Split Stretches

As some of you may know, I got my split somewhat recently. I was looking back through old photos and actually found a photo of my split from a few months ago, which my boyfriend took at my request – I think I had wanted to chart my progress, but then never followed through on progression photos. However, I do have this side by side comparison:

left split progress - approximately April 2013 to July 2013

left split progress – approximately April 2013 to July 2013

I still have a lot of work to do: I want to get my hips squared and have an easier time with getting into the split overall, plus work on my right split and center splits. Right now, I can get into my left split with A LOT of warming up in class. It takes the right combination of stretches, plus some heat in the room, and probably some other factors (hydration, energy level, etc) to get my front leg to the floor. I am not super flexible in general, so to even get this far is a HUGE deal for me!

Since a few people have asked me what stretches I was doing to help with my progression, I put together a quick video of part of the warm up that we usually do in my Monday night class. (A good number of these are stretches from other classes, too – I’ve just found that Monday’s sequence warms me up the best.) Our usual warm up is 30-45 minutes long, and we go through exercises, movement, and stretching for the entire body – it’s the longest of any warm up, in any of my classes, but I love it – I feel more prepared and conditioned by it than some of the shorter, strength conditioning based warm ups that I do. I think this warm up works because of my specific body – I take FOREVER to warm up, even when I am not doing pole, and my asthma doesn’t play well with cardio-based warm ups. Not only do I have more split flexibility from this warm up, but my shoulder flexibility is noticeably better. I can’t hit a Scorpion stretch fully quite yet, but I can now roll through my shoulder in one part and reach across my chest in a twist to grab my foot, neither of which I could do before joining this class.

The video is made up of stills of the different stretches we do for legs. It doesn’t hit all of the movement we do in the warm up, nor does it show some of the other moves we do that I believe help with hip and lower back opening, but I think it’s an excellent sequence for leg stretching. I only work on my right side in the photos, but we repeat the sequence on the left (and the photos may be out of order from how we do it in class, I can’t remember). This is really for overall leg/hip stretching and conditioning, with a focus on side splits – I don’t hit everything we do for center splits – since I don’t have mine yet, I felt that focusing on the split I have gotten was more important when talking about my journey and progression.

We hold the stretches for longer than the video, obviously – it is a quick overview with basic directions. Please note that I am NOT a pole instructor or a personal trainer, so you assume responsibility when you try these on your own – do them at your own risk and only do what feels comfortable for your body. Not everyone has the same flexibility, and doing new stretches without proper guidance can be tricky, so ultimately, BE SAFE!

(And special thanks to my patient boyfriend, who is ever supportive of my crazy pole obsession – he served as photographer.)

My Night with Marlo

As much of a pole fan as I am, you’d think I’d have taken a workshop by now, but no! I’ve taken a class from Natasha Wang at a local LA studio, but never an actual workshop taught by a pole star (by the way, Natasha is great, and you should always take classes or workshops from her).

Thanks to the generosity of a pole friend, I was able to attend my very first pole workshop last night…with Marlo Fisken.

Pause for extreme fan-girl reaction.

I was in shock. It was such a nice gesture, and I can’t even think of how to say thank you properly!

In preparation for the big day, I squee’d a lot and made my boyfriend watch multiple Marlo videos, like this one:

Marlo’s workshop was at Smoke and Mirrors Fitness in Orange County, which is about 20-30 minutes from my house depending on traffic. I had never been there, although I know some of the students – it’s a nice place! Super tall poles, very atmospheric. I hope to get to take one of their classes sometime! A few of my pole friends from LA came down for the workshop, too, and it was nice to have friendly faces.

Marlo herself is art in motion. She moves like liquid. Really hot liquid. The workshop was focused on her flow movement, so we worked on the principles of creating seamless motion and continuous movement in transitions. It was tough in different areas, for all of us, but some people got the tricks faster/easier than others. I was not one of those people. :-) I struggled.

