Aura Heels: Your New Favorite Shoes (Part 2)
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview the creators of Aura Heels – please check out what co-owner Melanie had to say about her experiences with pole dance and being a pole entrepreneur:
Aura Heels was kind enough to send me a pair of their incredible shoes to test out, and I wanted to share my experience with all of you!
My particular pair arrived carefully packaged in their original Pleaser box, with helpful instructions on how to use the light controls, as well as a plug to recharge the shoes. I spent approximately 47 minutes squeeing, tottering around on our carpeted floors, and forcing my boyfriend to take video of me doing legwork on our couch, before I finally put them away and planned my next outing to a studio.
The Basics: Size, Height, and Style
My pair were constructed from a clear, lucite Pleaser platform, with a heel height of 7.5 inches. They feature clear toe and ankle straps, and like most Pleasers of this fashion, you can probably size down a half or even full size if you want them to fit a little tighter. I am a size 8, and my test shoes are also an 8, and they’re probably a tiny bit too big for me, so keep sizing down in mind when placing your order. The weight is approximately 4 to 4.5lbs total for the shoes – I very scientifically tested this by getting on my scale wearing them and also in bare feet.
Aura Heels does offer different styles, including some cool options with platforms that have clear windows in otherwise blacked out plastic, and they will do custom built options for other heel heights, if the 7.5 inch heel is not for you!
Aura Heels also offers a variety of light modes, including Rainbow, ColorBomb, SwapFlow, TiltFlow (my favorite), ShortPulse, Waterfall, Full Spectrum, Starburst, and SoundPower. I’ve put together a YouTube Playlist of their sample videos, so you can get an idea of what each mode looks like: http://youtu.be/pe6vX8-c6Tc?list=PLTSEkwQRjm00r0Py-eZA7bq4fUhD5jSG3
As for the color: it is SO bright! It’s super vivid, and absolutely eye-catching – the shoes make a huge impression, and people will stop to watch you! I brought them to two different studios, in classes with different women, and they made a big splash every time. I had girls asking to try them on, to take photos in them, and to just take photos of the shoes on me! (I’ve also had a few people ask to borrow them for photo shoots!)
I cycled through all of the modes offered with my pair, but I kept coming back to the TiltFlow, because it’s such a brilliant option. I love the way the colors shift as the shoes move, and they remain illuminated throughout the movement. The lighting in the room does make a difference in terms of how well the shoes show up on film: darker is better, and the faster your movement, the less the camera will pick up the different shifts, but you can TOTALLY see them in person.
The sole of the shoes do heat up a little from the light, which threw me off at first, but it never gets more than a little warm. The colors stayed true throughout a six minute, floor work heavy test dance that I did, and they performed just like any other shoe during my on-the-pole test. I’ve used them off an on for the better part of a week, and have not yet had to recharge them.
If you’re a heel-clacker, I’m not sure these would be for you, as I don’t know that the electronics could survive that kind of battering – most shoes that get clacked often seem to have a short shelf life, so I wouldn’t recommend it in these heels. I did one small clack, and they held up fine, but repeated wear & tear would probably take its toll like on any other shoe. Given that these heels can’t really be repaired if you clack them out of existence, it’s probably worth it to save your clacks for a less expensive heel.
The heels are pricey, but that makes sense to me, given the work that goes into their construction and programming. There is nothing else like them. The low end begins in the high $100’s, around $175, which is on par with some of the higher-end rhinestoned Pleaser options. Much of their range is in the mid $200’s, and the line tops out around $400 for their highest tier offering, the Limited Edition Galaxy Platform. Choosing your option has everything to do with which light mode you prefer: you can save money by choosing an option with just one light mode, instead of trying to go for one with multiple offerings.
Overall, I loooooooooooooooove these heels, and I am so stoked to have gotten the chance to play with them! They’re just the coolest thing I’ve seen in ages, and I am so excited to see Aura Heels getting more recognition from our community! They were recently at The Great Midwest Pole Convention, and received news coverage from local Chicagoland papers/tv outlets, and their web presence has been steadily growing these last few weeks! To shop their line, head to their Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AuraHeels – find them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/AuraHeels – stalk them on Instagram at: http://instagram.com/auraheels (@auraheels) – and watch their full line of videos on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa0fzz7HRvsJTGBqzPc_xcQ
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)