Sunday, December 30, 2012

December posts for The Pole Dancing Shop





Fulfilling Your Pole Dancing Wish List

The great thing about pole is that it stimulates the mind, body and soul. The holidays will come and go, and some of us will set New Years Resolutions. So, let's talk about that pole wish list!

Read the rest of the story HERE.

 Pole Dance To Be Strong

I remember my doctor telling me once to stop weight training and start hitting the treadmill if I wanted to lose weight. I was a little surprised -- he looked like a bit of a meathead himself with his huge biceps -- but you do what your doctor tells you, right? Well, maybe not always! We aren't trying to give you medical advice here at The Pole Dancing Shop, but we'd like to share some information that might help you understand why weight training is important.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pole Pro: Meet Michelle Stanek!


It seems that 2012 has been a pretty amazing year for you.  Your Pole Art performance from Sweden in August was beautiful, and congratulations on your USPDF win in New York!  I'd love to hear about your journey this year.

Thank you! Yes, 2012 has been incredible. I think my Pole Art piece and my USPDF piece were two of my favorites so far. They were both so different and only a 4 weeks apart so it was very stressful to separate the creative process in two and inevitably have to push one to the side to focus on the other.  I did not want to neglect either piece even for a second!

I pitched my idea for Pole Art and I am so glad they bought it and allowed me the opportunity to bring it to life. Long story short: I was a college art history professor for a hot minute and I always had an affinity for Bernini, the Italian Baroque sculptor. In particular I have always loved his "Ecstacy of St. Theresa" in Rome. It's an image of St. Theresa in ecstasy, or mid-orgasm. She wrote about this experience— a vision of an angel piercing her heart and inflaming her insides over and over. For a 16th century nun, it was highly sexual. So, I wanted to create a pole dance interpretation of that. And I thought what other place that Pole Art to do this?! It brought together my love of art and pole dance. I loved it. It was very fulfilling.

http://youtu.be/sV-LRsnplQY

For USPDF, I saw "Crazy Horse" in Paris in January 2012. Seeing that show brought me back to life in many ways. I had been in a drought of creativity for months. I had done USPDF Amateur, Pole Dance Universe and Pole Art and worked and traveled a ton. My well was dry. And it was sad. That is the worst feeling. I had nothing I wanted to create. No inspiration. Then I saw "Crazy Horse." The girls were unabashedly sexy and topless yet so clearly classically trained and refined in their dancing that I don't think I blinked the entire time. Every piece was more intoxicating than the last. The music went right through me and made me want to get out of my seat and into the studio and dance. So I bought the cd of songs and I was particularly attracted to the "Jungle Fever" piece - a desperate, wild, sexy girl trapped in a cage like a leopard in a zoo. My mind started racing with ideas and I knew I would create something with this. And months later when the deadline for USPDF arrived and I decided to submit (which was wrought with unnecessary drama fueled by the passive aggressive and dangerous viral nature of the internet. But I digress. That's for another interview!) I knew if I were accepted this would be my piece. This piece would be sexy, animalistic and fierce. Perfect for me, my style and for a competition I knew I had to try to devour. I labored for hours upon hours in the studio to choreograph the beginning and so much got left of the cutting room floor I could've created a whole other piece. Making choreographic decisions was really, really hard for this one. It took a very long time to put together. During the performance I channeled my inner caged animal and the sexiness and refinement of the "Crazy Horse" dancers. And every moment when I felt muscle fatigue and exhaustion, I chanted my friend's name who was going through chemotherapy. And her strength kept me going.

I think one of the best moments of the year was being awarded the winner and looking out into the audience to see my family, friends, students and colleagues stand up and cheer for me. They all help, support and inspire me everyday. And I had done them proud. Tear!

Being part of the USPDF legacy and being listed among Jenyne Butterfly, Natasha Wang and Alethea Austin is really important to me. We are all so different too, and I love that! We represent a diversity in styles and the inclusive nature of pole dance. Part of the USPDF legacy is to go to Australia and perform at the legendary Miss Pole Dance Australia competition. And that was one of the best experiences of my life! I love the Australian pole dancers so much. They reminded me, too, of something I often forget about - that pole dancing is a room full of girls in little outfits, high heels, being wild and crazy and free! And MPDA was by far the most amazing production I have ever been a part of! The opening number even had pyrotechnics!

Now I am back and it feels good to be home and able to focus on my training and the next steps in my career.

I saw AERA perform Chasing the Sun in Los Angeles in June and it was an experience unlike any other.  How did AERA come together and what does the group want to accomplish in the aerial world?


Well, you would really have to ask Kyra Johannesen! She is the co-owner of Body & Pole, who created AERA with her husband Kyle McBeth and aerialist Jen James. I'm so glad you liked "Chasing the Sun," that was a labor of love for all of us. We were so excited to show the pole world what we like to do—create performance art where we dance and interact with every element of the stage—the pole, hoop, hammocks, silks, lighting, sounds and even the truss. AERA forces me to be cross-disciplined and I love that. I look forward to whatever crazy gig is next!


You teach at Body &Pole in New York.  It seems like you guys are one big, happy pole-star family.  Tell us about your classes and rockstar co-workers.

I am so lucky. I cannot say that enough. What started as one pole in Lian Tal's living room has grown into one of the best studios in the world. It's become a destination for many who want to come to New York City and study at Body & Pole for a week or a month or a season. We have A LOT to offer — from a variety of pole classes to hoop, hammock, silks, ballet, flexibilty and more. I know people know Marlo, Kyra, Steven and Tracee but every single instructor is incredible and highly experienced in what they do. It is an extraordinary place to be and learn and grow.

And we do all respect, admire, trust and love each other. That seems to be the most rare and valuable thing that keeps the studio growing strong. I love going there, everyday.

Do you do a "different" workout than normal to keep your "pole muscles" in shape? 

Well, not to sound like a fitness geek. But like the SAID exercise principle explains, if you want to get better at pole dance, pole dance more! If you want to get your splits, do the splits more! If you want to improve your golf swing, practice your gold swing! So, when I am focused on my pole progress, I focus on that. And to keep my "pole muscles" in shape, I take more pole classes. Luckily at Body & Pole our instructors all understand how to give a comprehensive 30-minute warm-up with exercises selected for specific muscle activation needed to perform specific pole techniques. I often think that is a major gap in a lot of pole instructors' toolkit of knowledge.
 
