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  • DO's and DON'Ts as a pole student!

    Posted on December 06 2016

    DO's and DON'Ts as a pole student!

    The only thing I like more than instructing pole is being a student


    Learning new things and sharing knowledge is the best part of being human. I make sure to regularly attend classes wherever I am. It keeps the mind fresh.


    Here are my tips on how you can be the perfect pole student:


    DO

    show your enthusiasm! I was always very interested and impressed with all the things we were learning in class. I would laugh in awe of the trick the instructor was demonstrating, sometimes shaking my head in disbelief over their confidence that I could also do it. Then I tried, and maybe I could do it after all! It was a confidence boost, and made me look forward to attending each class. Allow yourself to be interested, happy, scared or anything else you are feeling. Let the teacher show you are thankful for being in the class. Perhaps you  inspire others, and the air will instantly feel warmer.


    DO

    Believe in yourself! Don’t dismiss something the teacher is demonstrating with “I can’t do that”. You don’t know that, you have never tried! You might surprise yourself. Even if you can’t do certain things yet, there is only ONE proven way to be able to do them later, that is: practice, practice, practice. Rome wasn’t built in one day. It takes persistence and dedication, trying over and over and over again. Your instructor didn’t just wake up awesome at pole, they worked their ass off practicing to get to where they are. With the same effort, you will too! Everything is possible if you work for it!


    DO

    Encourage your fellow students! I was very intimidated when in my first class. Wearing shorts in front of other people was scary. I didn’t know anyone. Soon, I realized how welcoming the teachers were. The other students made me feel wonderful. Other students would encourage and compliment me. I was flattered and impressed with how caring and supporting this setting was, so I started encouraging others. Pay it forward!


    DON’T

    Be late! Repeatedly showing up late for class disrupts whatever is going on in class at that moment. This adds stress to yourself, other students and instructor. None of us need more stress in our lives, we got enough of that! It’s hard being an instructor, planning a warm-up and then half of the class shows up late. It’s not fair to anyone if the instructor always needs to spend a few minutes helping you get started while the others wait. Showing up late is simply disrespectful of everyone’s time, and time is the most precious thing we have.


    DON’T

    Chat with your friends while the instructor is demonstrating or explaining. Sometimes people have loud conversations and the instructor can’t hear themselves, let alone teach. Extremely rude. We are all grown up. The instructor’s job is there to instruct, not shuss you like you are still in 3rd grade. The instructor shouldn’t have to raise their voice very loudly for people to hear them over your talking, and they should not have to repeat their explanations because the class didn’t hear. You are in pole class now, be there. Listen when the instructor is talking, then chat quietly with your friends after instruction. If you can’t wait, have your friend come with you outside the classroom and finish your discussion. We all want to be listened to, especially if we are there to instruct.


    DON’T

    Do something other than the instructor is teaching! I You learned something cool in another class or instagram and want to show it off. Nothing wrong with that, in the right setting. For example in an open pole class, where there is no specific instruction. I can’t think of anything more rude. The instructor is teaching a butterfly, you do an ayesha. Your instructor has put thought into the class and is teaching it this way for a reason (to teach correct muscle engagement and show the appropriate progressions). Doing something else can diminish the motivational levels of others. Class is trying to do butterfly and you do ayesha? Some of them might feel intimidated. Others might actually believe they are supposed to do this trick, then try to do it!! Extremely dangerous! The students have not gotten instruction and they might not be advanced enough to even think about trying it! Students can also become annoyed and complain. “Why are we learning the butterfly and she is doing this supercool trick?!” So much easily avoided stress. When I go take classes, I zip my mouth and follow the instructors lead from A to Z. I am there as a student to learn in a class setting. 


