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Quick Survey – stretch & flex – shoulder mount!

Hey Polers – would you please take a few minutes to fill out this survey for me?

We’re working to get our pole apparel line up and running, and this survey will help us focus on what everyone out there is looking for in their choices for pole shirts/tanks/shorts, etc! If you’ve got any pole sisters (or brothers!), please share it with them as well! THANK YOU!

This weekend, with my usual Lyra class canceled for the holiday, AND my back-up Lyra class canceled, I opted to finally try a stretching and flexibility class over at The Choreography House in North Hollywood. Overall, it was a good experience! I LOVED the content of the class: at two hours long, it’s a ball-buster! My class was co-taught  by Kelly (owner of the studio) and Carolyn, who took turns leading us all in different stretches. We focused a lot on splits and middle splits (ow), and there was an entire section on back flexibility that still has me hurting! Since I am not particularly flexible, there were moments where I struggled a bit, but I still felt like I could keep up with most of it. I hope to get there, though! I also hope to be able to take some of it with me, into my regular pole class at The Pole Garage, or even at home. It seems like the classes fill up quickly, but I did manage to book another one in a couple of weeks. I was able to introduce myself to Carolyn before I left, which helped me feel a little more welcome: in my two experiences at that studio, I haven’t felt like the gals were particularly warm or welcoming toward new faces, but Carolyn was so sweet and such a good instructor that I am looking forward to the next class. About 3/4 of the way through the class, they have a tradition of stopping to watch a video for inspiration – this is the video that we watched, which blew my mind:

INSANE, yes?! Amazing.

I did a make-up pole class yesterday, since my usual class is canceled for the holiday, and I was kind of useless because of the stretching class (really: it packs a punch), but I did manage to work on holding my shoulder mount for a while. Abby, one of the newer instructors at TPG, wanted us to all work on holding our shoulder mounts in a splay before shooting up to connect to the pole. I was so surprised that I could do it!! I usually just shoot up into the mount, but was thrilled to see that I could hold it – even while tired. I have a shoulder mount variation that I would love to be able to do in the future, and it requires a ton of power in holding the shoulder mount (Bailey Hart has an entire sequence of shoulder mount work in her Winter’s Child routine, which she did at PoleCon2012 and at the International Pole Dance Master’s Cup 2012, and a number of other pole stars have some amazing variations as well). A lot of great pole champs have amazing shoulder mount combos, which I always love to see! Check out one of Alethea’s:

Alethea Austin in a shoulder mount variation


Happy Labor Day, everyone!

Slow rev

I was back in class last night, after a few days off for vacation. Tired, to say the least. As a result, I didn’t do as much as I would normally have done, but I did rehearse my static run a few times, plus I tried some of the stuff we’ve been working on for a while, like the twisted hand grip pencil. We got a breakdown of the meathook, which is not at all like what I thought it was – I first saw it in a class while at that spinning pole class I took the other week, but the instructor never really broke down how to do it. I got a proper breakdown last night at my usual studio – one of the reasons I love it there – and was able to attempt it. I’m looking forward to trying it again! Since I am in class a lot over the next two weeks, to prep for the competition, I’ll have ample time to work on it (in between when I’ll be doing my practice for the event).

I’m definitely in a bit of a panic about everything, because I do not feel ready at all, and am terrified of making an ass out of myself. That’s the funny thing about challenging oneself – all the old demons come out and you’ve gotta beat them back like Whack-A-Moles. Even when I get down on myself or freaked out, I still put one foot in front of the other, which is something. It doesn’t seem like much, but I haven’t given up – I have my off times and my frustrations, but I committed to extra classes to make myself work.

I saw this crazy shoulder mount variation that I’m going to share in a moment – shoulder mount is something that has taken me about a year to be able to do, for whatever reason. I swear it’s been a matter of commitment issues, not strength. I can do it now, although it’s not pretty the way I would like it to be – that will come with more conditioning. My technical issues came from kicking my legs out without lifting them – and my body – up toward the pole…it also took me a while to find the right position. The shoulder grip area (for me) seems to be right between the base of my neck and the top of my shoulder blade bone, which is near the shoulder. If I look in the mirror, there is about a 2 to 3 inch area of skin between the base of my neck and where my collar bone rises to meet the shoulder. That is the fleshy part of my shoulder (for lack of a better word) and seems to be the right pocket for my mount, so as to avoid the compression being placed on bone. It’s something that I feel out more than something I look for when I get into it. Then, it is a matter of getting the right position for the head/body – I tend to lean back a bit, so I’m a little lower on the pole, but not too much – too much causes slipping and added weight in a weird way. I also had to learn to tuck my elbows in toward the pole when I would launch – I kept leaving them out and, once it was caught my one of the instructors, I was told that I was taking half my power away by doing it. I can now get up on the pole if I am not tired, and I’m doing infinitely better with it overall, but it is something I try each week. Sometimes, pole is a journey of getting tricks right away…other times, it takes a year of conditioning to be able to do one thing, which is both frustrating and gratifying (once you hit it).