Our warm up was movement based, and while it was tough, it wasn’t impossible. I kept up for most of it, and my asthma kept itself in check for most of it, which was excellent. The movement was so foreign to me, so it was like learning choreography while trying to stretch and get warm. It was interesting while being challenging, which I appreciated. Marlo also had us do some conditioning and floor moves that were also interesting – cartwheel presses across the floor were tough, but the floorwork (shoulder stand/roll) was very cool.

She followed up the warm up/conditioning with spin instruction, and wow. She’s so pretty in her technique. She just floats. Her instruction was meant to teach us how to achieve that kind of flow, but I had a really hard time with the timing of the hand switch – I got it once, I think, out of all of the attempts I made. I ended up working on the three segments of the spin separately, in hopes I could tie them all together once I had the basics. It was tough to not get something I felt like was fairly simple, but it definitely spoke to my weakness at pirouettes – a simple transition that has always tripped me up. She taught a cool move out of a spin that landed on the floor, but it was tough for most of us – I hope to work on it some more in my normal classes.

Part of Marlo’s trick instruction was based off of aerial inverts, which are my nemesis. I would rather try a fonji (which I do not have the skills to do) than do an aerial invert. All of my pole friends and instructors tell me I can do one, and I am sure that I can, but I have failed at them for so long that it’s become a mental block. So, when Marlo included it in the instruction, I was immediately put in the position of having to suck it up.  Which is good, because I NEED to suck it up, but it was a tough thing to do when I had just felt like rather a failure at the spin instruction.

How did I do? Meh. I ended up just feeling bad about the fact that I was sharing the pole with one of the instructors from Pole Garage, who ended up having to help me quite a bit (I felt like I was infringing on her learning experience, which is really just my brain being mean). She did an incredible job keeping up with Marlo, though – it was so fun to watch her do well.

Regarding my own work, I will say this: I did a few aerial inverts better than I ever have before. I usually struggle a huge amount, and I did okay – especially since they were on my non-dominant side. So, I consider those to be wins – the fact that I even got into the invert is a big deal. (It may not sound like much, but consider the fact that I was so under-conditioned on my non-dominant side that I couldn’t even invert from the floor a few months ago – and the fact that I can barely aerial invert on my dominant side.) In fact, I was so unaccustomed to aerial inverting, especially on my non-dominant side, that once I had gotten up, I was totally confused on what to do. I couldn’t sit up over it to continue the climb – it was like my brain shut down. It’s entirely possible that I have never climbed up on that side!

To end the class, Marlo gave us the challenge of stringing randomly chosen tricks together, with the aim of having there be the least amount of steps in between. It was really challenging, but in a fun way – we had to really think about it, and some of the success depended on our level of expertise.

Marlo is ridiculous to watch. She’s the most graceful person I have ever seen – she floats in slow motion, but still moves quickly. I don’t know how to explain it, but watching her was incredible. It was like taking an acting class from Meryl Streep. A really sexy, buff Meryl Streep.

I left the workshop and realized very quickly that I was up in my head. I was thinking, a lot, but was not immediately able to pinpoint what it was that had me so introspective, if not upset. I kept thinking that I should have been super elated and excited, but I wasn’t. I did not walk away inspired and energized, and it took me a while to figure out why, until I realized what the overall lesson was that I took away from the night:

My lesson learned was that of commitment. That to be excellent at this thing that I love takes a commitment that I have yet to show. A commitment that I’m not even sure that I have in me. It was a real wake up call. To even be a little better than I am – not even like Marlo or Natasha or any of the greats – but to just invert in a pretty way, to get my aerial invert, to not struggle so much to make things smooth…that all takes commitment. It was really daunting to realize. I was a little despondent to have that reality check, even though it seems SUPER obvious – OF COURSE it takes commitment and hard work! Um, duh? As of late, I had been feeling stronger in my pole work – like I was physically stronger than I had been (and I know it’s true), that I was getting things I hadn’t gotten before, that small things were getting better. So, I think I was just really surprised to feel so far behind, even though I know I’m not some great poler – I’m never the most advanced in any of my classes, by far. The simple feeling of being rewarded by doing a little better than I did a few months ago was kind of squashed when I saw the long road ahead. It seems so far away, to be so good. Or, to even be the kind of good I feel like might be attainable to me.