    DON’T

    Interrupt the teacher. Your instructor very likely has a background in exercise science. Most instructors have invested a lot of time in this sport and know what they are doing. Never disrespect an instructor by interrupting what they are saying during teaching and don’t add stuff to whatever they are saying! This especially applies to you if you are an instructor. You might know a lot what you are talking - but at that moment, you are a STUDENT. That means you are going to study. Not teach. You are there to learn from this particular instructor. Being an instructor is hard, you have the spotlight on you, demonstrating hard tricks upside down while talking people through how to do them - sometimes instructors forget something. I’s not your place to add to what they are saying. Maybe they will realize in a minute they forgot something - then they will add that. Don't you worry, you're not the instructor, anyway!


    Last, but not least, ENJOY your pole journey :)

  • DO's and DON'Ts as a pole instructor!

    Posted on October 25 2016

    DO's and DON'Ts as a pole instructor!

    Teaching pole is the best job in the world. Helping people discover their own strengths is so fulfilling!

    As much as being a teacher, I love being a student. I’ve been studying training methods and coaching in the Sports Academy and am finishing master’s studies in sport- and exercise psychology. For a year, I have been a pole instructor. I am very interested in effective coaching practices. I spend a lot of my time reading about training, coaching and motivational practices related to exercise.

    Here are a few tips I have for anyone wanting to become a pole instructor:

    --

    DO

    Be inviting. A person coming to your class for the first time is very likely self-conscious. It’s new, they might feel uncomfortable wearing shorts in front of others, they might have a hard time looking at themselves in the mirror because they have not yet learned to love what they see. Make them feel welcome and accepted. Greet everyone with a smile, make sure to learn names and chat. Perhaps people are coming to class to de-stress after a hard day at work. You’re the calming force.



    DO

    Compliment and encourage your students! Acknowledge the things they are doing are tremendously hard, and their efforts are great. If your student is working on a trick they still have not managed, be their biggest cheerleader. Tell them they can, with consistent practice and a determination. Emphasize that pole is hard, but they are stronger. Eventually they will nail something they never imagined they could. You’ll be at their side, clapping the loudest. We are a big family, and that means we all support each other.

     

     

    DO

    Joke around to lighten the mood! Sometimes, the mood in class can get a little serious, since people often are self-conscious or so determined to not miss anything. I don’t like to take myself too seriously. I am human, I sometimes forget what I was saying mid-way through my explanations (you know, gathering your thoughts, explaining the correct muscle engagement and movement while hanging upside down isn’t quite as simple as it sounds!), get my tongue tied into a big word salad. Those times I laugh it off with everyone. Pole class is a stress-free, judgement-free zone! I want everyone to leave my class smiling.

     

    DO

    Know muscle, bone anatomy and dynamics of movement. You have people's bodies and health in your hands You need to be able to ensure their safety.. Be vocal about correct muscle engagement during tricks. Most people are not so well tuned with their body to begin with, it’s your job to help them learn to engage the muscles correctly. With this, I’m not saying you should get all technical like “Engage your trapezius…” most people don’t know the names of muscles, that’s perfectly fine - as long as you know them, and as long as you know how to cue people. Take for example a pull up, you could use cues such as “draw your shoulders down, away from the ears and imagine you are trying to pull a big, thick rope down. Keep your core tight by drawing your navel in”. You should know how to break tricks down into more manageable parts. If your student has trouble doing something, then you need to show them less advanced version.The same goes for those who are advanced enough, show them how to improve even further. If you want to become a pole instructor, study sports science, personal training, anatomy and/or kinesiology. A bonus is to attend a legitimate pole fitness instruction program. It’s a great way to continue your education and add to your knowledge.That way, you can consistently offer your students the best instruction.


    DO

    Make effective warm-ups! It’s the key to the overall success of the class. If a warm-up is good, the person will feel energized and their muscles are ready. I can’t find a more demotivating way to start a class than when a teacher obviously has nothing special planned for warm-up. It needs to be targeted at the specific muscles or movements we are going to work on. We need dynamic movements and active stretching techniques rather than passive stretching, as passive stretching directly before exercise can decrease strength (1, 2, 3). Plan the warm-ups beforehand, try them yourself and keep them variable!