I did notice last night that I now have control in my headstand that I didn’t have before – instead of kicking up, I was able to roll up smoothly, which (again) is something that has taken ages. It’s now down to stamina – being able to do it again and again, instead of just twice or whatever. 🙂

Anyway, on to that modified shoulder mount, which starts just after the 2:34 mark in this video – I almost threw up when I saw it for the first time.

She uses the pocket of her elbow as a grip – elbow grips are not my favorite (ouch) – and I can’t imagine how hard it must be! Anyway, overall, she’s got some amazing athleticism!

Today is night 2 of class this week – hoping to have some more energy and work on floor choreo. I did some spinning pole stuff last night, but not a ton – I was assigned the new 45mm to work on, because I need it for PPC, but also because nobody else had much experience on it, apparently. So the girls would stop by and play on it, but it was mostly mine for the night, which is fine. I may be on it again tonight, we’ll see. I had to work to avoid a busted spot on my foot last night – it’s right where I climb, so I had to modify the climb so as to not rip it open again. It took me a little while to figure out how to do that – I had to go back to an old style of climbing and use my knees more than my foot hook, which was weird. Anyway, we’ll see what tonight brings!

Pedicures and Ice Packs

It’s a well known fact that pedicures don’t fair well when subjected to pole dancing. At least, not if you’re doing any kind of floor work. I’ve never managed to keep polish on my toes for long, but while trying to replicate a spin that I saw in a video of one of Oona Kivela’s performances (a spin I do, but not nearly as well as she does), I left polish – and skin – and picked up a lot of dirt. Which made me laugh – I took it as a sign I’d been giving it my all. 🙂

This is the video in which the spin appears at the 2:26 mark (ps – she’s amaaaaaaaazing!):


I practiced for a little over an hour this afternoon, just running through a series of tricks and holding some of the ones I plan to do in the routine – for conditioning, I get into the tricks I want to do and hold them for a while, usually a count of 30. It not only requires me to lock the trick and nail it/be solid, but it also ups my endurance, which will help me overall. I also ran through a transition that is new to me, so I can start to build the muscle memory for it – the pole was super slippery, despite the incredible amount of product I layered on it over the course of the practice, so I had a hard time doing certain things (lots of sliding going on).

I did manage to do another shoulder mount alone, which is awesome. I still don’t seem to have much in me to do more than one completed one, but even one is a major improvement over none. 🙂 It’s also a sign that I’m getting stronger, which is great! I also was able to do my signature transition between my two strongest tricks, which is still shaky because of the change in width of the pole (going from 50mm to 45mm) – I couldn’t manage it last week, so this is a step in the right direction.

In reading through the competitor packet, I found a requirement that I was unaware of until now: I must incorporate the spinning pole in the routine. Inner Monologue: “Fuck.”

Spinning pole is so beautiful. I love to watch it. I’m not a huge fan of working on it, mostly because I don’t have much experience and haven’t mastered the art of controlling the spin speed of the pole. I don’t plan on putting many tricks on it, but since I am required to do something over there, I have to choose one or two things to throw on it. There’s a great spin that I can do as a hold pose on the static pole…but I’m so scared to do it on spinning!! It requires me to drop very close to the ground. I tried to get into the pose near the ground today on the static and found it so hard that I ended up getting on the ground and positioning my legs from there. I could hold it, but it hurt like a bitch. So…maybe I’ll choose another trick?? 🙂

Unfortunately, at the end of my practice, I landed funny on my foot and felt a sharp pain in the ball of it. No idea what I did. I’ve had it wrapped for a while (had to go into work and be on my feet), and it didn’t bother me that much while I was there, but really hurt on the drive home. I’ve got it iced and have been elevating it since I got home, and it’s sore, but I can move everything – toes, ankle, am able to point and flex. I have no idea what I did, but I’ll have to baby it the next few days and see where I’m at. Other than that, I did fairly well with the practice – I worked up a sweat, I free-styled a bit and played with character tells during random songs, I hit most of my tricks well and stuck them. I think that, with time invested working on that pole, as well as in class, I will get stronger and be able to nail what I want to do. I think I’m meeting with Kat to work on the choreo again next week, which I’m excited about! I’ve been continuing with research into costumes and have some ideas…mulling over if I should pay for professional hair/makeup at the event…seems crazy that it’s 5 weeks away!!