Having said that, I love working out! I take spin classes for pure cardio exercise as well as visualization. Sometimes spin instructors can be really motivational! And I like to take as many dance classes I can. Usually it's contemporary classes that help broaden my repertoire of movement, especially floorwork and traveling movement that I can utilize in my pole choreography. I've also started taking a Capoeira-based dance class with Amy Secada who comes to Body & Pole to give us the class. It's amazing!

And of course, I try to take 2-3 flexibility training classes per week. That's what I miss the most when I am on the road. It's so necessary to succeeding in pole and it just feels good!

What kind of food fuels a body like yours?

Clean, unprocessed foods of mostly plants, animals and water! When I am training, I eat eggs, veggies, chicken, turkey, fish. And repeat! I need carbs to get through training, like a banana, nuts, sweet potato or trail mix. I've also recently fallen in love with shakes - it's the easiest and most delicious way to get my veggie nutrients! My current favorite is: Kale, spinach, banana, orange juice.

It feels like some pro/competition pole dancers are all going the route of contortion and extreme tricks. Do you feel like something is lost from pole dancing when it is all tricks and no dance?

Yes! I think that's the general consensus too. Pole dancers are really pushing the limits of their bodies and that's incredible. The things they can do now are mind-blowing! But I feel like I am left flat when there is nothing more they can give on the stage than flips and tricks and drops and contortion. At least use the music-?! And vice versa. Dancing is great too. But if you rely too much on how "dance-y" you can be and neglect the tricks, I also feel disappointed. The greatest performances are those that have it all and really know how to highlight, but not overkill, their strengths. That is rare. And that's why they are special.
 
Do you prefer competitions or showcases?

Showcases! Anxiety is replaced with enjoyment!—As an audience member and performer. However, nothing pushes you more than an upcoming competition to make you train harder and get those moves you've always wanted to take you to the next level. But in a showcase, you can do whatever you want! If you want to tell a dramatic story you can! If you want to showcase all tricks, you can! And I think when polers are given freedom to perform what and how they want is when you get the best. I recently performed in the Gravity First showcase in Mexico City and I loved it so much. I wish there would be more events like that.

What do you do for down time?  Wait, do you get down time?? 

Sort of! I feel like with my ipad and iphone glued to my palm I am always "working," even that means just connecting with people online, sharing my thoughts, posting videos, booking classes, etc. To me that's all "work," and thank goodness I love it. When I have significant down time, I am creating new programming, classes and workshops for both Body & Pole and my specialty touring workshops.

When I *force* myself to have down time from that, I spend it with my fiancé and friends. I like to explore the city, go to the movies, go to a museum or exhibit, check out a new restaurant or bar. Or just stay home in my jammies and watch tv.

What advice would you offer brand new pole dancers?

Don't give up! It will hurt a lot, but I promise it's worth it when you get to the other side of that pain!

Tell us one thing about you that people might be surprised to hear.

I always carry Benadryl and gum. I have an irrational fear of surprise allergy attacks and bad breath. The gum things goes back a long way. The most detentions I got in school were from chewing gum.
 
What does 2013 hold for you?  Are you planning a world tour of workshops??

I think 2013 is the year I stop underestimating myself. Even with all my pole and non-pole accomplishments, I still underestimate myself. I think somewhere in there is because I am afraid of becoming big-headed, which I will still avoid! I've always hated that characteristic in people. But I think I need to own my accomplishments and understand my value in a proud yet humble way.

I will definitely be traveling! I am looking forward to it. So, please contact me if you would like to for me to visit your studio!

I also need to plan a wedding. WHAT!?

Thank you so much for taking time to answer my questions.  I hope to see you soon and would love to visit you in New York!

Thank you Lori!

Make sure you connect with Michelle, either through her website or on Facebook.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas - Pole Style

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a pole, all bright and shiny!

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: two hooker heels and a pole, all bright and shiny!

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: three days of pole camp, two hooker heels and a pole, all bright and shiny!

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: four iTunes song credits, three days of pole camp, two hooker heels and a pole, all bright and shiny!

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: FIVE Nadia pole ninja lessons! Four iTunes song credits, three days of pole camp, two hooker heels and a pole, all bright and shiny!

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: six months of Vertical, five Nadia pole ninja lessons, four iTunes song credits, three days of pole camp, two hooker heels and a pole, all bright and shiny!


Thanks to Robert for being our Twirly Santa and to Liquidpulp
Photography for always taking amazing photos for the Twirly Girls!
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: seven ounces of Mighty Grip, six months of Vertical, five Nadia pole ninja lessons, four iTunes song credits, three days of pole camp, two hooker heels and a pole, all bright and shiny!

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: eight weeks of pole class, seven ounces of Mighty Grip, six months of Vertical, five Nadia pole ninja lessons, four iTunes song credits, three days of pole camp, two hooker heels and a pole, all bright and shiny!

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: nine contortion classes, eight weeks of pole class, seven ounces of Mighty Grip, six months of Vertical, five Nadia pole ninja lessons, four iTunes song credits, three days of pole camp, two hooker heels and a pole, all bright and shiny!

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: ten jars of iTac, nine contortion classes, eight weeks of pole class, seven ounces of Mighty Grip, six months of Vertical, five Nadia pole ninja lessons, four iTunes song credits, three days of pole camp, two hooker heels and a pole, all bright and shiny!

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: eleven poling outfits, ten jars of iTac, nine contortion classes, eight weeks of pole class, seven ounces of Mighty Grip, six months of Vertical, five Nadia pole ninja lessons, four iTunes song credits, three days of pole camp, two hooker heels and a pole, all bright and shiny!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: twelve shiatsu massages, eleven poling outfits, ten jars of iTac, nine contortion classes, eight weeks of pole class, seven ounces of Mighty Grip, six months of Vertical, five Nadia pole ninja lessons, four iTunes song credits, three days of pole camp, two hooker heels...and A POLE, ALL BRIGHT AND SHINYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

Happy Holidays!! Thank you to everyone who supports me and my blog!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

PoleAndAerial.com

In September, I got a call from Collette Kakuk, owner of OC Pole Fitness, and manager of the amazing Felix Cane.  She recently started a website called www.PoleAndAerial.com, a site that produces instructional videos for pole and aerial enthusiasts.  She very kindly hooked me up with a free membership so that I could take advantage of all areas of their website and provide a review to all of you, my loyal blog readers!  I was very excited to watch ALL of the videos for my review.  Then the job-situation happened.  The day I got back from Pole Expo in Las Vegas, my former boss told me I should start looking for a new job.  I found a new job quickly but am now commuting into San Francisco every day.  It has left me very tired and with a lot less time for fun and exercise.  I have spent some time on the site (and know Bel from Twirly Girls has spent a lot of time there herself), so I feel comfortable still giving you a review of my findings.

