"Don't miss out on something that could be amazing, just because it could also be difficult."
BUILDING STRENGTH AND FLEXIBILITY SIMULTANEOUSLY
When you begin your pole dance fitness journey, you may feel that you are not strong enough; and that may be true. A wonderful fact about pole is that it doesn’t take long to build strength in your upper body to properly execute beginner spins and holds. All spins require shoulder strength and stabilization, not necessarily arm strength (most new students believe they need to have the latter to participate in pole). Shoulders are naturally stronger than arm muscles; and over time, with proper training, the whole upper body will gain strength, flexibility, and stability to continue to advance.
It is important to incorporate BOTH (active) flexibility and muscular strength exercises to progress adequately (and with limited to no injury). If you are wanting to gain strength, but choose not to focus on flexibility, you will soon realize you are tight and struggle to use any flexibility you have in any given skills/transitions. If you train solely flexibility, and leave out strength training, you will be more prone to injuries and have instability of the joints. Both strength and flexibility training are needed to be a well-rounded pole athlete and in maintaining safe progression.
At Beautiful Bodies, we recommend all our students take BOTH pole fitness classes along with flexibility classes to amplify individual training and advancement. We also offer pole strength and conditioning classes, where we teach body-weight exercises that are safe to implement at home.
TRAIN BOTH SIDES
To avoid overtraining injuries or further increasing imbalances of the body, when you train pole, you NEED to train both sides of the body as equally as possible. This is important right when you begin pole, just as much as it is as you continue to advance. I have seen in numerous circumstances where the student was only training one side prior to attending our studio and they learned very quickly the importance of beginning this positive habit at the start. A lot of studios do not push you to train both sides, and that is a recipe for disaster at some point in their pole journey. There are, of course, some exceptions to this, such as an acute/chronic injury or anatomical disadvantage. However, even in these cases, the student should at the very least, be conditioning the weaker side to eventually be able to practice a skill or transition in its entirely.
Not training evenly will only create (or shine a light on) more imbalances in the body and put further strain on one side than the other. I always advise my students and instructors to train the less dominant side twice as often as the dominant side during any pole class or personal training. When you begin pole with imbalances (like we all do), over time you will experience less imbalances with balanced training, in conjunction with a focus on (and re-aligning of) your daily posture and gait.
Training in multiple facets will only improve your pole training and advancement. This looks differently for everyone, so I will use my weekly routine as an example. I train (primarily full body calisthenic exercises) at the gym 3 days a week. This type of training (outside of pole) allows my body to be evenly strong, flexible, and stable; as well as keep my lower body toned and powerful. Prior to training at the gym jointly with pole, I had many more imbalances in my body. I also suffered from overtraining injuries, especially in the upper body. Overuse injuries of the upper body are very common in pole, and they are more noticeable when pole is your sole form of exercise. Adding cross training to your exercise routine will only HELP you advance and grow in the sport and art of pole.
Calisthenics is a type of training that uses your own body weight and gravity to strength your muscles and joints (improving coordination, endurance, and mobility), and further enhances your skill and progression on the pole. Calisthenics encourages everyone in their personal pole journeys to learn total body awareness, which is important with regards to mind-body connection. At Beautiful Bodies, our pole strength and conditioning classes will teach you calisthenic exercises which will maximize your pole efforts. All of our classes have a total body conditioning element in them, so no matter what, you will learn how to properly gain overall strength (and flexibility) to improve in this sport.
HAVE ADEQUATE REST/RECOVERY DAYS AND AVOID OVERTRAINING
As difficult as it may be to REST from training, it is very important for overall body recovery and tissue repair. Overtraining is one of the main causes for acute and chronic injuries. If we do not allow our bodies the rest it needs to rebuild and function in its prime state, our bodies slowly begin to shut down. All athletes have experienced this in some form, including myself. Our minds can be over-excited at times and push our physical bodies too much for too long, resulting in injury or chronic fatigue. I see this the most when students want to achieve a certain skill or combination and practice too often the same muscle groups without adequate rest (and active recovery) in between. The beauty of pole is that it is limitless; you will be able to learn and progress with each session without needing to train intensely every single day. If your body is telling you it is tired one day, but you had planned to pole at home, listen to your body and allow it to rest and recover. Pole will be there the following day, and your body will be better up for the challenge.
There are circumstances where you may train more than usual on the pole, such as preparing for pole competitions or performances, and the key is to rest and recover longer in between sessions with a self-care routine (Epsom salt baths, massages, myofascial release, acupuncture, chiropractic care, sun and swim days, meditation, etc.). For myself, I take multiple pole rest days in a row when I have intense practice days. I will, however, remain practicing calisthenics and flexibility at the gym to maintain balance, strength, and stability. This type of intense training is generally a short duration, so one must be smart and properly balance training and recovery to avoid overtraining and possible injury.
