Don’t Discount Your Emotions: Pole Is A Mental Sport

By Colleen Jolly, Pole Pressure Capitol Hill

A study done in the 1960s by Robert Rosenthal discovered just how powerful are brains are in manifesting actions into physical reality. He called it the Pygmalion effect after the Greek story where the sculptor creates a woman out of ivory and loves her so much she turns into a real woman (with a little help from the gods of course). The study took a group of students, tested them, and then informed them that they were “academic superstars” and had “the most potential for academic growth.” Their teachers were specifically told not to give these students any more or less attention then any of the other students. At the end of the year, they were tested again and were indeed academic superstars with off-the-charts results. The twist is, when the students were originally tested, they were completely ordinary. Telling them they were smart allowed them to internalize that positive information which in turn reflected in their words and their actions, propelling them to actually increase their intellectual ability.

This same phenomenon works for athletes too. Athletes that believe they are better, actually perform better than those that have low confidence in their abilities.

As polers, we practice our craft, our sport, our art, ceaselessly. We train and cross train, we push our bodies to their absolute limit. We research ways to get stronger, improving our nutrition, managing our stress, but all those physical preparations fail when faced with fear and lack of confidence.

When we have new students at Pole Pressure Capitol Hill, I tell them the bravest thing they did that day was walk through the door. It is tough to try something different and even as veteran polers, we continuously are challenging ourselves every day. I had one student tell me recently that she feels she has hit a plateau and all the next moves she “should” be learning scare her to death.

When I teach our trix class, I tell my students which categories the move falls into out of these five: technique, strength, flexibility, pain tolerance and sheer terror. You might be strong enough but not flexible enough for some splits on the pole type moves. You might have the technique and strength to execute a superman, but not the pain tolerance (at least at first). Sheer terror is the category that supersedes them all. Regardless of your strength, your knowledge of the technique and ability, there is something absolutely terrifying about some moves. What might seem completely safe and normal to you is your fellow student’s greatest nightmare.

Sheer terror is something we all will continue to face, to a greater or lesser extent, as we progress in our individual pole journeys. We might compete for the first time or participate in a studio showcase. We might try a move that previously we fell out of or try hundreds of other things that challenge our self-confidence or our belief in ourselves.

While we cannot “fix” sheer terror with a magic wand, the good news is, like our biceps and quads, our ability to deal with and conquer terror is a “muscle” we can strengthen.

Start by believing that you can execute a move or a routine. If simple belief isn’t working for you, try talking to yourself. Telling your body verbally that you can do it. Tell your tight hamstrings to relax. Take deep breathes and realize that you have the capacity to be great—manifest your own positive, intentional reality and not the one the tiny but very mean little voice inside you thinks is your reality.

Help your fellow students too by cheering them on. For a while I danced in a Bollywood dance troupe and every time before we went on stage, one of my fellow dancers would always freak out. I would calm her down and tell her that she was a sexy beast and was going to do awesome. She said she could never go on stage without me and started calling me her “Blankie” since I fulfilled that role of a security blanket. You can the support for your friends or you can also be your own “blankie”—when you start to get scared, tell yourself “I got this.” “I practiced and I’m prepared.” “I’m strong, I’m flexy and I’m gonna rock that pole!” Tell yourself out loud, write it down, put it in lipstick on your bathroom mirror so you see it every morning: “I got this.”

Sounds cheesy I know but do not underestimate the power of positive or negative self talk. I’m sure you’ve had those days you just don’t feel like coming into the studio and the more you say you “can’t” do something, the more your muscles oblige, leaving you on the ground while your fellow students twirl and climb and accomplish the moves of the day.

It is important to recognize that all sports involve an extreme amount of mental and emotional stress that go along with the physical stressors of perfecting and progressing. Pole is no different and may be even more emotionally demanding as we challenge oft-held fears every day—fear of heights, fear of being exposed physically in front of other people and the fear of being on stage, often solo on a slippery metal apparatus.

Treat yourself kindly and if you are terrified of a move, cut yourself some slack and try again a different day. Lean on your teachers and your fellow students when you’re ready to challenge yourself and always remember—you have the capacity for bravery and greatness larger than you currently believe. You’ve already walked through the studio door? How hard could everything else be?