It didn’t make me want to give up. It just left me distressed. If you haven’t read Sparrowhawk’s wonderful new post about comparing yourself to others, do yourself a favor and read it – it totally applied last night. I left that workshop upset with myself, and while I was able to see the small victories in what I did, I was also afflicted with a heavy dose of “NOT ENOUGH”-itis. And, really, that’s a mindset. It’s an opportunity to recognize it for what it is (a cognitive distortion) and to be forgiving and gentle with myself as I lead my poor, bruised self out of the dark alleyways of my mind.

As for what to do next: I want to work in more classes, to fix the things that are not pretty, to master those things. I would say that I don’t know how, but the HOW is to just do it. How is a road block for most people, myself included. The how is to go to class whenever I can, to work on those little things in between the lessons of class, to work on the conditioning at home. To allow myself to recognize the small wins along the way, and to look at the next step in front of me, not the entire staircase to the penthouse.

I might never be Marlo, but I can be a better version of me.

with Marlo

with Marlo

PSO National Championships on Chirpstory

Did you all get a chance to watch the live stream of PSO‘s National Championships? I was so bummed to not be there in person, but it was nice that UPA had the stream for everyone!

The performances were so fun – it’s always interesting for me to watch pole dancers of that caliber and see what speaks to me. I love character driven pieces – they stand out for me, always. That’s one of the reasons I was overjoyed when Sergia won! She’s one of my favorites.

While the professional videos from Alloy Images have yet to be published, I am looking forward to reviewing some of the performances – I missed Danielle Romano (who took 2nd place) and Amber Cahill, and missed moments from the first few performances because of technical difficulties with the feed. However, I was live tweeting everything I did see, and I’ve created a Chirpstory of my tweets:

http://chirpstory.com/li/111639

Congrats to Sergia (1st), Danielle (2nd), and Mary (3rd) on their wins, and to ALL of the competitors from last night. It takes a lot of guts to go up and perform in front of so many people, and under such high stakes! You did us all proud!

Live Tweet of PSO National Championships on ChirpStory

Live Tweet of PSO National Championships on Chirpstory

 

Dancing in Someone Else’s Shoes

Last night, I danced in someone else’s shoes. Literally and, I suppose, figuratively.

I never dance in shoes. Part of it is that I just got really comfortable dancing in bare feet – it felt more organic to me, and less like I was playing at something. Part of it is that inverting with shoes was really hard when I was first learning to invert, so I abandoned them in favor of being able to get up without struggle.

I dropped into an extra class last night at The Pole Garage, which is my pole home base. My first class was a pole work class, which is all working on tricks and such (like my Magic Split, which looks infinitely better if I am having a bendier day – see photo below).

Magic Split at Choreography House

Magic Split at Choreography House

Pole work is really best when you’ve got a plan you want to work on for the class – there are instructions given and demos done on certain tricks people have requested, but it’s always best to go in with a plan of your goals for the class. I worked on a few things, and after class, hung out with some of my pole sisters while they waited for the second class of the night. On a whim, I decided to crash the class since the roster wasn’t full, and I am SO glad that I did!

The class was a transitions and dance class, which normally follows a lesson plan of learning various transition pieces and doing more dancing in general – we usually start with a flow through dance, where we have a specific “assignment” for each pole we touch, then work on the lessons, then do a freestyle. This class was set up differently – Jo, our instructor, taught us a simple, sexy routine that was within everyone’s reach. No inverts, nothing too fancy or crazy, just beautiful, classic pole dancing. She requested that everyone bring leg warmers and shoes if they had them.

Now, I always have leg warmers in my bag, but I never bring my shoes. So, I borrowed a bitchin’ pair from my classmate, Kim: I think they were 7 inchers, with tiger stripes on the platforms/heels. I did the entire class in shoes – the learning of the routine AND our final dance, where we had to use the routine, then could improvise afterward.

