Balancing Act

January marked my 6th year as a pole dancer, and it's been quite a journey! One of the challenges as I've progressed has been finding a balance between a regular teaching schedule, and my own training.

I've always been self motivated, driven by a desire to improve my own skills and better understand the technique and process behind movement. Time alone in a studio is invaluable not only for my abilities, but also my skill as a teacher. Practice time is sacred, where achievement is less about the picture perfect moment, and more about the process.

Body & Pole is a busy space, with classes running morning until night, and many demands on the facility outside of the regular schedule. When I began competing it became clear I would need to find a regularpractice time that I could commit to, that would also fit with the studio schedule. For me, I find mornings work well. I appreciate the time before the hum of classes begin in the space. It's sometimes hard to wake up early, but committing to something where I would otherwise just be at home is more compelling than working around social events and time with family.

As someone who teaches full time, there's only so much you can train and teach before your body needs a day off. With each year I become more aware of my schedule of classes, how many I can teach in a day, how many days I need off in a week, and when I've overworked myself.

I've struck a balance with two days off from teaching in the week. The days that I do teach, I'm cautious to limit the number of classes that I teach in a day. While it's tempting to stay busy, I try to be purposeful about saying "no" when I know I won't be teaching at my best.

On my days off, I train one day, focusing on flexibility and handstands, which helps break up the "pole patterns." I always have one day a week to rest, where I'll schedule body work as needed. Time teaching classes is also an opportunity to continue learning. Even though I may have taught an outside leg hang 7,000 times, I still can find new points of relevance for teaching, and improve my own execution of the move.

If you're struggling with feeling uninspired or exhausted all the time, it's a good sign it's time to reevaluate your schedule. Thinking about the week as a whole helps me anticipate how tired I may be when I'm on day five of teaching, and if I should really sub that extra class!

Taking class is important when you can. Most days I don't have as much time to be a student, but when I do, I find it helps reinvigorate my teaching. Or try branching out into a totally different movement class. It helps your brain reset and you may pick up some teaching tips from a different medium.

Teaching and training is definitely a balancing act, but with practice, it's possible to improve your skills, stay inspired, and bring your best energy to the classroom!

Achieving goals, trying new skills, and working up the guts to try a harder class.

About a year ago, I wrote a post for the B&P Blog about “Leveling Up”. As a Pole and Flexibility teacher, I’m lucky to work with students of all levels at Body & Pole. One thing I often hear is, “I’m scared to try Level 2 Flexibility.” Or for Pole classes, “There is NO way I could take a Level 4 class.”

I get it – there’s something reassuring about the level of class you take the most. You know what to expect; the challenges, the successes, even the other students are familiar, making the whole environment supportive and accessible. I love strong technical foundations. I love practicing the basics, and finding something new in the familiar. It’s a beautiful movement meditation.

But I want to remind you of your very FIRST Pole, Flexibility, or Aerial class. Remember what it was like walking into a room where you knew no one? Where you had no idea what was going to happen? Where every move was crazy and new? (And just think – you can do all of that now in your sleep…) You had no choice but to pull up your pole shorts and give it a try. And maybe it worked, or, many times it didn’t.

But you would try and try again each week. And you got better.

It’s this attitude that makes training an apparatus, or flexibility so inspiring. We defy our own limitations every time we try something new.

I speak mostly to Pole and Flexibility, because those are the methods I’ve chosen to use to push my own limits. I’ve discovered there is no real pinnacle to the process. There’s no “I made it to the finish line!” moment with movement. There’s only the journey, the process of unwrapping your potential with every small success. These successes become exponential; building upon each achievement that came before to develop your skill, ease, and proficiency. It’s these sequential successes that become our achievements.

So with that in mind…. how can you stretch your boundaries?

A Level 2 Flex class might move faster than you’re used to, but with Flex, there REALLY is no final destination. We’re always increasing our strength and functionality in greater and greater ranges of motion. With practice, what seems crazy and hard will be familiar. You don’t have to be a contortionist to take Flex 2, you just need an open mind!

A harder Pole class can really roll on the jitters. But every pole move has a foundational element – something you can work on when the final pose or transition is still out of reach. And you may be surprised by the “hard” moves that come easy to you!

The instructors at Body & Pole are here to help, and every class is a chance for you to achieve one of those small incremental successes; regardless of the level. I hope to see you in class, and to help you celebrate your achievements!