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Pole-usical 2014 With Candace Williams

Pole-Usical 2014 – A Night of Fun

By Candace Williams

Style.  Sass. Sparkle.  All will be on display come October 17 and 18 when Pole Pressure DC presents its annual “pole-usical,” a musical extravaganza that brings together students and instructors for a night of fun.

At this year’s much anticipated marquee event, pole will meet the Roaring 20’s as performers present a lighthearted look at Pole Pressure life, interpreting music from the 2002 Academy Award-winning movie, “Chicago.” Pole Pressure students and teachers alike will kick up their heels, shake their booties, jump through hoops, and strike a few poses and more as they present pole, chair and aerial hoop routines of their own creation.

Preparations for the pole-usical began in earnest back in July with auditions for solo and other parts. Additionally, a four-person student troupe, which I am part of, has been meeting one night a week to learn a four-and-a-half minute routine choreographed by Pole Pressure master instructor Sarah Hill.  As a member of the troupe, I was not required to audition for this segment, which will open the show.

This is my third time participating in a troupe, having taken part in the 2012 pole-usical at the Source Theater and the troupe that performed during this year’s 2014 Pole Pressure competition at Penn Social.  As always, there is much to learn as the practices provide an opportunity to grow.

When I took part in pole troupe for the first time, I had a small part which consisted mainly of floor work.  For the second troupe, I climbed a spinning pole and transitioned to an inside leg hang – a skill that would later come in handy in competition. It was a new experience for me as I had been working primarily on a stationary pole since taking up the sport in 2011 at the age of 45.  For this new troupe, I am again being pushed out of my comfort zone and facing new pole challenges head on, as I transition to moves that I would ordinarily do from the floor!

Behind the Scenes

“Five minutes to warm up!” says Hill on this particular August night as we gather in the downtown DC studio for another weekly rehearsal.  We’ve learned about half the routine to date and all is going well. We’ve reviewed YouTube video of a past rehearsal to gauge our progress and are ready for our next steps.

“Climb higher,” Hill advises as I rehearse for the routine.  I reach the top of the pole, perform the trick that has been assigned to me for this part and return to the floor.  So far, so good.  Then comes the challenge – learning to transition to a specific trick from a layback.  I have not done this particular combination before.  I feel my heart start to beat faster as Hill says, “Well, you’re going to learn it now.”  My eyes grow larger as I watch Hill demonstrate the pose effortlessly. I take a deep breath, reach for my grip aids and apply them liberally.  I tell myself there’s only a short distance from the floor and I can do this.  I am strong enough.

With guidance from another team member who will be performing the same trick, I make my way back up the beam, lean back and find the pole behind me, making sure my legs are gripping it securely.  I get into the pose, slowly, taking one leg off the pole and then the other.  I do this a few more times, stumbling at one point, but I start to get the feel of it.  Hill cheers with a “Yay” as I get into the pose, and it’s a good feeling to have learned a new trick.

As in the past, a successful troupe depends on several factors that Hill outlines from the first rehearsal.  She tells us that we are to show up on time and leave all drama at the door.  She also warns that anyone missing more than two practices will be off the troupe.  Hill then takes down our contact information and the best estimates of our clothing size so she can order costumes for us.  (Dance outfits can sometimes run small, depending on where they are purchased).  We also review troupe fees, which cover the costumes and studio and instructor time.

We then take our places on the floor to begin rehearsing, with Hill shepherding us through each segment, step by step.  When the night is over, Hill instructs us to go home and practice what we have just learned so that we can add on to the routine.  We work together and help each other.

It’s fun to be part of the pole-usical and see what the other performers come up with for their routines. A good time will be had by all!

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‘Cross Training For Pole Dancers’ By Lindsey Ohmit

When I first began to pole, I was amazed at all the strength moves that I saw different pole stars completing.  I was certainly no stranger to strength work: I had competed in track and field through middle school and high school, and I had been a rower in college.  How did these women and men manage to do it?  And for an entire song?