It was really fun to wear shoes again! I never really felt much love for shoes (beyond the typical female interest in shoes), and I never really got what it is to be a dancer who chooses shoes over bare feet, but it was a fun change for me. It just felt it was SO not me to dance in shoes – as I said, I felt like I was playing at being sexy, instead of just being it. I always felt more myself in bare feet, so I stuck with that. Having danced in Kim’s shoes, I find myself open to the idea of exploring shoes again, especially for dance-based classes.

In honor of dancing in shoes for the first time in at least a year – if not two years – I also decided to tape myself for the first time in ages. The last time I taped a full dance in class was 2 years ago (I don’t count my tape from PPC, since that was a performance in the public realm).

This dance is made up of the approximation of the routine we learned in class tonight (first half or so), and my own freestyle (second half). I was exploring the movement in heels – especially in my own freestyle, because I really never do any of those moves in heels. I had to think on the fly with some of it, but I had fun. It’s hard to watch the video and not focus on the mistakes in moves, and I can tell when I’m in my head versus just dancing, but that’s okay. The whole point of taping it was just to do it. To get out of my comfort zone in more than one way and explore. There’s only one “advanced” trick in the entire thing (I invert once) – it’s not like I was looking to impress with being a trickster. :-)

I also should mention that I never do much dancing anymore. Most of my classes are trick based. I rarely get the chance to freestyle and dance, to be creative in my movement, so in a way, this is also me exploring what it is to dance and express through the movement again.

Anyway, this is me, exploring dancing again. Exploring videos again. And dancing in someone else’s shoes.

Brand New Items from Poleitical Clothing!

Woohoo! Our new items are finally here!!

New Items from Poleitical Clothing

New Items from Poleitical Clothing

We are SUPER excited about these new additions to our collection! All of our artwork is ORIGINAL – we took great time and care in drafting these designs and their wording, and we hope they are as fun for you as they were for us to create!

The Drea Booty Short:

The Drea Booty Short - Panties Are My Power Suit

The Drea Booty Short – Panties Are My Power Suit

Named in honor of Drea, lead instructor and owner of The Pole Garage in Santa Monica, CA, our new booty shorts feature a higher, cheekier cut than our classic shorts! They are super comfortable, made from soft cotton, and come only in turquoise (for now!). Our Poleitical Clothing logo graces the front, and our new PANTIES ARE MY POWER SUIT artwork is stamped on the back! The shorts come in sizes Small, Medium, and Large – they do run a bit smaller than our classic shorts, especially because of the overall sexier cut. Priced at $17 USD, with worldwide shipping available.

In Pole We Trust Cropped Tank:

In Pole We Trust Cropped Tank in Yellow

In Pole We Trust Cropped Tank in Yellow

In Pole We Trust Cropped Tank in Pink

In Pole We Trust Cropped Tank in Pink

This super soft, super comfy tank comes in two amazing neon colors: screaming yellow and perfect pink! Cut for One Size Fits All, our In Pole We Trust tank is cropped under the bust and compliments a variety of body types. Our Poleitical Clothing logo is printing on the back, at the neck, and our new IN POLE WE TRUST artwork is splashed across the bust! This tank leaves your favorite grip points free and clear, allowing you to not have to sacrifice cute style for a solid move! Both tanks are priced at $20 USD each, with worldwide shipping available.

All items can be purchased online, through our Etsy Shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/poleiticalclothing

Happy Shopping!

Soma System Workshops at Pole Expo

A while back, I came across a company called Soma System via Facebook – I think Marlo Fisken posted about them on her fan page? – and I was really intrigued by what they offer. It seems like an incredible practice for pole dancers looking to do body work! What is Soma System, you ask? It’s a holistic bodywork practice that you can do on your own, which allows you to blend massage techniques and meditation in order to release tense muscles and minds (among other things):

From the Soma System website

From the Soma System website

Now, I am all about finding new ways to not have shoulder tension, so I was really interested when I started poking around their website. A while back, I purchased a Trigger Point Massage ball, which I use occasionally – while it’s easy to use, and it does help me to work out terrible knots in my shoulders/back, it’s not a comprehensive self-massage option. I find it difficult to use on anything other than my back, and while Trigger Point does sell a couple of other tools, they don’t have a the selection that Soma System offers.

