Moving Up in Pole!

Feb 14, 2015 by

          “Focus on the hold, not the lift,” Jocelyn advised on Thursday night.

          It was like a switch went off in my brain. After over five weeks of pole dancing, my mind finally understood what my body was supposed to do in order to keep hold of the pole. I’ve been able to execute the basic pole spins for a while, making essential-level pole classes a little slow-paced for me, but I couldn’t progress from essential to beginner because I was lacking one required skill: the pole hold. To do a pole hold means to grip the pole with both hands, lean your upper body into it, lift both feet off the ground, and hold that position for at least five seconds. One second of pole holding was a feat for me, so five seemed quite ambitious. Nonetheless, a good pole hold is a necessary base for climbing and inverting. I couldn’t begin learning either until I could hold myself up.

          There were a few things I was doing to prevent myself from keeping hold. I was lifting my shoulders, despite knowing that they need to be down and back to engage my lats. I was bouncing up instead of simply lifting my feet, even though many unsuccessful attempts at the hold had repeatedly taught me that what jumps up will come down. I was also holding my breath, going against the fundamentals of living, never mind pole dancing. Essentially, these errors in execution were the result of not understanding exactly how to use my muscles to keep myself up. I knew I had to tighten my entire upper body, because that’s what I had been told, but I didn’t grasp how to do that and lift my legs at the same time. When Jocelyn told me to switch my focus from the lift to the hold, something finally clicked: I had to grip with everything in me, which I would realize upon my first five-second hold meant engaging my quads and calves too. That’s right; I got it! And I continued to get it!

          “Look at you! You’re not even struggling!” Jocelyn observed proudly.

          “Ahhhhhhhh!” I shrieked, jumping up and down after I released my hold. “Does this mean I can go to beginner?” I asked eagerly.

          “You can go to beginner,” she smiled.

          “Oh my God, I’m going to beginner! I’m going to beginner!” I clasped my hands together in accomplishment, still jumping.

          This sense of achievement is my favourite thing about pole dancing. Each move demands focus and effort, so grasping one makes me feel like I earned it. This is especially the case with the pole hold, since it’s taken me particularly long to get. This accomplished feeling is ongoing. Because I have a lot to learn, there is always something to challenge me. Once I conquer my current biggest challenge, the door opens to more progressive moves, placing a new biggest challenge before me. There is continuous potential to master something that’s initially difficult, and I thrive off that. Not only is it motivating, it boosts confidence. I can try a new move and struggle with excitement and certainty that I will nail it with practice, based on the spins I can execute now that I couldn’t at first. In essence, the challenge makes the success far more gratifying than it would be had there been no learning curve at all.

          Now, that’s not to say that getting something on the first shot doesn’t feel amazing! In addition to finally holding the pole on Thursday, I learned how to do a chair spin. I saw Mel, who was co-teaching, demonstrate it after class, and in replicating her movements, I got it on my first try! I left the studio that night feeling like queen of the world. It was very Jack-on-the-bow-of-Titanic-esque, minus the tragic demise. (Must he die every single time?)

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