Monthly Archives: September 2012

Urban Pole in the U.P.

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On vacation this week, in Upper Michigan (in the upper peninsula, so waaaay up north). Not much opportunity to do pole, but managed to find a lonely little swing set next to Kitch-iti-kipi, which is Michigan’s largest freshwater spring. It’s located in a state park near our place. Poling in jeans, in 60 degree weather? Not as easy as I’d hoped! ;-)

Twisted handgrip Ayesha – working it out

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It’s no secret that I have been working my twisted handgrip for a good long while – every class, I knock a few out, looking for that elusive lock, especially on the pencil. Some weeks, it feels solid; other weeks, I struggle to get it to go.

This week, I found myself repeatedly listing to one side in the ayesha, but couldn’t correct the swerve – the counter balancing was not happening. Naturally, I was frustrated, but hey, that is the nature of working a trick.

Cut to our class freestyle, where I busted out my twisted handgrip ayesha and held it with no problem, then took it up to pencil!!!!! It worked all of the sudden – maybe it was the flow of the moment in the song, I don’t know – but it was awesome. I was so thrilled.

Little victories, y’all. Savor them.

Burn

Recently, I’ve been tracking my diet and exercise with the MyFitnessPal app (HaloFive00 if anyone wants to be my pal!), and every time I have to enter a pole class in the exercise portion, I’m stumped. Is it closest to Yoga? Pilates? Dance? Calisthenics? How do I choose which exercise fits best, and therefore, get an accurate count on calories burned? The same is true for lyra – and even my stretching class, because let’s face it, I am a sweaty mess afterward, so I know I’m working SOMETHING off.

I did some research over the last few days, looking up and comparing a few different exercise trackers, like the Fitbit and the Nike+ Fuelband. I was set to buy the Fitbit, because I liked that it has a function that will track your sleeping habits (i.e. how many times you wake up through the night), and it syncs with MyFitnessPal – it also has MUCH higher reviews on Amazon than the Nike+ Fuelband (a helpful comparison can be found here). But, after digging a little more, I realized that both units have the same issue – they don’t read movement other than walking/running/stepping very well. There were complaints on both sides about the inaccuracies of the reads, although Fitbit allows you to input your own data on their site.

As a result, I did research on heart rate monitors, thinking that might be the best way to gauge what I am doing in classes. I found one on Amazon with a stellar rating and read the reviews – more than a few mentioned that the users wore the monitor in a variety of classes (spin, Zumba), and that it did well in those environments. So, I opted to purchase it! If you’re interested, the model is the Polar Ft40F Women’s Heart Rate Monitor Watch (in white). I will keep you posted on what my totals are once I receive it and get it set up!

Off to pole later today, but had two great lyra classes this weekend. Friday’s was more intense (only 2 students in the class, so ton of time on the hoop and new tricks learned) – Sunday’s was fun, and I learned a Russian Roll, which I found really fun, although tricky with my wrists. One poor girl in my class ended up being terrified by it – I felt so bad for her. It’s an odd trick, that’s for sure. But, I did pretty well with it, and I’m looking forward to getting used to it/improving it! Sadly, I did not get any video of it, nor many photos of my new tricks, but I do have a couple to share:

Give a little love

I had a weird thought the other day, while in my stretch and flex class at CH. During the class, you obviously do a ton of stretching, but each class focuses a little more on one thing or the other, depending on what the instructor plans for the day. This week, we worked a lot on our splits and backs. Now, I am not terribly flexible. I have *some* flexibility in doing a seated splay on the floor and folding over it, to try to get my chest to the floor. But, in most respects, I am not flexible. My back, shoulders, legs, hips…not flexy. I have strength, I have a reasonable amount of grace (or so I am told – I point my toes most of the time!), but flexibility is not my strong suit.

Anyway, we were doing a stretch on our backs, pulling one straightened leg up and as close to our chests/faces as we could, and I caught myself just staring at my foot. Really staring at it. Moving it this way and that, looking at the tendons move, etc.

And – even if this makes me sound like a lunatic – I kind of fell in love with it.

Here’s the thing: to be an artist is to learn how to express through a given instrument. I don’t care what kind of art you do – it’s a form of expression. For some folks, their instrument is a pen, or a paint brush; for others, it’s a computer; others, it’s a guitar or an oboe; for some, it’s their voice, through song or spoken words; writers of all kinds, actors, dancers…whatever type of artist you are, there is some kind of instrument that allows you to release your expression into the world.

I think that the best way to tap into that is to fall in love with whatever your instrument might be – and to connect with it, and yourself, in such a way that the expression is fluid.

For a pole dancer, falling in love with your body is a pretty important thing. And, it might be daunting. You might hate your thighs. Or your skin. Or something that nobody else notices but you. I know I have things about myself I’m less than thrilled with…

But, in that moment, I was totally in love with my foot. I went through the rest of the class amazed by all of the things our bodies could do, but most of all, what my body did. I was surprised and challenged and thrilled by all of it.

I think that will be one of my things to keep in mind, from here on forward: take the chance to be present and fall in love with my body every time I am in a class, even if it’s piece by piece. Sometimes, pole can be so challenging that it feels antagonistic, so a little love could go a long way.