PoleAndAerial.com offers instruction from some of the top pro pole dancers around the world: Felix Cane, Jenyne Butterfly, Marlo Fisken, Mai Sato, Brandon Pereyda, and Erika Labansat.  This month, they are featuring videos from guest instructor, Michelle Stanek, USPDF's most recent champion. 

I love that the videos are broken down between various levels of difficulty: beginning, intermediate, advanced and extreme.  I also love that they offer the same tricks taught by various instructors and even offer instruction in Spanish.  It is good to watch the various techniques, since each instructor has their own way of teaching.  The video genres are also broken down into pole, hoop, silks, floor work, strength and flexibility.  There are sub-genres that can help you further pinpoint what you are looking for. 

The terminology used is associated with the terms defined by the PFA (Pole Fitness Association). While I don't have a problem with their terms, I recognize that there are so many different terms used around the world for the same moves.  I would be nice to see more "aka's" included when you search videos for a certain move. 

I would also love to see a series of modified moves for those of us who may not be strong enough to do certain moves, may be taller or curvier than the average pro instructor, or may be recovering from injuries or dealing with chronic pain or health problems (for example, those with high blood pressure might not be able to invert but would love to have a lot of spins and twirls to work on).  I would love to see a larger pole dancer demonstrate how someone maybe with a little more in the chest area can place their hand or arm on the pole in certain moves.  I know for myself, I can't always reach across my chest for a move such as chair.  I have to reach higher or lower because my boobs are just too big. 

I am not the biggest advocate of learning pole dance at home alone, especially once you get into the more advanced moves.  However, if there are no studios near you, I believe PoleAndAerial.com will provide you with safe and proper instruction.  Please read and watch their safety precautions. 

If you are a studio owner, I think having a subscription can help you take your classes to the next level.  If you have a laptop or iPad at your studio, you can choose a move, watch it performed by multiple pros, and then teach it to your class.  I don't think studio owners should think of a website like this as competition, but should use it as part of their lesson plan, to complement their class.  Everyone learns differently, so being able to watch the moves performed by multiple people can help it "click" in someone's brain.  Also, as a beginning pole instructor, who may be able to talk someone through a move (and spot them flawlessly), since I cannot perform the advanced tricks, I feel like PoleAndAerial.com is a tool for me to help the more advanced students not be bored in my class.

If you haven't checked out PoleAndAerial.com, please visit their website.  You can view their free videos HERE.  A 30-day pass is $29.95, or your can purchase a year for $249 (barely $21 per month -- and hey, if you're a studio, is a business expense and tax write-off!).  I look forward to continuing to use PoleAndAerial.com to help myself and my students learn the newest pole moves in the safest manner possible.  Thanks again, Collette, for allowing me to check out your site and provide this review to my blog fans!

Pole Year In Review

December 2, 2012 was my third anniversary of pole dancing.  For this month's blog hop, the theme was reviewing the last year of goals and accomplishments or talking about a pole wish list.  I thought I'd do a little bit of both.

I started 2012 by becoming a teacher.  Bel told me at Christmas last year that she envisioned me teaching.  It had never occurred to me!  But I welcomed the challenge.  I worried that I wouldn't be a good teacher since I don't invert.  I worried that my students would advance beyond my skill level and I would be wasting their time.  But I feel like the last year has gone really well.  Sure, I do have students who are more advanced in the tricks and strength department, but I still feel like my class has something to offer.  My class is called Boys, Girls and Twirls.  We have men and women in class, and we focus on dancing and laughing.  I feel like I have a great group and am really proud to be their instructor.  I also feel like I have become a better and smoother dancer.  I taught seven first-time classes over a weekend recently and had to hold back my giggles when every single class exclaimed that they wanted to dance as smoothly and beautifully as me. 

2012 was also a big year for me, as two different magazines published my articles.  Vertical has published four of my articles (with two coming out in their next issue) and Pole Dance International published one.  Since print magazines are probably going to be a thing of the past someday, I am very proud to be included in these magazines.  

I spent much of this year building online and in person relationships with other polers all over the world.  I have spent some time with the pros (I really need to make some time to write about my adventures with Nadia Sharif and Mina Mortezaie recently).  I went to showcases and competitions.  I attended PoleCon in Los Angeles and Pole Expo in Las Vegas.  I took workshops.  I made friends.  It has been a very exciting year for me. 

Personally, I have had a rough year.  Rob didn't work for most of 2012 and it was hard to make it with just one income.  I also lost my job in September (where I got to work from home two days a week), but moved on to a much better job (although now I commute to San Francisco five days a week).  I know life happens to everyone but I still feel I'm fatter than I'd like to be and I'm not as strong as I'd like to be.  I swore up and down I'd be inverting like a pro now.  I am trying to be happy with where I am at this very moment, and I don't really do New Years resolutions, but I would like to actually be able to invert at some point in 2013.  Without help and without freaking out and needing to come down.  I have plans to go to Pole Show LA in January 2013.  I am also going to PPC to support some Twirly Girls and friends who will be competing.  I am also planning to hit up Pole Expo in Vegas in September.  I spent most of my vacation this year on pole events.  My new job has one week less vacation so I will have to pick and choose my events a little more carefully.  But I am still very happy to be part of such an amazing and supportive community.

I want to end with some photos and videos from the Trick or Twirl showcase at Twirly Girls.  Some are me and some are my amazing students.  I thank them for keeping me motivated to be better so I can help them reach their own goals.  Boys, Girls and Twirls, you rock my world!!!!















Sunday, December 2, 2012

November posts for The Pole Dancing Shop

We were saddened to hear this week that one of our clothing suppliers, Pole Skivvies, will no longer be making their specialized pole dance friendly clothing. Although we don't believe the bad economy has anything to do with Pole Skivvies closing its doors, it does bring to the forefront of our minds the health of the industry and how we can keep it strong.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

There are many variations of pole dance. Some of us came from dance backgrounds, so those genres influence how we pole: ballet, lyrical, hip hop…and so on. Some of us embrace the sexy side. Some of us celebrate the physical strength required to perform advanced tricks. Some of us just enjoy the dance. There comes a point in each pole dancer’s life where you reveal to someone that you pole dance and they respond with a blank stare. How we reveal our supposedly salacious hobby is different for each person to which we "come out." How did you “out” yourself as a pole dancer to your friends and family (and co-workers)?

Read the rest of the story HERE.




Monday, November 19, 2012

November Blog Hop: Coming out of the pole dance closet

It's blog hop time again!  If you don't remember, I am part of a Facebook group of pole dance bloggers.  Every month, each separate blog writes about a theme and a link is also shared so that you can read about the subject from other bloggers’ perspectives. This month’s theme is “coming out.” How did you “out” yourself as a pole dancer to your friends and family (and co-workers)?

There are many variations of pole dance. Some of us came from dance backgrounds, so those genres influence our pole dance: ballet, lyrical, hip hop…and on and on. Some of us embrace the sexy side. Some of us celebrate the physical strength required to perform advanced tricks. Some of us just enjoy the dance. There comes a point in each pole dancer’s life where you reveal to someone that you pole dance and they respond with a blank stare. Some people are supportive and some aren't. Some people can be downright rude about my adventures as a "stripper."  

I started my journey as a pole dancer in December 2009 (I am coming up on my third anniversary as a pole dancer). One of my very good friends and I signed up for a taster class and never looked back. I actually don’t remember the exact conversation where I told my very religious mother that I started taking pole dance lessons. I do remember her trying to act supportive but she also wasn’t excited about my new past-time. Six months after I started taking classes, I was surprised when my mom (and two sisters) came in to take a class as well. My mom was impressed with the amount of strength it took to pole dance but I could tell the “stripper stigma” was still bothering her. At the end of class, my teacher encouraged me to perform a dance I had been working on for an upcoming party. The song? Darling Nikki (you know, the dirty Prince song, although I was using the Foo Fighters version). That didn’t go over well. To this day, my mom guardedly accepts my hobby. It doesn’t matter that I am now published in real print magazines because of pole dance or that I now teach classes at Twirly Girls Pole Fitness. In her circles, she can’t proudly declare that her daughter makes money dancing around a stripper pole. However, I appreciate that she keeps her opinion to herself and lets me enjoy my pole time. 

I “came out” a little more carefully to my boss. I worked for an attorney but we worked virtually so I was working out of his house a few days each week (with his wife and three teenage sons). I didn’t want anyone to worry that I was going to sully the firm name, or be the stripper secretary who worked out of the boss’ house (sure…wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Initially, I would just say I was leaving for dance class. When I did finally reveal the type of dance, my boss took it pretty well. I recently switched jobs and now work for a larger firm in San Francisco. I have been slowly “coming out” to my co-workers as I feel comfortable with them. No one has had a negative response so far. In fact, I recently participated in a showcase and many are asking to see photos and video. 

I kind of think that after being brought up in a religious household, I have always felt some small satisfaction in doing something considered a little naughty. I’m usually the person in the group who says something I probably shouldn’t in certain crowds. I don’t always have a filter and feel like everyone should just accept me for who I am. Certainly, with pole dancing, I am the same way. Take it or leave it. Call me a stripper or don’t. Be impressed with the physical aspect of the sport, or the beautiful dance, or don’t. I don’t care. I pole dance for me anyway. 

I would love to hear your “coming out” stories. Please leave a comment and tell me about it!
Photo credit: Lori Myers at Twirly Girls' Trick or Twirl Showcase. Photo by Liquidpulp Photography. Nov. 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October Posts For The Pole Dancing Shop

Pole Warm-Up:  Stretching Doesn't Count

I have attended a few pole jams lately where pole dancers from different studios get together to dance and teach each other fun tricks. I have been surprised by the number of people who seem to think that stretching is a warm-up. At one event, the coordinator called out, "okay, let's warm up!" And six girls plopped down on to the ground and started stretching.

Read the rest of the story...  http://www.thepoledancingshop.com/pole-warm-up-stretching-doesnt-count/#.UI3zq1GPWSo





Monday, October 22, 2012

Everything is connected

It’s amazing how everything is connected. Today, let’s learn how my foot pain is connected to my gym going out of business.

Well over a year ago, my gym, Bally went out of business overnight (shoot, maybe even two years ago now??). No notice. Just boom…gone. I had already been lazy and wasn’t going as much as I should. In my heyday, I was in shape. Spin classes, yoga, pilates, jogging. I was in the best shape of my life. I freaking climbed to the top of Half Dome. That was four short years ago (well, maybe four and a half). After working from home exclusively for a year, I started a three-day-a week-commute to Alameda, which ruined my gym schedule and my social life. That was three years ago. I never fully replaced Bally after it went out of business. I did Twirly Girls. I found some various Groupons for some yoga places, but nothing hardcore and nothing consistent. I let myself get out of shape and, in fact, gained about 35 pounds over the last 3 years.

When my boss told me a little over a month ago that I needed to start looking for a new job, I panicked a little. Then I got out there and got a new job really quickly. I walk a lot more for this job. I walk to BART. I walk to the office. I walk around the office. Up the stairs. Down the stairs. I walk back to BART (which is the train that I ride to avoid driving), then back home. It’s not a TON of walking but it’s more than I was doing before. My first week at this job, I dropped about 7 pounds.

The bottom of my foot has been hurting for a bit. I think really even before this job started (I’m starting week four of my new job). But the pain is definitely worse now that I’m walking more. It’s probably the beginnings of plantar fasciitis. It feels like a thumb-sized bruise between the arch and the heel. I figured it’s not a coincidence that I have hip pain in my left hip, somehow hyper-extended my left knee, and now have pain in my right foot. I’ve probably been limping or over-compensating with my right leg.

Anyway, I finally got to see my savior, Keith. Guess what it all relates back to? Weak quads and over-tight calves.

Now I didn’t really fully put two and two together until this weekend. I tried a hatha/flow yoga class in Pleasant Hill on Saturday. It’s a lot of downward dogs and lunges into various poses. It was a hard class. I sweat my ass off and I’m sore today. But that’s when it really hit me. Duh. When I was doing yoga at Bally two to three days a week, I was in really good shape. Because we did a ton of lunges and my quads were much stronger. So weird how a weak quad can lead to a sore foot years down the road.

So anyway, it’s funny how things work. Who knew when I stopped going to David’s yoga class, I would end up with a sore foot? J I actually really miss that instructor. He’s really great. I have found his schedule at other places but, so far, it hasn’t worked out with my schedule. Keith gave me a bunch of exercises to both strengthen my quads and loosen up my calves. Hopefully, it will lead to less pain in the very near future. I do love the Keith method but it surely doesn’t fix things overnight. I guess I could go to the doctor for some good ol’ pain pills, but that would just be masking the pain that then I might not be as motivated to fix the problem.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Trick or Twirl!

I have been part of a group on Facebook for pole dance bloggers for awhile now.  Here are a couple of other posts from fellow bloggers on the subject:

http://ascendingslowly.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/pole-blogs-feel-the-love/

http://chwennyland.com/2012/10/12/calling-all-pole-dancing-bloggers/

The amazingly talented Sheena suggested we start doing monthly blog hops.  This month, the theme is Halloween.  We each write a blog on the subject, then we encourage people to visit the other bloggers' sites to read their stories.  You can see the other registered blogs HERE.  You can read Sheena's blog HERE.

I am three weeks into my new job and I have been crazy busy, so I have been neglecting both my pole dancing AND my blogging.  I have been busy but am also trying to get ready for Twirly Girls' Trick or Twirl event.  We decided to push our event to early November to avoid the actual candy-lovin' holiday.  So on November 11, 2012, we will hold our showcase.  I have three dances planned.  One is Mulan's I'll Make A Man Out Of You with three of my male students.  I am also doing a solo.  Then doing an Afro-Haitian drum style dance with my friend Yolanda.  I hope to have videos up after the event next month.

Also, don't forget that UPA is having a Halloween costume contest.  Click HERE to participate. 

Sorry I have been so neglectful and that this post is so short.  Commuting and working is taking a lot out of me.  And all the little things I could do on work-at-home days are being pushed to the evenings and weekends.  I hope to adjust soon and get back to regularly scheduled programming!!

Until next time, keep twirling!!


Friday, September 28, 2012

September posts for The Pole Dancing Shop

We have all probably watched a pole dance video on YouTube and thought to ourselves, "That move will be mine!" Jenyne Butterfly and the Iguana Walk. Natasha Wang and the Fonji. There are so many advanced moves that brand new pole dancers are not ready to try. Sure, some of us may have the physical strength to muscle into a move, but pole dancing requires the use of a different set of muscles than most activities. And that's how we get hurt. So, we need to have patience and learn progression!

Read the rest of the story here: http://www.thepoledancingshop.com/importance-of-pole-dancing-progression/#.UGX1eVEyCSo


The Tides Are Changing

So I've been quiet since I got back from Las Vegas.  I had a blast at Pole Expo, but the day I got home, my day job boss told me he was going to have to lay me off.  I've worked for the same attorney for nine years.  It wasn't a shock but I still wasn't fully expecting it.  While fighting off a cold picked up on the plane, I immediately went into job-searching mode.  I'll make a long story short and say that I pretty quickly picked up a new job.  Only three weeks later, I start my new job as a litigation secretary at a law firm in San Francisco.  

For the last four years, my office has been virtual.  For three years, I've worked two days from my own home and three days from my boss' home.  I could wear flip flops and jeans or yoga pants every single day.  I got to play with my boss' puppy and kitten at lunch.  And work was kinda slow so I could write blogs, check Facebook or do research when I didn't have a project.  That will be no more.  All the things I could squeeze into a work day -- throwing a load of laundry in while I was working from home, picking up something at the grocery store on the way home from picking up mail -- all of that goes away and my free time becomes so much more precious. 

I have a lot of ideas I'd love to write on but with my new commute (BARTing into San Francisco five days a week), life will be changing very drastically for me.  So, if you don't see me posting as often, never fear...I'm not going anywhere, I just had to put my big girl pants on and start working in a real office again.  

I'm very excited about my new job and the benefits I've been missing the last seven years.  I won't be able to make as many pole events or write for as many side projects.  But I will still be here.  So, don't forget about me.  The Viking Warrior twirls on!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Viva Las Vegas!!!!!!

So as many of you may already know, I went to Las Vegas last weekend for Pole Expo.  It may be easier to just say what happened in Vegas, stays in Vegas.  But I also know some of you may be dying to hear about my experience.  So here is a condensed version so you don't get bored out of your mind:

I flew in Tuesday night.  I had a meeting on Wednesday morning and wanted to be settled.  My flight was less than half full and we arrived early.  I got on a shuttle, then sat for an hour and 15 minutes while everyone but me was dropped off.  Note to self...take the cab next time.  When I got into the hotel, there was an issue with my card.  I only use a debit card and a check I had deposited hadn't been released yet.  And, upon check-in, The Palms charges you a bunch of fees.  $22 per day for a resort fee.  $100 per day deposit for incidentals (which you get back when you don't buy all of their overpriced stuff).  A bunch of crap fees.  Basically, on a $600 bill, they wanted to hold a $750+ deposit.  And my $1,300 check hadn't cleared, leaving me a little short.  :-/  It was almost 10 PM and I was exhausted and frustrated.  I explained that I had paid the first night already, so couldn't I just stay the one night I paid for and come downstairs the next morning to fix everything?  I know I probably sounded like an idiot loser, but I was not trying to screw anyone over.  Anyway, the girl at the front desk was really sweet.  It took probably half an hour to sort out for some reason, but she got my reservation split and I was finally able to get up to my room.