Sleep is also important for our bodies to rest, recover, and take on each day with adequate energy. Everyone is different, but somewhere between 6 and 9 hours of sleep each night is suitable. If deep sleep is difficult for you, practice meditation or light stretching before bedtime; decrease your screentime at night; listen to sounds of nature, journal, decrease the amount of stress you experience, pray, and limit caffeine use throughout the day (possibly eliminating it altogether).
MYOFASCIAL RELEASE AT HOME
Self-myofascial release is very beneficial. It is easy to do, and you can do it every day at home. The best equipment for myofascial release includes foam rollers, massage balls (including a ‘peanut’ ball), and massage guns. We have these tools at the studio for you to utilize whenever your body needs it. Regular massages can by unrealistic for certain budgets, so these tools are a great alternative. Myofascial release is best utilized right before training (especially if you’re tight or hurting in a specific area) as well as, after training as a cool down. Incorporating heat is also beneficial right before training to target a sore or tight area.
Pole dancers need a lot of consistent care, especially in the upper body (shoulders, arms, back, chest). To avoid or minimize aches and pains from training, use myofascial release (and heat as needed) as a daily tool to help your muscles feel relieved and ready to take on physical efforts. You can even use the pole as a means to roll out your shoulders.
EMBRACE OUR CURRICULUM
At Beautiful Bodies, we have a detailed curriculum that all instructors follow to ensure that our students progress safely and in a manner that will encourage more individual 'wins'. Having a curriculum is important when it comes to development and advancement. Without a curriculum, instructors may teach their students skills that they are physically not ready for at that level, which could result in unnecessary injury. Lack of curriculum also encourages students to self-evaluate what level they think they are in, which could mean unnecessary injuries as well if they enroll in a class they are not physically ready for.
Our pole fitness curriculum will ensure a safe outcome, as well as teach you why we move the way we do (educating you on muscles and movement). We want you to understand YOUR body (and how to move it) as much as possible; and we created a program that allows just that. To further guarantee that our students are ready for the next pole fitness level, I (Bree) have the final evaluation with you. Use this as motivation to learn correctly and execute skills the best you can in each moment, every class. A detailed program only protect you, your body and mind, and allows you to have a positive pole dance fitness journey. Embrace the moment and enjoy the process!
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Hydrating your body with water is crucial for optimal function and performance. Whether you are training rigorously or not, water intake needs to be constant throughout the day; beginning right when you wake up. Our bodies NEED water to function properly. If water intake is lower than your body’s needs, you will experience less energy, constipation, moodiness, fatigue, headaches, and more. You will also not perform at your potential, both physically and mentally.
The generally recommended daily water intake is half your body weight in ounces. When physical activity is added, you’ll need a bit more. With time and practice, you will learn to listen to your body and its hydration cues, but while you are figuring that out for you, using this measure for water intake is a great start. Always take a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go. You’ll learn to drink throughout the day to maintain adequate hydration. Before and after a workout or pole session, be sure to drink a bit more, and during the exercise continue to sip. If you are unsure if you are hydrated or not, pay attention to your urine color and smell. It should be light in color and not smell foul.
EAT A BALANCED AND WHOLESOME DIET
Nutrition is of upmost importance for overall health and wellbeing. 90% of your health status comes from what you consume and 10% is from physical activity. If you are wanting to lose weight, alter your appearance, or feel better internally (and externally), it all begins and ends with proper nutrition. We spend a great amount of our time each day eating; so, what you eat is important to your health and physical performance.
There are many ‘fad diets’ and proclaimed ‘quick fixes’ out there but, they do not work, especially in long-term health. Learning to eat a balanced diet may seem hard, but it is vital. Saying ‘no’ to fast food, soda, excess sugar and salt, and over-eating are all great starts. When shopping at the grocery store, shop the perimeter of the store, choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, healthy fats, and healthy carbohydrates. At first, look up simple, and healthful, recipes to cook at home (and in abundance for leftovers). From there, as you are more comfortable and this new way of eating has become a lifestyle change, you can create more elaborate dishes or eat foods that you may not have ever tried (or heard of) before. As a general rule of thumb, your daily nutrition intake should be 45-65% carbohydrates, 10-35% protein, 20-35% healthy fats.
Here are a few healthy examples of each food per category:
Carbohydrates: sweet potatoes, potatoes, white and brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat, farro, beans, oats, vegetables
Proteins: chicken, fish, lamb, beef, eggs, soy, beans, legumes
Fats: coconut (any form), olive/coconut/avocado oils, nuts and nut butters, avocado, flaxseed, chia seed, dark chocolate
Another benefit of eating healthily is allowing for a naturally stronger grip on pole. Eating healthful foods minimizes excessive oil production in our skin, allowing us to grip the pole better and with fewer grip aids.
As you begin to maximize your pole training and overall health and wellness journey, remember that we, at BEAUTIFUL BODIES, want nothing more than the BEST for you and your life. We are here to help you learn, grow, and succeed in the ways that you want and need to. We are a family, who has your best interest at heart, always.
With all my love and support,