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  • 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!


  • 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.

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