Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Home Pole Starter Kit

A question I was often asked when I owned my pole studio by my students that wanted to progress in their practice was "what type of pole should be purchased for home?"  There are three widely known and accessible pole distributors in the U.S.. When buying a home pole you want to be sure you are buying a worthy investment and doing the necessary research about each brand and distributor before making your purchase.  What makes a worthy investment?

First things first- safety.  Is the pole safe?  Can you go upside down? Can you slide down the pole without cutting your legs or other body parts up on pieces of metal at the seams?  Will the pole stay in place when you add momentum to spins?  These are just a few of the many safety considerations you must take into account when making the investment to purchase a home pole.

Another factor you want to consider is customer service.  Does the manufacturer offer replacement parts? Although it's not the ideal situation, sometimes even the best in the industry can ship out faulty products.  It's good to know that when this happens, you're in good hands to getting a replacement with a company that stands by their products, will admit their mistakes, and will rectify the problem.  A company that cares about figuring out what went wrong so they can prevent future occurrences. 

The pole industry is constantly growing and evolving.  You don't want to purchase just any pole.  Buying a pole requires a lot of research on your end to make sure you are getting the product that will work the best for your needs.  Some first time pole buyer considerations are below:

1. One piece or muti-piece?
Are you taking the pole down and moving it from room to room or bringing it to a friends? A multi-piece allows you to put up and take down the pole and store in a pole carrying case.  A one piece pole is cut to the exact size your ceiling height allows with a few inch margin.  These poles either stay up where you put them or store in a closet that can accommodate their size in it's entirety.

2. Finish.
I could list all the finishes out there but this list would be long and outdated by the time I published this post.  The pole industry continues to offer varieties of finishes for poles- specifically to target grip.  Do you have sweaty slick hands? Do you have sticky hands?  What type of climate do you live in?  All these factors will affect your grip and must be taken into consideration when purchasing your pole.

3. Diameter.
How thick of a pole do you want?  The industry standard is currently 45mm.  Long gone are the days of 50mm poles in every studio across the United States. A good way to determine what size pole you need is to have first hand exposure at a studio of both the 45mm and 50mm poles. Some studios now offer 40mm poles.  If you're unable to try out the various diameters, I would recommend the 45mm for its versatility in both hand and leg grips.

4. Resale value.
The final consideration I ALWAYS make sure to mention to my students who are buying a pole is to take into account the ability to resell the pole.  Certain poles will sell faster and at a reasonable price.  At the time of purchasing your pole you may never imagine the day you would decide to sell your pole.  Life happens and situations prevent people from poling or other interests take over.  It happens.  When it does happen, it would be nice to know you can give your pole a new loving home and still feel comfortable knowing you have some extra cash too.

The Home Pole Starter Kit

You dotted all your I's and crossed all your T's.  Now you're ready to make your official purchase. Out of all the poles out there on the market, I always recommend to my students to go with X-Pole. Due to all the above considerations, X-Pole manufactures and sells reliable and trustworthy products and services.  My experience with the company has been very positive. I've had issues with equipment and they have taken care of all issues in a timely manner.  There are two poles I will recommend to my students; the only difference is the diameter, which is purely personal preference.

Pole Recommendation #1: X-pole XPERT 45mm chrome multi-piece pole
Pole Recommendation #2: X-pole XPERT 50mm chrome multi-piece pole

 ALWAYS purchase a pole from a reputable source.  I have heard of poles being purchased on Amazon that are essentially dupes for X-Pole.  I highly discourage anyone from taking this route.  For one, SAFETY should always be your top priority.  Pole fitness activities can be dangerous.  You want to know your product has been developed and tested for safety. Knock off poles do not have the brand backing that supports quality control of their products.  You are taking a huge risk when you opt for the pole of lesser value.

The next question I often get asked is about DVDs to help supplement workouts.  Some students need a variety of learning tools. Coming to a studio for live instruction is just one form of a learning tool.  DVDs are also great learning tools because they let you review material at your own pace.  DVDs are also great to use when you start building routines and you're in search of moves that are outside of your frequently used go to list.  Of all the DVDs out there, my favorite for beginners is the Art of Pole Series by Jamilla Deville. The Art of Pole Series consists of all the basic foundational skills all pole athletes, hobbyists, and students should be well accustomed to. A recent blog post by pole community blogger Bexiita Ackland highlights ten all time necessary pole moves that all polers should learn and master in her post "Top Ten Old School Pole Moves." The Art of Pole DVD collection includes all the mentioned skills that Bexiita writes about and is a timeless resource that will always be there as a reference during your personal pole progression. 