    DO

    Talk to your students! Keep them updated. I start a new class by introducing myself, telling the students we all come from different backgrounds, some from dance, others from gymnastics, some people have not practiced anything before pole or were in something completely different. I emphasize that some of us have been training pole for a few months, some of us are coming to class for the first time. I tell people to remember, we all have different journeys, we are all here to focus only on ourselves.

    Ask if anyone has an injury that might affect them in the class and make sure to modify the exercises to fit them. Ask how they are doing a few weeks later.

    Let students know about is that you might have to assist them in some tricks. Ask them to let you know if they are uncomfortable with that, so you won’t invade their personal space.

    If possible, inform students if something unexpected comes up and you get substitute teacher to take your class.


    DON’T

    Use class as your personal training time! Class is the time they have paid to have you guide them.This is their moment! You are there to lead, spot and help. It’s not your time to practice something yourself! Students will perceive you as not interested in them. The same goes with checking your phone during class or scrolling through facebook. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, just don’t do it. You have people's well-being in your hands. Give your students your undivided attention.



    DON’T

    Just show off your own skills. Your students are not there to see how awesome at pole you are (even though you are!), they are there to get proper guidance. They are there to learn from your expertise. A great instructor can do more than cool tricks: he/she can instruct. They can explain how to execute tricks in simple, easily understandable ways. They can cue people to engage the right muscle groups.

    DON’T

    Show up unprepared! If you are unprepared, your students will soon notice. This will decrease their spirits. Being unprepared is also stressful for you! We all know the feeling of entering a test without having studied. Showing up unprepared to teach a class is worse as you have a group of people counting on you and following everything you say.


    DON’T

    Exclude anyone! You might have a full class, many people want your attention. Try to help everyone, don’t let any one person hog all your time. Never shy away from helping anyone. All of your students deserve excellent care and encouragement, no matter their background, age, health status, sex and so on.


    DON’T

    Forget the music! Music is a great way to set the mood, increase motivation and keep the fun going. I have been in classes where the music was barely audible and it definitely affects the class. It’s a lot harder to keep going if there is no music and I can clearly hear what the instructor is discussing with another student at the other end of the room. I automatically start to mooch about. The same goes if you are playing music that students have heard thousand times before. Boring. Make sure to check out new, fun music to play in your classes and keep a few playlists you can alternate between.

  • Emily Laura's tips for planning a GREAT training session!

    Posted on September 18 2016

    Training outside of lessons can be really hard! How many times do you get to the studio and have zero motivation and no idea what to do? 

    Here are Emily Laura's top tips on how to plan and have a great training session:

    1. Plan your week

    This doesn't have to be super detailed, but an outline of what you want to do on each day will really help shape your training week. I personally like to designate certain days to certain types of pole - one day for strength training, one for bending, one for combos and so on. I know I can't do a crazy bendy day followed by a strength day so I make sure there's a gap in between.

    2. Plan your session

    Even if it's just a quick plan written before you start, knowing your goals will focus your session. Here are the elements I plan:

    • Warm upWarm up is so important. Start with some general mobilization and then focus on movements that mirror the rest of your training session. For example, if you were focusing on splits moves, warm up your whole body and then focus on hamstrings and hip flexors to make sure they are ready. Aim for at least 10-15 minutes.
    • Floorwork/Flow Using floorwork and flow is a great way to ensure you are really warmed up and it helps get the creative juices flowing (of course this could be a training session alone). You can experiment with movements you already have, linking different ones together. Alternatively, put a track on, move to the music and see what happens. Why not set a challenge, like keeping one limb on the ground at all time?
    • Stretch/Strength - Now that you are super warm, turn your attention to the moves you want to train. If you need to stretch or train your strength, now is a good time. 
    • Tricks/combos - Which tricks do you want to train today? I personally like a mixture of old tricks that I'm perfecting, and new tricks to challenge myself and keep it fresh.
    • Cool down - Make sure you do a cool down to allow your body to recover. A gentle stretch session is so beneficial.

