Monthly Archives: January 2013

Vertical Swag Wrist Wraps

If you’ve been reading my blog, you may have noticed that I occasionally talk about my wrist pain from pole dancing. I wanted to take a minute to share one of the things that I believe has helped me lessen the pain! Sometime last year, a pole sister of mine (one of my pole “sponsees” – a gal I got into poling) mentioned that she’d been using wrist wraps while poling to give her wrists added support. I thought it was an interesting idea, but because of my ADD, it pretty much leaked out of my brain five minutes after the conversation. A little while later, I happened to come across a giveaway on Pole Dancing Adventures, offering up the wrist wraps from Vertical Swag. While I was not the winner of the giveaway, I did end up buying a pair of my own. You may have seen me sporting them in various photos:

Titanic from the floor

Titanic from the floor

Learning the Iris

Learning the Iris

Lyra move (death star??)

Lyra move (death star??)

Lyra move (death star??) from the side

Lyra move (death star??) from the side

In all of these photos, I have on my zebra striped Vertical Swag wrist wraps. I do think they’ve helped me stabilize my wrists, especially since I’ve been working to move into more aerial/twisted grip moves. TG is hard on my right wrist, which is my “pull” wrist (the hand that is “up” in all of my TG moves). After taking two weeks off from class because of the holidays and my busy work schedule, all it took was one class filled with twisted grip moves and handspring work for my wrist to be in a ton of pain – and, of course, I had neglected to take the time to put on my wrist wraps before that class, which was not smart – I think it would have helped a lot if I’d put them on! Since then, I’ve been keeping my wrist wrapped a good portion of the time that I am not in class (depends on the day and what I’m up to), and I went back to using my wrist wraps, even in Lyra, which is normally not that bad on my wrist. I think the wraps have helped with the pain!

I do think that some of my wrist pain would be better if I a) was better conditioned in my wrists and forearms b) lost a little bit of weight. Now, don’t think I’m complaining about being fat or something – the simple fact is that less weight on a sensitive wrist would be a good thing. I’m asking my wrists to support 157ish pounds, and while conditioning would CERTAINLY help that, I’m sure my wrists would love me for laying off junk food for a bit.

The wrist wraps, however, are a great, affordable little helper! They add stability, but also keep the joint warm, which is nice. They’re 100% cotton, easily washable, and simple to use. Here’s a great little demo video of how to put them on and secure them:

Vertical Swag offers a number of colors and styles – my zebra print is no longer listed, but there’s a cute teal version! I love that they’re made for pole dancers, BY a pole dancer, so you get to support a fellow poler AND a small business by purchasing them. You can purchase your wraps at http://verticalswag.com/wraps/ – the front page of the site says that there is currently a New Year’s sale going on, so you can save 25% off right now!  They also offer other products for polers, like shoe and grip bags. You can check them out online at www.verticalswag.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/VerticalSwag

I’ll have some more fun updates again soon! Happy Poling!

MostFit Suspension Strap: An Affordable Conditioning Tool for Pole Dancers!

Like most pole dancers, I’m always looking for a way to be stronger and better conditioned. Unfortunately, as much as I would love to go to class every day, my budget doesn’t always allow for it. I’ve been looking for ways to work out at home, but it all gets old after a while. When I saw an opportunity to try out the new MostFit Suspension Strap, I thought it might be a great solution!

As their website states, the strap, “created by fitness guru and personal trainer Andrew Gavigan, the MostFit™ resistance trainer was designed to be easy-to-use for anyone, anytime, anywhere.” This is totally true! To use it indoors, you simply need a door/door frame to close around the strap as an anchor (ideally a door that locks), and some room to move behind it. The strap has a handy moveable plastic section (the anchor) that prevents the strap from slipping out from between the door and the frame (see this video for directions). You can also anchor the strap on a pull up bar, and if you need to shorten it, you simply wrap the strap around the bar a few times until you get the desired length.

"Getting Started" instructions via MostFit's website

“Getting Started” instructions via MostFit’s website

Working on a pull up variation with the MostFit Suspension Strap

Working on a pull up variation

 

 

 

The MostFit strap itself allows for a number of strength building exercises by allowing you to use your body weight, resulting in a tougher work out (and better results!). Many of the exercises also require you to engage your abs/core/back more than typical at-home exercises, meaning that you aren’t simply isolating one area, but getting a better overall work out. It’s not easy, but you’ll know you’ve worked hard when you use it!

