Monday, April 30, 2012

April posts for The Pole Dancing Shop

If you missed the previous post, here are my March posts on The Pole Dancing Shop's website:

And here is a post from April!

Static versus Spinning Pole

I have some great posts planned for May, including an update to the Pole Dancing Around the World post!  

What topics would you like to see covered??

Friday, April 27, 2012

Our Aussie Pole Sister, Andria Rose!

When I was having a tough time coming off my anti-depression meds, Andria sent some some really encouraging messages on Facebook.  For that, I will forever be grateful.  I apologize for taking so long to get this up, but HERE IS ANDRIA!

How long have you been pole dancing?
I've been dancing for about 5 years, minus some time for a broken arm (which I got falling off a ladder, not poling). This broken arm has actually impacted my poling a lot as it was my right wrist, so I have been a bit creative with the way I do some moves now. Has slowed me down a little, but made me think more!

This photo was taken by Andria's awesome son, Jonny :)
What first drew you to try it?
My friend Julie wanted to try it and asked if I wanted to do it too. I already trained a lot just to be fit and healthy so I thought, 'why not, an 8 week term will be fun'. I responded with, 'well, I think its something every newly divorced woman should do!' and off we went. I started at Lady Love dance studio for 8 weeks and quickly got hooked. It was hard, the lady let me invert and I learned quickly. At home I was stepping out my routines with no pole, and I tried so hard to remember the moves. I decided to keep going after my first term, and started saving for a pole.

After a while my training at gym became about getting better at Pole quicker but not in the wrong way; I'm a big fan of using strength not momentum for moves (which Jamilla's DVDs taught me).

Where do you take classes or do you teach?
I don't do classes at a set studio anymore. I started at Lady Love, and after I broke my arm I retrained myself (as I wasn't going to pay money to get back what I had) and I found myself progressing well with YouTube and DVDs (I have quite a collection now!) I was quite happy doing that and then met Alex from Flirty Fitness at my first comp. I had been wanting to set up some kind of dance troup just to jam and do performances so we decided to do that together and I booked her to help me with my choreography for my first miss pole comp. I ended up teaching there briefly and now I teach privately from time to time and take private lessons, workshops and casual with all different schools. I've trained at Pole Revolution in Tasmania, Flirty Fitness, The Pole Boutique with Carlie Hunter and this week I'm training Chris Measday (both compet[ed] in IPC!!!). I have trained in Victoria with Lisa from Vertical Fitness, done workshops with Anastasia Shukoratova, Natasha Wang, Michelle Hafner, and I'm sure there's more. My plan is to train with every studio in Adelaide this year and book privates as I need to develop specific skills. I find that each person has something different to bring to instruction and where I dont get one person's explanation, I COMPLETELY get another's. I also massively benefit from one to one coaching and seem to miss the ball in class (I think its my dyslexia, I actually need to be moved and very specifically instructed to get it, but then i get it quick!) An example is the flag to brass monkey move - try as I might with an old friend to figure it out, we couldn't, then I had coaching in a class environment (no good either), then Lisa from Vertical Fitness watched me one time and said 'oh, you need to do x' and spotted me, then it was mine! So exciting.

This photo is by Andria and Wenna.
So I don't do the 'go to one studio' thing. I like to play with all the children in the playground (read as 'train where I need when I need') and have the freedom to move and play and dance the way I need to so I can grow. The other thing is I have a 15 year old who does sport too which keeps me busy! I would really like to set up something in Adelaide for all people to jam and perform - not for me to teach, quite literally jam once or twice a  week and put on a showcase here and there, just like Aerial Amy's Flight Club (how cool would it be if there were flight clubs all around the world hey!!) just so people can perform a bit more. Adelaide needs some of that opportunity without the stress of it being a comp (but comps are sooo needed and I would love more here!) I set up a Facebook page for polers in Adelaide where studios share their training opportunities, and hopefully one day I'll have time to actually do this 'jam and perform' thing. I do performances solo and am booked for some, but it's way better to play with friends! The page for those who want to join is

Do you have a pole at home?
Yes, it is front of a full length / full wall mirror which I am super scared of moving house and missing! I love it. Its a 45mm brass (coated?? I forget now) X-Pole.

How often do you pole?
3-4 times a week at the moment and moving to 5. I do it after work as it helps me unwind and works my muscles like nothing else. If I'm in tune with myself and pick a song I resonate with, I might even be lucky and get a cry in too! I work on different set of moves each day and focus on those for a month. I have warm up fun ones (like shoulder stands, forearms stands, and chin ups...) and new moves, and moves to maintain and 'what I'm working towards. Keeps me focused!

This photo is by Adam Jay.
What else do you do to keep your body in shape to pole?
I have really enjoyed Pilates and Fitball. Pilates has really helped my deep core and Fitball is great for functional moves that we need for pole. For example, a roll in to pike (repeated 10-20x) works your upper body, back and your core for things like shoulder mounts, and the brass monkey. My favourite complimentary activity at the moment is Bodyrock ( I do at least half an hour most mornings before work and it works everything. I have stopped running and am getting better results, am stronger and it's so accessible. I also live and love the Paleo lifestyle; my food is yum and I don't feel like I'm missing out. There's stacks of recipe sites; I have one called 'whole-food recipe sharing' on Facebook, but Entertaining Paleo is way better! (mine is new :)). I train and have trained for a long time to keep a healthy mind firstly and foremostly and think we all need to do that really. You don't know how amazing you can be til you clear your mind by eating well and training hard. I have suffered here and there from anxiety, depression and what always helps is food and diet - and counseling - but I always feel better after training.


So I haven't hit many of my goals lately.  But I wanted to make one list in one post so I could more easily keep track of the goals I'm not reaching.  I have been spending a lot of time practicing the early levels from my first few months at Twirly Girls since I am now teaching a beginner class.  My class will soon be climbing and inverting and we will either have to bring in a more advanced instructor or farm out my poor little students to other classes (which was my concern about teaching in the first place).  In my defense, I have been paying attention in class to the girls who DO invert and have been there to spot many of them.  So even though I know some have said mean things about me teaching more advanced classes, I understand the mechanics of how moves happen, even if I am not able to execute them myself.  If that makes sense.  I am really excited about how everyone is progressing and hope I am building a solid foundation for them as Bel did for me.  

