Archive | July, 2012

Back to Basics

31 Jul

From the creative force of Ms. Tiggertail

Like every other pole dancer I know, watching gymnastics during the Olympics makes us want to up our A-game. Big time.

Strength, grace, flexibility and balance define this sport. Sound familiar?

These girls are focused, trained, determined…and 10 years younger than me.

At least with pole dancing I’m not past my prime at age 26. Really, I’ve been so in awe of the gymnastics routines I researched places around town that offer lessons to adults. The only adult classes I could find were boot-camp weight loss programs. What, I can’t learn how to fly through the air on uneven bars once I’m past puberty?

I mainly want to take classes that will help me with proper form and technique. Watching the gymnasts’ perfectly straight legs and pointed toes inspired me to try the same.

But besides having straight legs there’s also posture, arm movement and a little sass.

What class could I take that would help me look like a pro?

I take pole fitness classes, not pole dancing classes. That means the advanced classes at my studio focus on learning the moves but creating flow is something we need to do on our own. Because sure, I’d love to have an instructor go over every little leg kick and extended arm placement she does during a routine but then I’d end up dancing like her.  And I want to dance like me.

But what is that, exactly? I have no formal dance training. I don’t count the year of ballet because I was 4 years old and too shy to come out of my shell, and I don’t count the hip-hop class because I was 14 years old and cripplingly self conscious to the point of standing in a corner, dying of embarrassment whenever our teacher asked us to freestyle. Really, the only thing I remember from ballet was walking on my tiptoes dressed as a sheep and my only memory from hip-hop was awkwardly hip-swaying to Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle”.

But I DO remember making up my own dance routines to Spice Girls songs. And those routines were amazing. Probably every 12 year old girl in 1998 made up the same routines but in my mind I was Ginger Spice, my BFF Kristen was Baby Spice and we were superstars.

Preteen Dreams

So like anything in life, if you feel awkward you will look awkward. And when do I feel most awkward? When someone tells me to act sexy.

When do I feel most sexy? When I’m by myself, listening to 90’s R&B and have had a beer or two. Oh, thigh high stockings help too.

So neither beer or 90’s R&B were at hand today, just coffee and radio surfing. And the socks were for function instead of fashion (really, they provide slippage for turns, protection from bruises and keeps my legs warm for post practice stretching). But I wasn’t trying to be sexy, I was trying to be a ballerina. And how do you try to be a ballerina when you have no idea what you’re doing?

Become inspired.

I want to start from scratch and relearn every pole turn, every spin, every transition with precise and deliberate movements. Today I solely worked on turns and pirouettes, it truly was a back to basics kind of day. I’m still unsure of what I should be doing with my outside arm at times and I’m still not able to string an endless chain of pole combos seamlessly but the pole community is perfect for learning, gaining feedback and becoming inspired.

Maybe one day I’ll even be able to choreograph an entire routine to a whole song without any cringe-worthy moments?

Until then I have easy to use editing software to help me fake it ’til I make it.

The Flexi Factor

27 Jul

The Dream

I have never been a flexible person.

Even when enrolled in gymnastics at 5 years old I was never able to see any results from stretching. And I was one determined 5 year old. Dreams of doing the splits filled my head day and night and I would drop into the straddle position whenever the urge struck. Even if the urge struck in the middle of the grocery store, much to my parents’ embarrassment (that I only understand now).

But nope, never even got close. And when my instructors told my parents they wanted me enrolled in an intensive, competitive program that required daily practice time my mom was all, “You want me to drive her to the gym every day when I have a newborn? Uh, no thanks.”

And that’s how I was put in music lessons.

Sometimes I wonder how my life would have turned out if I had stuck with gymnastics, but reflection is all about the “shoulda, woulda, coulda’s” and the truth is I’m happy that I have music and the people I have met through music in my life. Still, some of my happiest childhood memories stem from doing cartwheels and handstands in my backyard, not from practicing the violin. But I digress…

I’ve never been flexible so I’m not going to expect myself to make any overnight breakthroughs anytime soon. I’ve read that it takes on average one year of daily 45 minute periods of stretching to achieve the splits.

The Reality

 

I’m posting this picture as a sort of starting point of my flexibility training. Because, even after 5 months of Pole lessons I am only now taking stretching seriously. Terrible, isn’t it? Yes. Yes it is.

You think I feel guilty about dedicating time to poling? How guilty do you think I feel devoting time to stretching on a yoga mat? It’s pretty up there on the Shame Scale.

