Blog Archives

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!

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). :-)

Respect

A couple of weeks ago, my incredible friend Claire of The Pole Story wrote a great entry over at the Bad Kitty Blog about having Respect For Pole Class. I loved what she had to say (despite the fact that I’ve definitely been guilty of being late!), especially in her closing remarks:

“I’m going to say something that is probably controversial (surprise) but that I think it needs to be said:  There is an overdeveloped sense of entitlement in parts of the pole world – a kind of low-level narcissism in which things like respect for your teacher, your fellow dancers and a sense of service to the studio is missing.  Now, I realize that certain studios may contribute to this attitude by proclaiming that “It’s all about YOU YOU YOU!” and/or by charging exorbitant amounts of money for classes.  And I firmly believe that if you pay for a service, you are entitled to a positive experience.  But at the end of the day, you are a student.  You are there to learn, as is everyone else in the classroom.  So show respect for the rules of the studio and for your classmates and teachers.”

Claire’s piece came to mind during my most recent lyra class. Our class has a max of six students – some days, it’s full. Other days, there are maybe three of us in attendance, but we tend to see the same faces. We’ll have new people drop in now and then, or some faces will be absent for a couple of weeks, then back at it (I’ve been in that group, due to travel). I’m getting to know some of the girls a little better, becoming a little friendlier. It’s a mixed level class, and our teacher runs it in a great way: each week, we get on the hoop and run through the sequence of tricks we’ve learned since the beginning as a warm up, then she’ll teach everyone something to add to it – in our final turns, we again run through everything we’ve learned from the beginning. The tricks we learn as add-ons vary depending on how advanced everyone is in the class, but with the mixed levels, she’ll usually break everything up so that the newer gals are learning the same things, while the girls with more experience are trying harder sequences. She’ll challenge the girl with the most experience with harder stuff and make her review things she isn’t yet teaching the rest of us, but she gives everyone something new to do on top of reviewing their previous tricks.

I happen to love this way of teaching – progressive curriculum is great for truly learning the moves, building strength and endurance, and – something I’m finding to be really important – learning how to string the moves together into a sequence for the purposes of a full dance/performance. It might not be for everyone, but it is how the class works. I love getting to see more advanced moves, and while there are times when I think, “Aw, I bet I could do that!”…I also know that I’ll get to it eventually, so I don’t push to do it now.

Which brings me to my story…

In class this week, we had a newer student that I couldn’t remember if I’d seen before. She had been to one class, and it may have been one I missed – there was also a sub for the class, so the teacher hadn’t met her yet, either. The class was made up of one advanced girl, two intermediate gals (including me), and two new gals. Our teacher has us warm up individually (after a group warm up on the floor), starting with the more advanced students and working back to the newer gals. It gives the new students a chance to see what comes with time, since there’s generally just one hoop strung up (occasionally two, but we warm up one at a time – the second hoop is for throwing in some extra practice while others are going through their tricks later in class).

After having the more advanced gals warm up, our teacher went to instruct the two newer students on their initial moves. Now, I can’t quite recall the sequence of events, but throughout the class, one of the newer gals – the one with one prior class under her belt – kept asking to be taught more advanced moves. She would pipe up while watching the rest of us and say, “I’d like to do that.” Each time, firmly but politely, the teacher would say, “No, I’m not going to teach you that today.”

I totally get wanting to learn the hard tricks – believe me. I also get that some gals have that need for validation that drives them to throw themselves into the hardest stuff they can find. But, here’s the thing: if you’re throwing yourself into advanced tricks too quickly, you probably look like shit in them, aren’t doing them correctly, and are more likely to be injured. And, speaking from experience, you probably aren’t really retaining anything you’ve learned.

The thing that bothered me about this girl’s requests was the energy surrounding them – like I said, it’s not that I don’t get why someone would want to learn something advanced sooner than they should. But, the way she requested it was rude. Her tone was demanding. When she was told no, her energy curdled the air around her. She allowed our teacher to continue teaching her the basics, and – not surprisingly – she struggled with those moves. I’m not sure she realized how much she struggled with them, but it was among the most struggling I’ve seen in the class. I don’t say that to be mean, but more to highlight the importance of having respect for your own limits.

This isn’t to say that you should diminish yourself or not believe in yourself. It’s to say that you should know your body. Learn your limits and challenge them in a smart way. Build steadily and safely. You’ll learn how to trust yourself and what you can do, while still also learning when it’s time to challenge yourself. AND, you’ll find that you surprise yourself, too. :-) With a great teacher, you can grow and push your limits safely, retaining what you’ve learned and building on it to be a better dancer and a more well-rounded performer.