Here are a list of my pole goals:


I DID do a mini-version of a Superman.  It freaking hurt like hell.  I mean, my thigh surgery was no cake walk and Superman reminded me that pain.  There are some photos of that fun posted below.


I can do handstands all day long.  I am working on my core so that I don't NEED to do them against a pole or wall and so that I can lower my legs with more control.  

Reverse Handstand

This is somewhat of a new move for me.  It is when your body is facing the pole instead of away like in a regular handstand.  It is also the ending position for coming down from some inverts.  However, since I am not inverting, I have to do a downward dog move with my ass as close to the pole as possible, then reach up with my super un-bendy leg and back, press the sensitive top of my foot into the pole and push myself upward.  It hurts if I do it more than once or twice in a row.  Thanks to Kat, I finally have the ability to grip the pole with my knees and legs and help myself walk my hands back toward the pole.  However, once I am perfectly upside down, I panic and dive out.  It's weird.  

Bow and Arrow from a Handstand

I've lost a lot of flexibility lately and my leg that hangs down is getting further and further away from the ground.  Must make more time for yoga!!!


I have done nothing to further this goal.  I want to pick up Alethea's DVDs soon.


Same...nada.  I suck.


Some days I'm a little monkey.  Some days I'm not.  I'd like to be more consistent.  


I had made a goal of inverting by the time the Third Annual Lovely Rita rolled around (I think I made the same goal last year).  It didn't happen.  But I am working on my core strength and am closer every day to inverting SAFELY and PROPERLY.  I can do it if someone helps shove me into it, but I know that's not the right way to do it.

Cross-Knee/Ankle Release

I haven't tried this one in awhile.  Since I'm the fattest ass in class, I don't really do a lot of these moves unless Doug or someone more my height is in class to spot me.

Lying Lady/Plank

I haven't tried this one much but I bet I could get a little closer to lying flat.  So much of my issues are in my own head!!!

Half Iguana Mount

I actually figured out I have the shoulder flexibility to get both hands on the pole behind me (full Iguana Mount).  So once I'm a little stronger, this will be MINE!!!!


Next year, I want to get X-Pert certified.  Why next year?  I'm poor and I feel embarrassed that I'm two and a half years into pole dancing and still not inverting.  Why X-Pert?  I respect that Aerial Amy did it (among many other reasons).  I also like Climb & Spin, but it was a bit more expensive. 

So there you go.  What are some of your pole goals?  Maybe I can add them to my list.  :-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


It has been almost two weeks since my last post.  Wait, is this like a real Catholic confession?!  This *is* Confessions of a Twirly Girl!  I am sorry pole goddess, for I have sinned.  It has been two weeks since my last blog confession.  lol!  Maybe she will assign me five pole-ups as punishment. 

I know, I know.  I haven't been posting.  I have let life get in the way.  I've been extremely overwhelmed with the little stuff since so much big stuff was going on.  We had the Third Annual Lovely Rita Fundraiser and showcase to prepare for (bad English, I know, get over it).  I have been housesitting a lot -- and not close to home.  And some well-deserved vacation days were spent dealing with an expensive broken truck, rather than playing.  Boo. 

Anyway, the fundraiser was amazing.  At last count, we were almost up to $4,000 for the National Kidney Foundation (more on that later).  We had a heat wave last weekend and the freakin' AC broke.  It was 90 degrees in that room, yet everyone stayed to watch and all of the performers still did their thing!  You know, I was an unhappy girl...sweaty bitch...with FIVE numbers (at least two of them were only bit parts).  But I did it and didn't die.

I have some REALLY cool posts coming up.  They are just in my e-mail, waiting for me to find a minute to edit them.  I hope to start with something tomorrow.  Tell the Universe to leave me alone for a day so I can catch up on the fun stuff!!  :-)

Until then, keep twirling!!!

I bring my own fan pretty much everywhere

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pacific Pole Championships

In its infancy, every sport must struggle to define its goals and standards.  How it responds to the challenges of rapid growth has significant impact on the long-term success of the sport.  In the pole community, the path formed by the pioneers of competitive pole dancing is at a crossroads.  In the pole events I’ve attended in the last year, it has become apparent to me that as the number of events increases, the lack of consistency in judging, safety standards, and event organization is leaving many dancers frustrated and feeling ignored, removed from, or otherwise unsatisfied with the process.  Until now, there seems to have been much discussion on the issues causing the dissatisfaction, but little practical action to address them.

The call for change must have been heard; however, for there is a new pole dancing competition throwing its hat into the proverbial ring.  Billed as a truly open amateur competition, the Pacific Pole Championships,with United Pole Artists as the title sponsor, will be held on May 19, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  I sat down with the creators, Amy Guion and Bayleigh Pettigrew, to talk about why their competition is different than the others already out there.

What made you decide to create PPC?

Bayleigh:  Having been an athlete in well-established sports most of my life, there is something so exciting about having the opportunity to participate in a sport that is newly developing.  Seeing the elite level athletes defy physical limitations on this apparatus while incorporating a variety of influences from dance and cirque at the top competitions has inspired the phenomenal growth in this industry.  But at the same time, in talking with pole dancers locally and worldwide, I became aware of the desire of dancers to have a platform to perform their craft.  Even at its most basic levels, dance is all about expression – communicating with an audience.  On some days, we dance for ourselves, to relieve stress or to release emotions that we weren’t necessarily aware that we held inside.  But as humans, most of us don’t live in isolation, we seek communication and relationships with others, and that need to communicate extends to dance.  In pole dancing, there hasn’t really been a venue for non-elite dancers express themselves to an audience.

I am fortunate because my background is in figure skating, and I’ve experienced a similar issues in that sport.  Prior to 1995, the main governing body of figure skating, USFSA, sanctioned competitions at every level – but only up to the age of 18.  If you were not at the most advanced level by that age, there was no venue for you.  Yet thousands of adult ice skaters over the age of 18 were out on the ice daily, pushing their edges and constantly falling just for those few moments when gravity was suspended and they could fly.  Eventually the USFSA realized that this group needed a venue to perform.  At the first national competition, organizers expected no more than maybe 100 adult skaters to show up to compete.  Well over 400 competitors signed up and more than 600 performances were skated at that event.  Since that time, the “adult” level of skating has weathered challenges similar to what I see pole dancing going through now:  dividing the levels to make competition available to everyone while simultaneously not counting out the abilities of skaters allegedly past their prime; providing different types of events, so that those that may not have the technical skills required to be competitive in the championship events still have an outlet to perform and showcase their artistic skills; and how to judge adults at test level and in competition.  There have been many changes as competitive adult skating grew, with one of the greatest being the change of perception from one of condescension and tolerance to the building of a healthy respect and learning not to underestimate the abilities of the older skater.

However, figure skating was fortunate in that there already was a structure in place for judging and the way that figure skating clubs run by volunteers would run the competitions.  In wanting to create an opportunity for dancers of all levels to compete and perform, it is our goal to borrow from the best of the established artistic sports, as well as look at how other competitions world-wide are being run in order to try to create a structure that will draw on the support of the pole community and allow as much opportunity for participation as possible, among dancers and those just wanting to be involved.

That is our goal with PPC – to work with what has already been working in the industry and to continue to push for standards and consistency while making the process more accessible to all.  We plan to elicit feedback throughout the process in order to grow and meet the changing needs of the competitors and the community.  We want to establish a grassroots, community-run event that encourages growth of the individual and the sport.

Why PPC?

Bayleigh:  Although Pacific Pole Championships is being run as a competition, it is designed to provide an opportunity for dancers of all skill levels to perform.  Amy and I spent a great deal of time weighing the benefits of running the event as a competition versus a showcase, and ultimately decided on competition because we felt that by adding the Artistic events, PPC is appropriate for those who want to compete as well as to non-competitive dancers that just want to perform.  The competitors and non-competitors alike can take the judges’ comments and either use the suggestions offered to enhance their performances, or disregard them. 

We believe that in any artistic sport, there remains an element of subjectivity because the artistry comes into play.  It is not like running a race or throwing a ball where the results are easily quantified.  We hope that all the dancers will look at their placements as opportunities for growth, because all any artistic athlete can control is the performance.  After that, it is out of their hands.  We hope that getting feedback will help all the dancers discover both areas of strength and opportunities for improving their communication with the audience, and use that knowledge to their benefit.

Beyond entering Pacific Pole Championships specifically, there are important reasons why the process of training for any competition is valuable to a dancer. 

First, working towards a performance requires the dancer to push themselves, which in turn brings growth in so many ways.  Choreography requires the dancer to thoughtfully immerse themselves in the music, listen to it intently and then explain the emotions that the music evokes without using words to an audience of diverse backgrounds.  Carefully choosing the movements and elements to convey this interpretation requires the dancer to edit their movement, transitions and expression far beyond what is normally accomplished in class.

Second, preparation for a performance often encourages a dancer to reach out to others in the pole community to engage in discussion over choreography, music choices, costuming choices and training tips.  In its greatest form, it can further strengthen the bonds between dancers and increase the atmosphere of camaraderie that can be inherent in our sport.

Third, there is the physical growth that frequently occurs when a dancer has to run through an entire dance multiple times in practice.  Endurance, strength and flexibility often will benefit from the focus necessary in preparation.  Dancers will find themselves pushing the limits of their fitness levels, thereby increasing them exponentially.

Fourth, in facing a challenge and accomplishing it, the dancer gains confidence which then translate into increased confidence in facing challenges presented at work, home, or other ordinary aspects of life.

In summary, whether the dancer wishes to rise up the ranks of competitive pole dancing or simply seeks a supportive venue to perform in front of family and friends, Pacific Pole Championships endeavors to create a space and time for all dancers to have their moment in the spotlight and reap the benefits that the process offers.

What have you learned from all the previous competitions and showcases in which you’ve participated?

Bayleigh:  Most of my experience as a competitor, coach and volunteer at local, national and world competitions has come from twenty years in the figure skating world.  At an organizational level, I’ve learned that trying to prepare for every possible scenario of what might go wrong is important, but that there will still undoubtedly be moments where you have to think quickly on your feet and solve issues that you hadn’t thought of.  So you do your research in advance and when unexpected things pop up, you are prepared to work toward a solution, rather than spending time trying to figure out how it could have happened.  I’ve also learned that it is the support of the community and the volunteers that can make or break the overall atmospheric tone of a competition. 

As a competitor, I’ve learned that the real competition should be my personal growth from the experience and from the joy and inspiration that my performance can bring to others.  There is so much outside my control, but I can determine whether I perform to the best of my ability that day and my attitude.  When I let go of worrying over placement and everything else outside my command, generally my performances go better because my focus is on me and my enjoyment of the process.

As a coach, I’ve taken what I’ve learned from my experiences and refined them.  Generally I encourage my competitors to try to choose one single performance goal to focus on once they program is choreographed.  It is generally simple, like pointing toes, or extending legs completely, or connecting “x” number of times with the audience.  That way, no matter where the placement ends up, the competitor can feel like they succeeded on bringing their performance level up one small step.  It also keeps them from honing in too much on a specific score which generally loosens their performance and helps them direct the extra bursts of adrenaline toward a specific goal so that it doesn’t overwhelm them.

In working with Amy and some other dancers on their performance pieces, I have found that many similarities exist between skating and pole dance competitions.  One that Pacific Pole Championships hopes to accomplish is to set a high bar for safety and operational standards.  It is so important for this sport to find its way to standardizing certain aspects so that the athlete/dancers that are trusting us with their safety can have confidence that the event will be well planned and executed, with every effort made to ensure their safety and enjoyment.

Amy:  Loaded question...oh my.  I've learned a bunch of "don'ts" as well as a few "dos".


Change the poles without notifying competitors beforehand.  Poles and stage dimensions MUST be communicated to the performers.  This is probably the thing that has irked me the most.

Change the venue without notifying the competitors.  I hate it when I find out some major change from a friend of mine in the community rather than the event organizers.

Lose your cool when things aren't going as planned.  Again, keep it professional.  The show must go on.

Have a host that doesn't know what they are talking about.  Or one that makes jokes about strippers, sex, or other inappropriate comments.  Keep it professional!

Make the theater freezing cold backstage.  If I can't warm up because it's 60 degrees inside, that's an injury risk.