The room was just ok.  Instead of the Expo rate for a regular room, I got The Palms' 50% off rate from their website.  I was essentially paying the same price as the Expo rate but I got a nicer room (supposedly).  I guess the huge hallway (wasted space) was the upgrade.  The jet tub was nice, at least.  I definitely took advantage of that.  The room fridge was, of course, filled with all their crap that was on a scale so if you even picked it up to look at it, you were charged some astronomical price for it.  Frustrating.  I used the ice bucket to keep one bottle of water cold each day. 

My meeting ended up being moved to Wednesday night, and it left me with an entire day of almost nothing important to do!  So what did I do?  I went to a day spa (Touch of Las Vegas Day Spa) and got a massage and pedicure.  It was amazing.  I felt like I got way more bang for my buck (and no, I don't mean I got a happy ending) since it wasn't a spa in the hotel.  I think what bugged me most about The Palms' spa is that they added a $25 access fee just to walk through the doors and then required a 20% gratuity.  It ain't GRATUITY if it's required.  Just sayin'.  My experience with the cabbie who drove me there was odd.  When I told him where I was going, he responded with, F***, YOU SAID THAT TOO FAST.  When I repeated the address, he said he didn't know where it was.  I replied that it was less than a mile away, then I pulled it up on my GPS and gave him directions.  That kind of irritated me.  So, after my really relaxing pedicure and massage...I walked the mile back in the heat rather than deal with another cabbie. 

That evening, after my meeting, I went to Fawnia's Pole Fitness Studio to take the Sacred Yoga Dance class with Jennifer.  It was kind of like a tribal belly dance.  I absolutely loved it.  It's like we were viking warrior goddesses dancing around a fire in the woods instead of being in a dimly lit pole studio.  I loved Jennifer and the other girls in class. 

I was really sore from walking after a massage and then dancing...so the trips to the gift shop for over-priced Aleve began...

Thursday was another easy day.  I got to sit by the pool and relax for a bit.  Sunblock was like $16 (and since I was trying to get my suitcase on as a carry-on to avoid a $25 checked-bag charge, I avoided any "liquids" that weren't absolutely necessary -- but don't get me ranting about the whole "CHARGE WHAT YOU'RE GONNA CHARGE INSTEAD OF GOUGING ME LATER" thing).  So I only made it about an hour before I had to go back inside.  The pool was nice, although I didn't get all of their rules.  I get why I can't bring a knife.  I can even get why you don't want me to bring my Vitamin Water.  But what I don't get is why I can't have my eye drops.  Rita arrived that afternoon.  She had another awesome crappy cabbie story.  She was charged $35 for the trip.  He took the long way (to compare, the trip back was under $20).  I really don't like LV cabbies.

Friday, the madness began.  I started the day off by taking the Fly Gym intro workshop.   I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVED IT!  Check out the link above...it was an amazing contraption.  My body was in so much pain walking into that workshop and I left with much relief.  I then walked Nadia Sharif over to the pole studio for her workshop and she kindly let me sit in to watch.  There were about 17 poles in that studio and every single one was taken.  I love watching Nadia work.  She's a great teacher and an amazing pole dancer.  I also videoed her twirls so I can learn them when I get home.  I went back to The Palms to check on Annemarie and the United Pole Artists booth, since that was a big reason I was in Vegas.  Next to her booth was Mechanics in Motion.  They use a theory similar to my favorite KEITH back home.  Since I did not have my Keith with me, I tried them out.  It is nothing like seeing a chiropractor.  The body manipulation is smooth and, although sometimes painful, very necessary.  I left with my hip feeling even better.

Then the evening came.  First off, I would like to say that I am not a nightclub girl.  I don't like wearing heels.  I don't drink much.  I don't like being up super late.  And I sure as hell do not like lines.  I shared a cab with Laura of Spinny T Bags and KT Coates over to The Bank Nightclub in The Bellagio for Pole-A-Palooza.  It was scheduled to begin at midnight, which already made me nervous since I knew Saturday was going to be a long day.  But alas, this is Vegas and you're never supposed to sleep.  I just wanted to video the performances.  Anyway, we arrive at the club around midnight.  We assume we were supposed to gain automatic entry via our Pole Expo bracelets.  By chance, we see someone at one of the multiple lines, who pulls us in to join their group (THANK YOU!).  They have some extra special pass that will get them in faster than the regular line.  However, heels are REQUIRED.  That cut a couple of people out of our group.  Then IDs were required and that sent Laura and KT back to the hotel.  Minutes later, after being given the up and down by a bouncer to approve my outfit, I was allowed in the club.  I felt wholly under-dressed in my Hawaiian dress.  One of the bouncers complimented my dress as I got to the top of the escalator.  Now I wonder if he was being nice or making fun of me.  Anyway, long story short, the club was packed and my feet hurt.  Pole-A-Palooza started fairly late and was half amateurs and half pole stars.  It didn't seem fair.  The prize was supposed to be $5,000 for first place.  They ultimately split it and Charlee Wagner took first and $3,500.  Alethea Austin took second and $1,500.  I should have videos up on YouTube later this week.  I got back to the hotel around 2:30 AM.  I fell asleep around 3:30.

Saturday was a clusterf*** from the minute I woke up.  I didn't get up until around 10:00 AM and I woke in a panic when Annemarie called looking for her camera.  I felt bad because I was supposed to be helping Annemarie at her booth.  We were also trying to film some I Pole Because videos for The Pole Dancing Shop while we were there (but nailing people down and finding free time was really difficult).  I also had the great luck of scoring a free workshop with Veena around noon on Saturday (While at Fawnia's studio Wednesday night, I heard her say that a man had bought six workshops for his girlfriend and she didn't come to Vegas...I offered to buy Veena's if they had it and Fawnia said he was giving them away...he just wanted a thanks, SO THANK YOU TO IAN!!!).  I only found out at 10:30 PM the night before that I was supposed to start helping set up cameras for the live stream at noon but I was scheduled to take Veena's workshop at the same time.  :-/  I was trying to fit too much into the day.  I took a cab to Fawnia's (it's only about half a mile to walk but in the heat, and if you're running late, sometimes a cab is easier).  The cabbie totally screwed me out of a bunch of money.  The bill was $6.  I gave him a $20.  He handed me change and I gave him $2 for a tip.  Turns out, he only handed me like $8 back, so when I handed him $2, I essentially ended up paying $14 for a $6 cab ride.  Guy dicked me by handing me all one's.  I thought a $5 bill was in there.  Ugh.  Seriously, next time, I'll rent a car!  Anyway, the Veena workshop was a beginner/fundamentals workshop and I loved it.  It was simple and she broke things down really well.  We did a great warm-up and some strength training.  Then she taught us a short routine that is easy to remember.  Well, it would have been easy had Saturday night not fried my brain so much.  lol.

