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Studio Spotlight: Aeriform Arts

For the last year or so, I have been regularly taking lyra classes at an Aerial & Pole Studio in North Hollywood, CA, called Aeriform Arts. Over that time, I have struck up a friendship with the owners, Lea & Allelon, who sponsored me for Pacific Aerial 2014. They’re great folks, and I adore my class – I feel quite lucky to have found it!

The vibe of the studio is unlike a lot of others in LA. Everyone is welcome, and there’s no clique-ish-ness. I see people of all shapes, sizes, ages, looks, and backgrounds whenever I go. I got curious about how the studio came to be, so I asked Lea if she’d be willing to sit down to answer some questions about it!

Poleitical Diaries: How were you introduced to aerial arts? 

Lea Walker: I have a fast paced career in TV, and I started having serious health issues that forced me to slow down a bit. I ended up bedridden for weeks and realized that the surgery had not only stripped me of my physical strength, but also my sense of body confidence and power. My scars became a symbol of how my body had failed me. I came to the conclusion that maybe I needed to finally slow down and do something for me. After I healed, I started taking pole lessons and then branched out to aerial yoga, which I found really helped improve some back disc issues I was having as well. At that point I was hooked!

Lea Walker of Aeriform Arts. Photo by Poleagraphy.

Lea Walker of Aeriform Arts. Photo by Poleagraphy.

PD: Tell us about your studio. What classes do you offer?
LW: Aeriform Arts offers multi level, co-ed classes in Aerial Yoga, Hammock, Silks, Pole, Lyra, Trapeze & Aerial Cirque Conditioning (with stretch & dance workshops as well). We really pride ourselves with having an easygoing yet knowledgeable staff that works hard towards helping our clients explore and achieve their maximum potential. We like to have fun and encourage or clients to as well!

PD: What do you feel sets Aeriform Arts apart from other studios?

LW: I truly believe we are a studio that embraces all levels, ages, sizes & sexes. We really try to make it a fun learning experience for everyone, where everyone is part of the cool kids club. We do not allow any cliquishness and want everyone to feel important and cared for.

Instructor Tavi. Photo by Poleagraphy.

Instructor Tavi. Photo by Poleagraphy.

PD: What are you most proud of in regards to the studio?

LW: I love the fact that we are co-ed across the board and that we embrace both sexy and strong aspects of pole/aerial in the studio. Two great tastes that taste great together!

PD: What are some of your favorite studio-related memories over the years?

LW: Wow – there are so many. All of the friendships we have made, being ecstatic when we hit our 1 year & 2 year anniversaries (our 3 year is coming up in Nov), our last student showcase was amazing – I was so proud of everyone. Every time there is a full pole class and all I hear are squeals of giggling, any feelings I have about the energy that it takes to run a studio melt away. But I think the best memory I have is when this one woman crawled out of an Aerial Cirque class, literally crawled – in the middle of class I might add! She was a disheveled, sweaty mess, pooled on the front lobby floor and I leaned over the desk and asked “Um are you okay?” she looked up at me and said “NOOO that shit is HARD” then she tossed her credit card to me and said, “Can I get a 10 pack, and can you sign me up for the next 5 weeks? I love this shit – thanks!” Then she smiled and crawled back into class.

Instructor Leigh of Aeriform Arts.

Instructor Leigh of Aeriform Arts.

PD: Is there a class you wish you could add?

LW: Vertical Wall Dance or Bungee Assisted Dance – I am dying to learn it!!!! I would love to offer it but would need the height & instructors to even begin to think about it. Seriously though, I am looking to make a trip to England to take a workshop or two with Wired Aerial Theatre want to go?

PD: What’s on the horizon for Aeriform?

We have some new class offerings in the works! We just added in a Trapeze class, and Candice Cane [is slated] to be joining the studio in January teaching pole, and we’ll be adding a bunch of new workshops, starting in January 2015.

You can find more about Aeriform Arts and their classes at www.aeriformarts.com. They have some excellent aerial offerings, from silks, hammock, and lyra, to pole and aerial yoga, as well as special classes like aerial cirque. Thank you to Lea for taking the time to chat with me!

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!)

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. :-)

Handsprings and apron strings

Last night in class, we started conditioning for handsprings – exciting and scary! Back in the fall, I started learning the original mount position for a twisted handgrip handspring, but I was not strong enough (nor flexible enough, although I am not that flexible now anyway) to be able to hold it or even really get into it with any ease. We were not at the place to begin the launch conditioning, but my instructor at the time (Autumn, who just had a baby!) just wanted us to learn what it felt like to be in that position. I’ve been conditioning twisted handgrip to go into aerial ever since, but haven’t revisited the handspring launch position since then. Drea brought it in this week, so we can start getting familiar with it now, even though most of us aren’t quite ready to go full aerial. She’s teaching us twisted first, because we’re all still conditioning that grip up on the pole – it’s the Jenyne Butterfly dead lift version of a handspring, I think. I was able to get into the position with a lot more ease than in the fall, and I could hold it for longer, but I wasn’t able to get up yet – whatever balance and strength it takes with the bottom arm isn’t conditioned yet. But, it’s conditioning I can at least work on at home – I can work on staying in the launch position to get used to it and doing little controlled hops to work on the core conditioning.

On top of that conditioning, I also have homework conditioning to do to get caught up on straight leg inverts – I am woefully behind on that (when compared to my fellow classmates, which I shouldn’t be comparing myself to, but whatever). Straight leg inverts have always bothered my back a lot – I used to have immediate pain from them – now, I can do a few, but either go home and feel pain that night, or all the following day. It sucks. I still can’t get up with straight legs, either – so, I feel like I’m hurting myself for no progress. It’s a source of a lot of frustration for me. Drea gave me baby step conditioning to do to work up to it, which is good – it’s just really upsetting that my body won’t do what I want it to do.

On the plus side, I was able to do the butterfly from the floor mount (as opposed to an inversion to get into it), which is something that I had tried once with Autumn, too. Last week, I hadn’t done proper stretching on my left leg to allow it – I tried to get into the position and whatever I messed up in my knee last year twanged hard enough that I aborted it without trying the trick.

In other news, I will be volunteering at the International Pole Masters Cup Championships on June 21st – I thought it might be neat to see what goes on at the event, even if I don’t get a chance to watch the show itself. I may be doing a second day of work/volunteering at the Pole Convention, but waiting to hear back on that – it would be for a vendor, instead of for the event itself.

And, best of all, I have a really fun idea for a pole-related item, which was cooked up with a member of a group of polers I chat with via Facebook – we’re looking to meet up about it next week, and I’ve enlisted my boyfriend for help with it. I would be SO EXCITED to get it off the ground!

I need to work on my PPC post and get it out sooner, as it looks like the photos/video may take a while – I finally checked in to ask about them, because I thought I would have received them by now, and it turns out that a lot of us haven’t heard back – we also haven’t received our scorecards (feedback on performances) yet, which I had forgotten about. So, I will try to get the PPC post done and up, then post photos and maybe video/scorecard when it all arrives.

Here’s a fun little pic from this week’s class – our theme was “Apron Strip”, so I brought the only apron I own (the front reads: “I keep the best snacks under my apron.”) and my “fancy housewife” rubber gloves that have fabric detailing on the ends. We are a silly bunch sometimes!

Image

 

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