or passive-aggressive way of telling me I'm over sharing my hobby and at one point my career choice.  It struck a chord in me deeply as I realized that this warning for my safety was exactly the type of situation that defines rape culture. 

Rape Culture: In feminist theory, rape culture is a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. The sociology of rape culture is studied academically by feminists, but there is disagreement over what defines a rape culture and as to whether any given societies meet the criteria to be considered a rape culture. (Wikipedia definition, 2016).

Simply put, the fact that I am sharing videos and pictures of myself dancing or performing tricks on a pole is setting myself up to become a victim because pole dancing has sexualized origins that society perceives only as sexual in nature.  I am a woman who pole dances and I put it out there, therefore if I become a victim then it was my fault.  Unfortunately in 2016 this archaic way of thinking still exists.  I'm offended that anyone would feel the need to warn me of the dangers I am setting myself up for.  If anyone views my fitness journey as sexual, then that is their problem, not mine.  I am working out and engaging in a healthy lifestyle as I see fit.  I don't have the discipline to work out under traditional boring means.  I would never work out if going to the gym and using the treadmill or whatever it is people that go to the gym do using machines and staring at each other or listening to their ear buds do.  I dance because it is expressive, therapeutic, and fun.  I enjoy sharing my progress with my parents on my social media.  I was never athletic growing up, I like to think my Mom and Dad are proud that I have found something that is healthy for me and how strong I have become by learning how to lift myself up in the air when I never had any proper dance or gymnastics lessons as a kid.  I am surrounded by supportive people in my life that don't shame me for my passion.  I guess I have been very lucky to have such open minded people that would never try to tear me down by body shaming or gender shaming me because (insert sarcasm) I am a woman, therefore I am weak and susceptible to evil men who want to have their way with me. 

I don't feel like I should censor my lifestyle choices and who I am because someone out there in the world may be psychotic.  Have you watched the news lately?  It's full of stories of people acting out for far more littler things than someone's fitness videos online.  I can't be the scapegoat for someone else's actions.  I refuse to let fear drive me into a cave where I must consider my every move or else. Maybe its the eternal optimist within me but I refuse to let what others say or feel have any power over how I choose to live my life.  I can't read people's minds.  I don't know if something offends them and frankly, I really don't care. If you don't like what I do or post online then unfriend or block me.  I will not lose any sleep over it.  Stop thinking women can't take care of themselves because they are women.  Women are not a superior gender.  That is only a thought like the many thoughts that exist but are not substantial in any way.  I will not apologize for who I am, how I feel, how I act, or what I believe.  If it isn't your thing, then don't make it a part of your world.  Unfollow and move on. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review: Polefit Nation 5 Day Challenge

I recently posted a blog about at home pole workout programs and decided to check out some of the free trials that are available out there to get a feel for how the overall lessons would be in quality.  I came across a set of conditioning exercises that target particular areas of the body that would benefit both on and off the pole.  The exercises are a part of the Polefit Nation 2016 5 Day Challenge.  To get started, visit the link http://www.pfn5daychallenge.com/ and enter your email.  For five days, a new video will be emailed to you in your inbox.

I actually watched all the videos in one sitting.  The exercises could be done as one full routine or if you're a beginner you may enjoy doing a little bit every day until you're more comfortable with the individual exercises.  Below is a quick break down of each day and the areas of focus:

Day 1: Abdominals
Day 2: Arms
Day 3: Legs
Day 4: Abdominal Obliques
Day 5: Abdominals/Legs

I really like this challenge as it is reminiscent of my Body by Pole/Body by Aerial classes taught at my studio Pole Harmony. The exercises are easy to do and you do not have to have a pole.  The only exercise that utilizes a pole is Day 4 and you can easily modify the exercise by using a chair or balancing using a wall.  For those wanting to really challenge themselves, the exercises can be performed in a circuit and repeated for three rotations. 

The video quality is very good and the instructor speaks clearly with good directional cues in each of the videos.  So grab your pole journals, take notes, and try out this challenge to build the strength you'll need for all those future pole workouts. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Home Poling Options

Wow! Times have certainly changed! The various options out there for home polers has come a long way.  Back when I started pole dancing for fitness, my only option was YouTube videos of other women like me poling at home.  I would sit for hours watching videos and pausing, rewinding, playing back ever so carefully to inspect every detail of a dancer's movement.  Instructional videos were limited to DVDs until I discovered my first online pole community and instructional lessons. My first online lessons were very basic- a good foundation that I was able to build off of by supplementing over the years with various DVD series and the trial and error approach in front of a large mirror.  Teaching was also a huge contributing factor to breaking down movement and understanding dance concepts and how my body could move in different ways.  All of this helped me build a style of dancing I had grown to become pleased with.  A style that years ago when I started I only dreamed of ever being able to dance like.  As pole dancing has evolved, so has the style of movement.  As a dancer, I crave new ways to move that I can fine tune to my body's capabilities and make it unique and my own.  That is one of the things I really love about pole.  There is always something new happening.  The current trend is really exciting as we're embracing all these unique forms of creating shapes and transitions using both pole and floor.  It really is an exciting time in the pole community to see how our form of dance is changing.  I've been exposed to various options now that I am returning to my home poler roots and wanted to share a few of my own discoveries for others who may be embarking on this fitness journey or looking for something to spice up their current practice. 

