Road to the First Pole Competition

I started taking pole fitness classes regularly starting January 2021 (Previous post: My Pole Journey: Tucson, Arizona).
After about 6 months, I started taking Level 3+ classes learning more tricks like Brass Monkey, Butterfly, Ayesha, etc. All those tricks were challenging at first, but I built my muscle and technique over time (Previous post: Beginner to Intermediate). After about a year of taking Level 3+ classes, I decided to compete in a pole competition.

Level 3 and higher class: The Slump

At my pole studio, they offer level 3+ classes where anyone who graduated level 2 class can take. I started taking classes with advanced level students. My classmates can do some badass tricks and I love watching them do those daring tricks.

Just like in the level 2 class, I could not execute any of tricks that the instructor taught me at first. I remember my first obstacle in a level 3+ class was Shoulder Mount. Because I push my shoulder against the pole so hard, it was painful and I could not lift my body at all. It took me a while to get comfortable with the trick. I also remember Bow and Arrow was one of only tricks that I could do after a few tries. When I first took a level 3+ class, there was a time that I could not fully execute any of the tricks that was taught in class. Even warm-up tricks were hard for me. Just like a basic inversion I learned in a level 2 class; I knew some tricks take time to master. I kept practicing and going to classes and slowly but surely increased my repertoire of tricks.

A few months after I started taking level 3+ classes, I heard about a pole competition being held in Tucson, which was the US Pole Sports Federation (USPSF) Nationals and it took place in early September 2021. I heard some students and instructors were competing, but I did not have any interest in competing at that time. Pole fitness was just a fun exercise for me and I did not have any intention to compete.

I kept going to classes, but started going to less classes during September 2021 – February 2022. I was absorbed with work and life. I had a chance to go back to Japan in early 2022 and there was a period that I did not touch a pole at all.

I remember that I was feeling my limits in pole tricks. I could say I fell into a slump during this time. Pain on my skin and difficulty of tricks discouraged me to practice. I remember practicing Caterpillar Climb and I could not see any progress for a while. I still went to classes, but I didn’t practice as much as when I was in level 1 or 2 classes.

Road to the first completion: The first thought

Sometime in March 2022, I realized that my days in Tucson were numbered. My husband has a job that moves us around often. I’m used to the move, but that does not mean it is easy for me. We have been blessed with the places we moved to and we’ve always met amazing people and created wonderful memories.

I started looking back at our time in Tucson and really appreciated my new pole hobby. I felt so lucky that I have this wonderful pole studio close by and how far I came in my pole journey. I was a beginner who could not climb a pole a year ago and now I am taking classes with advanced students.

Reflecting on the time in Tucson reminded me that my future is never guaranteed. There is a possibility that the next location doesn’t have a pole studio like in here. I thought I should take my hobby more seriously and cherish the time in Tucson the fullest. Then I started thinking about competing in a pole competition. I simply wanted to take advantage of living so close to a pole studio that I love and I also wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to achieve some sort of personal milestone. Also, I knew that the competition, USPSF’s Nationals, will be held in Tucson again this year (2022). No need of major traveling was a big advantage. When I first considered competing, my instant thought was “I am not ready yet.” I have been taking pole classes for just over a year and I just started to do some intermediate tricks, but I can’t do any advanced ones yet. I do not have any gymnastic or dance experience and I’ve never performed or done anything similar to this. The only time I stood on a stage was at a high school musical when I had one line. Lack of experience turned me down right away, but I could not get rid of the thought of competing for weeks. Moving around one place to another taught me that you have to take a leap of faith and seize the moment sometime. I thought I would regret more not trying, then I decided to talk to my instructor, Marta.

The training begins

I set up a meeting with Marta, who was my instructor for the first-timer class, and I have been taking many of her classes for the past year. I asked all the questions I had at that time. She encouraged me to compete and we start training right away. I was nervous, but encouragement from her helped me to take a big step and decided to compete in the Classique Amateur category. At that time, little did I know what it meant to compete in a pole competition. It was challenging and rewarding. I will write about the training in the next entry.

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