Be a Cool Pole Cat NOT Pole Catty! Retract those claws ladies! (And Gents)

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So I’m writing this Post today in light of recent unpleasant goings on in the online Pole Community which seems to have come to some sort of head at the moment. I have used extracts of my book in this as this is actually a topic I wrote about last year, so to be honest this negativity is by no means a new phenomenon, which makes me very sad, but some of the angles seemed to have changed and therefore maybe it needs to be addressed?
The primary arguments that seem to be surfacing are rows over names and teaching techniques, but the big Issues seem to be health and safety related.
Such issues are not cut and dried when it comes to solutions. There is much to pole dancing that simply cannot be put in a conventional straitjacket. This (our) calling is all about pushing boundaries, inventiveness and initiative. Matters pertaining to health and safety are, although necessary, sometimes felt to be restrictive to all the essential elements of pole dancing.
Some things are common sense and you would think one doesn’t need a formal Health and Safety instruction to apply them. There are certain things I do and don’t agree with. For example, I do not feel the need to have thick crash mats in place ALL the time but some studios insist on their being in place. YES, when you are starting on a demanding new move or inverts for the first time it is sensible to have a mat in place and a spotter attending. My view however, is that later as you progress the use of a mat brings with it a dependence that is restrictive to performance and gives a false sense of security.
A perfect example was when one of my students, who had been a performing a move perfectly well in my studio for years, went to another studio abroad. There, they would not allow her to train without the mat. The outcome was that she knocked and twisted her ankle on the edge of the mat when descending. As a direct consequence she was out of action for weeks. The road to ankle hell is paved with overzealous Health and Safety good intentions. Please don’t misunderstand my comments, the need for safe teaching and training is paramount when working with other peoples bodies, recently there has been a rise of Pole related muscular problems due to incorrect teaching techniques and grossly insufficient warming up. I have found areas such as the shoulders are particularly vulnerable. There is a very good ‘#Train safe, #pole safe, #teach safe’ campaign that’s well worth a look up.
I just feel that sometimes a ‘little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing’ if you’re doing things just out of repetition and imitation rather than understanding the real ‘Why? Or how?’ behind it.
Back in the online world I see people starting to feel fed up, it reached the point where I didn’t want to comment on some posts in forums or groups for fear of my reputation being tarnished by the ignorance of armchair critics. (I see many people saying this now, but this is how I felt over a year ago) Some of the girls and guys were being unjustly shot down over minor subjects or errors, whereas on the other side, well know Instructors were being severely attacked for trying to administer help and advice to fellow polers. This was no longer the family-friendly pole community I had nurtured and grown up with. I was disheartened by this. There were horror stories of ill run pole classes causing untold problems to students and damaging the hard work us primary polers had been striving to achieve.
The bitchiness reached an all time high, even peoples personal comments on their own pages were being pulled back into the Facebook groups. (I’ve seen it more in one particular group than the others) The newbie or self taught polers should take the advice from the more advanced members, (I was both of these at one point) I know criticism is hard to accept sometimes, you’re excited and want to show this and get a bit of acknowledgement & acceptance within the community, but quietly take the advice, it will help in the long run. DON’T get disheartened but DO seek professional guidence in the form of a few studio classes or official online classes (i’ve heard studio Veena to be highly recommended). However, Instructors need to realise that sometimes their well meant help and advice will not be taken gratefully. Think of it like a child.. many times a mother will say, ‘Don’t do that, you’ll fall!’ The child will, 9 times out of 10, keep doing it until they eventually fall. Sometimes they just need to learn and find things out for themselves, however frustrating it may seem. Also don’t criticize too much on the small things, their splits might not be perfect yet, but I’m sure they are already working on it, you were there one day too. Again Like children, if you are constantly criticizing the small stuff if will have less impact when you try and make a comment about something really important, and try and back it up with encouragement. Key rule when giving feedback. (Which I have seen many of you do). Part of the problem is wording, we have a need to express ourselves and be heard, but when we read a phrase or sentence you can’t hear how it’s said so can sometimes be misconstrued or taken totally out of context as to how it was meant. Please note I am talking generally here with this post, there are lots of different situations, I can’t say in each situation who was wrong and who was right, but at the end of the day, it shouldn’t be about that… it should be about us working together doing the thing we love the most. However, realistically speaking personalities still do, and always will, clash. Just because we have a common passion doesn’t mean we all have to be best friends but at least try and be polite human beings. On a plus note… at least we’ve moved away from the ‘Sporties V’s Sexy’s’ argument (Wink)…. Peace out people!