Anyway, I left that workshop, hurried back to the hotel to shower and jumped straight out of the frying pan and into the fire (thank you to Veena for the ride...I was going to walk to avoid another cab nightmare).  I got into the Rain Nightclub around 2:30 PM to help set up cameras for the live stream of the competition and showcase.  I helped lay wire (seemed like MILES of wire).  I sat around and tried to be helpful even though I didn't feel like I was doing much.  I picked up food so everyone could eat.  Around 5 or 5:30 PM, I was given the task of pulling everyone's music on to one thumb drive.  Sounds simple enough.  Imagine me with two laptops (one a Mac, which I had to ask Rita to help me with), pulling my hair out as I tried to pull together the songs for the competition starting in less than two hours.  Once I had everything off of Fawnia's and Annemarie's laptops, then the fun began.  Thumb drives, CDs, and pure panic as one file is corrupt and the performer didn't have a copy on her phone.  I ran up and down stairs 50 times trying to find some performers and their music.  I don't think I had the music finalized until well over an hour into the event.  So I missed the Pole Life Documentary (in which Rita and I had a part!!!!) and most of the girls competing (congrats to Poletential's Tiffany Rose for taking second place!).  The boys in the competition did such a great job, though!  Keep an eye on UPA's website for video! 

After the show, break down began.  Everyone who was there for the show was ushered out (so that they could get back in line to come in for the after-party).  We helped roll wires (again, not very well...sorry guys!).  What an amazing team between Annemarie's live stream team (Brandon, Sam, Shawn, Vinny of Mighty Grip), the club's DJ (Joe) and Fawnia's coordinator (Steph).  I met so many great people who made this whole thing happen.  I know I'm missing a lot of people and I am sorry for that (and if I messed up names)!!  We followed Annemarie up to the Barbie Suite to say hi to the Bad Kitty team, then we headed back to our room.  In order to save money, I stupidly scheduled myself back on the 7 AM flight on Sunday.  Rita and I got to bed around 12:30 AM and had to get up at 4:30 AM to go home.  It was funny to see how many  people were still up and partying.  It was pretty brutal and yesterday, I took a nap, then laid around the house still exhausted the rest of the day. 

I really want to thank Annemarie of United Pole Artists for having me out to help this weekend.  I also met so many new friends, fans of my blog, and other great people who made the weekend possible.  I hope to run into everyone again and hope we are all friends on Facebook.  I'm sorry for all of the people I know were there somewhere but never crossed paths with.  Next year, I learned a lesson.  Schedule the relaxing days off AFTER the Expo, not before (and sorry this still ended up being so long!).  ;-)  See you next year!

Fly Gym


On the big screen for the Pole Life documentary

Spinny T Bags herself!!

Veena!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Episode 37

Today my 36th year begins...Episode 37 of the lolorashel show.  I think my mom said I was born around 5:37 PM, so I guess I have a few hours before I'm actually "born."  I don't really know what I had planned for my life.  As a child, I never had my dream wedding planned out in my head.  I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life until a Careers class in high school told me to be a paralegal.  I didn't specifically NOT want children (until I hit my 30's and realized I valued money and sleep too much).  I don't know where I thought I would be in life but I guess I didn't think it would be "here." 

My life is not terrible but it sure could be better.  And it could be worse.  I have a lot of amazing friends and family who make every day worth living.  I have a roof over my head and food on my table (even if it is top ramen some nights).  I have a truck to drive (even needing $1,200 in new tires right now, this truck has treated me well over the last five years).  I have a job when many don't.  I get to take great classes at Twirly Girls and have been blessed with the opportunity to teach a really amazing class.  I may feel chubby but I am still 100 pounds lighter than I used to be.  My body may hurt but that just means that I am lucky enough to be able to use and abuse it still. 

So why am I so depressed?  It's funny how our society works.  We seem to want everything we want as soon as we want it.  What happened to hard work and dedication paying off?  No...we want things handed to us on a silver platter without lifting a finger.  I used to get mad at a friend when they complained about their problems, which I deemed way less important than mine.  But everyone has problems and we all have to deal with them and the stress and anxiety they bring. 

Anyway, this year, I am making a commitment to myself.  I need to be healthy.  I have maintained this weight for about a year now and it's time to start losing some of it.  I feel big and like a sloth.  I don't like that.  My last "official" weigh-in was in May.  I weighed 254.6 on May 4, 2012.  Today I weighed 255.4.  Two days ago, it was 253.2.  I jump around a lot.  So this year I dedicate to activity.  So I guess not to losing weight necessarily, although I do hope that is one of the benefits.  I will commit to being active every single day, even if its only for 15 minutes.  Twirly Girls, yoga, running, pilates, whatever...I need to do something. 

I know food is also my issue and will continue to be my issue, so I don't even know what to do about that.  Everyone and their brother has a diet for me to follow...and I just know I won't.  So I am not even going to bother. 

In addition to being my birthday, tonight is a blue moon.  And the lottery jackpot is up to $83 million.  You gotta play to win and someone will win it -- why not me?  :-)


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Want to watch the Pole Expo competition and showcase but can't afford to come to Las Vegas??

YOU ARE IN LUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!

For a mere FIVE DOLLARS, you can join in to watch the Pole Expo competition and showcase, AND listen to commentary from polefessionals, Annemarie Davies and Emily Wu. 

You don't even want to know what this trip is costing me after airfare and hotel!  

Click the link below and sign up for the early bird price today!!

http://www.unitedpoleartists.com/events/pole-convention-live-stream-schedule/

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pole Art 2012...and the winner is...

Pole Art 2012 was held last weekend in Sweden.  I was unable to attend but have been excitedly watching videos as they are posted to YouTube.  I wanted to at least post the winners here on my blog.