 

 
Since I also wanted to test it specifically for pole and aerial conditioning, I opted to take it outdoors and see what I could do. While you can use a sturdy tree branch as your anchor on which to wrap the strap, I wanted to get a little more height and variety, so I took it down to the aerial equipment playground by the Santa Monica Pier (living in Los Angeles does have perks!). I was able to toss one end of the strap over some of the mid-height bars, wrapping it a few times as necessary, and then play with inverting – I did move the plastic strap anchor off to one side of the strap, in order to get centered in the bars, as they’re fairly narrow. I found that it was pretty good for inverting into an upward pencil position, or a forward pike. I wasn’t quite able to do a straddle invert, as my hands are not big enough to safely grab both handles together, but the other basic inverts are great for working on your back and shoulder stability (and abs, naturally). Because of the nature of the strap, when you do invert, your weight pulls the strap into a taught position – however, you still have to work to stabilize it, therefore working your arms, shoulders, etc. For the inverts I am doing in the photos, we still had the strap fairly low compared to where you might place your hands for a pole invert (and very low compared to a hoop invert), but I was still able to balance into it – a taller bar or tree branch might be a better option for a truer sense of inverting, but I still had to work to remain stable.

Pike Invert using the MostFit Suspension Strap

Pike Invert

Inverting using the MostFit Suspension Strap

Invert

Pencil Invert using the MostFit Suspension Strap

Pencil Invert

Working on a split stretch with the MostFit Suspension Strap

Working on a split stretch

 

 

I also tried some aerial stretching up by looping the strap over one of the taller sides of a set of uneven bars and then slipping my feet into the handy foot saddles that are built into the strap (just below the padded handles). While I did need some help navigating it from a friend that came with me, I did find that I was able to work on some split stretches in the air, using the strap and my body weight. I simply had to use my hands and upper body to stabilize the straps, while keeping my core engaged as I lowered up and down. I had the straps reasonably close to the ground, in case I had to bail quickly – also made it easier to step in/out of them.

 

 

Working on a pike up from a plank, using the MostFit Suspension Strap

Working on a pike up from a plank

 

 

Taking a cue from a practice video I watched, I also tried doing a plank with my feet in the strap, then piking up. I thought the move was similar to the kind of controlled lift a pole dancer would need while doing a head or hand stand – it was hard, even harder than doing it without the strap! I can see how it’d be an excellent way to strengthen your core/back for stabilization!

 

 

 

 

 

Another benefit of the MostFit strap is that it can also function like a yoga strap. I found it to be helpful with stretching, using it just the same way I would with a yoga strap. I was able to do some shoulder stretch rotations, as well as use it to get a deeper leg stretch, and even do a pigeon-style stretch to work on my shoulders, back, and hips.

Using the MostFit Suspension Strap to stretch, as if it were a ballet barre

stretching as if it were a ballet barre

"pigeon" style stretch with the MostFit Suspension Strap

“pigeon” style stretch

Shoulder stretching with the MostFit Suspension Strap

Shoulder stretching

The strap itself seems pretty durable – the padded handles and foot straps are a nice touch, and the rubber stopper for door frame use seems pretty solid. The long length is pretty versatile, and the webbing of the strap seems heavy duty. There’s a weight limit of 250lbs, which I found reassuring. :-)

While my strap did not come with an instruction manual for moves, I’m not sure if that was just my box (since I requested a strap for the purpose of reviewing it on this site). There are a variety of videos on YouTube that can help you work out how to create moves and do them safely, but the lack of instructions or basic move guidelines in the box is one of the few cons. Not being a natural fitness person – and not being someone who works out much beyond pole and lyra classes – I wasn’t entirely sure where to start with it, and I think that might be true of other people not used to creating their own workouts. I would bet that it’d be an awesome tool for a personal trainer or anyone who doesn’t need quite as much “start up” guidance. My friend that was testing the strap with me mentioned that she thought it might be helpful if it were adjustable in length, but we got around that by wrapping the strap over and over whatever anchor we were using.

MostFit photos (via their website)

MostFit photos (via their website)

 

Overall, I thought the MostFit strap was a good buy for a pole dancer or aerialist looking to condition on their own, especially if they’re on a budget. At $29.95, it’s incredibly affordable, and it’s pretty compact, which makes it easier to travel with/throw in the car. As much as I love the idea of using some of the other suspension products on the market that are aimed at yoga buffs and aerialists/polers, the price has kept me from investing in them (as has some of the rigging involved). The price of the MostFit Suspension Strap is great, and you’re getting a lot for it!

 

You can check them out online at http://www.Most-Fit.com and find them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MostFitWorkouts. Additional work out videos and tutorials can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/andrewgaviganfitness

 

 

 

Happy Poling, everyone!

(Special thanks to my Poleitical Clothing partner, Courtney, for helping out with the tests!)