Where it all began for my online lessons.  This is my first online studio as a home poler.  I joined the community back in 2008- just a few months shy of the website's launch.  The website is run by Julie Brand (aka Veena) and her husband Chris (aka Webmaster). I highly recommend the lessons here for beginner through intermediate level polers.  There are advanced moves that are not too complex that require strength.  The program is great for building your strength in an organized manner that allows you to practice at your own pace.  Over the years the community has branched out to include other forms of exercise such as aerial hammock, hula hooping, chair dance, and aerial hoop.  There are also strength and flexibility routines for both on and off the pole.  When I think of StudioVeena, the term foundation comes to mind.  The lessons offer great instruction which is something dancers should study well to become proficient in their form for injury prevention.  Membership is free. The lessons are part of the paid subscription plans.  Members can access lessons for one month for $20, sixty days for $35, or one year for $99.  Yearly memberships are often on sale throughout the year and members can purchase a yearly membership for as low as $79 when offered. 

Owned and operated by Florida native Allison Sipes, this site is an instructional pole and chair online lessons website.  Lessons include a variety of moves and routines for all levels including warm ups and cool downs, dance moves, floor work and transitions, toning and strengthening exercises, choreographed routines, splits and flexibility training, and static and spin pole instruction.  Lessons also include a variety of guest pole instructors from well know pole dancers within the community.  Members get a free 3 day trial and can get one month of access to lessons for $19.99 or three months access for $34.99, and a year access for $99. 

Subscription Lesson Channels
  • AMD (AnneMarie Davies)
  • Body & Pole
  • StretchIT tv
  • Vertie tv
A variety of lessons via subscription offer prices as low as $7.99 for a full week access to particular lessons to $24.99 for six months access to bundle lessons.  There's a variety of lessons available for all levels of pole and aerial workouts. 

Cleos Rock n Pole
Australian pole dancer Cleo the Hurricane offers online lessons for the more intricate levels of floor work, transitions, and tricks on both the pole and chair.  Monthly subscription allows members access to tutorials, online challenges, and an online community for questions or sharing.  Monthly subscription is $24.95 a month or $199.95 for a year access.

***Updated 3/19/2016 10:30PM***

Pole Fit Nation Academy
It seems I'm constantly discovering new options online for those who are wanting to do all their learning at home.  Pole Fit Nation studio offers an online studio created by Jane Wilson.  Lessons include pole workouts, body conditioning, all level pole skills, and an introduction to a striptease series.  Monthly access is $24.95 or lifetime unlimited access for a one time fee of $149. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Update: Back at it in 2016

It's been awhile since I have posted anything on this particular blog.  For awhile, I was posting all content on my studio website blog. In October 2015, I decided it was time to retire as a pole studio owner and pursue other personal interests.  I sold my studio space which was rebranded to allow myself to maintain the Pole Harmony brand I had worked hard over the years building up to establish.  Being I wanted to maintain my pole blogging affiliation under the Pole Harmony name, I decided it was best not to sell my brand in the transition.  So here I am, former pole studio business owner, renewed home poler, writer, and fitness enthusiast reclaiming my little piece of the internet through my thoughts and feelings towards all things pole and aerial fitness. 

Where am I now? In this journey, I am at a place in between.  I'm wrestling with a confined space in an over 100 year old house where I can confidently create as my pole room.  When I bought this inner city historic home, I had a studio full of poles that I never thought I'd see the day where that luxury would cease to exist. That's the problem with the here and now, rarely do we consider tomorrow.  There are options with my current space, unfortunately those options do come with a price.  I'm trying to figure out what would be the best option to pursue for both now and in the future.  I thought I had it all figured out and would use my Platinum Stages 50mm Star Stand Alone in the area I have claimed for my pole and after gathering every piece from my detached garage attic and carrying everything across the courtyard and up a long flight of stairs and down the long hallway to the furthest wing of my house as I went to place the pole into the stage for the final piece of setup, I was met with the pole into the ceiling and no way to place the too tall pole into the stage.  I considered cutting the pole but decided against it as the Platinum Stages SSA stages are no longer an item the company produces or sells parts to so I felt it was not a smart idea to destroy a pole by cutting it down to size.  Now I have my 45mm X-Pert pole in the place where my stage once stood.  I hear creaky floorboards under me and fear that its just a matter of time before the pole pops a floorboard and potentially sends me through the floor into the living room below.  Probably not likely but still a fear I'm not willing to put to test.  Not to mention my fears of the ceiling being pushed up and creating structural damage to the aged support of my home.  Again, probably an irrational fear but really something I'm not wanting to find out otherwise. 

I decided to sell my stage pole and I'm looking into purchasing an xstage from xpole so I can get the appropriate pole for the height I am working with.  This will also let me have the freedom to move my pole area outside or in the garage if my current pole space needs to be converted back into a useable room.  Another option I have considered is building a portable dance floor to place under my current 45mm X-Pert and just use the pole I have.  This option leads me back to my current state of hesitation when it comes to using said pole.  I am hoping to have this pole space situation worked out in the next couple weeks.  I am really missing not having the ability to dance at home.