Pole Art 2012 Female Champion:  Oona Kivela



Runner up:  Natasha Wang



Third place:  Lolo Hilsum



Fourth place: Phoenix Kazree



Fifth place:  Rafaela Montanaro



Pole Art 2012 Male Champion:  Saulo Sarmiento



Runner up (tie):  Steven Retchless



Runner up (tie):  Evgeny Greshilov



Third place:  Patryk Rybarski



Here is Jenyne Butterfly's guest performance:



Showcase performances

Michelle Stanek:



Ekaterina Romanova:



Dance Theater "Trash:"



Intellego Pole Company:



Additional competitors:











August posts for The Pole Dancing Shop

Pole Expo Las Vegas 2012

September 6-9, 2012, The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada will be taken over by pole dancers from all over the world for Pole Expo!

Pole Expo was organized by Fawnia Dietrich, founder of Pole Fitness Studio in Las Vegas.  As you may remember from our post, A Brief History of Pole Dance, Fawnia opened the first exotic dance school in Canada in 1994.  She is considered one of the pioneers of bringing pole to the mainstream.

Click HERE to finish the article...

Pole Dancing Competitions

There is no question that the pole dancing industry is exploding. Studios are popping up all over the world and competitions are following suit. Many of us have heard which competitions are amazing and which are having issues. Check out THIS StudioVeena.com thread, where people discuss which competitions are getting it right.

Click HERE to finish the article...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Want to vote for APFC's Video of the Year Award?

I will have an upcoming blog about the American Pole Fitness Championships, which will take place in New York in a couple of months.  In the meantime, I didn't want you to miss the chance to vote on the Video of the Year. 

The elite finalists are listed here (and all videos are at the bottom of the page):

http://www.americanpolefitness.com/championship/elitefinalist2012/

And you can find instructions on voting for your favorite video here:

https://www.facebook.com/AmericanPoleFitness

I would link the videos but only four of the five finalists have been officially announced and I don't think it would be fair to embed four finalist videos.  But keep an eye on APFA's Facebook page and congratulations to the four announced finalists: Ravan, Dakota Fox, Suwasit, and Anne Tobiasz.  Can't wait to see who the last finalist will be!

Good luck!!

Binge eating versus compulsive over-eating

I've talked about binge eating before.  Check out that post HERE.  I started thinking recently though, I don't think I'm a binge eater.  I don't down whole cakes or 12 hamburgers in the backseat of my own car.  I just steadily over-eat all day long.  Rarely full to the point of wanting to die (although that happens sometimes too).  Just always with something in my hand on it's way to my stomach.  I think that is more like compulsive over-eating.  They are both eating disorders.  They are both unhealthy.  But I am just trying to properly "diagnose" myself so I can fix the problem.

I have held a steady weight for a year now.  I had pretty quickly gained 35 pounds over two years.  So I spent the last year just trying not to gain.  I have succeeded.  Now I want to lose.  I try so hard to control myself and the harder I try, the more I lose control.  Sure, picking up a bag of jellybeans could be seen as a binge.  But I don't do that very often.  Something on a daily basis keeps me at this weight.  My lack of good food choices.  Not exercising enough.  Not sleeping enough.  Picking up a bag of jellybeans every month or two isn't what's making me fat.  According to Health At Every Size, you aren't necessarily unhealthy because you are fat and you aren't necessarily fat because you are unhealthy.  Maybe I said that wrong.  Just because you are fat doesn't mean you are a slob who doesn't take care of yourself.  And just because you are skinny doesn't mean you are healthy and in shape.  Maybe that's more correct. 

My body type is clearly not meant to be small.  I am attaching a photo of me with my best friend, Natalie, when we were 8-years-old.  Natalie is three days older than me.  Clearly, I'm a  moose.  Not calling myself fat as an 8-year-old, but I am not a small child.  I will never have a tiny ballet dancer's body.  I am okay with that.  But *I* am not okay at this weight. 

Anyway, I was thinking about the difference between the two eating disorders I have.  I found this blog about the difference:  http://runchilde.wordpress.com/2007/05/28/30/

From wikipedia.com:

Compulsive overeating is characterised by an addiction to food. An individual suffering from compulsive overeating disorder engages in frequent episodes of uncontrolled eating, or binging, during which they may feel frenzied or out of control. They will eat much more quickly than is normal, and continue to eat even past the point of being uncomfortably full. Binging in this way is generally followed by a period of intense guilt feelings and depression. Unlike individuals with bulimia, compulsive overeaters do not attempt to compensate for their binging with purging behaviours such as fasting, laxative use or vomiting. Compulsive overeaters will typically eat when they are not hungry, spend excessive amounts of time and thought devoted to food, and secretly plan or fantasize about eating alone. Compulsive overeating almost always leads to weight gain and obesity, but not everyone who is obese is also a compulsive overeater.

In addition to binge eating, compulsive overeaters can also engage in grazing behaviour, during which they return to pick at food over and over throughout the day. This results in a large overall number of calories consumed even if the quantities eaten at any one time may be small. When a compulsive eater overeats primarily through binging, he or she can be said to have binge eating disorder. Where there is continuous overeating but no binging, then the sufferer has compulsive overeating disorder.

Another related post here:

http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/overeating-vs-binge-eating/

Yeah, I am a grazer.  I am working on it.  I may spend the rest of my life working on it.  What I don't need is advice from every Tom, Dick or Harry on how to lose weight and get in shape.  I think I have spent less time in my life being unhappy with my own size and more time concerned that other people are unhappy with my size.  Get over it!  I have to do things my own way and very slowly.  If I go for the quick fix, I end up gaining weight and am even more unhappy than when I started.  Don't get me wrong.  I very much consider myself a "fat and fit" girl.  I guess if I didn't lose the 25-35 pounds that I would love to lose, I would be able to live my life just fine.  I rarely have hip pain anymore and I feel stronger than I have in quite a few years.  But I sure would like to take up a little less space in the world. 

A lot of times I post about my trials and tribulations in the weight and diet department because I want to "shame" myself into stopping whatever I'm doing.  That doesn't work.  But what I have realized is that there are a lot of people out there in my shoes.  And I want each and every single one of you to know that you aren't alone and you are beautiful and amazing just the way you are.  Life doesn't start five pounds from now.  So get out there and live!









For the record, all of these ladies are beautiful...and most likely ALL are photoshopped!































Breaking stereotypes