Titanic

I tried to teach myself the Titanic tonight – it might also  be called Ship’s Bitch, I really don’t know. I’ve seen it done mid-air, on spinning pole, which is jaw-dropping and gorgeous…but, I tried from the floor, which is also really pretty when I’ve seen it in performances. Since i had no breakdown on which to go on, I worked it out as best I could just from having watched Sergia Louise Anderson‘s stunning USPDF 2012 Amateur Championship performance. Watch the entire video – so worth it, her musicality is amazing, and she’s such a beautiful dancer – but the move (whatever it is called) starts at the 2:28 mark:

This seemed much more reasonable to learn than trying to go whole hog and learn it mid-air, especially since I don’t have a particularly flexible back (like, at all). However, if you’d like to take a look at it mid-air, check out my favorite Marlo video – the move starts around the 3:15 mark, and it blows me away every time I see it:

So, while I do not have the back flexibility or gracefulness of either of these ladies (yet!), I figured it was time to start learning something new, and even if I don’t have it yet, that’s why we train and make goals, right? :-) Here’s my breakdown of how I got into it: standing with  my back to the pole, I bent over and put my hands on the floor while backing the pole into my butt, putting my right foot just to the side of the pole – parallel to it, toes facing forward – and then positioned by left leg on the other side of the pole, but using it as the lock by sandwiching the pole between my thighs and crossing the left leg slightly behind the pole. Then, because I don’t quite have the strength or balance yet to sit up without help, I used my right hand as a brace on the pole to pull myself upright. Once I found my balance, I was able to let go and pose, although I can’t yet arch back far enough to get my ear/shoulder close to the pole – I did manage to reach up over my shoulder and snag the pole with my hand once or twice, pulling myself closer, but it wasn’t easy. I don’t have a ton of shoulder or back flexibility, so it ended up being more of a stretching exercise when I did that (and less of a pretty move). I noticed that my anchor foot (right foot on the ground) would scoot back the more that I did the trick, I think partially for balance, but also because I was tired and slipping. I did find that it was easier to balance the trick initially if I kept my anchor foot pointed, rather than flat.

Titanic? Ship's Bitch?

Smiling through the pain

A couple of videos for you

Just a quick post with a couple of videos for you.

First up, a performance from Sarah Scott that blows my mind – she’s SO strong. Like, beast strong. It’s AWESOME. I met her briefly at PoleCon 2012, so it’s neat to finally check out her performance style. She’s got a couple of aerial and shoulder mount sequences that are incredible, and I like some of her other moves – she’s got a shoulder stand floor move that I’d like to breakdown, and I actually brought one of her pole sequences into class late last year – it’s a combo from an odd spin into a series of grip poses, then some planks from the floor to pole. (I’m not explaining it well, but I have no idea what any name of any trick in it would be.)

And, then there’s little ol’ me, trying my best to learn a new sequence at my last Lyra class. I’ve been struggling a bit the last few weeks – more tired than usual, and it could either be that I’ve been sick (especially the last two weeks) and run down, or it could be that the difficulty of the tricks has finally caught up to where my strength level is. Not sure yet. This week was tough on me, though – the sick factor really took more out of me than I realized (which is not a fun thing to discover when you’re in a single knee hang). I’m struggling a bit in this video, but Leigh is walking me through each new move patiently, since I didn’t get a chance to string them together before this moment – I’d tried one of the tricks twice successfully, one of them once successfully, and one of them once rather unsuccessfully, so the entire thing was pretty new to me, except for the knee hang portion and the mermaid. The one I’m working with near the end is called The Dislocater (not sure if that’s just Leigh’s name for it), and it lands into two pretty tricks, but getting into it is awkward as hell (as you can see). Hoping to have it down a bit better next week!

I’m back in class tomorrow and Thursday – hoping my body doesn’t put up too much of a fight – and am tentatively scheduled to finally head out with a pole friend to play with my Most-Fit suspension strap. Between being so sick, it being my busy season with my pet sitting business, and the weather acting up every time I made plans to go outside to use it, I haven’t been able to test it properly yet. Excuse, excuses, I know. :-)

Still no word on whether I’ve got a spot in the PPC 2013 showcase, but I do think I have my song/theme if I get in! Also, we’re working on getting new merchandise ready for Poleitical Clothing – hope to launch it at Pole Show LA, if we end up getting a vendor booth. :-)

Hodgemapodge

Or, I’ve been sick for a week and a half and swamped with holiday work for even longer, so I haven’t been writing or in class…

I may be performing a lyra routine in February – a basic one – which would be both cool and a real challenge, since I definitely have been wanting to strengthen the dance in my work (I feel like it is all very trick-pose-trick right now). I may also be doing the showcase for PPC 2013 – waiting to find out if there is a spot for me or not. Considering using the same song for both routines, because I love it and have ideas for both dances. We’ll see.

Once I am back to full health, I will be back in pole class – I am going to be trying out some new classes, in addition to my usual class, to see if it will help me jump start what I have been working on. But, in honor of the new year, I am going to jump on the Pole Goal bandwagon: twisted grip handspring from the floor, by my birthday (March). :-)

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