Beginner Pole DVD Recommendations 


Art of Pole Series by Jamilla Deville $79.95 USD

Other Home Pole Essentials

Other recommendations to complete your home pole kit include the following:

1. Rubbing alcohol for cleaning the pole
2. Spray bottle (to put rubbing alcohol in to spray pole rag/pole)
3. Pole rag/s. Soft wash clothes work well.
4. Crash mat. Mighty Grip sells a variety of pole specific crash mats.
5. Mirrors. You can purchase mirrors at any local Home Depot, Ikea, or Walmart.  You can also find used mirrors online.  Mirrors will vary based on your designated home pole space. 
6. Camera and/or camera phone lenses for recording progress. (Read my camera lens April 2016 blog post for more information "Getting the Best Camera View when Recording Your Pole or Aerial Progress."

Additional Home Pole Content Resources

The online world of pole has been booming with incredible resources that offer the home poler an abundance of structured courses.  I recently featured many of these resources in a blog post "Home Poling Options." Online courses offer new and updated content that evolves with the industry.  Once you have learned the basics, looking into other resources can help you develop your skills in fun and unique ways.  Online courses also offer a variety of workouts that supplements pole by including important conditioning and flexibility work.  It's important to learn how to implement balance in your workouts and online courses cater best to students that are developed in their skill set to progress on an intermediate to advanced level. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lifestyle Blog: Meal Planning with a DIY Menu Board

On a quest to make my weekly grocery shopping and dinner time meal planning more efficient, I decided it was time to implement a menu board into my routine.  I did a little research online and gathered some ideas.  I created a simple table via my OpenOffice application on my computer followed by a similar table format for my menu items. 
I then printed my menu board and menu items.  I chose to print all my regular menu items on pink paper and all items that require heating the oven on blue paper.  I had initially planned on dividing all menu items based on a color coded seasonal system however, that proved to be too much as a lot of dishes cross over between seasons.  After I printed out my menu board and menu items, I took them to my local FedEx printing center where I was able to laminate the paper.  At home, I proceeded to cut out each menu item and attach an adhesive round magnet on the back.

I chose to create menu item magnets so I could easily just pick a dish without giving my meal planning much thought about whether I'd just made that item that week or the week before.  I'm hoping this system will enable me to change up my dinner routine by adding variety to our nightly meals.  This new system will also help with putting together my weekly shopping list so I know I am buying exactly what I need for each trip to the grocery store. I also created a "Leftover" and "Dining Out" menu item for those weeks where I know we'll be having excess food or a special event planned. 

A similar system for those who enjoy implementing new recipes would be to utilize a dry erase marker to write meal items on the laminated menu board for the designated days of the week.  If I am planning to implement a new recipe, I figured this would also work in place of the pre-made magnet items. 
After I completed my menu board, I placed a few adhesive magnets on the back of the main menu board and placed it on my refrigerator.  Now my husband and I will both know what to expect each night of the week for our dinner time meals.  Overall cost of my menu board was less than $10.00.  Let me know if you've implemented a similar meal planning system and feel free to share what you do for meal planning in the comments below.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Lifestyle: Choosing New Glasses for Your Face

It's time for me to get a new pair of glasses!  I'm pretty excited to find a new pair of glasses that are stylish and change my look all while letting me see the things I need to see.  I am near sighted so I only wear my glasses when I need to see things far away, like when I'm driving or at an NBA or baseball game.  My current pair of glasses are a few years old and the lenses are horribly scratched up.  Let's just say I'm WAY over due on this one.  I was wearing contacts but it seemed like I would always run out of one eye's contacts before the other because it never failed; I'd put a new contact in and then it would tear later that day. They were convenient but too costly for my preference in having to constantly replace them and deal with the common annoyances that go along with wearing them. 

So I made an eye appointment and decided it was time for a fresh pair of spectacles.  I decided to do a little research to find a pair that were a little more stylish and along the lines of all the cute glasses I've been seeing ladies sporting at recent NBA games I've been going to.  The Playoffs are over this season for the Indiana Pacers so my people watching days are over for this season.  I did take away quite a few fashionable trends that I really liked while attending these games because well, what else am I to do during all those time outs and end of quarter breaks? 

I found some helpful tips on pinterest.com about how to choose the appropriate frames for your face shape.  I have what I consider to be a round face.  My forehead takes up a little more real estate on my face so something that balances the round facial structure with a long forehead would be optimal.  I wanted to lean more towards the "geek chic" genre of frames as those have become my latest obsession for style.  I feel like those types of frames can really transform your face and create a focal point that is both fashionable and complimentary.  Pinterest provided a lot of useful quick reference charts that break down the right kind of frames for each face shape. 