A competitor needs to show both strength and endurance – and make it look effortless and fluid at the same time. So how do you build that strength?  Should you just take as many pole classes as possible? Not necessarily! Cross training will help build muscle, endurance and has also been shown to reduce the risk of injury – when you use your muscles in just one way, you are at risk for injuries from overuse.

After nearly five years of pole fitness, four main areas of cross training have allowed me to improve in pole, and I hope that they are useful to you!

(1) Strength Training

Obviously, pole is a strength workout in itself (we’re pulling our bodyweight around the pole for goodness sakes!), but cross training with strength work is key to getting some of the more difficult strength based moves. With strength training, you have a wide variety of options:

(a) Pole Based Strength Moves: These are usually the “fun” things we do as drills during classes – tucks, Vs, inverted Vs, inside/outside leg hangs, shoulder mounts, etc (on both sides!).  If you have a pole at home, you already have an advantage there! Pole Pressure classes like ‘Firm and Flexy’ will certainly help build the strength as well.

(b) Non Pole Based Strength Moves: For those who do not want the added cost of a gym membership, you can easily do many bodyweight exercise at home – I’ve found that simple moves that use your bodyweight are the most effective.  Pushup variations, front planks, and side planks will help work that upper body and core; squats, lunges, and wall sits will help keep those legs looking lovely!  If you have the desire and/or the opportunity to do strength work at another workout facility, you have many many choices, especially if you are in the DC area.  I personally have just started crossfit – and already I can see improvements in strength!  Different aerial work can also be fun – both lyra (aerial hoop) and static trapeze have helped my grip strength and upper body strength – plus they’re addictive!

(2) Endurance/Cardio

Endurance is what will get you through a routine; four minutes never seems so long as when you’re pole dancing!  Endurance or cardio training that gets your heart rate up and keeps it up will make it much easier to accomplish the choreography and the tricks in your routine.  As with strength training, you have a lot of options here!  Mix it up!  You can run, bike, swim, dance, row…or any combination!

I love running – I’ve run five half marathons, and numerous shorter distance races – due to an injury a couple of years ago, I usually only run about 3 days per week.  For me, this is a good balance with pole, crossfit, and other workouts. But I know that not everyone enjoys running and some have injuries – but you can also find a cardio workout that is non-impact. Swimming and rowing are great options that work out your entire body. The more that you build up your endurance, the easier it will be to accomplish a gorgeous routine!

(3) Flexibility

This one has been a tough cross training challenge for me – I’m certainly not a naturally flexible person! Cindy’s Deep Stretching and Flexibility class is a great weekly routine for me, but you shouldn’t stop there.  Flexibility must be maintained! Some options include stretching DVDs (Cleo the Hurricane’s Rocking Legs and Abs DVD – – and the Get Bent and Fit and Bendy DVDs – are great options if you like to work out at home), yoga classes (we’re very lucky in the DC area to have many studios and types of yoga to choose from!), or following Instagram yoga challenges (my personal favorite!  I love seeing pictures of my progress, and the daily postings keep me accountable). Remember – flexibility is linked to strength – you have to have the strength to hold those flexible positions, especially on the pole.

(4) Pole

Lastly – this isn’t precisely cross training, but it’s important – the only way that you get better at pole is to practice.  Yes, this means coming to classes, but it also means coming to open pole, booking time in the studio, or just having a pole jam with friends. Work on different combinations, see if others have ideas of how to link moves together.  Explore different styles! Play around with songs that you ordinarily wouldn’t dance to!

Remember – every poler is different and everyone progresses at different paces! Cross training can help you prevent injury and become more fit all around. And who knows – maybe those push-ups will help you get that nemesis strength move!

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The Road To The Championship With Ashley Littleton

Training for competitions is never an easy feat. For some, the hunger for the win is what drives them, others it’s curiosity of what lies beyond the here and now, or the personal challenge competitions present. Whatever the case may be, competitions provide the foundation upon which our art forms expand; they are a place where we bear all, experience our most vulnerable moments, and for some share the greatest development and education in our field because we are pushed to the brink of exhaustion, emotional fatigue, and break boundaries through creativity.