You like me! I like lyra! Everyone likes The Last Goodbye!

Well, somebody likes me! A very special thank you to Pole Moves for including my blog on their list of Pole Dance Websites. It’s nice to feel the love! And, thank you to anyone who submitted me for the list! I went to submit myself and found out that they already had me down! *blush*

If you haven’t seen this video yet, it’s been making the rounds, and it is GORGEOUS. I was a little thrown by the editing at first – not used to seeing a performance edited – but it quickly won me over, not only for the sheer beauty of the dance, but also because I love the storytelling aspect of it. Coming from acting, it’s something I really appreciated and enjoyed about the clip. Huge fan of this creation – I have no idea how many times I’ve watched it, but the song is now downloaded, and I’ve sent the video to Drea for trick breakdowns. :-)

Stunning, yes? I adore Marlo. I had never seen Kyle before, but he’s wonderful.

Been back at it in my own class, doing some review (thanks for the bruises, Teddy Bear), as well as working on some newer stuff – we learned a spin that was spotted in an Oona routine, which I shocked myself by getting fairly quickly, even if I’m not quite as graceful about as Oona. :-) Keeping up the work on my aerial…slowly, but surely…and working on my reverse shoulder mount. My regular shoulder mount seems to have up and left me, which I’ll post about soon. I have stretch & flex class tonight, and two lyra classes over the weekend, then pole and stretch & flex next week…then, vacation! Hrm, maybe I can get a decent urban pole photo while I am gone!

My pole-related business venture is inching closer to fruition – I promise to post all of the info as soon as we’re set up! I was also convinced to start work on a creative endeavor related to pole, so once I have more done on that, I’ll share some specifics!

And, finally, some photos from my last lyra class – I am loving it! I can tell that it’s helping cross-condition me, too! Certain pole stuff has been smoother for me, and in general, I’m a little more interested in trying things than I was for the past few months (pole plateau, anyone?). I need to get some new pole pics, but never seem to get around to it. :-)

Quick Survey – stretch & flex – shoulder mount!

Hey Polers – would you please take a few minutes to fill out this survey for me?

http://freeonlinesurveys.com/app/rendersurvey.asp?sid=4rrveu3f9tq23ag90969

We’re working to get our pole apparel line up and running, and this survey will help us focus on what everyone out there is looking for in their choices for pole shirts/tanks/shorts, etc! If you’ve got any pole sisters (or brothers!), please share it with them as well! THANK YOU!

This weekend, with my usual Lyra class canceled for the holiday, AND my back-up Lyra class canceled, I opted to finally try a stretching and flexibility class over at The Choreography House in North Hollywood. Overall, it was a good experience! I LOVED the content of the class: at two hours long, it’s a ball-buster! My class was co-taught  by Kelly (owner of the studio) and Carolyn, who took turns leading us all in different stretches. We focused a lot on splits and middle splits (ow), and there was an entire section on back flexibility that still has me hurting! Since I am not particularly flexible, there were moments where I struggled a bit, but I still felt like I could keep up with most of it. I hope to get there, though! I also hope to be able to take some of it with me, into my regular pole class at The Pole Garage, or even at home. It seems like the classes fill up quickly, but I did manage to book another one in a couple of weeks. I was able to introduce myself to Carolyn before I left, which helped me feel a little more welcome: in my two experiences at that studio, I haven’t felt like the gals were particularly warm or welcoming toward new faces, but Carolyn was so sweet and such a good instructor that I am looking forward to the next class. About 3/4 of the way through the class, they have a tradition of stopping to watch a video for inspiration – this is the video that we watched, which blew my mind:

INSANE, yes?! Amazing.

I did a make-up pole class yesterday, since my usual class is canceled for the holiday, and I was kind of useless because of the stretching class (really: it packs a punch), but I did manage to work on holding my shoulder mount for a while. Abby, one of the newer instructors at TPG, wanted us to all work on holding our shoulder mounts in a splay before shooting up to connect to the pole. I was so surprised that I could do it!! I usually just shoot up into the mount, but was thrilled to see that I could hold it – even while tired. I have a shoulder mount variation that I would love to be able to do in the future, and it requires a ton of power in holding the shoulder mount (Bailey Hart has an entire sequence of shoulder mount work in her Winter’s Child routine, which she did at PoleCon2012 and at the International Pole Dance Master’s Cup 2012, and a number of other pole stars have some amazing variations as well). A lot of great pole champs have amazing shoulder mount combos, which I always love to see! Check out one of Alethea’s:

Alethea Austin in a shoulder mount variation

 

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

“I want to be Greta Pontarelli when I grow up.”

This is Greta Pontarelli:

Stunning, yes? At 61 years old, she does things I wish I could do – and I am half her age!! What an inspiration!! Greta also competed at PPC 2012 and placed 2nd in her category, although I did not get to see her performance while I was there (it was a crazy day, since I was also competing). I love her grace! I think that Greta can be an inspiration to any pole dancer. Whether you are just finding pole, or are a champion yourself (I originally saw her video because it was posted by Natasha Wang), Greta is someone worthy of a pole-crush!

Pole World News has a lovely article about Greta, which I encourage you to read. You can also find out more about her on her website, http://aerial-zen.com.

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