 

But enough of the guilt, let’s move on to some fun!

Yippee!

Yep, I’ve been able to get the Split Grip Aysha at the studio for a couple weeks now. Sometimes I wish I could have free reign of the studio since I am never available during their limited practice time. Something about their nice, grippy, worked in poles makes everything easy peasy. But at home? My pole is like a cruel cold-hearted mistress, full of deception.

Which is why getting the dreaded move at home made the victory that much sweeter.

*warning: there are some silly, flirty, moves in this video. So avert your eyes if you think watching anything like that would make you feel weird*

 

Eff yes! It was only a second or two but those were some joyous, albeit fleeting seconds.
And to end things on an even more fun note, here is another spinning video. Yes, it was even easier than last time! Funny how practicing does that…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bee’s Knees

24 Jul

As always, this girl is spot on.

Everyone has a move (or two, or seven) that terrifies them. Either for the ouch factor, flexi factor or just plain crazy strength factor. Sometimes the reason behind these fears come from (possibly) exaggerated claims from fellow polers, other times it’s just your own perception of what your limitations are.

For me, the first time I really, really struggled in class to the point of depression was when we learned knee moves. My streak was over, suddenly there was something I couldn’t learn by the end of class. I would get them eventually but the thought of doing the All-Mighty knee move, the Knee Hold, scared the shit out of me. And that, of course, was my next move to learn in class.

I am usually pretty good with pain moves that involve burning skin (back in the day I worked at a coffee shop and would regularly spill boiling water over myself due to my awkwardness and it got to the point where I could spill someone’s tea over my entire hand and not flinch). I mean, I will bitch about the pain but I’m not afraid of it. I still power through until the pain subsides.

But the knee hold is not a burning skin pain. It’s a bone being crushed by metal pain. IF done incorrectly, which is easy to do. I mean, you’re still basically supporting your weight on your shin bone, so it doesn’t exactly tickle, but if you slip you could be supporting your weight on your knee cap. Fun!

I was so grateful to have my teacher go every minute detail of the move with me, there’s no way I was trying this with a youtube tutorial. There is more than just knee placement, there’s also the feet. Oh, the feet. The one time (that I know of so far) you do NOT point your toes, you flex your feet. If you don’t then you fall to your doom. Once your feet are snug together like two pieces of a puzzle you squeeze your butt. Apparently I wasn’t squeezing hard enough because my teacher yelled at me.

“Don’t lose your pennies!”

“…what?”

“Think of your bum as a piggy bank. Don’t let any money fall out!”

So with that in mind I squeezed until I thought my butt would fall off and suddenly my hips flung forward making my body straight. But to be perfectly straight and perpendicular to the pole you have to let go of your top hand and lower yourself down. Ummm…are you kidding me?? I got to that stage many times before simply jumping down in defeat. But I’m not giving up.

The only potential spotter I had during my practice at home was my dog, Django. I’m sure he’s strong enough to hold me up but I don’t know if I trust his reflexes. So, I went at it alone.

So much for pain free.

New Pole Buddy

20 Jul

Streeeeeeetch it out

I’m very impressed that Pat has advanced as quickly as he has but really, I’m not all that surprised. A little known fact about pole dancing is that guys *shocker* have an easier time with (certain) moves.

Anything requiring brute strength? They’ve got it in the bag.

Anything requiring tolerance of pain? HA!

Case in point: The Sit. A very important transitional move. You go into a sit many times throughout a routine either to rest or change positions to go into something else. But doing the sit for the first time? Owwwwwwwww.

“I see no reason for doing a sit. I’m not doing it!”

“Just do it!! Each time it gets easier, I promise!”

“Ok…..*sits for 2 milliseconds* AGHHH! No more!”

He’s promised to try the sit for one second a day. I almost want to make him try the Superman but I don’t want to scare him off forever. I have to tread lightly in this area, the last thing I want to do is discourage him.

I don’t want to lose my new pole buddy!

That’s right, after last night I realized something…

He caught up to me already!

I think that competitiveness born out of inspiration rather than jealousy is very healthy in a relationship. As soon as he went up into the Split Grip Aysha I was dying to jump in and try again. And vice versa.

And that’s how the rest of the evening went.

 

There’s still a lot he needs to learn but this is just the beginning. This was definitely his best lesson so far and the pain he felt waking up this morning was proof of that. If you don’t feel like dying the next day you can’t say your practice was a success.

Pain = Progress.

