Learn when to hold on and when to let go. I spent the majority of my Tuesday class sliding down the pole when I needed to stay put. Super discouraging. Determined to get the grip I needed, I walked into my Thursday class with the mindset that I was going to hold on as if my life depended upon it.
Of course, that was the night that we learned spins that required me to loosen my grip, and because I was so focused on holding on, it was damn near impossible for me to let go.
Go with the flow (or in this case, spin). Pole choreography is so unnatural to me. Early in life, I learned how to play the piano. Much of classical piano training emphasizes knowing how to execute in a precise way, then practicing over and over. It’s the reason I can still do warm-up drills without thinking even though I haven’t touched my piano on a regular basis in years.
I was taught early on to first learn individual parts, then put the together in a technically precise manner, and only then to add in some “artistic flair”. This is exactly the opposite of what occurs in pole dance–one of the major concepts to learn is to keep moving.
There is no time to stop and start over when you are wrapped around a rotating metal tube, especially when your feet are off the ground. Your only option is to keep going and create something new, something unplanned.
Know when to call it a day. I have learned that some days it’s better for me just not to go to class. You know those days–nothing can go right and nothing is going to make the day better.
That’s when the ugly green monster in me looks at the 50-year-old flying around the pole (or the undergrad who says this is her first class, but picks it up as easily as breathing) and starts to do some comparison–a test in which I damn near always come out the loser.
If thinking about pole turns from happiness to “let’s see how much I’ll suck tonight”, it’s time to take the day off.
If you think you are beaten, you are. Pole is as much mental as it is physical. It has been incredibly frustrating to learn that I just flat-out do not have the strength to properly accomplish many of the most basic moves. I don’t have the endurance that would enable me to learn the spins and climbs that brought me to class in the first place.
On the other hand, it has been even more frustrating to have to confront the mental challenges of pole. Why am I so afraid to trust that I can hold myself up long enough to try a new spin? How do I become comfortable leaning into moves that essentially have me falling backwards? Why do I automatically feel like a complete failure when I can’t accomplish something new in the first few tries? Why do I keep doing this when it hurts?
(P.S. It’s a damn good thing I don’t have a boyfriend. I have so many bruises right now–in completely odd locations–that he would definitely earn some raised eyebrows out in public.)
I am a work in progress, just like my practice of pole dancing. It is an incredible challenge and each class I attend forces me to choose whether I will beat myself up or whether I will keep a beginner’s mind and try to accept my performance for what it is–that of a student who is opening a completely new set of tools for engaging her mind, her body, and her soul.
Pole photo credit: brh_images, modified with creator’s permission