Have music track backups in case of major fail OR test all the music beforehand to make sure that it plays properly.

Keep the poles the same (the same of the stage spinning and same side static) during a show to make the transitions run more smoothly.

Have water and gift bags for the competitors.

Use a professional rig if possible.  They look better, they make people on them look better, and they are more similar to the poles that we all use on a daily basis.  Stand alone stages are great for say, club gigs, or private events.  I have an X-Stage that I use for those things, and it works great for those environments.  However, for a competition, poles should be taller and attached at the top and bottom.

Amy, many of us know you as an instructor at BeSpun and competitor at CPDC and USPDF.  Bayleigh, you and I haven't met before.  Please tell us about your background in the pole dance industry.  Amy, for those who haven't met you before, tell us a little about yourself as well.

Amy:  My background is in classical ballet, which I studied while growing up and through college as well.  I switched over to pole dancing in 2007 at BeSpun because I loved the freedom of movement, which was a big contrast to my previous structured training.  I also fell in love with the circus arts, namely contortion, which I trained for a couple of years at Kinetic Theory Theatre in Los Angeles.  I have been competing in pole since 2009, which means that I've seen how far the industry has come, but also how far it still has to go.  With absolutely no standards to competitions in the pole industry, I've participated in both excellent events that blew my mind away by how organized and professional they were to events that I almost walked out of because of the ridiculous drama and the disrespect with which the competitors were treated.

Bayleigh:  I come from a sporadic athletic background that included some gymnastics, some vaulting (gymnastics on horseback), tennis, and other team sports because we moved around frequently during my childhood.  When I became involved in figure skating, it quickly surpassed all my other passions and I trained diligently despite being prone to injury.  After six unsuccessful knee surgeries, my ice time became more painful and as total knee replacements were inevitably on the horizon, I was fortunate to find my way to a pole dance studio.  Initially I went for the slow warm-up and was fairly certain that I wouldn’t really care for the pole component.  Fortunately, I never let my initial reservations about activities hinder my participation and once I managed to stop gripping onto the pole and allow my body to fall into a fireman spin, naturally I was hooked. 

Serendipity stepped in again while rehabbing my first knee replacement when I spoke to Leigh Ann Reilly of BeSpun whose own mother had just had the same operation.  She wholeheartedly welcomed me to come to the studio and take classes despite the fact that I was still on crutches and probably looked quite the sight hobbling in, unable to bend my knee or kneel on it.  Be Spun has been the training grounds for many great pole dancers, and as I relearned the technique on all my tricks to account for flexion and strength I didn’t have, I found that the pole community was larger than I had realized.  Attending Pole Convention in Florida last summer brought the realization of how fortunate I was to live in an area that supported so many pole studios when I met dancers that had had to learn everything they knew from YouTube videos and DVDs.  As a result, I met so many dancers, instructors, and performers and became inspired to try to do my part for this growing sport.

After the second knee replacement this past summer, I worked with Amy on her program for California Pole Dance Competition and we started brainstorming ways to provide dancers that were not at the elite level to have an opportunity to perform…and Pacific Pole Championships thoughtfully was born.

What are you looking for in potential competitors?

Bayleigh:  In all participants, be they competitors, volunteers or spectators, we look for those who embody our motto:  Aspiration.  Inspiration.  [r]Evolution.

We want people with the aspiration to grow from this challenge, whether as another step towards pole superstardom or simply to share their passion with others.  I think one competitor said it best: “Oh well well well...this just sparked an interest I didn't even know I had...!”.  In the broader sense, this competition aspires to educate those unfamiliar with the sport of pole dance and create new aspirations for people to work towards.

We hope that they will find inspiration from the performers at all skill levels and in turn provide inspiration to each other and those new to this sport.

We seek to create a supportive experience from which the individual dancer’s expression can evolve while simultaneously encouraging a revolution in the way that artistic pole sport is regarded by those outside the sport.

Amy:  We are open to all dancers that want to compete, there are no prerequisites, requirements, or skills that you have to have to participate in our competition.  The concept is: if you fill out the application form and submit your entry fees and documents proving that you are 18 years of age, you will be able to get onstage and deliver a performance, and receive feedback from judges.

That being said, we are looking for people who are enthusiastic, supportive, and driven that can catapult this sport to new heights.  We want to promote a friendly environment where all levels feel encouraged by their peers.  We encouraged everyone to apply for the competition, and we are proud to say that we were able to accept every person that submitted an application to us.

How can competitors, sponsors and volunteers get in touch?

Thanks to the internet and social media, we’ve got many ways for people to contact us.  As previously mentioned, our website,, provides extensive information about the competition.  On Facebook there is a page for Pacific Pole Championships, as well as an event page and both of these pages offer updates.

In addition, one of our Sponsors, X-Pole USA is sponsoring an amazing video competition.  One lucky winner will receive $250 towards airfare, hotel accommodations, a private lesson with the amazing Nadia Sharif, and much more.  Information about the contest is located on our Facebook pages as well as the X-Pole USA's Facebook page.

Our email is HERE.   We welcome all questions, concerns and comments. 

What else would you like people to know about PPC?

Bayleigh:  As the sport grows, we hope that more competitions will take the initiative to set the bar high as far as event organization, thoughtful pre-planning and safety standards are concerned and that competitors and sponsors will research the competitions being offered and use their consumer power to support the more professionally run competitions so that events operating at sub-par standards will become obsolete.

Just a quick note about judging.  We have been talking with other pole organizations and elite competitors in determining how best to create a judging system for the events offered by this competition.  It is probably the biggest challenge, simply because there is no international or even national consensus on judging or difficulty of moves or move names, nor does any training system exist for judges in our sport as there is in other artistic sports.  We will be paying very close attention to the feedback on the judging system after this inaugural event and hope to improve and build upon with each successive event so that one day we can create accounting software that will enable us to offer greater transparency in the judging system.  We believe that training and developing judges for all levels of competition is as vital as training and developing the artistic athletes performing before them.

Amy and Bayleigh:

We would also like to acknowledge our sponsors who have made this event possible:

Title sponsor: United Pole Artists     

Gold sponsors: X-Pole US and Bad Kitty Exotic Wear

Bronze sponsors: Mika Yoga Wear and Tite Grip

Product sponsors: Dew Point, Bendability Fitness, Three Heartz Jewelry, BeSpun

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pioneer of Pole: PANTERA!

Pantera is definitey a friend to Twirly Girls.  She was also one of my first pole interviews.  After she kindly answered all my questions, I had a few more.  I tried to break out of the mold a little and start tailoring questions more to the individual.  Also, many interviewees listed Pantera as an inspiration and pioneer of making pole dancing what it is today.  Pantera has indulged me in my second request for an interview and for that, I will be forever grateful.

Catch up on previous Pantera posts here:

Now, here is Pantera, Pioneer of Pole!

You are one of the pioneers of bringing pole dance/fitness to the mainstream. According to your bio, you started as an exotic dancer in 1999. What made you decide to leave the clubs and start your journey of becoming the World's Most Famous Pole Dancer?

Let me say I've never left the clubs.  I perform at events in strip bars all the time.  If there is one thing I am not is ashamed of my past and where it has brought me today.  I firmly believe that knocking the exotic foundations or the people that made this art form so popular is the most ridiculous thing as many respectable pioneers who were or still are strippers.  To quote Jesus, "Let the person among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

All that being said when I won the national title there was nothing left for me in that world.  I loved the performance and I wanted to do more of it.  I wouldn't have been able to do it without some of my dearest friends and long time business partners.  As always its the people behind the scenes, the trainers, teachers and family who deserve the credit. I am just the face.

Who are other pole pioneers that you admire?

I respect the other pioneers because of their success and contributions. I admire people for different reasons.

You have traveled the world, bringing the joy of pole dance to so many people.  Which country is your favorite and why?

That is too hard to answer. The world is a place full of tradition, heritage, customs and attractions and I have been fortunate to witness and be apart of so much of it.

From Pantera's Facebook fan page:
You have one DVD called Pole Tricks 101, but I heard that a second DVD was going to be released soon.  When will that DVD be released and what will it be called?

There will not be any additional DVDs. I am hoping to do an internet based library of moves, progressions and personal training. Although I love to travel I am getting older and I love being at home more and more. Living out of a suitcase is losing its luster.

Your tattoos are so amazing.  What is their meaning?

My tattoo's meaning is solely for myself. However, there is a note on my fan page with answers to many questions if you are curious.  [Note: see below for link and copy/paste from the fan page.]

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

I'm amazingly prudish and shy. :) Not kidding

What does 2012 hold for you?

2012 hopefully holds the key to where I will put down some roots and a permanent pole.

Please visit Pantera's fan page on Facebook.  You can read her note about her tattoos here:

Full Body Tattoo...All Your Questions Answered
by Pantera Blacksmith on Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 1:02pm 
Yes, they are REAL tattoos.
"My heaven's what did you do to your body?" is a question commonly asked by older ladies. I look down at myself and back at them and ask if this is a trick question.
100+ Hours. I decided that triple digits were impressive enough so I stopped keeping track.
I do not know how much it cost. I just pay the man and he makes me more beautiful.
There was no specific design or lay out. I go in, he draws something. I like it or I dont. He erases what I don't like and makes something else happen. Its tattooist designed, Pantera approved.
Tattoos are more painful in some spots than others. Yes, it hurt.
The artist is Jack Carter. He does not work in a shop so if you want him, you'll have to go through me. No retards please.
Jack is the only artist I've ever had. A bunch of my friends were getting work by him and I liked it. If it's not broke don't fix it. I guess you can say I got lucky.
The tattoo itself has meaning only to me. To you, its just a bunch of scribbley lines.
No I am not done.
Yes I am crazy.
No I do not plan to explain anything to the children I will not be having.
The only pattern I can wear without looking extremely busy is zebra.
On a daily basis people ask me all these questions at least once.
It was not done in one sitting.
The first piece was done around my left boobie over ten years ago.
The second piece around my right boobie.
My parents found out after I had already completed the front torso. My father now calls me the "Circus Lady."
I will be continuing to add onto this post as the tattoo continues to grow
If I happened to miss a question please feel free to ask :)
Thanks @Jack Cutter

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pole2Pole Cup USA

So I didn't really want to get pulled into this debate, and still plan to pretty much stay out of it...but I really liked Annemarie's post and wanted to link to it. 

Check out United Pole Artists' post: What Happened at Pole 2 Pole Cup USA?

I knew about some of these events but not others.  I know it got ugly.  I wanted to stay out of this because most of the issues were just nasty Facebook posts back and forth between various groups and individuals.  The only personal experience I had was that I knew one of our girls from Twirly Girls was planning to compete.  I had purchased tickets to the original venue.  When the event was moved from the Thousand Oaks venue to the pole studio, our girl decided to remove herself from the competition.  Her reasoning was merely that she wanted big stage experience and she could perform in any studio if that's what she was looking to do. 

Personally, I had a couple of interactions with P2P and didn't like them (long before this event and leading up to it).  I'm not going to go into them but I had a bad taste in my mouth going in.  However, I was planning to go to this event to support our girl.  When she decided to back out, I admit I was vaguely relieved.  I had no idea how much bigger it would blow up.

Anyway, forget all the bullshit and politics.  I have received requests from both sides to take a side.  I'm not taking a side.  The pole community is very, very, very small in the whole scheme of things.  And if P2P puts on bad events, people will know and won't enter future events.  I am sure EVERYONE has heard of what happened with this event, so anyone entering future P2P events will go in with their eyes open. 

The bigger issue to me is the hatefulness and ugliness this has spawned.  The accusations and comments on Facebook got pretty nasty.  And I heard a really terrible comment was left on a competitor's YouTube video.  That's not okay in my book.  All of the competitors worked their booties off to be part of the event and they should not be attacked.  We already fight the general public to be considered a "valid" sport.  We don't need to fight each other.   

Anyway, Annemarie's final paragraph calls for a committee to be created to avoid future problems.  Check it out:  The federations out there, the associations that exist for pole dancing, I don’t want to call you out, but we are beginning to look at you and ask what will you do to construct rules, regulations and guidelines for others to follow? Understandably, there are many things on all of our plates right now, with pole dancing growing as fast as it is. But, that is even more of a reason to formulate a plan so we don’t have opportunists taking advantage of an industry in it’s infancy. We must protect ourselves and all of the time and effort that we put forth. This is no longer about the Pole 2 Pole Cup USA, this is about what we need to do now. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. It’s in our hands now, who is going to catch the ball first?

So what do you think...should the pole dancing community create a committee to oversee competitions and events?  I know the UK has Pole Dancing Community (PDC) to help unite the pole dancing community.  Should we in the US try to join and expand their group.  Should we create our own committee of pole superstars to help keep something like this from happening in the future?  There are a lot of amazing business women (and men) in the pole industry who could help make this happen. 

If you were to create your own pole committee, who would you choose?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Here's my crutch: It's not an excuse, it's the reason

I've talked about food addiction a lot on my blog, even more lately than I used to.  Here are some past posts if you'd like to get caught up:









I read back on a lot of old posts, whether they were exercise or food related.  At the end, I always promised to be better, how that day was a new day and things were going to change.  Then they didn't.  Or they did -- only for the worse since I've gained about 25 pounds since I started this blog two years ago.  

And it got me thinking about how sometimes you're not making an excuse, "it" really is the reason you can or cannot do something.  There are only so many hours in the day.  I literally cannot fit in exercise on a day I might be doing something from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to bed.  Some days I really do stop for fast food because I am running around so much (and stupidly didn't think ahead) that making a "healthy" choice at fast food is better than eating nothing at all.

I am not a lazy person.  I work a 40 hour a week job.  I commute.  I write for multiple companies.  I teach at Twirly Girls.  I take classes at Twirly Girls.  I do pilates.  And I also have to find time for Rob, household chores, friends, etc.  Apparently I am required to sleep a third of the day away as well.  I could probably use some extra cardio and definitely some yoga in my life, but I need to find time to fit it in. 

But my nemesis is food.  And I am struggling with food addiction.  No matter how much I work out, without getting the food under control, I won't get my weight under control.  It's not an excuse, but it is a reason I'm fat.

Or is it an excuse?

A few years back, I went through a really nasty break-up.  Psycho stalker bullshit.  The guy gave up smoking pot at the same time as we broke up.  And his brain went nuts.  I think he was also doing a little coke or something else, but can't prove anything.  Anyway, long story short, he talked to a therapist who gave him a "diagnosis" (over the phone during like one or two phone sessions -- I should have reported this stupid bitch) of OCD, along with some other issues.  And suddenly, he had a crutch!  He was "mentally ill" (his words, not mine)!  And he informed me that we could get back together and I would just tell all of my friends he was mentally ill and that's why he acted like a douchebag.  Oh well, snap!  Thanks, dude, but you're still a douchebag and I wouldn't take you back if you were the last guy on earth.  I could have strangled that fucking therapist.  But that became his crutch.  Oh thank God I don't have to take responsibility for my actions because I have just been handed this diagnosis explaining why I act the way I do!!

I feel like food addiction or not exercising or any of the unhealthy habits I have are the same thing.  Yes, I may battle issues.  Yes, they may be the reason I am the way I am.  But it doesn't take the responsibility off of me to fix myself.  I may need help from my therapist, my friends, my family.  But it's still ME who has to fix it.  I mean, I can certainly walk around the rest of my life using food addiction as a crutch.  But that won't really get me anywhere, now, will it?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Carnie Wilson in the news again...

Today I received an e-mail with the title, "Is there hope for Carnie Wilson?"  Gah.  She doesn't have cancer, she's just fat.  Then I opened up the e-mail.  Apparently Carnie Wilson was back on Dr. Oz's show and, get this....SHE JUST GOT THE LAP-BAND!! 

Wow.  Just WOW.

Carnie had gastric bypass years ago and now she just had the lap-band surgery.  Her top weight was 300 pounds.  She lost 150 pounds post-gastric bypass.  Then she gained a lot of it back.  I know she yo-yo'd, battled alcoholism, and also appeared on a celebrity weight loss show, losing 20-something pounds.  Apparently on Dr. Oz's show, she weighed around 218.  She lost 30 pounds her first month after lap-band.

She's a public reminder that I cannot fail this surgery.  Notice how I didn't say this surgery cannot fail me.  This is all about me and figuring out why I do this shit to myself.  Not why this surgery isn't doing it's job.  It did it's job.  Now it's my turn.  And it has been my turn for a very long time.  Somehow I've been sitting with the game piece in my hand, unmoving, allowing everyone and everything to pass me by.  Time to get in the game. 

The article, written by Tricia Greaves Nelson, made some great points (check out The Nelson Center For Emotional Eating HERE):

While Carnie’s desire to lose weight is a good thing, anyone who has been obese or struggled chronically with food addiction knows that having a high resolve to lose weight doesn’t ensure permanent weight loss. Even going to such desperate lengths as having lap-band surgery after gastric bypass surgery most likely won’t do the trick.

Having surgery for a food addiction problem is like having one’s leg amputated for athlete’s foot. In fact, it’s worse: at least with amputation you will no longer have athlete’s foot. With bypass surgery, you will still struggle with food addiction and will still likely be overweight, if not obese. Nothing is being done to address why a person is gorging themselves to the point of obesity. That is why Carnie’s first surgery was not a solution to her weight loss woes. And her second surgery won’t be either.

Carnie is a self-professed food addict. But it matters not what a person calls it—emotional eater, compulsive overeater, binge-eater—having any kind of compulsion with food means that a person cannot control how much she eats. That is worth repeating: She cannot control how much she eats. Carnie overate even when her stomach was shrunk by surgery. Carnie has an addiction to food that no physical impediment, apart from a jaw-wire, can curb (even then, there’s always Starbucks’ Caramel Frappuccinos). And no matter how many surgeries she tries, or restrictions she places on food choices, Carnie will not be able to control what and how much she eats. That is the nature of an addiction.

I have only recently actually come to terms with my food addiction and wrote about it HERE.  I am talking more about it in therapy.  We have spent the last two years really focusing on not spending money that I really didn't see the food thing sneaking up on me.  Well, it sneaked up and passed me by without me even realizing... 

I feel so hopeless.  If Carnie Wilson, with all of her money to hire a chef and personal trainer and free time to be at the gym 8 hours a day, cannot do it, how do I do it?  Or is it because she has all of the added advantages that she can't focus and doesn't want to knuckle down and do the work?