With Soma System, you may purchase individual items, but they also offer packages, which I love. And which I drool over every time I see them pop up in my Facebook feed! I get caught up in fantasizing about how I could be so loose and bendy if I used their system regularly. :-)

Full Body Complete Soma System Package

Full Body Complete Soma System Package

Looks fun, right?!

So, how does it all work? I grabbed this handy-dandy screenshot from their website:

How Does Soma System Work, from their website

How Does Soma System Work, from their website

Sounds incredible, yes?!

On their website, you can also find info on how to use their products, which is SO helpful. You can choose the product you wish to learn about and view PDFs containing descriptions of exercises you can do with each tool. I think this is great, as it allows you to really learn and be able to use the products at home, instead of struggling through by guessing.

Soma System Workshop, from their website

Soma System Workshop, from their website

Soma System has been doing workshops on the East Coast for a while – they even offer teacher training! I was invited to attend a workshop by Roman, the Founder & Master Instructor of Soma System, but being in LA, I couldn’t make it to a workshop based back east. I did ask if they ever come to the west coast, though, and Roman told me that they’ll be at Pole Expo 2013!!!

Which means, YOU ALL HAVE TO GO AND TAKE THEIR WORKSHOPS. I currently do not have plans to attend Pole Expo – we were hoping to go with Poleitical Clothing, since we have some new items, but it looks highly unlikely we’ll make it this year – which means I won’t be able to do the Soma System workshops. BUT, I WANT TO KNOW ALL ABOUT THEM!!!

The Soma System Workshops at Pole Expo are offered at these times:

  • Friday, Sept. 6th from 10:35-11:15AM
  • Saturday, Sept. 7th from 10:30-11:15AM
  • Sunday, Sept. 8the from 10:15-11AM

You can find more info here: http://poleexpo.com/palms-ballroom.html#.UfVggW0k_px

The best part? ALL WORKSHOPS IN THE BALLROOM ARE FREE WITH YOUR EXPO PASS!!!!! This means you have no excuse to not try one of their three workshops over the weekend!

Soma System is looking to expand their workshops across the West Coast, so if you are interested and you think your studio might want to host an event, contact them! I’m hoping they’ll be in LA sometime soon!!! *UPDATE* Here’s a little interview, talking more about what to expect from a workshop:

HUGE sale at Pure Delish!

If you are a Los Angeles or Orange County resident, come check out the HUGE sale over at Pure Delish! Savings are massive for the month of July, and for every $100 you spend, you get $10 to spend in August!

Pure Delish is my faaaaavorite dance wear shop! Kat & the girls are super attentive and knowledgable about their merchandise – they have an amazing selection of fun pole clothes, lingerie, shoes, costumes, adult products, and more!

The sale is only good at their Culver City location, but it is worth the trip if you live in the LA area!!!

Here’s a flyer, with more details!

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The Aussie Invasion

On Sunday, June 2nd, I was lucky enough to nab a ticket to Girl Next Door Show – A Pole Dance Soiree: The Australian Edition, featuring six of Australia’s best pole dancers! It was an epic show, filled with incredible and incredibly diverse performances from the Aussies and some of the American GND cast.

I have had the pleasure of seeing four of these dancers before, at last year’s International Master’s Cup and Pole Con 2012, but it was so special and inspiring to see them again.

