My Pole Journey: Beginner to Intermediate

I started taking pole fitness classes regularly starting January 2021. I achieved my goal of climbing to the top of a pole about three months after and then moved on to the next level of classes (Previous Post: My Pole Journey: Tucson, Arizona). Level 2 class was my first big obstacle. I started learning upside down tricks such as laybacks and inverts. All those tricks seemed scary and impossible at first.

Overcoming fear: Laybacks

I remember the excitement of advancing to a higher level class. I could execute all the level 1 tricks and moves comfortably and I felt I was ready for a next level. I felt a sense of accomplishment and was confident to continue to learn more tricks and moves.
However, the confidence vanished as soon as I started class. I could not execute any of the level 2 tricks and I instantly wanted to go back to level 1.

One of the tricks I remember that I had hard time at first was laybacks. I remember it seemed so easy when an instructor showed me how to execute the move. I sit on a pole and squeeze thighs and let go hands. I was frightened when I actually tried it. It was probably the first time I feared falling from the pole. I remember the instructor spotted me to try the layback, but even if someone was spotting me, it was terrifying to let go of my hands and completely lay back. I first used my hands as much as possible to hold on to the pole and slowly laid back and eventually I was no longer afraid of letting go of my hands and lay back.

The real struggle: Inversions

Although I was scared to fall down from my back with layback tricks, it didn’t take too long to master.
Once I can trust my legs to hang on to the pole, the trick was not hard. I don’t even think for a second to layback now and it is one of my favorite moves.

On the other hand, invert was not the same. It took me about a month to invert. Again, it didn’t seem too hard when the instructor showed me how to execute the trick, but when I actually tried it, I could not lift my body at all. I felt awkward. It was like my brain didn’t register how to execute it and my body didn’t know what to do. I think I asked multiple instructors which part of body I am using and how to train to invert.
I remember an instructor told me I should do knee tucks to train arms and lower stomach muscles. That’s when I asked my husband to buy and install a pull up bar so I can train these areas. I did pull-ups with leg raises almost every day until my husband surprised me with installing a pole in my room. I also started going to pole conditioning class every week. Conditioning class is a great workout, but exhausting. You do a lot of core and muscle moves continuously using a pole in the class and I was always sore the next morning, but it definitely helped me to gain all the strength I needed to invert. I first started touching my legs on the pole and one day I finally was able to invert.

Basic inversion is the first step for many tricks and one trick I dreamed of mastering at that time was a trick called butterfly.
One way to get into a butterfly is by outside leg hang and I need to invert first to do an outside leg hang. It is important to master a trick one at a time because those basic tricks are necessary for advanced tricks. For example, I recently did true grip ayesha from extended butterfly and you need to have a good extended butterfly for ayesha.

To get into ayesha, I do invert → outside leg hang → butterfly → extended butterfly → inverted D then finally ayesha.
Mastering all the moves let me do advanced tricks and I feel stronger every time.

To the next level

I think it took me about three to four months to advance from level 2 to level 3 class. When I first took a level 3 class, I once again felt like my skills were not good enough for the new tricks, but this time I remembered that’s how I felt in level 2 class and I knew I can eventually do those advanced tricks after some practice.
I learned that some tricks are easier for some and harder for others. It is needless to compare myself to others because everybody is different. Some tricks seems impossible at first, but then one day suddenly you unlock those tricks as long as you keep practicing.
For me, I think my brain and body needs some time to understand and get used to the move. Especially some tricks where you need to press your body hard on the pole and it gets painful. Though strangely you get used to the pain and eventually you don’t feel anything anymore.
Level 1 and 2 classes are fundamental and it started get even more fun in level 3.
Also, pole dance is not just about tricks. There is floor work, dance movement using pole, etc. Pole dance can be sporty, artsy and sexy. You can find your own style and take classes accordingly. I love taking classes to learn tricks, but also enjoy choreography class to dance. I also love dance and cardio class called flirty fitness class. It is like a Zumba class using a pole.

About a year after I started going to level 3 class, I decided to compete in a pole competition.
I will write about my first pole competition journey in next post.

Thank you for reading!

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