Beyond having respect for the limits of your body and abilities/knowledge, there’s also the issue of having respect for the teacher and the rest of the members of your class. This girl was disrespectful to all of us with her requests, particularly because she made them repeatedly and in a tone that implied an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. (And, lest you think it was just me feeling this way…it wasn’t.) Now, this might offend some people or be controversial, but it’s my opinion, and I am sticking to it: I hear about pole classes where they teach people to invert on the first day, and where they throw people into complicated tricks without ensuring that they a) are strong enough/conditioned enough and b) understand the mechanics of the move. I cringe when I hear about those classes. They’re not only irresponsible in regards to safety, but they’re breeding an obnoxious kind of pole dancer. Of course, I can’t say for sure that this student came from one of those classes, but the level of aggression in her desire to progress made me wonder…

The other new girl in the class? She was like most of the new students: a little scared and intimidated, but game to try things, picking it up more as she went along. She looked so happy to get what she got and satisfied with her success. It was a marked difference from her counterpart, who didn’t seem to even take joy in learning the moves she was actually taught. Our teacher doesn’t care how much experience you have in pole or any other sport – she doesn’t care if you’re an Olympic athlete or an out of shape school teacher – everyone starts in the same place in our class. Everyone learns the same few moves on their first day. You’re learning a new apparatus, and while you may bring in a level of strength, flexibility, or athleticism that helps you learn faster, you still are on a new apparatus. And, sometimes taking it back to the beginning is good. You get to discover the joy again. Pole can be so hard when you get further along – the tricks get harder and require more, and the successes seem further and further apart (at least, for me). Why not take the opportunity to enjoy learning something new, instead of pushing so hard to jump ahead right away? Why not take the chance to learn and have it stick, so you can be better overall? These are things I’m going to try to keep in mind as I continue in my pole and lyra classes. Because, let me tell you: class without joy is a waste. You’re less likely to succeed if you aren’t happy.

(My longest dance yet! My arms were like jelly afterward – that’s A LOT of work on my grip – but I’m happy with where it’s all going. I wasn’t able to get the full new trick we learned – unholy pain – but hoping it comes soon. Going to continue working on smoother inverts and transitions, too.)

Video Blitz

I’ve been out of town again, but wanted to update with some recent videos.

First up is one of my new favorite performances, from Marlo Fisken – I seriously keep watching this over and over. She brings so much fluidity to her performances – and she’s a sterling example of what it is to pole DANCE. She’s also a powerhouse. I’m in awe, always. Stunning.

Next is a recent video from USPDF Champ Michelle Stanek – it’s a gorgeous mix of sexy and athletic, proving once again that there is room for both in the pole world. They can co-exist, and the results are beautiful.

This video – damn. This guy is amazing. Incredible strength and moves – he’s got some sick combos and Chinese pole skills. He’s earning some crushes from my fellow pole girls. :-)

I’ve got some new post ideas in the works, and I’m thrilled to share that I’ll soon be reviewing the MostFit Suspension Strap, to see how it helps with conditioning for pole and aerial! Once I receive my test sample, I’ll figure out what kind of exercises to do with it and if I can work out a program for use, based on what they suggest, and I’ll pass along that info on my blog!

I’m looking forward to heading back into Lyra this coming weekend (side note: my mom is coming to a class with me, later in the month – that’ll be fun!) – in our last class, I got to go to the top of the hoop for the first time! I’m excited to keep adding on to what I’ve learned. I have someone tape me in each class, so I can see what I’m doing – how far I’ve come, what tricks are working, what needs to be polished, etc. Right now, I seem to be so focused on tricks and making sure I’m solid that I’m not really minding my musicality, so that’s my next goal. :-) Also, I want to smooth out my inverts. Anyway, here’s the video from my last class!

Inverting to the top of the hook, in a pike position.

Inverting to the top of the hoop, in a pike position.

A month?

How has it been a month since I last posted? Oh, I was busy, that’s why. :-/ I haven’t been to my usual pole class in a couple of weeks, because of travel and work, but I did hit up lyra this week, and I had a drop in class at a studio in Illinois – which I’ll post about separately. I’m currently debating whether or not I want to compete again next year in PPC. If you haven’t read my post on what my experiences were like when I first competing, I do recommend it – not just because I wrote it, but because I really tried hard to present the experience clearly and to be really honest about what it took to do it. It was exhausting and expensive, and while I ultimately had a good time at the competition itself, I don’t know that I’d do it again.

However, I keep thinking of ideas for routines. I get ideas while I’m driving, I hear songs and think of movement, and I generally find myself still mulling it over. It’s such a commitment, though. The money, the time, the wear and tear on your body…registration opens in December. Maybe I’ll figure it out before then…

Lyra was fun this week – smaller class, so more time up in the hoop. We’re working on stringing little mini routines together, which has been a good challenge. It allows us to build on what we’ve learned already while still cementing it. I had three weeks off from class, so I was happy to see that I remembered everything, even if my grip was exhausted pretty quickly. I wish I could go to lyra twice a week. The bruises are terrible, though, soooo…maybe it’s better that I keep it to once a week! :-) Anyway, here’s a new video from class – I was working on holding each pose for a 2 count and smoothing transitions. I stopped my own spin, unfortunately – Leigh pops in at the start to spin me, but I accidentally stopped it when I did the pump to get momentum to go up into the hoop (that move is allowable for now – it allows me a smoother transition once I’m up, instead of fighting for it right off the bat). The hoop still spins during the routine, but not as much as it could. I have to work out how to transition into other moves that I know, too. We’re focusing on this sequence a lot right now – but, that’s almost 2 minutes, which is great! It didn’t feel like 2 minutes at all while I was doing it!

working on my fake split hang (I don’t have great splits)

I have other stuff I want to post this week – hoping the holiday gives me some free time to do it!