Image

(photo from the GND Facebook page)

Bailey Hart

I had seen Bailey perform at Master’s Cup and at Pole Con, and let me tell you – she’s spellbinding. When I was watching her at Master’s, I was also volunteering to run the video camera for the event, and I could not watch her through the lens – I *had* to look up and see her “live”…she brings so much emotion to what she does, and she chooses what I think are unconventional moves that combine strength, grace, and emotion in a beautiful way. I ended up falling in love with her performance at Masters and Pole Con – it was my favorite of the night (no shade to anyone else), and her performance at Girl Next Door was also beautiful, with a gorgeous sensuality to it. Here is a link to her performance on Facebook – if I can find a YouTube link to embed, I will update the post:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151483866836028&set=vb.205514531347&type=2&theater

Gracie Buntine

Prior to GND, I wasn’t too familiar with Gracie, other than hearing her name now and then. I can say, without hesitation, that she made a fan of me that night! Her style is gorgeous – she floats, combining power and grace with a beautiful ease of movement. Our entire group fell in love with her performance. Check out her Australian Pole Championships performance.

UPDATE: Gracie’s GND performance is now online! See it on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151500112546028

Michelle Shimmy

I think Shimmy is familiar to most pole dancers, and I know I have watched a number of her videos – tutorials, performances, freestyles, you name it, she’s got it online! I had seen her before at Master’s Cup, where her choice of music really stood out to me – it was like she was dancing for my 15 year old self. :-) Anyway, if you know Shimmy, you know she is power and sass and beautiful form. Her lines are always gorgeous, and she knows damn well how to work a crowd! Her performance was cheeky and filled with ballsy strength and beauty. Shimmy put her performance on YouTube, so you can watch it in the post!

Carlie Hunter

I love Carlie‘s strength – every time I watch her, I’m struck at how powerful she is, and how much she COMMITS to her character of choice. There’s a true fearlessness to what she does, and it’s awesome. I saw her perform at Master’s Cup, and then a day or two later, saw her at Pole Con, and the performances were so different in content, but equally impressive. Carlie chose to do her famous (and award winning!) Grandma Clementine routine for GND, and if you haven’t seen it, you have missed out! Here’s the link to the Facebook video – I am hoping it goes up on YouTube, so I can embed it!

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151477549736028

Kristy Sellars

Kristy opened the show, and she’s just the cutest thing ever! She really dances and commits not only to character, but also in the way she connects to the audience. She doesn’t just dance, she really PERFORMS, and it’s SO MUCH FUN! I loved her routine – her costume was a gorgeous Kelly Maglia creation, and she had adorable styling to go along with it. Everything fit her music perfectly. Unfortunately, her performance doesn’t appear to be online yet, but in the meantime, do yourself the incredible favor of watching her KILLER winning performance from Miss Pole Dance Victoria. She does an amazing job of using her props to further her character and story! Her costume is amazing, and she sells that character 100% – her spirit is infectious, and on a personal note, as a pole dancer with curves, I love that she’s got some curves, too – she’s totally hot!

Maddie Sparkle

After Maddie‘s performance, I think our entire group of girls wanted to BE her. She’s just got this energy that is absolutely compelling – she’s got power, flexibility, sass, sexiness, and there’s that smile…you fall in love with her when she’s on stage. I remember her from Master’s Cup, too, and it was the same thing – I just instantly LIKED her, and I think she’s incredible. Maddie’s GND routine is on YouTube, so here you go!

Overall, the night was amazing – the ladies of The Pole Garage made it an event (I really don’t even know how many of us were there), and it felt like 90% of the pole dancers in LA were in attendance. I recognized people all over the place! It was like the Pole Oscars or something. :-) Keep an eye out for the videos for all of these ladies – I’ll post them if I find them!

Happy Poling!

xoxo

Gumby, I am not.

I’m not flexible. That’s really no secret. I have a hard time with most tricks that require flexibility, and even with some tricks that require ordinary flexibility (i.e. shoulder flexi-ness). I stretch occasionally, but not nearly as often as I ought to. Recently, inspired by some of the polers I follow on Facebook (like www.facebook.com/sparrowhawkaerial), I bought ankle weights to work my middle splits.

Uh. That shit HURTS.

I had my boyfriend take a couple of photos of my stretches tonight, in hopes it can help me track my progress. I also am working on my regular splits, which are varying degrees of meh. My right is bad, but my left has some hope – it’s better than the right, anyway! The warm up that we do in my Monday class with Veronika has opened up my left split a bit more, and it’s definitely made me believe in the possibility of getting that split.

