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.

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

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, 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. 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 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 is a tool for me to help the more advanced students not be bored in my class.

If you haven't checked out, 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 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.