Basics of Injury Prevention

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http://polecompete.com/2014/09/basics-of-injury-prevention/

Mental Toughness Training

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I went to pole and it made me cry

This post has been moved to my new website! Find it at http://polecompete.com/2014/07/i-went-to-pole-and-it-made-me-cry/

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/

I Was Almost a Pole Dancer….

I am a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, something that still shapes my thoughts and attitudes about a lot of different things in my life.

The quickest way to make me judge you is to say something along the lines of “I almost did Peace Corps.” 

You either do something or you don’t. 

I’ve still been out of practice with pole, due to mostly to my mysterious toe injury and also some other goals that need to come first. I’ve noticed that I’ve started thinking about pole in past tense, and that needs to stop. I don’t want to almost have been a pole dancer. 

I’m working through the other goals that need to come first (things like graduating, finding a new place to live, and finding ways to increase my income so that I can afford more pole…) But I’ve noticed I’ve slipped on a lot of maintenance things that have nothing to do with my toe. My diet is sloppy. My sleep habits are sloppy. Pole requires discipline; but it’s hard to be disciplined when you were a dancer instead of when you are a dancer. 

Enough with words like “almost” and “have been.” Athleticism requires a full complement of physical and mental training, and much of that can be done with an injury. I’ve worked hard to build up disciplined habits of mental visualization, sleep, and diet. Time to go back to those basics until I can start actually training on the pole again. I am a pole dancer. Who are you? 

Respect Your Sport

The mountain doesn’t care that you have a full time job and go to school full time. There’s only one summit – and the fitness demands to reach it are the same regardless of our time to train, fitness level arriving, age, etc.Mountain Athlete Website

 

I love this quote, because it so succinctly sums up the importance of disciplined training for your sport. Pole doesn’t involve exposure to the elements or the intense duration of mountain sports, but it does involve supporting your body weight at the limits of your flexibility, sometimes upside down. The point is the same. Take the time to train properly, or else bear the consequences.

What this looks like for pole dancers:

  1. Ample, thoughtful, crosstraining. 
  2. Warming up before you engage in either dance or flexibility training. Be sure to warm up the specific motions that you will be using in your dance.
  3. Master fundamentals before moving on to more difficult moves.
  4. Eat right.
  5. Sleep enough. 
  6. Be present and pay attention to your body and your movement.
  7. Structure your training cyclically around your competitions.
  8. Rest enough.

Cross training for Pole Dance

No matter what sport you choose, your body will become unbalanced if you only train your sport. Pole is no exception. To bring your training to a more elite level, you must learn how to cross train.

 

Unfortunately, cross training can be confusing. How much should you do? Come to think of it, what should you do?

 

These answers are going to be different for everyone, so I’ve made a list of questions to consider while you are designing your own crosstraining routine. At the bottom, I’ve linked to some articles that may be helpful for you.

  1. Why are you cross training? To prevent muscular imbalances? (I’m looking at all of you who don’t practice on both sides as much as you should). To build stamina? (I’m looking at all of you who don’t finish your freestyle because three minutes is a really long time and you’re tired) To prevent mental boredom? (all of you who are starting to dread class) What you want out of the cross training will determine what you should be doing.

    Stairs near Beijing

    Stairs are a good option for building stamina. Particularly if they go all the way up a mountain like these ones

  2. What skill sets do you need to build? Training in hip hop, lyrical, ballet, or any other dance form might serve to increase your dance skills, but may be less useful in terms of rounding out your exercise. Think carefully about what you are trying to accomplish.
  3. If you’ve picked something else, how advanced are you in that sport? You need to gain a certain level of proficiency before you can really start getting into the workout, so keep this in mind. Probably it’s best to focus on one or two new things at a time, and stick with them until your skill set increases.
  4. How easy will it be to incorporate the cross training you choose into your life? Pick something close to your work or home so you don’t slack off on cross training days.
  5. Does cross training add to your life? Exercise has always been for me my hobby, my social life, my spiritual place, my peace of mind, and a plethora of other things. Make sure your cross training offers at least a little bit beyond a more balanced fitness routine.

    Running a Tough Mudder is cross training- but you could also do yoga, or just go for a swim.

    Running a Tough Mudder is cross training- but you could also do yoga, or just go for a swim.

  6. What is your overall fitness level? Or, to put this another way, how many hours a week total can you train without becoming exhausted and overtrained? This is another test to determine how much time to invest in cross training vs. regular pole.
  7. You should also check in with the amount of time you have available for training. Some people will be limited by time, and some by fitness level. In either case, don’t overextend yourself.

More Resources:

Dance Spirit: The Do’s and Don’ts of Crosstraining

Pointe Magazine Online: Crosstraining for Technique

The Dance Training Project: Training Myths

My confession- I fake it all the time, and I have no desire to be more authentic

Last month, the Pole Dancing Bloggers Association’s blog hop was about “The Great Reveal.” There were so many fantastic answers, but the prompt didn’t really speak to me.

 

Now I think I’m finally getting it, so here is my big confession: I fake things all the time.