Pole Pressure hosts an annual Regional Mr./Miss Pole Pressure competition and a Championship, at which the winners of the Regional competition come together in a final “face-off” if you will. This year, I had the distinct honor in winning the 2014 Mr./Miss Pole Competition for Capitol Hill in the Instructor division. Throughout my journey in preparation for Regionals my training regimen was lackadaisical and what felt like less than adequate. And coming up a week before, I realized that I had done myself an incredible injustice by procrastinating and not preparing a mental and physical regimen that would properly set me up for victory. Instead, as a last-ditch effort, I threw together overly ambitious combinations of tricks, sloppy transitions, and absolutely zero floor work; which to those of you who do compete already know that is an absolute detriment to any routine, to not have floor work. But she won you may be asking yourself. Yes, that may be so, but not without tremendous stress and trauma placed on my body. So I say all of that to say this, as an athlete you have a duty and responsibility to take care of your body, to listen to it, feed it, hydrate it, and rest it as necessary.

A properly prepared routine leads to personal success because it allows your body to strengthen itself and recover in the proper amount of time. So what are some ways to properly prepare a routine? One way, is to start with critique. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses; typically we gravitate towards our strengths because they make us feel more powerful and successful, right? Wrong. What we should be doing is focusing on our weaknesses, creating an understanding of our failures so that we may turn them into successes. It takes hard work and dedication to build any routine and carry it into fruition, but it takes emotional strength and stability to handle the necessary critique in order to fix potential weaknesses. One way to do this is take progress videos and pictures throughout your training. Freestyle your movements, and challenge yourself to move to different music. You may have one perspective of your own weakness but when it is played back, you may see something completely different.

Above all, be patient with yourself. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your routine. It takes time, consistency, practice and patience to build the up necessary endurance to perform a three and a half to four minute routine. Everyone constructs routines differently, some start with free-styling to a song, some plan out trick combinations and practice them, others dance through the music to find the right momentum that propels them through the rhythm and music; whatever your method may be, make sure to start well in advance and give yourself time to hit mini-goals along the way. By creating smaller attainable goals rather than one huge one, it forces you to get in the habit of building towards successful behaviors. And whether you take home the Championship or not, you’ve already won, because by focusing on what you do and doing that well, you have succeeded in challenging your own personal goals and further developing as an artist.

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Devon’s Competition Secrets & Advice

If you have been taking pole dancing classes for a while perhaps you have caught the competition bug at least once either from peer pressure or a burning desire that has been growing inside of you for a while. Be it for sport or just for pleasure, pole dancing competition is fun, entertaining, and demanding. Pole dancing requires strength and flexibility but, once you have decided you want to compete you have to think about the song, routine, tricks, and a costume. One of the most important things to decide is what type of competition you will enter. Every competition is not the same; some are held in bars, professional theaters, gyms or pole studios.  Before you decide ask lots of questions. These are some of the questions I ask before deciding on whether or not to participate in a particular competition:

Is there a competitor fee?

What is the judging criteria?

How many competitors are competing?

What types of poles are being used: size, number, rigged or stage?

What are the dimensions for the performance space?

Will the audience have a vote in picking the winner?

What is the expense to travel to the competition; lodging and meals?

Is there a cash prize or just a cool title?

I have competed in local and out of state competitions and each one has been a great learning experience. One competition was held in a small garage that was converted into a performance space, but the prize was worth over $100. Another competition was in beautiful ballroom where the only prize was a sash and a cool title. Pole dancing competitions are not always about the great prizes or the cash but, if you are putting out a sizeable amount in travel expenses and costumes you want to recoup some of those costs through winning.

Remember, no matter what competitions are stressful. It is imperative that you take a travel mate with you. Your travel mate is someone who is not competing but simply there to support you. This person can help you pack or unpack, run to the store with you or on your behalf. The day of the competition is always very busy and you will need the love and support of your travel mate to help make things run smoothly.

Finally, remember to ask probing questions to make sure you are picking the best competition to fit your needs. Competitions are hard work and require a ton of physical and mental preparation but, it’s all worth it when you deliver a performance that meets and/or exceeds your expectations.

