Tag Archives: pole fitness

How Time Flies… And So Did I

Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 11.01.30 AMHow time flies… and so did I.

In her autobiography, Good Morning, I’m Joan Lunden, Joan wrote, “4:30am comes around very early.” I couldn’t agreed with her more. A year ago this week, I got up at the butt crack of dawn, to attend my very first Pole fitness competition. I had only been pole-ing for six months, but I say go big, or get off the pole.

I rode my bicycle to the theater, as a feint drizzle fell onto the dark city streets, and onto my freshly flat ironed hair. I wondered if rain was good luck on competition days like it was supposed to be on wedding days.

Since day one, straddling a 45mm in diameter chrome pole had agreed with me. The world outside, with its stresses, noise, and ex-boyfriends, disappeared. My laser focus was on squeezing the bejesus out of a pole between my legs, without falling on my ass, or my head, onto the hard wood floor. My inner thighs were bruised, my knees looked like I had been whacked by the mob, and the tops of my feet were scratched and red. I was in love.

It had been a challenging and sad time, but somehow it motivated me to trot out my ‘to do’ list, which included activities that I had meant to explore but that had not yet found time. Now was the time.

When I started pole-ing, it was impossible for me to climb to the top. I would get frustrated and I couldn’t wait for the class to end. I shrugged off my inability by telling myself that it wasn’t something that I wanted to do anyway, and who cared. I wasn’t in it to become a professional poler, although secretly the thought had crossed my mind.

Some of my predilection for quitting stemmed from fear; most of the time it was fear. Would I be good enough? Couldn’t the first draft be the final draft; metaphorically and literally. The pole wasn’t any different. Why couldn’t I touch the ceiling on my first try? As a Pilates instructor, did I tell my clients who struggled with a particular exercise that they sucked and that they should quit and try Yoga? No. No, I did not. Why would I expect that from myself?

The following week I attempted to climb up the pole again, and after several tries, I made it to the top of the chrome behemoth. That climb was for every karate class, piano lesson, gymnastic team, tennis club, and acting workshop that I had quit.

The over 40 category was called the Master’s group. I thought that was a tad misleading. I wasn’t a master of anything- yet. I waited in line to check in, and I nervously watched women wearing leg warmers, and not much else, stretch, kick, bend and twist, as they warmed up. Was I really going to dance on a pole, half naked, on stage, in front of strangers? Unlike stand-up comedy, where I could hide behind jokes, and self deprecating humor, the pole was too thin to hide behind.

My fellow contestants practiced on the poles on stage, under the lights, taking turns, running through their routines. The space felt a lot bigger than the one around my pole in the middle of my living room in my apartment. When it was my turn, I hummed the music in my head, while I kicked, straddled and threw my body around.

When I finished, I walked back to the end of the line, which moved slowly. I told myself that I didn’t have to run through my routine a second time. The beauty of getting older is knowing your patterns, if you’re paying attention and the lies that you tell yourself. If I did a poor job during the competition, I had an excuse. I could blame it on not having enough practice time. 

Nothing good, or productive, has ever come from that attitude, I know. I’ve tried. I got my booty shorts-wearing- pole-ing ass back on the stage and took another spin.

As sad and disappointing as it, the Pole was not going to be a new career move. Oh, sweet lost potential. A part of the struggle for me was realizing that not everything that I did, or tried, had to have a material, or financial pay off. Doing something for the pure joy of it, was enough. 

I waited in the wings. I stared at the pole. My only job was to have fun, and not fall. I took the stage and danced my Masters heiny off. My body gyrated, and I slithered on the floor, without thinking about the choreography. I may have blacked out—hard to be sure.

I skipped offstage when I was done, adrenalin pumping, and a Master grin on my face. I heard the Stage Manager say, “Keep doing this.” Yes, I think I will.

When I got home and I changed clothes, I noticed that I had been wearing my booty shorts on backwards. I suppose the up side was that they weren’t also inside out. To my humble surprise, I placed second. Maybe I will consider a career move.

Don’t Deny Yourself Anything That Can Make You Great

Don't Deny Anything that can make you great

Photocredit:Pixshark.com

It was a wise man who once told me not to deny myself anything that can make me great.

I’m pretty certain that he was quoting some philosopher, or Simon and Garfunkel song lyrics, but no matter, it was sage advice. Thanks, Dad.

It was a little over a year ago that I learned how to Pole. My motivation was, well, let’s just say, that at the time, I felt that I had something to prove. I had a feeling that I would enjoy it and I was right. It reconnected me to myself and it has been a hoot.

Learning something new is scary but it can also be invigorating, exciting and powerful. My latest something is beach volleyball. I can just hear my ex-boyfriend now. “You’re learning how to play now? What about the 7 1/2 years that we were together?”

He was, and probably still is, an avid player. I touched the ball a handful of times with my ex- ooh, that sounded dirty- but learning from him was nearly impossible and it probably wasn’t healthy for the relationship.

Thus, I was relegated to watching from the sidelines. Contrary to what he thought, I was watching. He also played for like 16 hours straight, and there was just so much that my eyes could handle.