Food addiction is hard to fight.  With alcohol or drug addiction, at least you can abstain.  There is an anecdotal saying among Overeaters Anonymous members that "when you are addicted to drugs you put the tiger in the cage to recover; when you are addicted to food you put the tiger in the cage, but take it out three times a day for a walk."

I hate my tiger.

And, for some reason, I hate Carnie Wilson for having a second surgery.  Maybe it's just because I'm jealous.  Maybe I'm worried that a second surgery is in my destiny?  I don't know.  A few years ago, I started noticing a phenomenon of pre-op patients looking at lot like two or three month post-op patients.  Meaning...they are handing surgeries out to almost anyone who asks.  No longer do you need to be 100 pounds plus overweight.  If you have maybe 60 pounds, they'll squeeze you in.  That means I would qualify for surgery right now!

Weight loss surgery is (or should be) a life-altering event.  I still take it very seriously, although I realize that my surgeon has done all that he can for me and now I need to spend more time with my therapist to alter my brain.

How do you feel about Carnie's latest life choice?  I mean, she's a big girl (no pun intended) and can make her own decisions, but if you are a weight loss surgery patient, would you consider a revision or second surgery??

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pole Dance Certifications

As pole dancing grows in popularity, associations and federations are popping up all over the world.  As these entities fight to make the sport "valid" in the eyes on the public, certification training programs are also being created to allow instructors to become certified to teach pole dance.  Although we could then ask what makes some programs "certified" to "certify" people, we ourselves are not certified in anything, so we have to believe that they know what they are doing (and we applaud those who want to keep students safe).  :-)  I have collaborated with Valentina and Pole Dance Italy on this post.  We have yet to back any particular program, but thought it would be nice to have a list of some of these programs in one place.  Here is a list of some of the popular pole certification training programs from around the world. 

KT Coates' Vertical Dance Pole Fitness Instructor Qualification (UK/Online)

The in-person course lasts two weekends.  The certification is recognized by American Council on Exercise (ACE), Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), Canadian Fitness Professionals (petition for credits) (CANFITPRO), Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS), Pole Fitness Association (PFA), International Pole Dance Fitness Association (IPDFA) and Pole Dance Community (PDC).  The beginner course costs $399 (UK).  Intermediate and advanced courses are $199 (UK) each. 

Online courses are also available and allow you to study at your own pace.  Beginner and intermediate levels are available and each will take approximately 30 hours to complete.  You must complete it within one year of starting. 

International Pole Dance Fitness Association (IPDFA) (UK/China/Malaysia)

IPDFA offers two courses: beginner and intermediate.  The beginner course is 24 hours long and the intermediate course is 12 hours long.  Training is offered at Aerial Arts Academy in Hong Kong and Viva Vertical in UK and Malaysia.  The cost of the program is not listed on the website.

The IPDFA also allows pole studios to submit their class syllabus for accreditation, which certifies a studio for two years.

Pole Dance Community (PDC) (UK/Online)

This program is less about certification and more about grading.  PDC allows online submissions of videos for grading by their staff.  Level 3 instructors include Elena Gibson from London, KT Coates, also from the UK, and Mary-Ellyn Weissman from the US.  

Here is a comment received from PDS.  We wanted to share it with everyone:

Great review but just wanted to clarify a few bits about the Pole Dance Community. The AAP program is not a certification program or teaching qualification. It is a grading system that is implemented by our PDC approved instructors. Students can choose to grade online if they have no PDC approved instructor nearby. The AAP also allows students/instructors to record their pole dancing progression such as instructor approval, competition success, master-classes attended etc.

With regards to certification we currently have 3 approved teacher training courses, they are the Vertical Dance qualification, the ETDance qualification and the Discoveries Dance qualification: 

You may also be interested in our instructor approval scheme.

Mariana Baum - Pole Dance Paris (France)
Mariana Baum is the first pole dancing teacher in Paris, and the organizer of the French Pole Dance Championship. Mariana Baum is also French Ambassador of PFA (Pole Fitness Association).  The training course for instructors is organized in modules (basic to advance) for a total of 163 hours. It covers about 200 tricks and movements as well as theory, dance and acrobatics, speaking in public, pole dancing on the static and spinning pole, choreography. With the course there is a written manual for each module and DVD made directly by Mariana Baum. The cost is 450€ per module, for a total of 9 modules of which three optional modules (speaking in front of an audience, technique improvement, performance). 

Doris Arnold - Spin With Me (France) 

From just the last year Spin With Me offers training courses for instructors in both pole dancing and stripteasing. For pole dancing is 8 modules, 20 hours each, split into 4 consecutive days. No other information has been published. 

PoleXGym (Italy) 

Instructor training is a introductory course, consisting of one day, with the explanation of about 30 tricks and to understand the teaching style of the person. Basic course, obtainable after a period of pole dancing courses, is a 2 day, 16 hours course that includes pole dancing tricks, stretching, strengthening, choreography and all the pole dancing basics.

X-Pert Certification (US)

This is a "2-day, 16-hour training is accredited by AFAA and ACE – the top fitness certifying organizations – and endorsed by the PFA (Pole Fitness Association)."  The cost is around $750 (US).  X-pert certification will be offered in conjunction with the Pole Convention in Los Angeles, California this year with a convention price of only $649. 

Climb & Spin (US)

There are a few different certification options, but the basic Climb & Spin comprehensive certification package is $1,700 (US) and includes recognition by the United States Pole Dance Federation (USPDF).  That cost does not include instructor training.  The eight day teacher training is an additional $1,300 to $1,700 (US). 

Pole Dance Instructor Certification with Fawnia (PDIC) (US)

Fawnia is the lady who started it all in North America -- opening the first pole studio in Canada in the 1990's.  Her program features seven levels of pole, dance, floor work, and routines.  The Pole Dance Instructor Certifications are held in Las Vegas, Nevada.  It has been approved by the PFA.  Each level is taught in approximately one day.  The cost for Level 1 is $1,000 (although you can purchase multiple levels at a discount.  For example, Levels 1-4 would be $2,495).   