     

    3. Have a long term goal

    Whether it's a performance, competition, level of fitness or a particular trick, a long term goal will keep you driven and motivated.

    4.Write notes from your training session

    What went well? What do you need to work on? Use this to plan your next training sessions. 

    Did any of those tips help you better plan your training sessions, or do you use any other tricks to organize your training? Let us know in the comments!


  • "Why do you dance like a stripper?" Confessions of an exotic pole dancer

    Posted on August 31 2016

    The clear blue water in the pool reflects the endless stream of sunshine on this beautiful day. There is not a cloud in sight. Laying on my stomach on a pink towel with a large photo of a kitten, sweat is dripping down my forehead. 26°C warmth is hard on my nordic skin. I still love being on a vacation in Spain. Especially since I have my best friend, Viola Thorn, with me. She is laying on her back on a green towel, her light, Finnish skin gently kissed by the sunlight. She’s wearing thick sunglasses and a blue bikini. Her legs bearing a few lightly colored bruises. Visual marks of the struggles of being a pole dancer. Pole …. Dancer. The words linger in my mind.

    “Viola” I begin. Her head turns towards me, her attention focused. “How did you get into pole dancing?” She is silent for a brief moment, thinking. “Was it a bit over two years ago?” She wonders. “I began going to the studio in my hometown after I had dreamt that I was pole dancing… It all started with that dream”. We both laugh at the coincidence. Both thankful her sleeping mind created that scenario one fateful night. Otherwise we wouldn’t have met. “At first I went to random beginner classes, but after realizing how much I enjoyed it, I bought a monthly subscription and joined a training group. I started practicing more seriously.” She says as she raises herself up onto her elbows, grabs a bottle of water and has a few sips. The air is calm, offering no relief in the form of a soft breeze. The children from our neighbourhood are playing in the pool, splashing and jumping into it. Their laughter fills the otherwise silent atmosphere.  

    “I know you love pole...but you quit the studio a while ago, though….Why?” I ask her. She sits up, turning her back to the sun. “I just felt I was not getting what I was looking for there, anymore.” She pauses briefly, before continuing “The classes all have the same set-up, they are very trick oriented, like ‘now we learn this trick’, ‘now we learn that trick...In a way I think it is important for a beginner to do that...but then you need something more. You need to learn to connect them, and I felt I wasn’t getting that so much from my studio, so I decided to do it on my own… at home, instead.” I nod. I do agree with her. My experience is similar to hers. “I definitely feel classes are very trick oriented...I don’t know if this is just the method of the nordic countries...” I softly muse. “Might be.” She answers. “After a while I started to really wonder what is really ‘me’. What defines me? How do I like expressing myself?” She says, gently rubbing her bruised knees. “I bought some heels and began practicing dancing with them… it was really hard, but so much fun. I felt at home. I realized exotic pole is more my style, rather than the acrobatic, modern type of dance my former studio focuses on.” I smile, thinking about her shoe collection that has grown massively in the last few months. “I’m so happy you found your style” I say, reaching for the water bottle.  “I love all of your flow videos, your attitude and your amazing floorwork. You’re getting so good at it!” I praise, genuinely very impressed with her progress.