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‘Telling A Story With Your Body, Not Your Words’ By Cindy

As dancers, performances are our opportunity to communicate with the audience in our own unique form. A great performer incorporates the body, audience, space, music (or silence), props, and other dancers in to the performance. When we are only speaking through movement, the emotions and characters are developed through the shapes we create. These shapes can be subtle – like where the dancer is looking, the arch of the back, or tilt of the head.

So how do you develop and perform choreography to convey the accurate story?

Start with technique. Technique is the foundation of dance. Especially when learning a new move, think about the technique. Those of you in my classes have heard me say “point those toes!” no less than a million times. But the bottom line is – the way you practice is the way you perform. Are your legs bent or straight? Where are your hands supposed to be? Where is your body in relation to the pole? Are your toes pointed?

Building on technique, stylize the moves to become art. As you develop your choreography, start by determining what the dance is about – whether it is a range of emotions, or to tell a specific story – and then consider what mood you need to communicate. For example, if the mood of your piece is joyous, your moves might be clean lines, exaggerated and buoyant. If you are telling a story of anguish and loss, your steps may be heavy, drawn out, awkward, and angular. Maybe you want flexed feet and bent legs to express an emotion and create an effective shape. These are legitimate artistic choices provided they are purposeful, and not a technical error. It is always beneficial to video tape or enlist others watch your rehearsals to verify you are communicating the intended mood consistently with your movements.

One more thing. Transitions! The moves between your tricks, between your poles, and any poses are significant – never waste them. They deserve as much attention and style as your big tricks and spins, and need to be consistent with style of the performance.

When it is time to perform, your technique and practice will allow muscle memory to take over so you can focus on performing with your audience.

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Developing Musicality… What Is It?

Picture Of Sarah Hill, Pole Pressure Master Instructor

Blog Post By Sarah Hill

After a couple of pole fitness competitions where I scored less than the desirable amount of points in this area, I was forced to ask myself if I really did in fact know what musicality was. The answer was a resounding NO. Yes I knew how to dance to the beat of a song, and yes I knew how to vary which beat I was dancing to, but I did not have a clear understanding of how much further having good musicality could take you into developing comprehensive choreography. This month I had the opportunity to take a workshop of Phoenix Kazree’s called “Breaking Down the Music.” This, combined with some research has given me a better understanding of what exactly musicality is.

Wikipedia defines musicality as having “sensitivity to, knowledge of, or talent for music. A musical person has the ability to perceive differences in pitch, rhythm and harmonies.” Most of us think that we can perceive all or most of these differences, but how does this relate to dance? “Musicality may also refer to fitting a dance to the music being played, with the goal of relating the dance to the music’s rhythm, melody, and mood.” This still does not quite go into specifically how we show musicality through movement. In an article in Dance Spirit Magazine, Kristin Lewis describes a particular dancer’s performance as “It was as if an invisible cord connected her body to each instrument in the orchestra.” This image gives me the impression that musicality as it relates to dance is being able to translate the music with your movement; or in other words, making sound visual. So You Think You Can Dance’s Wade Robson describes musicality as “Dancing inside the music, as opposed to floating on top of it;” meaning, do not just focus on the counts (1, 2, 3, 4….), but find parts of the music that you can bring forth with your choreography; parts that the average person may not even realize are there, until you show them with movement.

How do we learn to do this? Many people often gravitate to the same types of music when choosing a piece to choreograph to. We tend to rely on what we are comfortable listening and moving to. Phoenix Kazree suggested to start listening to all different types of music in order to expand your horizons. We did an exercise where we applied the same choreography to different types of music. Each time we performed the movement, the music, tempo, and accent points were completely different, setting a different mood each time. We also listened to a song and found different aspects of that song that resonated with us; a particular beat, instrument, nuance, etc. We were told to develop a phrase that would illustrate that part of the song. As we simultaneously performed our phrases, it actually looked like a symphony of movement. Imagine what you could do if you incorporate those phrases into one piece of choreography. If finding specific instruments or parts of music is an issue for you, you may want to study the sounds of specific instruments (saxophone vs. oboe; drum vs. snare; violin vs. cello; etc.) to know exactly what you are hearing. Lastly, we experimented with alternative ways to count music. Most of us are familiar with a standard 8 count: 1, 2, 3, 4…. 8. Try to experiment with a 6 count: 1-2-3, 2-2- 3, 3-2-3, 4-2-3, 5-2-3, 6-2-3. This will vary not only the tempo that you dance to, but also the speed and flow of the movement.