Love Pole, Keep Spinning!

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Pole dancing and pregnancy – MY personal experience.

It was mid 2008 and Pole classes were growing at a good rate, but that wasn’t the only thing expanding. In April I was to discover I was pregnant with my son, Valentino.
This was a little problematic. Pole dancing, let alone teaching the art, is not the sort of occupation you expect to find a pregnant mum taking part in. Where was I going to fit in? Fortunately, I had the full support of my husband, the girls and especially Emma. So I set my mind on all carrying on regardless.
As it was still early days in the world of pole dancing there wasn’t much research to do. After all, we were writing the rules for others to be influenced by. What is the saying? “Do not follow your dreams, lead them,” Yes, we were trailblazing pole dancing. I broached the subject with my doctor but pole dancing as a fitness regime was foreign to him. I don’t think he properly understood my concerns and he wasn’t much of a help. Just kept telling me to ‘Do lots of walking’ and try not to put on too much weight.
He did reassure me that both me and my baby were very healthy, there was no need for concern and to live life as normal as possible. Great if you are living a normal life. Pole dancing hardly qualifies for ‘normal’.
I neither smoked nor touched alcohol, I ate healthy so I did what everyone suggested I do. I listened to my body. Keeping up ‘as normal’ for the first six/seven months of pregnancy I then became acutely aware of a heaviness and my balance was a little off normal. Time to take stock, so I called it a day on the Handsprings, inverts and the more extreme movements. I was fine with the basics such as spins and perfectly up to it when instructing the students. I also kept doing some the floor based classes and stretching right until the end. Since then there have been plenty of stories, pictures and videos of pole dancing mums-to-be. There again, has been some outcry and controversy over it, but I have yet to hear of a negative outcome? (and I hope there are none) Please note, it is not recommended to start any new sport or fitness activity if you are already pregnant.
Valentino, bless him, arrived a few days late but fine and healthy. All went well with the birth. Well, as good as can be expected. At the time, the birth was still the most horrific and painful experience I had ever been called upon to endure. Although as they say… ‘You do forget’.
While I was in the early stages of labour I took a walk to see my friend Lisa who had coincidentally had her baby a day earlier and had not yet been discharged from the ward. When I asked her how it went she smiled brightly and said “Oh a bit painful but fine!”
She later apologised profusely for lying to me, but couldn’t bare to tell me the truth at that point.
The delivery took all of eight hours and all of it without any pain relief or stitches. And it was it worth it.
I brought our baby boy home on Christmas Eve. My gorgeous son was the best experience in my life and continues to be so. Did I do well? The midwife apparently thought so.“Wow, your flexibility is the best I have seen,” she said extravagantly whilst I had my legs spread in stirrup type holders. True Story! Not the most appropriate of remarks but I am sure she meant well. I did also note that my post labour/pregnancy recovery seemed to be a lot quicker than my non-poler friends that had had babies at the same time. Other than that, it is important to know, I am not qualified to offer advice to anyone who, whilst learning to pole dance or already practising the art, discovers they are pregnant. This is solely my personal story, everybody and every pregnancy is different. Please see your doctor, get professional advice, do some research and listen to your body.

Extract taken from ‘So, I hear you’re a pole dancer?’.

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The Key to Health and Happiness is…..

The key to happiness and health is….
……..Balance and Moderation!