    “I don’t know if it’s a nordic country thing, but we seem to almost be afraid of exotic style, or judgemental towards it, not wanting association with it at all.” I wonder out loud. We’ve talked about this a million times before, yet it keeps surprising us. How can people be judgemental towards any certain type of movement? “Yeah” she says. “Like the time I asked my former studio for more choreography classes... they told me they offer a few but those classes aren’t so popular. Then, when I asked specifically for exotic pole classes, they literally told me that the studio is more ‘acrobatic and dance.’” She shakes her head in disbelief and again lays down on her back, allowing the sun to warm her face again.  “By saying that, they basically told me exotic dancing is not dance.... Why? It’s not any less dancing than any other type of dance.” I snort. I hate when people negatively judge other people’s choices, just because they themselves don’t understand. “I think some people are afraid to move on their own” She continues. “They just like being in a class where they are led through everything...told to do this, do that. People are afraid of creating their own movement… not to mention exotic movement, that scares them beyond anything. Because they don’t know how to move”. I wholeheartedly agree with her. “Pole dance came from the strip clubs.” I say. “I hate how people want to do pole, but not be associated with strippers. As if being a stripper is so beneath everyone. I can think of many professions worse than showing off your boobs on stage. Big corporations, corrupt politicians, animal cruelty… I could go on and on. But the world has more problem with a woman openly expressing sexuality, being sexy, than all of those things. It’s crazy”. I feel my voice trembling from anger. I take a sip of water. Viola nods. “When you think about pole dancing, you immediately think about strippers. The association is always going to be there. Embrace it, don’t be ashamed.” She says, offering advice I think every pole newbie needs to hear. “When you watch professional routines, you see DANCE. Not just tricks. Not combos of tricks connected by a few steps. You see effortless looking flow, connection from one to the next. It’s beautiful. That’s what pole dancing is all about, to me. I want to perfect that. I already know a lot of tricks, but I want to learn to connect them effortlessly in dance.” She says. “For me, exotic style is that connection. Stripper style is all about flowing from one point to the next. Having attitude. Showing how fierce you are.” She adds, grinning. I can almost see the spark in her eye behind her dark sunglasses. The passion, it’s there.

    “It’s not about how many tricks you can do in a row, it’s about all the little things that come together and make the picture huge. How you walk. Making the body rolls more dramatic. Sliding the hands. Little skips. Where you look. It all matters so much in exotic pole.” I smile, thinking of exactly how much the little things matter. “Unfortunately, the community in your country doesn’t feel the same way about exotic style...do you feel you’ve met some discrimination for openly liking it?” She sighs at my question and takes a moment before answering. “Definitely. As I said, they kind of told me exotic dancing is not real dancing. That sucks. I shouldn’t have to put myself in a certain box of dance to express myself. Dancing is expression. Exotic dancing is expression. If I’m forced to dance differently, that’s not ME.” She turns to lying on her stomach, sunshine again reaching her back. “I think people definitely are ashamed…people are scared of freestyling, showing emotions, but in exotic style you have to show specific emotion, and that’s almost impossible for some people.” She adds. “It does seem to scare them.” I say. “People seem to be ashamed of women expressing sensuality and being confident.” I add. “Yes, sexuality is a big part of human nature...there are for example strip clubs everywhere, sexuality is displayed in movies, ads, papers...everywhere” She tells me. “But when you openly want to practice it, then all of a sudden that’s a bad thing. I almost feel like people think that when I exotic dance, I am somehow degrading myself...that couldn’t be further from the truth!” She exclaims. “Yes! How can you degrade yourself by simply dancing?” I ask. “Hopefully, one day, we can all appreciate and respect each other, no matter our dance styles, choices or opinions.”

    Click here to visit Viola Thorn on instagram

    Photos by Wallineva photograhpy

     

  • Meet the Indi girls: Nina Reed!

    Posted on August 02 2016

    Meet the Indi girls: Nina Reed!

    Who are the ladies behind our favorite pole brand? They are inspiring, passionate, determined, funny and strong. Through these blog series you will get to know them a little better ... And who knows, they might share some of their secret tips and tricks with you!

    Nina Reed

    Nina is the organizer of Pole Theatre USA and the Colorado Pole Championship. She is also a pole and aerial dance photographer. Nina has been an active member of the Instagram pole community for four years as @ninapoles, and she was incredibly excited for the opportunity to become an Indi polewear influencer this year! 