This only begins to scratch the surface of how to expand your own musicality. Taking workshops, reading articles, and researching this topic has surely opened up my eyes to how deep this actually goes. The last thing we want is for our movement and choreography to seem mechanical or monotonous. I recommend that everyone who is looking to expand and mature their dancing and choreography, take a moment to figure out exactly what is missing, and how musicality can take you to the next level.

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Pole Pressure Alexandria: You Never Know Where Life Will Take You

Within the past couple years, Pole Pressure was graced with a new student named Nicole. She immediately signed up for a membership upon walking in the door and was excited to commit to Pole Pressure. She was bubbly, sociable and enjoyed laughing at herself every step of the way. Whether or not she got every move, she allowed herself to attempt every move the instructor was teaching.

Nicole began seeing physical results in her body from her classes at Pole Pressure. Her self-confidence improved greatly and as her self-confidence improved, she began to join different activities held at Pole Pressure. In spring 2013, Nicole joined the Pole Pressure Troupe for the first time. The troupe is a pole group that meets once a week to build a routine to perform. The troupe has performed at The International Pole Convention, the Pole Pressure Pole-usical, and competitions. Nicole also took a big step  in winter 2013 when she entered The Mr/Miss Pole Pressure Competition. Her progress came from her strong commitment to the instructors, peers and fun-loving attitude to try anything.

Nicole's Body Changes Over 10 Months With Pole Pressure

Nicole moved from Alexandria, VA to Fairfax, VA where it became extremely hard for her commute to Pole Pressure. Determined to still keep her fitness regimen, she took a 30-60 minute commute every time she needed to be at the studio.

Nicole spoke with Jessalynn about how a Pole Pressure needs to be closer to her so her commute would become easier but, let’s face it, Jessalynn has a lot on her plate already with running her own studios. Jessalynn suggested Nicole open her own Pole Pressure. Nicole has a business mind already with owning another small business so immediately, her entrepreneurial mind started running.

Jessalynn and Nicole met to discuss how easy it is to open a Pole Pressure and almost over night, Nicole was out exploring properties. She explored properties all over the northern Virginia area, and decided to settle on Landmark Mall. Landmark Mall has free parking, bus access, is very close to major highways and she was familiar with the location.

Nicole went from the idea to the real thing in 6 weeks. Pole Pressure Alexandria is tentatively to open on July 8th with a week of FREE classes. The studio is temporarily in Landmark Mall to eventually move into a private studio space in Alexandria.

Just recently, Nicole and Jessalynn reminisced about how you never know where life will take you. One day you’re walking in to take a class at Pole Pressure, the next day you’re opening your own Pole Pressure.

Nicole At Pole Pressure Capitol Hill

Special congratulations goes to Nicole for her progress at Pole Pressure, her personal journeys and on her new studio, Pole Pressure Alexandria. Welcome to the Pole Pressure family!!

For information on opening your own Pole Pressure, please email


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Pole Fitness Apparel Is Getting Pretty Cray

Six years ago to the month, I started my Pole Journey at Xpose Fitness. I remember on the first day I went to the studio I saw a girl behind the front desk who wore a shirt that read ‘Feel The Burn Of A Cold Pole’ and I just loved it. It was on a very basic t-shirt from the brand Bella. The studio carried a lot of generic tee shirts, tanks, sleeveless and hoodie designs and I loved all the possibilities in the designs.

That was 6 years ago….

Now, as I own my own studio, I’m in love with colors, designs and supporting the apparel companies that are both local and just starting. I love the look of the Pole Pressure Pro Shop for its variety and colors!! I can’t stop buying everything!! The same craving for more Pole Pressure designs goes for the clients and instructors at Pole Pressure.