It’s that time of the year again when people reflect back on their lives, and think forward as to how they can be more happy and, most of the time, healthier in their life’s.
There is however countless articles out there that claim they have the answer to these problems, and I’m sure some of them do, in part. But that is almost the problem these days. The problem isn’t that we don’t have enough; it’s that we have too much! For a start there is too much advice out there to follow and it is constantly changing so can become confusing and overwhelming. One minute chocolate is bad for you, the next it’s good. Same for wine, fats, juice, exercise, and a hundred different things.
If we are taking the subject of happiness, we need to go back to basics and realise what happiness is. It’s a chemical/hormonal controlled emotion within the body. A trigger in the brain causes these chemicals to be released (Eg. Endorphins or Serotonin), these cause a series of effects that eventually reach and stimulate receptors making you feel good and happy. BUT, you CANNOT be permanently happy, this cannot be a continuous process, at some point they have to flow back the other way or get re-absorbed and dispersed out through the body leaving you with a ‘Down’. Now, the good thing is, if you have a healthy lifestyle, one of the factors of which is getting enough SLEEP at the right time, then this happens when you’re sleeping so you don’t feel this down so much. Hence why happiness and a generally healthy lifestyle go together.
Now, the other part as I mentioned earlier is Balance and moderation. For every good health fad out there you will find an article opposing it, most of the time these reports are created for some financial benefit towards one product or another.
You can be the prime example of health in the sense that you don’t Smoke, drink, do drugs, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, exercise all the time, but if you’re stressed to the max and don’t take time out to relax you could still end up with a heart attack by the age of 40. If having that piece of chocolate or 1 glass of wine makes you happy and gives you a sense of well being then go for it, but just consider why you are doing what you’re about to do and ask yourself if it will really give you enjoyment, rather than doing it out of habit (it’s what you always do?) or social pressure (That’s what everyone else does?). They say it take’s 45days to break bad habits or form new good habits, an interesting point to bear in mind. I said earlier you can pretty much have a bit of anything you fancy, however, here’s where the important MODERATION bit comes into it. Anything in moderation is fine, but everything can be harmful in excess. Unfortunately us humans sometimes struggle with this concept. We always want more. A lot of people also have addictive personalities which doesn’t help matters, we get addicted to the ‘high’ of the previously mentioned chemicals from whatever it is we are gaining pleasure from. Also I’m sure we all know by now the unfortunately doing the same thing over and over again no long gives the positive effects it did in the beginning. You’re mind and body adapts and gets used to it, so the journey to health and happiness is a constantly changing one.
Just as an example; I know Juicing has been a big trend for a few years now, and yes, having a juice of mixed fruit and vegetables every day is a good way to get in those vital nutrients. However, if you are surviving on just 3 of these juices or shakes a day instead of proper meals, then no, it is not natural and certainly not healthy.
Exercise; I am a fitness instructor, it’s my life, it’s what I do. Movement of the body is essential for a healthy lifestyle, but, there is such a thing as too much exercise. You’re body can tire out and injure itself if you’re not careful. Unfortunately we live in a very competitive and consumeristic world, pressure to do more, have more, be the best. We don’t all have to be perfect; perfection in itself is a relative term. By all means, read the current ‘advice’, try the latest new concepts, but don’t think they will magically solve your problems and make you happy. A combination of small things with the aim of contentment may be your best line of focus? Some people of a spiritual nature seem to have found the key, but they are specific to say they have contentment, not happiness. They are 2 different, but not mutually exclusive emotions. I’m sorry that I can’t tell you one specific point that will bring you health and happiness, no one can, if they saw they can, they are lying.
So to recap:
– Everything is ok in moderation
– Find balance in your life, Work, family, ‘you time’ (and don’t feel guilty about it) Read, Run, Cook, Take up a new hobby… whatever suits you.
– Continuous happiness is an impossibility so don’t think you have failed if you are not always happy and positive, and don’t worry so much about what other people think. It’s YOUR life.
– Sleep well
– If all else fails, stick on your favourite song and dance like a crazy person around your bedroom for a while! 😉

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