    We wanted to know a little more about Nina

    Describe yourself in five words!

    Optimistic, outdoorsy, adventurous, talkative and epistemophilic

    How long have you been pole dancing?

    I took my first pole class in August 2011, so five years now!

    Did you do anything else, exercise related, before pole?

    I grew up as a very active kid in Norway, hiking mountains, cross-country skiing and swimming. When I moved to Colorado I tried taking up some of the same activities, and tried and failed at going to normal gyms, so it wasn't until I found pole that I truly started exercising.

    Please show us your favorite combo at the moment!

    Anything brass monkey! :-) 

    If you could do a pole photoshoot anywhere in the world, where would it be?

    My dream pole photo shoot location is Lofoten, Norway, because it is one of the few places in Norway where I've never been but always wanted to go. I'd love to do a pole shoot there in the summer, because the midnight sun means there is beautiful lighting for so much longer than anywhere else!

    Three things you love about Indi polewear?

    The cheeky cut of the Samba bottoms, that the colors mix and match so well, and that I can wear my Indi to the beach!

    Do you have any more questions for Nina? Ask away in the comments section! 

    Wearing the burlesque top and samba bottom in bright violet

    Be sure to follow our blog for more 'Meet the Indi girls' with some information about your favorite polers, their tips and tricks!

     

  • 6 Reasons to Walk on Stage: thoughts on pole dance performance and competition

    Posted on February 07 2015

    Everyone should dip their toes in the performance pool at least once. Here are 6 reasons to stop putting it off and step in to the spotlight...

    By Dylan Mayer

    Pole is amazing - it brings together people from all walks of life, connected by the profound love of making pretty shapes on a metal bar. For anyone with a background in creative arts, performing might seem natural, however for the lawyer or electrician on the pole next to you, the idea of entering a competition may be seriously outlandish!

    Whether you’re 15 or 50, a ballerina or paramedic, a serious competitor or just in it for experience, that 3 minutes on stage has so much to offer you.

    Reason 1: It will make you fitter and improve your technique. Putting together a routine requires so much dedication, practice and stamina it pushes you much further than in normal practice. It will force you into good habits (e.g. pointing your toes!) and get you fitter than you have ever been! After your show make sure you look back at early run-throughs and acknowledge your hard work.

    Reason 2: You will make friends. So many friends! There is nothing like adrenaline, fear, no sleep and 6 energy drinks to help make lifelong friends. Especially if you train at home, entering competitions will connect you to the pole community like nothing else! It’s like one big family reunion, even if you’ve never met anyone. Nearly all of my closest pole friends have been made backstage.

    Reason 3: You’re never going to feel ‘good enough’. I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard people put off showcases, competitions or even sending in a video audition because they wanted to wait until they are ‘better’. News flash: you are never going to feel ‘good enough’. Not implying you are literally not good enough, but that most people are their own worst critic. Realise that everyone has strengths and weaknesses and when you watch a competition it’s a display of each artist’s strengths. Don’t forget that there are performance opportunities for every level!

    Reason 4: You will become a better performer. You will learn to harness nervous energy and control the ‘this was a terrible decision I don’t belong here’ voice. You will grow every single time you step on stage, and learn to love the sea of nameless faces, bright lights and swelling anticipation. The less you focus on failing, the more you can connect with your music and the audience. There won’t ever be a time where you don’t wish you could run out of the theatre and get back into bed, but you’ll learn to make peace with the raging butterflies in your stomach. Make sure someone films your routine, especially if you are a chronic self-doubter. Trust me, you will have done better than you think.

    Reason 5: Your skin will get thicker. Especially if you are getting serious about competing, you need advice. Copious amounts of good advice. And you’ll also find that the best advice can sometimes come in the harshest, hardest-to-swallow packages. If you can, find a good coach and trust him/her with your life. Good routines are only half talent - the other half is learning to make good choices about utilizing that talent. Your coach’s job is to help make those decisions easy.