The other thing quickly changing in the Pole Fitness community is what sayings are printed on the shirt. Six years ago, people put butterflies or diva pictures on their shirts, but now it’s high flying ‘ayeshas’, ‘jades’, handsprings and everything that the super elite use to just warm up.

There are Pole shorts that are literally designed for the necessary length to get a good thigh hold. There are knee pads that will still allow you to do a knee hold on the Pole.

As time goes on, apparel for Polers just gets better and better.

Exotic wear companies such as Bad Kitty have branched out to support the Pole fitness community with their ‘PoleFit’ designs. Onzie has developed badass designs that only speak to the tough girls in Pole. Zweet Sport consults with Polers before they debut a new design. Mighty Grip and Liquid Motion design items to grip the Pole better.

All the Pole gear just gets better and better and I’m proud to have many of the Pole community designers present in the Pole Pressure pro shop.




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Pole Competition Prep 4G

In the deep, dark space of itunes… you’ll find all the music you could ever want. But, I feel like choosing the song to Pole to can be the biggest manipulator in how hard I train. The song can change my mood so quickly and can be the difference as to the speed I move, how long I practice, my choreography or strength of a move. My connective spirit to music has its own mood swings.

So, how do I find the song that will work for me in my next performance or competition?

1. Never choose the song before you start working on material.

2. Test your body to different genres and see what your body connects on both, a mental and emotional level. You test yourself by freestyling material on and off the Pole to every different genre you can find. Don’t be embarrassed when you really don’t connect to a genre, just move on to the next one.

3. Record yourself freestyling to the different genres you connect to without choosing any song in particular. Freestyle on and off the Pole to many different songs in the genres you feel you connect both visually and spiritually to.

4. Evaluate these recordings and allow others to view your videos to see what they believe to be your best connection.

5. Once your genre has been chosen, both by your peers and you, now it’s time to put together some material. Develop moves and transitions that you feel flow to this genre without actually putting them to a specific song. The moves you choose should challenge you but not overwhelm you. Expand on your choreography by building a solid flow of material on and off the Pole. (Seamless motion)

6. Continue recording yourself with your choreography and fine tune the moves. Continue developing more choreography to that specific genre and build at least 2 minutes of material without actually choosing a specific song yet.

7. Once your 2 minutes of choreography is prepared, NOW it’s time to explore a song that is ideal for your material. (Try dancing your 2 minutes of material in different places of the song. You may find out that your prepared choreography should be the last 2 minutes of the song; or perhaps you might rearrange or split up the material. The timing of these moves will probably change and that can be a great thing; timing the moves to your music will be where you visually show how connected you are.)

SHEW!! Seems a little bit strange to do things in this order but it’s for a good reason; let me explain why:

You always want to give yourself ample time before the competition/show to prepare and the material should always be the most challenging part. The song is merely your background and non-visual, your body has to tell a story and be the display. By working on your material first, you are able to challenge your body through movement and not timing and lining the moves up to different points in the song. This will also give you ample time to expand on your existing ideas and material. You can start fine tuning movements to better fit a certain song without feeling like you are starting over or not displaying challenging material.

Some common discoveries with this technique:

1. Your favorite genre of music may not be your best performance/competition genre

2. Getting comfortable with your challenging choreography first can eliminate last minute add-ons or big changes

3. Your movements have become muscle memory

4. You can enjoy the music more because the movements have become so comfortable

5. The audience can see your connection through movement and the music will seem very suitable.

6. Allowing more time to pass may allow you to pick a newly released song by the time you hit the stage and not an old hit.

Challenges with this technique:

1. You may find the material needs to be rearranged in order to fit different points of the song. (Good thing you’ve been practicing the movements for a while)

2. You may wait too long to pick a specific song and it’s close to your deadline or show (If this is the case, go with a song in your genre that you’ve been practicing with, even if you don’t love it. For the sake of time, at least you know you connect well with the genre and the song is familiar to you.)

This technique is not perfect for everyone. You may find it doesn’t work for you. But, one thing you need to keep in mind… you’re not doing yourself any good just sitting in front of the stereo waiting for the right song to come along… you may be waiting all day.

Get up and start moving!! Motivate yourself through movement and just start piecing some moves together.

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