I enjoyed watching him. The problem, however, lay in the fact that, by nature, I wasn’t a sidelines sort of person; in life, sports, Karaoke. I was, and am, a doer. It felt unnatural to lay on the beach and not move.

I’m a mover, a dancer, an athlete, a Pilates instructor for crying out loud. But there I was, laying on a beach towel, reading a book, picking my bathing suit bottom out of my crack, because it was definitely too small for the Jersey Shore.

I wanted to learn how to play; not only because my ex played, and it might have been something that we could share, but because I liked learning. And moving. Moving and learning.

It makes me think of when I was married. My ex-husband was, probably still is, a musician. Being a song and dance gal, I was enamored by his ability to play each and every instrument as well as his collection of microphones.

One day I asked him if he would teach me how to play the drums. Like, pole, and volleyball now, it was something that I had wanted to learn. It was like pulling teeth to get him to give me a few lessons, but he eventually acquiesced.

Music was his world. I was on his turf, and it wasn’t a hobby for him. After only a handful of lessons, I suggested that we start a band. I had always wanted to be in a band and I saw this as a perfect opportunity. He did not. I thought we could be the next Ike and Tina Turner; minus the abuse. He did not.

Firstly, he was already in a band, which of course I already knew; being married to him and all. Secondly, he told me that it wasn’t fun for him to play with me, a novice, and when he had downtime, he didn’t want to be in the studio teaching me about snares and cymbals.

It was similar situation with my ex-boyfriend. He didn’t have the patience, nor desire, to teach me the game starting from square one. He took the game very seriously. It was competitive and the beach was his place, his sanctuary.

There were few who were chosen to join in, even though I was one of the chosen ones, but I don’t think that he was referring to those chosen ones.

It was not to be during our relationship tenure. It wasn’t a supportive and welcoming environment for newbies, and the regulars made that crystal clear, so I sat on the bench, as it were.

Learning the game would have to be on my own time, in my own way and initiated by my genuine desire, not simply to please my ex. I always felt a little resentment for being left out and then, metaphorically speaking, penalized for not knowing how to play.

I thought that, with a little practice, one day I’d be able to get the ball over the net, much in the same way that I knew that I’d be able to climb to the top of the pole.

By joining a beginner class, and challenging myself, I’ve spun around what used to be a bone of contention, into something that has humbled me, and shown me, just how hard it is to run in the sand, while picking my bathing suit bottom out of my crack.

I know that testing ones limitations, and staying curious feeds the soul like nothing else can.

Don’t deny yourself anything that can make me great.

Straddle The Pole Like A Master

Straddle The Pole Like A Master

PhotoCredit:DnA

In her autobiography, Good Morning, I’m Joan Lunden, Joan writes, “4:30am comes around very early.” I couldn’t agree with her more.

I was up at the butt crack of dawn, for I was about to compete in my first Pole fitness event. Go big or get off the pole, I say.

I rode my bicycle to the theater, as a feint drizzle fell onto the city streets, and onto my flat ironed hair. I wondered if rain was good luck on competition days like it is on wedding days.

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I started pole fitness at Body & Pole a year ago. Straddling a 45mm chrome pole agreed with me. The world outside, with its stresses and noise, disappeared and my focus was on squeezing the bejesus out of a pole without falling on my head.

My inner thighs were bruised, my knees looked like I’d been whacked by the mob, the tops of my feet were scratched and I was in love.

My romantic relationship had ended and I trotted out my ‘things I must do’ list, which included activities that I’d been meaning to explore but hadn’t. Why does it take a dramatical life shift before we visit that list? Why do we set aside the potential joy?

When I was learning how to climb, it was impossible for me. I’d get frustrated and I couldn’t wait for the class to end. I shrugged it off, murmuring, “I don’t need this.”

Often, such challenges had me quitting if things got too tough; a dance move, a sport, a math problem. I wanted the first draft to be the final draft and I wanted to climb to the top of the pole on my first try.

As a Pilates instructor, do I tell my clients struggling with a particular exercise that they suck and that they should quit and try Yoga? No. No, I don’t. Then why expect that from myself? It’s called work, and practice, and then more work and more practice.

When I learned that there was a pole competition that had an over 40 category, called Masters, I knew that this would be the perfect way to break some old habits.

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While I waited in line to check in, I nervously watched women, wearing leg warmers, (and not much else) stretch, kick, bend and twist, as they warmed up. Am I really going to dance on a pole, half naked, on stage, in front of strangers?

I ran my routine, humming the music in my head, and when I finished, I went to the end of the line. I was growing increasingly nervous, and anxious. I wanted to bolt.

I told myself that it was okay if I didn’t run it a second time. Then, if I did poorly, I could tell myself that it was because I didn’t have enough practice time. What kind of crack ass lame logic was that? And who exactly would I be hurting?

But this was the year of doing the opposite of what I might have done in the past. I waited in line and took another spin. Why, oh, why, wouldn’t I do whatever it took to ensure the best possible performance? Hey Jung, you’re needed backstage.