Armed with the knowledge of what to look for in my new frames for my face shape, I decided to go to my eye doctor's website and try out their image upload and glasses try on feature.  I uploaded a picture of my face and proceeded to virtually try on all the glasses that I was interested in.  I narrowed down my results to three pairs of frames that I would present to my doctor's office to try on again in person to make my final decision.  

I ended up choosing the Burberry BE2144 frames.
They weren't my first pick however, once I got to my doctor's office and tried on all the frames I had initially chosen from my online research, I settled on my selected frames based on the overall sense of durability.  The other frames I had selected felt very flimsy.  As useful the online tool was in narrowing down my results, the ultimate decision came down to being able to really try on the frames in person.  I've has my new glasses now for a couple of weeks and I have been loving them.  I'm really happy with my choice and hope they last many years.  I think the style is perfect for my face shape and I'm really glad I took the time to research frames that would best suit my face. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Controversial Aerial Hoop Segment on Live with Kelly

I believe there was a collective gasp heard all around the world from aerialists when they watched the recent aerial hoop segment featured on the U.S. morning talk show LIVE with Kelly.  A quick recap: New York based Crunch instructor Deborah Sweets lead a quick aerial hoop workout with host Kelly Rippa and LIVE's guest co-host Anderson Cooper.  As the segment progressed, it was clear there were MANY moments that the instructor was negligent in terms of assuring her two student's safety on what is a fun but VERY dangerous fitness activity.  Fellow aerialist and community blogger Laura Witwer broke down in a very detailed blog post EVERYTHING wrong in this segment here in "Anderson Cooper got on a Lyra and the Internet Lost its Mind."

I won't reiterate all the amazing points Laura has already made in her blog.  I don't think I could match her so eloquently written stance on the issue.  I do want to pose a question in regards to the issue of how the glitz and glam of the spotlight can and clearly have threatened the dynamic of safety? Yes, I understand it was a quick segment and the show's producers wanted an elaborate portrayal of this unique form of fitness in less than five minutes.  As an instructor, it is OUR job to be firm and say "Wait a minute. I refuse to jeopardize the safety of anyone under my instruction."  The act of having beginners invert on an apparatus alone is a huge red flag for safety.  I don't care if you assessed your students back stage to test their strength. They are beginners and require your hands on spotting at ALL times.  If your show producers won't give you the appropriate accommodations to make your instructional experience in front of a live audience safe, then adios!
Find a new gig that will.  We have to be diligent in knowing our limits and speaking up for our students and ourselves.  The pressure of the spotlight is no excuse when it comes to the lives of others.  This could have had a very different outcome that would have been detrimental to both Mr. Cooper and Deborah Sweets personally.  I'm not writing this to viciously attack Deborah. I don't know the circumstances she encountered and the pressure she was under to do this segment.  I feel like there is a back

story that we may not be aware of? Either way, it really doesn't matter.  This situation has proven to be a cautionary tale and a frightening reminder of the changes in the aerial arts industry as these activities move into mainstream fitness culture.  It is extremely important that everyone is educated on these kinds of issues and continue to advocate for changes that will ensure safe practice in aerial. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

June Challenges!

There's some great challenges going on this month!  Below are a variety of disciplines for this month's challenges.  I've been taking it easy the past two weeks so I wasn't able to complete the #pfmayipolewithyou challenge as I had planned.  First it was my knee that had some swelling then my dog got injured so I have been keeping a close eye on him.  Good news is, both my knee and my doggie are all better so I'm hoping to get back on track with my workouts.  Without further ado, let's get into introducing all the great challenges for the month of June.

Challenge 1: #BYGHandstandChallenge

Instagram challenge hosted by @beachyogagirl
Rules: As I'm writing this blog the rules have not yet been posted.  Click the hosts IG name above to see if this one is underway.  (I'll update this blog post once more details are posted).

Challenge 2: #Junepolechallenge2016

Instagram challenge hosted by @falzyb
Rules: Upload your pictures and hashtag #junepolechallenge2016 (See challenge post below for each day of the month's move).

Challenge #3: BeSpun Flow Challenge

YouTube, Facebook, & Instagram challenge hosted by @BeSpun
Rules: Upload your video submissions to the BeSpun Flow Challenge Facebook group. For 6 weeks, a routine will be broken down with weekly tutorials.  Participants upload their video submissions from each week's tutorial. 

Challenge #4: #JuneYogaChallenge

Instagram Challenges. I picked three of the first challenges that popped up in my search feed when I typed in #JuneYogaChallenge.  Here are the current challenges going on: