Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pole & Aerial: When you're no longer progressing with frustration at an all time high

We've all been there at one point or another.  When you suddenly feel like you've hit a brick wall in your training physically, creatively, and emotionally.  It could be circumstantial- you've lost your training space, something changed in your training space that is challenging you (went from poling on a 45 back to a 50 for reasons you cannot control), your real life schedule changed and you can't train as much or often as you like, or for no particular life changing event at all; whatever the reason, it can be extremely frustrating to battle out whatever it is that is forcing you into a hypothetical brick wall.

 You may be asking yourself, where do you go from this point on? First thing to do is to take this time to self reflect. What exactly it is that is happening to make you feel like you're no longer progressing?  Is there a particular skill that you have been struggling to achieve or used to be able to do that you no longer can?  Do you know what changed if you were able to do the skill before?  Often times its as simple as walking away from training a particular skill and working on something else then coming back to the skill later.  When your frustration isn't as simple, sometimes looking at the situation differently can help you work towards a solution.  Are there specific areas of the body that need to be conditioned for this skill to be pulled off?  Look into other activities that will train surrounding muscle groups that will assist the main targeting muscles your particular skill originates from. 

Other areas of focus to rejuvenate your training could include challenging yourself by creating little games. 
  • Hold poses for a breath count of five. 
  •  Repeat combos or sequences for a certain number of times without taking a break starting with initiating all moves from your favorite side for the first run through then starting over again initiating all moves from your non-favorite side. 
  • Make flash cards for moves that you know well and blindly pick four cards and challenge yourself to seamlessly connect all tricks or poses in the order the cards were drawn. 
  • Alpha Pole or Alpha Aerial. Practice skills using the alphabet by the first letter of the move or trick's name.  Create in the air combos using just skills with one letter or consecutive letters based on the alphabet. 
  • Hold poses for as long as possible on spin pole. My favorite is the chair spin challenge where you hold the chair pose while your pole is on spin for as long as possible.  Repeat on your non-dominate side. You can challenge your friends or classmates to participate in this one too.
Creating self challenges can be motivating as well as beneficial to implementing conditioning certain areas of your body that you may not have been targeting by relentlessly working on specific skills.  There are tons of challenge ideas out there that can help you out of a rut or change your focus to alleviate your state of frustration. 

Still no break through moment of clarity?  Ask a friend, classmate, or turn to the wonderful online world of fellow pole and aerialists.  Post a video of your attempts to receive constructive criticism for working through exactly what you're struggling with.  If you prefer to problem solve independently, develop a plan of execution for the skill.  Map out in a pole or aerial journal exactly where every hand and foot is supposed to be.  Draw diagrams, use clock face directions, or whatever else that helps you to visually and mentally comprehend the movement.  Film your practice and review as many times as it takes.  Review your plans while reviewing your video.  Sometimes certain skills take more than just watching someone do it and doing it yourself.  You may find yourself in a full out problem solving process that requires breaking things down as much as possible before breaking through your barrier of frustration.  I often use this process and along the way it helps me discover what specific needs I have to train to get to my final product.  Pole and aerial is often described as a journey.  If you've never struggled and worked through it, then you'll never fully appreciate the journey.  I have to say that systemically breaking down movement has become one of my favorite things about pole and aerial.  There is nothing more rewarding than finding that missing puzzle piece and having the end result come together. 

If you're still feeling like no matter what you do nothing is working, just remember why it was you fell in love with pole or aerial in the first place.  We all came to doing pole or aerial for a variety of reasons but we all stayed because we love it.  Recently community pole dancer and studio owner, Alethea Austin was interviewed for Pole Parlous Podcast Episode 9 and discussed pole burnout.  Her ideation on the topic can be summed up in one very inspirational quote that I will end this blog piece on:

"What people are doing now doesn't really matter to me.....I appreciate it. I like watching it. But I'm gonna move the way that I move."

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