I was putting too much pressure on myself. I had to remember that Pole wasn’t a career move, as sad and as disappointing as that was. Oh, sweet lost potential. Doing something for the pure joy of it had to be enough. I think it’s called a hobby.

This mental masturbation all happened before 8AM.

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I looked at the pole and I took a deep breath. My only job was to have fun, and not fall.

I took the stage and danced my Masters ass off. My body switched to auto pilot and I couldn’t tell if I was in the moment or I’d blacked out.

When I finished, I skipped offstage, adrenalin pumping, my youthful grin grinning, and I heard the Stage Manager say, “Keep doing this.” Yes, I think I will.

Later, when I got home and changed clothes, I noticed that my shorts had been on backwards. I suppose the up side was that they weren’t inside out.

To my humble surprise, I placed second. It was the icing on a very informative and revelatory cake.

As evidenced by pole dancing in shorts worn backwards, I’ve opened my heart, my mind, and my legs, and will see where this hobby takes me.

Half-Naked In Front Of Strangers

Half Naked In Front of Strangers In her autobiography, Good Morning, I’m Joan Lunden, Joan Lunden wrote, “4:30am comes around very early.” I couldn’t agree with her more. I was up at the butt crack of dawn this past Sunday, for I was about to compete in my first Pole fitness event.

I rode my bicycle to the theater, as a feint drizzle fell onto the dark city streets, and my freshly flat ironed hair. I wondered if rain was good luck on pole competition days like it is on wedding days.

When I arrived, the doors were still locked (I might’ve been a tad overanxious), so I rode around the block a few times and returned a few minutes later. While I waited to check in, I nervously watched half-naked women warm up, wearing their leg warmers and youthful grins.

I retired my leg warmers years ago, but the nerves were the same as those felt when I took dance class in the city during college. Half Naked In Front Of Strangers I started to rethink this crazy idea.

Am I really going to get up on stage and dance, half naked, in front of strangers? Unlike doing stand-up, and hiding behind jokes and self deprecating humor, the 45mm pole wasn’t going to shield me from squat, and they’d see the squat as well.

Sure I danced in musicals, but I wasn’t a professional. Most of the time I was only pretending to be a professional dancer by walking around with my feet turned out (ow) and carrying a stupidly large dance bag. Seriously, how much room do leotards and Capezios need?  

We had an hour to practice on the stage with the poles. It was the first time under the lights and it all felt a lot bigger than my living room, where I did most of my practicing.

I ran my routine once, humming the music in my head, and when I was finished, I went to the end of the line, which moved slowly. I grew increasingly impatient and nervous. I told myself that it was okay if I didn’t run the routine a second time (like everyone else was doing). If I did poorly, my excuse was not having enough practice. And who does this hurt exactly?

The other thought I had was, did I have a right to take my time, and practice again? Simply put, I wasn’t taking myself seriously because, as I am starting to understand, this leaves less room for rejection, failure and heartache.

I caught myself, and because I’m doing things differently, no matter how uncomfortable, I said, fuck it, I’m taking another spin. Why wouldn’t I do whatever I could to ensure the best possible performance? Hey Freud, you’re needed backstage.

I had another revelation. Keep in mind this is all happening before 8AM. Pole isn’t a career move. As sad as it is, that ship has sailed. Oh, the lost potential.

Doing something for the simple joy of it was never enough. There had to be a pay off, a goal, an end result. Inevitably, I’d see whatever new thing that I was attempting as a career move. I’d easily drop what I was currently working on for the new kid in town.

I’d soon realize that it was going to take more work than I had anticipated (why does being the best take so long) I’d find something else. This all could’ve been avoided had I learned the word, hobby.

Before I took the stage, I remembered to see the pole for what it was; a hobby. No pressure. My only job was to have fun, and not fall. And if I should become National Champion in the 40+ category some day, it will be because it came out of an honest and healthy place.

Something happens when I’m on stage. If I know the material cold, (as I should) and in this case, the choreography, my body goes on auto pilot. In stand up, I’d just keep talking. In both cases, I watch my performance from outside of myself. It’s surreal because I don’t know if I’m in the moment or I’ve blacked out.

I finished my routine and walked offstage feeling a surge of adrenalin, wearing a big ‘youthful’ grin on my face. The stage manager, who had competed the day before, and who was in my age bracket, said, “Keep doing this.”

I will continue because I can’t quantify the smile that I wore or the joy that I felt in my heart.

Later in the day, when I changed clothes, I noticed that my shorts were on backwards. I cannot wait to see the video. At least they weren’t inside out.

I placed second and I was shocked, speechless and proud. It was the icing on what had been a very informative and revelatory cake.

Half Naked in a pole How do we see ourselves? How do strangers see us? Are they the same? Isn’t it time that we release ourselves from our negative self perceptions that we’ve been hauling around since junior high school?

As evidenced by straddling a pole half-naked, and in shorts that were on backwards, my old perceptions of myself no longer apply. Can I get an amen?