    Reason 6: You will inspire someone. Regardless of your age, gender, weight, pole prowess or style there will be someone in the audience who will go home and register for a competition or showcase because they saw you perform. Someone will try out a move they saw you smash on stage. Someone will decide to try their very first pole class. Performing is a gift for you and your audience.

    One of my favourite things about pole is it gives adults who have never had the chance to step onto the stage the opportunity to do so. Pole fosters a wonderful culture where anyone, of any level of experience has the chance to get up and be a total star.

    So next time your instructor tells you about a showcase or competition don’t rule yourself out. Ask ‘do I want this?’ and if the answer is ‘yes’, start now, it will only lead to good things! 

    Dylan is the newest blogger to join the indi pole wear team! Dylan has been pole dancing since 2012. She is part of the Australian Pole Championships & Australian Pole Training Expo management team, and can be found with her pole family at Aerial Pole Academy in Canberra. Her ultimate nemesis move is the Twisted Grip Handspring (2.5 years trying... and counting) and her favourite tricks include the Sneaky V and the Janeiro! Outside of pole, she studies a mix of science and humanities, eats as much marzipan as is humanly possible and works breeding Showjumping Horses.

  • Meet Kristy Louise, indi pole wear spokeswoman and future pole dance champion!

    Posted on September 08 2014

    "You will have your bad days but you will also have days where you nail everything first go... If it's a bad day, put on your favourite song and just dance."

    kristy louise

    Today we are chatting with our newest spokeswoman. Kristy Louise is one of Australia's dancers to watch! Kristy Louise started pole a year ago, began competing in 2014, and is already amazing audiences with her incredible flexibility, gymnastic skill and strength. Kristy Louise has the titles of 2nd runner up - ACT/TAS Pole Championship, Amateur Champion - NSW Pole Championships & 3rd Miss Pole Dance ACT Amateur division. Kristy will be competing for the Amateur Pole Champion title in the Australian Pole Championships in September 2014 - we are so excited to see what Kristy brings to the stage! Kristy Louise is a teacher and student of Aerial Pole Academy in Canberra, Australia. We chat about her pole journey, what pole means to her and her tips for new pole dance students....

    1. How did you discover pole dance and how has it shaped your life?

    I discovered pole just over a year ago when it felt like the world was crashing down around me. I was in a really difficult stage in my life and I needed an outlet for my emotions. I was definitely ready for a change, and I was ready to prove something to both myself and the world. I missed dancing when I was younger and knew that it may have been too late to get back into gymnastics and ballet but found pole to be exactly what I needed. I could utilize my flexibility, strength and dance skills.

    2. Why are you passionate about pole?

    I love pole because it allows me to be part of an incredibly supportive community. My pole friends mean the world to me! Looking back to last year, so much has changed in such short period of time, I never thought I would perform in a theatre again, let alone be preparing for a national competition! Since starting pole I have smashed goals and gained so much confidence and pride in myself. It is a overwhelming emotional roller coaster, but I am so glad I got on.

    3. Do you see pole as art, sport or fitness and why?

    I couldn’t box pole into one category. It is clearly an amazing way to get fit - I have muscles I never knew existed! I can now over split on 4 yoga blocks. But I'm also very competitive, I compete whenever I can and constantly strive to improve myself. That's where fitness mixes with sport. And then in a routine you have to be expressive and tell a story. So much emotion can be put into one routine! I love it - it's the best feeling! When you’ve trained hard, thought competitively and danced with your soul on stage - pole is an art, a sport and a fitness regime all in one!

    4. Describe your ideal pole training schedule.

    As well as teaching & training pole, my personal training focuses on  flexibility. I love contortion and including back bends in my pole tricks and choreography. Flexibility is definitely my strength, and you always love doing what you’re good at! I stretch ALL the time!

