Mental Toughness Training

This post has moved to my new website. Check it out at http://polecompete.com/2014/07/mental-toughness-training/

It’s Not Your Decision

This blog post has moved to my new website! Find it at http://polecompete.com/2014/06/its-not-your-decision/

How to Get Grippier

This has moved to my new website! Check it out at http://polecompete.com/2014/03/how-to-get-grippier/

A Quick Roundup of Pole Competition Resources

This blog has moved to my new website! Check it out at http://polecompete.com/2014/03/a-quick-roundup-of-pole-competition-resources/

Pole Does Not Replace Other Sports

You’ve probably already heard that the Arnold Sports Festival, for the first time ever, included pole dance as one of the events.

This is awesome, because it’s a really strong indicator of pole being considered a sport (if that’s what you want. Personally, I do.)

As amazing as it is, and as awesome as winner Oksana Grishina was, there is another voice about the event that is not so positive.

According to Iron Affinity, the Festival is degrading women by adding pole as an event. They also seem to be arguing that the demise of women’s bodybuilding, which was not included as an event this year.

This is so frustrating. I don’t really believe that pole dance is empowering per say, but I also don’t think it’s degrading. Probably if I thought it was degrading I would find another way to spend all my time and money.

This logic is infuriating. I don’t know what happened to the Women’s Body building event, but it wasn’t pushed out because of pole. There is something perverse and horrible in the logic that doing one sport comes at the expense of the other. There is room for everyone, and it’s really awesome that pole was included.

 

Feedback- the Second Key to Pole Success

The best way to improve in any endeavor is to practice a lot, and get as much feedback as you can about your practice. Today’s post is about options for getting the feedback you need.

  • Be mindful of your practice. You can get a lot of self-feedback from slowing down, paying attention, and noticing what you do, how it feels, and where you are engaging your muscles. As you pole more and more, you will get a baseline for how things feel when done correctly.
  • Video (or even photograph) your practice. The camera doesn’t lie.
  • Learn the keys to taking feedback well. The main key is to not get defensive or angry when people tell you what you can improve, and to thank them for taking time to help you get better.
  • Ask your instructor. The instructor is there to help you. Ask them what you can do to make it better if they don’t offer feedback on their own, or if they just tell you it looks good. You have to ask for the things that you want. To get better, you need to want feedback.
  • Get a coach. Ditto your instructor- ask for the feedback you need.
  • Ask your friends. Have your friends watch your routine or your freestyle or whatever move or transition you happen to be working on, and ask them how to make it better.
  • Ask what makes your routine, freestyle, or pole move work too- a lot of great feedback comes from paying attention to what you are doing right.
  • Have your friends video you and then go over the video with them.

Hours –The First Key to Pole Success

The first and most important key to success in pole is hours.

 

So many people look at the women who’ve been dancing for years, get a starry gaze on their faces, and say “I wish I could dance like you.”

 

What they don’t realize is that often the only thing that separates them from the more advanced students in the number of hours they have spent in the studio.

 

Hours are the key to success in pole, and in anything else.

 

Put in the hours.

Splits aren’t Enough

There are several of awesome pole moves that can showcase your splits, or however close you are to your splits. Jade, downward splits, upward splits, chopsticks, pole middle splits… this is by no means a comprehensive list.

Pole splits

Pole splits

As a result, pole dancers spend a lot of time working on their flexibility, usually by doing a series of exercises on the floor to practice doing the splits.

The problem is that doing the splits on the floor is easier than doing them on the pole. The reason for this is simple- on the floor, you kind of slide your feet out and gravity helps push your bottom to the floor. On the pole, you are often fighting against gravity to get your legs into the splits. Another difference is that on the floor, the floor itself presses your legs upward into the splits. On the pole, your leg may be completely unsupported.

The way to overcome this is to work on strengthening your hip flexors and your butt.

Downward splits

Downward splits

My favorite way to do this is resistance training in your splits poses. Try to scissor your legs together while you are sitting in your splits. You can also try to lift your front leg off the ground while you are in your splits. It hurts, and it works.

If you are practicing your downward splits on the wall, lift that back leg off the wall and toward the center of the room. Repeat a few times. You can also practice these from a downward dog position.

Pole splits middles

Pole splits middles

Of course, the most obvious way to work on your strength for pole splits is to practice splits on the pole. Just make sure to try both sides!

Moving Forward: My Pole Predictions

  • Pole will continue to grow and mature as a sport. More people will be interested in pole as it becomes more and more culturally acceptable.
  • All of this growth will continue to fund competitions, showcases, new studios, and better clothes.
  • Slowly but surely, pole events will have more sponsors who are not directly pole related, which will have the effect of creating more venues for athletically inspired events.
  • Competitions will showcase harder and harder moves. This will slowly kill one of the draws of pole- that you can start late in life (which I’m defining as adulthood, not actual old age) and still make it as a professional athlete a la Natasha Wang. As more people train and compete with harder moves, move years of training will become necessary.
  • Things like certifications and insurance for instructors and studios will slowly become standardized.
  • Pole will continue to segment into more and more diverse branches, which will all eventually (after many, many years) be different sports altogether.
  • The debate of sexy vs sporty will continue for a long time until all of those branches are separated.
  • More and more men will take up pole, and men in class will slowly become completely normalized.
  • None of this will matter, because pole will always still include hanging upside down and interacting with a community of likeminded people. No matter what, you will be a better and happier person for participating.

How Do I Compete in a Pole Competition?

I seem to be hearing this question a lot lately, from all sorts of different people. My disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, pole instructor, personal trainer, or even a person who has competed in pole (yet). So please, please, please, use common sense and do your own research so you can figure out what’s right for you. That being said, here are some ideas that are guiding me as I work my way up to competing:

  1. First, start training in pole. Find a studio, build up your strength, learn how to dance and how to do awesome pole moves, get comfortable in your body.
  2. Then read this awesome blog by Aerial Amy about deciding if competing is right for you.
  3. Choose a competition.
  4. Start making a game plan about how you are going to train. This should be based on your current level of fitness and the actual number of hours you’ll be able to dedicate.
  5. Make sure that your training plan provides adequate time for flexibility training, conditioning, and pole. I aim for about 60% pole, 30% conditioning, and 10% flexibility. Obviously, there are overlaps between all three. It’s just a guideline.
  6. Read through the competition guidelines so you can get a good idea about what to expect, and what the judging criteria is.
  7. Choreograph your routine well ahead of schedule so you can add your special touches. Coaching is really helpful here. I’ve heard suggestions that you get to where you are able to run the routine without grip aids, just so that you will be prepared for anything.
  8. Practice your choreography mentally all the time. Brushing your teeth, waiting for a bus or driving to work, in the shower… you will get so much more practice time if you are practicing mentally at all those odd moments.
  9. Get your costume in order! I always forget/ignore this part for showcases and then end up being really stressed out about it. Figure it out ahead of time.
  10. Read Natasha Wang’s tips for competitors.
  11. Don’t forget to actually submit a video!
  12. Good luck.
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