Pole Fitness Instructor Certification with Felix Cane (US)

This program offers certification in many areas, including pole, lap dance and "sexy yoga."  Each certification varies in cost and time commitment.  They do strongly recommend Levels 1-4 for beginning instructors, at a cost of $2,400 (US).

Empowerment Through Exotic Dance Instructor Certification Program (ETED) (US)

Mary-Ellyn Weissman owns ETED, and is a Level 3 certified instructor through PDC.  She offers beginner/intermediate and advanced certifications.  The cost is $799 (US) and $599, respectively.  Each level is 16 hours of training and the program is sanctioned by the PFA and PDC.  There is an additional cost if the lessons are given on a private or semi-private basis. 

Discoveries Dance Instructor Certification (US)

This is a 14 hour program, which requires the ability to already perform intermediate pole moves, and has been approved by ACE, AFAA, the PFA and the PDC.  The cost is around $400 and there are workshops set up all over the United States, including during Pole Convention in Los Angeles this June.  

The Italian Pole Dance Federation contacted Pole Dance Italy after the initial posting of this blog and stated that X-Pert Certification is available, although it is still only valid in the United States.  They also offer the following options: FIPD (Federazione Italiana Pole Dance) and CSEN (Centro Sportivo Educativo Nazionale) Sport Technician and Pole Fitness Teacher level 1 and level 2.

With so many options, it can be confusing as to which program might be right for you.  We would suggest first deciding why you want to become certified.  Do you want to teach?  Are you just trying to be a better/safer pole dancer?  Then talk to some of your favorite polefessionals.  Perhaps they have a program that they can endorse.  Finally, do a little bit of research and figure out which programs are offered in your area. 

If you are aware of a program that we missed, tell us about it!  Also, if you have been certified, we'd love to hear about that as well!

The Wonderland Girls

When I went to Pole Show LA in January, I interviewed as many of the dancers as I could before the show.  Today I want to focus on one act in particular.  Four girls performed "Wonderland."  I was only able to interview three of them on camera, so I caught up with the fourth via e-mail and wanted to put their story together here in one place.

“Wonderland” was an Alice-in-Wonderland inspire routine danced by Audra Bennett, Lindsey Kimura, Sienna Spalding and Adrienne Strauss.  Sienna also wrote and performed the music for the piece and created the art in the background.

Lindsey Kimura aka Lindsey X-Pole

Sienna Spalding

Adrienne Strauss

Audra Bennett

photo copyright @malyssasomerville ~
How long have you been pole dancing?
2 years and some change

Do you teach pole dance?  If so, where?
No, but I have subbed at BeSpun.

What else do you do to keep your body in shape to pole?
Hiking mostly. Although I am starting a new cross training regimen including free weights.

Which trick is your nemesis? 
Handsprings!!!!!!!!!!! I still can't do them. I've landed probably a handful out of hundreds of attempts. haha I will get it by summertime!!

It feels like the 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? 
To some degree yes. I feel like that's my opinion and my view on what pole is to me. The more gymnastic dancers are amazing and inspiring, but  my favorite dancers are the ones that blend various dance styles and strength moves to really impart how beautiful pole can be as an apparatus.

What are you looking forward to in 2012?
Coming back from this injury stronger and better than I ever was before in pole. :)

Wonderland performance:

Monday, April 2, 2012

The International Pole Convention 2012

Pole Convention is coming to California!

The International Pole Convention of 2012 will be held at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott on June 21-24, 2012.  I am very excited to attend.  There are certification programs, workshops, speakers, amazing vendors.  It is somewhere that I can go and pole geek out for four days straight without anyone making fun of me.

Pole Stars are coming from all over the world to teach workshops and give private lessons.  I am especially looking forward to meeting Felix Cane!  There will also be workshops with Vertical Joe's Fitness, Oona Kivela (recent winner of International Pole Championships), Moses Carroll (creator of Pole Dance Network), Kelly Yvonne (Girl Next Door - a pole dance soirĂ©e), Marlo Fisken (Body & Pole), Rebecca Starr, Hanka Venselaar, Annemarie Davies (United Pole Artists), Lou Landers, Alesia Vazmitsel (Britain's Got Talent), Steven Retchless (America's Got Talent; Body & Pole; all 'round amazeballs pole dancer), Claire Sterrett (Pole Story and Vertical Art and Fitness Magazine), Jeni Janover, Stephanie Skyy, Alethea Austin, Jack Gaffney, Rebekah Hennes, Alesia Vazmitsel (2011 Pole Dance Champion), Cleo the Hurricane, Anastasia Skukhtorova, Melissa Woolever, Collette Kakuk (OC Pole Fitness), Lizz Schofield (PFA), Amber Ray, Bobby Goodfellow, KT Coates (Vertical Dance), Natasha Wang (one of my favorite pole people in the world), Pantera, Rashida Hobbs...and with the event still months away, they keep adding more amazing people and workshops!

Featured solo performances by:  LuAyne "Lulu" Brown (US), Roz Mays (US), Lena (Russia), Lorinda Coombs (US), Crystal Belcher (US), Carlie Hunter (Australia), Natasha Wang (US), Pantera (US), Bailey Hart (Australia), Phoenix Kazree (US), Taylor Grace (Australia).

THEN on Saturday, June 23 at 7:30 PM, there is the Bad Kitty Fashion Exhibition Show & The Showcase Of Stars.  Bad Kitty will present their latest Pole Fitness wear on today's best Polers. Afterwards, The Showcase begins with performances from the featured Pole Stars from this year's Pole Convention.

This year, Pole Convention has also chosen the following local charity to support:

Each year, the Convention chooses a local charity to donate to. In 2012, we will be supporting 'Writegirl', a local LA-charity helping young women express themselves through writing. 'Writegirl' offers mentor training and the opportunity to help a young teen to develop her creative writing. This program equips a young girl with communication tools to confidently navigate the challenges they face. Read more about the program at

The convention is put on by Jessalynn Medairy.  Jessalyn hasn't officially been part of my blog, however I did post one of her photos as motivation once:  She owns Pole Pressure in Washington, DC.  

I realize that I am not only a little baby pole dancer but also still an itty bitty baby blogger.  I will not even try to hide the stars in my eyes as I run around the convention geeking out over the amazing talent that will be there.  

If you are coming to Pole Convention, let me know.  I'd love to meet!