    5. What advice would you give to new pole dancers to help them reach their pole goals?

    Never give up. I personally get really frustrated if I can't nail a trick, but I'll leave it for a week and then persist again. You will have your bad days but you will also have days where you nail everything first go... If it's a bad day, put on your favourite song and just dance.

    To see what Kristy Louise is up to, follow her on Instagram!

    Photo courtesy of NSW Pole Championships & Chi Chu photography.

  • Tips for pole dance - flexibility tips to help you get your splits

    Posted on May 05 2014

    splits

    Having a flat front split is a key goal for most pole dancers, for good reason - splits look beautiful, on & off the pole! Here we share some of our best tips for working toward a flat front split on the floor. We will deal with centre/straddle splits in another tutorial.

    Firstly, which muscles are we targeting when we stretch our front splits? Gaining flexibility in our hamstrings and hip flexors is most important when we're trying to get our split. Most positions in which you fold forward while your leg is straight will target your hamstrings, while bending backward slightly while in a lunge position will target your hip flexor. Tip 5 is a link to stretches that target these muscles.

    Top tips for front splits.

    1. Practice often, even for short periods. While a long stretching session is ideal, sometimes we just don't have much time between pole classes to devote to stretching. Often, I'm surprised how much progress students can make when they implement even just 10 minutes of stretching at regular intervals. Developing the habit of stretching is just as important as doing each stretch correctly. Reflect on your daily routine - you'll most likely find that you have 10 minutes a day in which you could incorporate stretching. Stretching while sitting in front of the TV/working on the computer/checking facebook really works! I often eat dinner sitting on the floor in straddle! If you're stretching without a prior warm up, be extra gentle, never push to the point of pain.

    2. Relax your MIND. Your body should still be active during splits, but to develop a deeper stretching practice it's essential to train your mind to relax. Once this happens, your body will start to accept stretching, you will progress faster, and it will be much more enjoyable. Start by holding your splits for 15 seconds, then with time, work up to holding them for a minute or even two. Try focusing on your breath & notice where you're holding unnecessary tension (e.g. shoulders, face). Slow your breath down & listen to your internal dialogue. Be aware of negative thoughts, but don't hold on to them.

    3. Keep your hips square. Keeping your hips in line with each other as you face forward is important for stretching the hip flexor of the leg that's behind you. By keeping your hips square, you will gain flexibility more quickly, and your body will remain evenly balanced. Balance between the left and right sides of the body will be important when you start to do standing splits/leg mounts/needle scale/handstands. To keep your hips square, focus on keeping the hips in line as you go down. When you start to feel the hips opening out sideways, draw them back into line using strength & stop here until you feel you can go lower with your hips square. Use yoga blocks to rest your hands on for support, so you can relax your shoulders. When you're performing or are on the pole, you might let your hips open out to get a deeper split, but keeping your hips square during training will get you on the floor in splits much more quickly.

    4. Start practicing oversplits before your splits are flat on the floor. Many students think they need to wait until their splits are flat on the floor before they start oversplit stretching (splits with either the front or back foot raised). Not so! In fact, oversplit stretching can start when you are 10cm (4 inches) or more from the floor & will help your splits become flat much quicker! Use a foam yoga block to raise your front foot of the floor (heel resting on the block). Place yoga blocks or other supports under your hands, keep your hips square & relax your shoulders. Repeat with the back foot raised (top of the foot resting on the block). Once you've stretched your oversplit, take the block away and stretch your splits on the floor again. You might be surprised how much closer you are to the floor!

    5. Target your hips & hamstrings. Here are videos of stretches that target your hips and hamstrings by master trainer, Kit Laughlin. This video shows an excellent wall lunge targeting the hip flexor and here is another video showing a lunge hamstring stretch. Both are excellent stretches to do prior to going into full split.

    6. Always train both sides!

    Happy poling!

    From indi @ indipolewear

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