Here’s to deepening splits! Who has great tips for deepened flexibility, splits or otherwise? Would love to hear suggestions!! :-)

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Tulip and Shoulder Mount Bomb

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, in part because I’ve been busy with life. In the last two months, I moved out of the apartment I had lived in for 9 and a half years (and in with my boyfriend), donated the car I’d had for almost 10 years (which I drove cross country during my move to LA), and I had a birthday. It’s been a  big time of change, which has been great! Things are still evolving, too, so my brain has been all over the place. I haven’t had the funds to go to my home studio, so I’ve been using my stash of groupons to float around to other classes and studios. As such, I’ve gotten a chance to check out three other studios (two of which I had been to before, but it was interesting to visit again), but the change in my routine was a bit disruptive at first. However, I stumbled upon a class that I ended up loving, and since it’s the studio where I had the largest groupon, it’s been great – I’ll have my fourth class next week, and I am super excited about what we might be doing in it. I hope to get some time to write reviews of the different studios, but in the meantime, here are a couple of things I’ve worked on recently:

Tulip

I saw this trick on Instagram (it’s like the secret society of pole dancers – everyone posts photos of tricks and offers advice to other polers on how to do them), popping up on the feeds of some of the people we follow through Poleitical Clothing‘s account. It’s a bold trick in terms of how it looks, but it’s not hard – just takes a little creative manipulation to get into it. I’ll include my description of how I get into it, but first, here’s the photo of me in the trick:

BAM! The Tulip. Subtle, it is not.

BAM! The Tulip. Subtle, it is not.

So, this is how I get into the Tulip:

  • Invert to an outside knee hang (also sometimes called a butterfly hook) and stand up over it – this is how we describe the climb up to the position from where you could go into a superman or a jasmine, or continue to climb to do another invert of some kind. To explain the movement: from the knee hook, you’ll sit up and put your bottom hand on the pole below your knee hook, to push for leverage (I usually put it about parallel to my bottom hip) and put your top hand above the knee hook, to pull up. So, your head should then be above your upper leg, and you can use the front of the lower thigh as a lock by placing it against the pole as a grip.
  • Moving on…from the sit up over your knee hook, swing your bottom leg down and place the bottom of your foot on the pole, bottom leg straight and pointing to the floor while keeping your hands and upper knee hook in place. Once this is secure, you can remove the bottom arm to pose in a Cupid (also called a Star in some circles). If you have a super duper strong knee hook, you can remove the top hand, too, and just grip with the knee/stabilize with the bottom foot while keeping your core tight – it takes a lot of strength and balance, so only do it if you’re sure you can handle it, or if you have a spotter.
  • So, from the Cupid, I move into what we were calling the Devil’s Point, but I think people are calling it a Genie, too – you’ll reach back down between the legs to grab the pole again (and, if you’ve kept your upper hand on the pole, you’re all set – if not, grab the pole again above the upper knee). Once your hands are secure, and keeping that upper knee locked around the pole, you’ll remove the bottom foot and swing it in front of the pole, securing the pole in your bottom knee pit. Your knees should now be mirror images of each other, both gripping the pole, bottom hand gripping between the knees, upper hand still above the upper knee.
  • From the Devil’s Point, you then reach your bottom arm between the pole and your crotch and secure an elbow grip with that arm – your arm will loop around the pole so that your hand is headed toward your face. Once that is locked, and keeping your knee grips solid, remove your upper hand and repeat the same elbow hook for the upper arm.
  • Both arms should now be loop around the pole, hands pointed toward your face on the outside/front of the pole. Crossing the arms at the wrists seems to provide extra support. Now, you are ready to extend your legs to complete the trick! Press the backs of your knees against the pole while arching your back – you have to arch and stick your  butt out a bit in order to get the extension to work and look pretty! Otherwise, you’ll end up with bent spider legs, especially if you aren’t super bendy.
  • Once you extend the legs, you’re in it! Get a picture! To get out, simply re-grip your knees, and you can choose how to come out of it. So far, I’ve mostly been grabbing the pole and swinging the top knee off the pole and kind of just coming out of it, but it’s not pretty, so maybe try to get back into a Cupid – that’s my goal!