Tying it together

At today’s Lyra class, we worked on tying our tricks together and smoothing out our transitions – something important for pole, too! I’m still working on making combos mesh well and smoothing out the moments between tricks so that I get rid of the awkward, “okay, now I’m gonna do a trick” pause.

With Lyra, it feels like I know a lot of tricks for someone who started 2 months ago, but I don’t yet know how to full incorporate all of them. If I mount one way, I can get into this trick and that trick, but I haven’t figured out how to get back around to do these other three tricks, and then if I mount this other way…yeah, it goes on. So, in today’s class, Leigh had us working on transitions within a specific series of tricks off of the Mermaid. We had the option of taping ourselves, so we could learn a little more – video below! – and we also had to work in pairs at the end! She had us pair up to choreograph our movements – again, doing the same specific movements, but we could add more if we both knew how to do them – and then having to sync our movements while performing on different hoops. It was an interesting exercise! We also worked on center straddle mounts – Leigh makes it look so easy and stunning, but damn, it’s hard! I’d venture to say that it’s harder than straight leg inverts on the pole, but that’s also not my strong suit (still tweaks my back a bit). I was able to do the straddle mount better on the shorter hoop, so I ended up practicing more on that one. We did a fair amount of conditioning for that mount, so I am hopeful to get to continue and improve!

Anyway, here’s my video from today’s class – I’ve already launched up to mount the hoop when it starts, but you’ll see Leigh spin me – she wanted us to all work while the hoops were spinning, so she gave us each a spin just after we inverted. It’s such a challenge when spinning, and I had a momentary panic attack about getting dizzy, but the moment I focused very intently on what trick I was doing and where my hands needed to be, I was able to work through the spinning and not get dizzy – I’m still working on that with spinning pole!!!

Also, a couple of videos of Leigh, because she’s awesome:

This is her performance from CPDC 2012, which I loved:

Lyra: secret cross-training

I was back in my regular Lyra class today, and it got me thinking about the benefits of picking up a second aerial art. Pole is hard on the body. It’s a beautiful sport, but it’s not an EASY sport – the bruises, the conditioning required, the knots you get in your shoulders once you start inverting regularly and going aerial…it’s not gentle. So, adding a second form of aerial seems insane. More pain? More bruising? More stiff muscles? And, with Lyra, you add in occasional scrapes from the hoop, plus terrible calluses – it’s on par with when I started using the 45mm pole more often, but almost worse, because your hands are not only callused, but rubbed raw all over.

Now, I don’t tell you this to dissuade you – because I LOVE Lyra. It has given me more than I expected. For one, it renewed my love for pole and my interest in pole. For a while, I felt like I had plateaued in pole – I was working the same tricks over and over, trying to get them solid, but not feeling like I had clear progress from week to week. Was I better than I was a year ago? Yes, for sure. But even six months ago? I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t loving the process of learning anything. I just wanted to get to the next level. I think plateaus are pretty common – it certainly wasn’t my first with pole.

Cut to Lyra. I found myself LOVING the process of learning (which I found carried over to my stretch and flex class, too – the ridiculous smile I have on my face when I’m in there – that is, when I’m not in pain – is hilarious). I loved that the conditioning from pole helped to make me better. I loved that things just made sense to me. I loved the feeling of success that came with it – the feeling of getting a trick again!

All of that happiness while learning was something that I brought back into pole, and I think it has re-energized me. I’m happier in class, I’m more interested in learning new tricks, and I walk away from class with a higher level of satisfaction. I really believe that I owe that to Lyra.

In addition to the mood and outlook changes, Lyra has also helped to cross-condition me. I started the classes while still healing from my dog bite injury from my day job, and it accelerated my ability to use my left hand in the old ways. I still have some lingering pain or weakness, but overall, it’s great. The grip required for Lyra is different from pole, and there is often less direct pressure placed on the hand, but the strength of grip is better – because the hoop is smaller than the pole, the grip required causes my hand to contract in a way that strengthened it faster. It’s been great.
Lyra has also really helped improve my back and shoulder strength. Prior to the classes, I had a lot of issues with straight leg inverts – my back would tweak whenever I did certain tricks, and I would abort the mission for fear of hurting myself. Since starting Lyra – and getting a pull up bar to do Lyra shoulder shrug conditioning at home – my back is A LOT better. I try to do shoulder shrugs every night, to help with it. The added strength has helped me with going aerial. I’m still not 100% solid, but I’m noticeably better than I was two months ago.

I look forward to seeing what else it holds for me. If I can muster my discipline (oh, to have it…it’s not my strong suit) and be diligent about working on my flexibility, I hope it’ll help me advance in both pole and Lyra. :-) In the meantime, I’ll keep happily trying new tricks – and, of course, taking photos whenever possible.

In these photos, I’m wearing the sexy tank from our Poleitical Clothing collection – it was great for the class! It stayed in place well, even during inversions, and the length kept my tummy covered for photos. :-)

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:

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. :-)

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