Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Poletry in Motion: BeSpun
Last weekend, Rita and I went down to Los Angeles for the California Pole Dance Championship. Since I was going to be in town, I wanted to take classes from different studios. So, we scheduled classes at BeSpun in Hollywood and OC Pole Fitness in Aliso Viejo. While driving home, I told Rita I wanted to create a little "corner" of my blog for reviews of studios I try while I'm traveling. Rita came up with "Poletry in Motion." I LOVED it so here we go!!
I first heard about BeSpun when I found videos of the owner, Leigh Ann on YouTube. I was still new to the pole dancing industry, so I didn't realize that a lot of the pros were coming out of BeSpun. The current US Pole Dance Champion, Natasha Wang, is from BeSpun. Amy Guion, a recent interviewee in this very blog, and competitor in last weekend's CPDC, manages BeSpun. Alethea Austin, who performed at Poletential's Air Show a few months ago, teaches at BeSpun. Amber Richard, from Poletential in Redwood City, is going to school in Southern California and also teaches at BeSpun. Anjel Dust, who put on the CPDC, teaches there too. I am sure I am leaving out many other important pole dancers, but those are the names currently listed on their website that I recognize.
Rita and I made reservations to take class with Amber Richard. Our class was scheduled for 2 p.m. The studio is located in a pretty interesting part of Hollywood. We didn't have to park too far away but we definitely wouldn't have made the walk if it had been dark. You walk into the back of the building -- through a chainlink fence and a large, heavy rolling door -- into an MMA gym. It's a big building that smells of testosterone and sweat. BeSpun is actually inside of the MMA gym, Legends. Two girls were standing at the front desk. I could see Alethea sitting behind a desk. We chatted with the girls for a minute, then realized we were actually talking to THE Leigh Ann! She was so sweet. The receptionist checked us in and had us sign paperwork while we chatted with Leigh Ann. Rita asked her about whether she was offering other aerial arts and Leigh Ann said that they wanted to focus on what they did well -- pole dancing. They were shaping competition level athletes. Fair enough.
Leigh Ann told us to go through the pink door and watch the end of the class before ours (which was being taught by Amy). Amber happened to walk by and we quickly said hello and then Rita and I walked to the pole room. There were a few guys on the mats grappling. The place definitely smelled like sweaty man (not necessarily a bad thing). I saw the pink door and opened it. The room seemed so small and a couple of girls turned around to look at us. I thought I was interrupting and quickly closed the door. We waited until Amber came back and she told us to follow her.
It was like falling through the tree into Wonderland. We walked into a completely different environment. The pink door opened into a small room, which seemed to be like a warm up area. But when you turned to the right, there was this extremely long room with tall ceilings and a bunch of poles. There were couches set up to sit on, a fire place and cool brick walls. There was a huge X-Pole sign on the wall. The lights were all red. It was no longer an MMA room. It was a pole dancing studio.
The class was much more advanced than Rita and I -- we call ourselves Bel's special needs class. Yes, we've been dancing for almost two years. But we have injuries and issues and we think maybe Bel doesn't want to push us too hard so we've spent a lot of time not advancing in pole. I think we both walked away from BeSpun wanting to fix that. We are ready to get strong and start really dancing!
We started with a great warm-up and stretch, almost yoga-style, including some sit-ups. Amber is a great teacher. She describes a move, demonstrates it, then comes around to make sure everyone is doing it properly. Rita and I went to the very end of the room so we could muddle through without getting in the way. Amber checked on us several times. We ended class with a free dance. I took a few things away from the class: First, I want to start warming up better. Second, I learned how to climb prettier (and busted out a new move!!!). Third, Amber (and I would assume BeSpun) absolutely believes that you should learn each move on both the right and left sides. I currently only use my dominant hand (right) and only do moves one way. So we spent a lot of time doing basic moves on our non-dominant side. That was pretty cool.
BeSpun was nothing like Twirly Girls. Not to say they weren't friendly -- everyone was amazing and so nice to us. But in class, they were very serious. There was very little interaction between students. They worked hard from the second they arrived until class was over. The studio is definitely a place for people to train and become pro competitors. Still, we had a great experience there and liked seeing how other studios worked. Amber is an excellent teacher and she dances so beautifully. I especially like that she is so tall (so many dancers are these tiny little things). She's got these beautiful muscular and long legs. Her abs look great. She said she's been doing a lot of plyometrics, so maybe she can teach a class for us at Twirly Girls when she comes back for a visit!
So anyway, that is my first Poletry in Motion review, which will be my personal opinion of the studios I visit. BeSpun in Hollywood is definitely a place you should check out if you're in the Southern California area. Other than being a little star struck when you see famous instructors and dancers, their classes are well-taught and structured. I am hoping to make more trips down to So Cal for Social Sonar and other pole events. I am looking forward to taking another class from Amber and checking out other studios!
Oh yeah, before I go...when we left, Rita and I hit up the bathroom, which is really a big locker room/shower area for both men and women. There were some lockers and one said, "E. Balfour." I love the actor, Eric Balfour. I was like, could he possibly train here?? I whipped out my cute little smart phone and typed in "Eric Balfour and Legends." He does in fact train there (and may actually be a co-owner or investor), so I rubbed my body all over his locker (sorry, Mr. Balfour!!). :-D When I got home, I told Rob about it and he said that when he watched a recent episode of Haven, Eric's character did a martial arts type of move and Rob thought he pulled it off well for someone who supposedly wasn't trained in martial arts. But now we know that he IS actually trained in martial arts. Totally random piece of information...and gave me a good giggle because Eric Balfour is hot and I totally molested his locker!
My new move...I'm not touching the floor!!!