 

I’m not ashamed. Faking things, particularly emotions, is a key of good performance. I tend to dance to angry songs; but I’m not really an angry person. It’s a story. I act my part.

 

Faking things goes way beyond dance though. I fake that I have a plan for my life. I don’t, but I am hopeful that it will be a meaningful and full life.

 

I fake that I am enough. I never performed in Elevated Art because I thought I was good enough. I just submitted a video and hoped for the best. I tried my hardest, and I still see so many things that could be improved.

 

No one is ever good enough- the better you get the more critical you become. I overheard Natasha Wang backstage telling someone that she had done the routine several times before and still always had something wrong with it. I assure you that I noticed nothing wrong with her routine. You will never be good enough, whatever that means. Get used to it. Not being good enough is the catalyzing force that makes you work toward bettering yourself. Embrace how much you suck.

 

But wanting to improve only works if you can also pretend like you are good enough. Otherwise, you become so absorbed in all of your flaws that you aren’t able to gift the world with what you have, what you’ve done, who you are. Own your stage, either in the studio or in your life. Act like you are the shit. Do your best and hope for the best, and force yourself to appreciate how far you’ve come. You have a lot to offer the world. Your job is to not to judge- it’s to give what you have. And to give what you have, you have to fake it. Fake it so well that you almost believe it- that you are enough, that you have something to offer, that your life is going somewhere, that you matter.

 

In the end, you aren’t really faking it. Nothing you do will be perfect, but if you are doing your best, you will be enough. You do matter.

 

To read more about emotionality and pole, please click here.

 

Post edit: I found this a few hours after I posted this blog this morning and it seemed relevant. Enjoy.

http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?utm_medium=on.ted.com-static&awesm=on.ted.com_Cuddy&utm_campaign=&utm_content=awesm-publisher&utm_source=l.facebook.com#t-71

Stay in your own level!

I saw something several weeks ago as I was waiting for a class that made my stomach churn.

 

It was a girl asking for moves that were clearly out of her skill level, and it was an instructor obliging and (attempting to) teach them.

 

Teachers, coaches and instructors: Please grow a spine (if you have one already, please disregard. I love you all and you are fantastic.). It is OK to tell students no. It is OK to tell a person that they are not advanced enough yet. It is OK to refuse to teach things that you don’t know how to do.

 

There is a lot of buzz right now on safety, including this delightful blog on Spinning Love Story and a facebook post about safety from one of my favorite pole bloggers, Aerial Amy. As a dancer, please use common sense, and stay in your own level. Take the time to build up the strength, flexibility, and technique for more advanced moves. Follow the curriculum set by your instructors or studios and be patient.

 

As for teachers, my expectations are higher. If you are going to teach other people how to do something physical (particularly if it involves moving upside down, extreme flexibility, and all other aspects that make pole difficult and dangerous) you absolutely must be able to recognize the level a student is at and adjust accordingly. If you receive pushback, you must stand your ground and maintain control of the situation. It’s OK to be an asshole when people’s safety is at risk. That’s your job. As a student, I expect you to be in control.

 

Spring Clean For Pole

Spring is here! In the time honored tradition of spring cleaning, here are some ideas to get your pole stuff in order.

  1. Gear. Give away everything that doesn’t fit quite right, is in a color that doesn’t look good on you, or that for whatever reason you never wear. Throw out anything not good enough to give away.
  2. Grip aids. Make sure that you don’t have a lot of half empty ones.Get rid of ones that don’t work for your skin.
  3. Classes. Think about what skills you want to build and then figure out which classes can help you with those skills that are held at times you can go. It’s worth looking at this periodically instead of always going to the same ones. That being said, sometimes the same ones are right where you need to be.

If you want to get more extreme, you can start looking at ways to simplify/frugalize (yeah, I just made that word up) other pieces of your life to make more time, energy or cash for pole. Here are some things I’ve done recently. Pick and choose if anything seems relevant to you.

  1. Planned out my meals for the month, and wrote out two lists: one for bulk purchases and one for week by week fresh purchases. I’m hoping this saves me time (no last minute scrambling to figure out what to make) and cash (by purchasing meats and such ahead of time in bulk). We’ll see how it turns out.
  2. Chose 14 complete outfits to wear, that I can just rotate through. I’ve been doing this for about a month now, and I love it. I do my laundry at the end of the week, and all the clothes just go right back into my closet. I don’t have to think about what I wear, and if something is starting to look worn I know what to replace. It has also reduced impulse purchases, because I already know what I”m going to wear.
  3. Get rid of your cleaning supplies. For years now, I have been cleaning my house with vinegar. For really tough to clean things or grease, I bust out some baking soda. Cleaning supplies are expensive, so this saves me quite a bit of cash.
  4. Get rid of your personal hygiene items. Well, probably don’t get rid of all of them. Simplify might be a better word here. For example: I now make a body scrub with sugar and olive oil. I also use olive oil as lotion (on non-pole days only, obviously!) and as shaving cream. It’s so much simpler than having three different products for each function.