This left a whopper of a bruise on the inside of my lower knee, in part because I never use that knee as a grip. Even in Lyra, my right knee is my strong knee, so I do all of my single knee hangs from that side. My left knee was so upset after this trick! The bruise and the swollen bump with the bruise were no fun, so I’m leaving the trick alone for a few days, to allow it to heal.

I think this trick would be great on spinning pole, and that’s on my list of things to try with it!

I brought this trick into my new class from the groupons, and my instructor worked it out quickly from the sample photo, showing me how to get my legs straight. Next thing I knew, my side of the classroom all began trying it, which was neat to see. :-) That’s one of the things I love about pole – the instant inspiration that can happen. In that same class, I also learned what we were calling a Shoulder Mount Bomb, which is a variation of the shoulder mount pose, but with no hands (whuuuuuuut?!). Here’s a video of me playing with it, in the class:

Now, this trick can be done from an actual shoulder mount up into it, or from a regular invert, like I did in the video. I found it to feel more secure from the invert, but that’s just me. From the invert, you push up into a caterpillar, and instead of using your hands to grip the pole as you slide down, you actually bring your chest to the pole and make contact on the front of your usual side for shoulder mounts. As you slide (your hands can still be on the pole, if you aren’t feeling secure – I kept mine on), you begin to crunch and tuck yourself into a ball while keeping your knees gripping the pole – I used my legs, too, because I wanted to control my slide better, since your entire frame slides, not just the torso. As you crunch into the ball, the pole will roll/slide up to the meaty portion on the top of your shoulder. Your grip in your knees should be tight and the pressure on your shoulder should be solid so that you can remove your hands from the pole. It sounds super scary – definitely do it with a spotter at first – but it’s surprisingly solid. If you feel comfortable, you can also extend one leg at the knee WHILE STILL KEEPING YOUR KNEES GRIPPING TOGETHER (you know, so you don’t fall), as I do in the video. Our instructor took both feet behind the pole and kept her knees gripped, but I felt better having one leg still on the pole. You can see it all in the video. :-)

I’m really liking this new class, which is at The Choreography House. I like the instructor, Veronika (she teaches at studios all over LA) – she’s got an incredible warm up, which has me closer to my left side (good side) split than ever before, and she teaches practical combinations and tricks, breaks down instructions well, and is quick to pick up on new tricks, as well as quick to adapt a trick to work for someone who is having trouble. Once my groupon is up, I am hoping to continue in her class, if not at ChoHo, then hopefully at another studio.

I dropped into two consecutive classes at my home studio (The Pole Garage), and it was SO nice to see everyone. I miss my social circle over there, which is one of the hard parts of floating around. I’m naturally reserved/shy with new people/classes, although I usually am just open and excited to see what new thing I’ll be shown that class. Anyway, on Wednesday night’s classes at PG, I got a chance to try two things I’ve wanted to try for a while: the elbow grip ayesha and the cartwheel handspring! I’d tried the ayesha ages ago, once, and fell out of it, so I never tried it again, despite wanting to give it another shot. It’s weird, but I was never in a class where anyone taught it, and I’d always forget to ask. I finally approached one of the rock star students at PG to ask her how to do it, and she talked me through it and spotted me, plus I got a chance to try it with the instructor spotting me later on. I like it! It’s a leap of faith, to be sure, and I need to adjust something to make it less tweaky on my bottom wrist/shoulder, but it felt way more solid than my twisted grip has felt in a while. I had a backslide with that – I never feel that solid in it anymore, for some reason. Anyway, the same rock star student also showed me a cartwheel handspring mount, which I tried a few times – it’s definitely an issue of working out what is going on with my bottom hand, because it hurt my wrist more than a twisted grip handspring. But, I had the right momentum, and I think it’ll be something I could keep trying to work on!

What about all of you? Any fun new tricks you’ve been working on?

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