 

(p.s. I held my Split Grip Aysha for 4 seconds the other day! But of course it was in class where I wasn’t filming. But really! I DID IT!!!)

Guilty Pleasure

16 Jul

Elbow Grip Trumps All

There have been many factors preventing me from training as hard as I would like. Over-tired and under-proteined muscles is a big one, but not as big as guilt. I actually have a life outside of my new hobby, one filled with responsibilities that take priority over prettily spinning in circles.

There are two one-hour windows in my day where I operate in mommy-free and girlfriend-free time. One is nap time and the other is after Ellie has gone to bed and before Pat arrives home from work. I usually choose one of these times to train but every time I start warming up my brain interjects with its own agenda.

“You know….laundry is getting piled up and thanks to Django’s penchant for being a disgusting pervy dog I’m pretty sure you’re now out of clean underwear…”

“That crate of records is not going to data entry itself! What if there’s a super rare jazz album just waiting to be found and make you money to buy pretty things?”

“When was the last time you actually mopped the floors? Look at the bottom of your feet! No wait, don’t. You don’t need another reminder that you’re gross.”

I either tune it out and feel bad or succumb to the guilt and tackle an overdue task.

Last night was one of those nights where guilt over not training hard enough was the heaviest weight on my shoulders.

God dammit, I’m learning that Split Grip Aysha and I refuse to sleep until I do!

Except it was not happening. At all! There wasn’t even any progress! If anyone out there reading this could give me some tips that would be great. I have a feeling that all I have to do is position a hand or a leg a little differently and that will make all the difference. Maybe?

For my own sanity I had to move on to something else. Something fun and spinny.

I learned a spinning shoulder mount last night! Wow, moves like that make me feel like a real-deal pole dancer. It gave me the confidence boost I so desperately needed at that moment. I spent an hour on that Aysha and it damn near broke my spirit. Just gotta work on extending my legs nice and neat with pointed toes. Prettiness makes all the difference.

Oh, and to all of you out there who think of us as strippers rather than athletes?

Eat my booty shorts.

Slippin’ and a Slidin’

13 Jul

Pole Kisses

Pole dancing on carpet comes with its pros and cons. The best part is the soft landing it provides after a mishap but the worst part is being unable to turn and pirouette with ease. I’ve gone back and forth on whether to remove the area rug.

“I want to spin in heels without taping the bottom of my shoes!”

“But a rug makes my home look homey!”

The decision to remove it was actually the natural response to having your vacuum break moments after your dog explodes a full container of pumpkin seeds all over the rug two days before company arrives.

So we took it out and I gotta say it was the right thing to do.

Last night was the first practice on hardwood floors for my BF and I. Now, Pat agreed to do pole lessons once he knew it would help him with cross fit. He has been on my case for learning it too but nothing about it appeals to me. The reason I love pole fitness is because there is a new, more challenging move to learn every week. With cross fit the only way to challenge yourself is to lift heavier weights for more repetitions during a set frame of time. There’s no crazy advanced lifting technique to strive for, there’s only beating your personal best time.

But since Pat has kept such an open mind with learning pole fitness I decided to return the favour and learn a muscle up. He purchased some rings and hung them from our neighbour’s tree (oh how I can’t wait to buy a house with high ceilings!) and after our daughter went night-night we went outside and got started. Wow, I never thought I could find more ways to make my arms exhausted. I attempted one muscle up but couldn’t make it to the “Over the Top” stage. Even Pat was struggling with them and he does them when he’s bored at work. So….that part of the workout was short lived.

Neither of us were operating anywhere close to 100% but I was able to teach him a few new things.

Woo! So proud of him for getting the Brass Monkey so quickly! And he got the reverse grab!

I wish I had some tales of triumph of my own but this week there was only one move for us to master in class, the split grip Aysha. The whole hour was dedicated to this move and half way through half of us were lying on the ground. Another teacher popped in to say hi.

“Whoa, what happened? You all look like zombies.”

“Split grip Aysha.”

“Ahhh, I understand.”

I can do the forearm grip and elbow grip variations of this move but the split grip is just brutal. The worst part is that it doesn’t look that hard but I find that’s unfortunately the case with a lot of advanced moves. Our teacher told us to think of our hips as a car and the pole as the road. If you don’t drive straight you will crash your car. And crash we did. Every time I released my leg I tumbled into the pole.

Sadly, this is my best attempt so far. As long as I get it by next class I’ll be happy. If not then at least I have slippy floors to twirl, twirl, twirl.

 

 

 

Image 13 Jul
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