Nothing makes you feel more alive than narrowly thwarting death – especially if your great escape is made possible by your own amazing level of strength and fitness! In fact, getting in great shape does more than just reduce your risk of having a heart attack in middle age; it can also help you escape from sticky situations.
And, believe it or not, aerial silks and pole training may just be one of the best ways to stay fit – and stay alive!
Hanging by a Thread
Imagine you’re out camping in the woods, enjoying a peaceful evening toasting marshmallows around the fire when you hear a crashing noise in the brush. This could only mean one thing: Bigfoot! After slinging you over his shoulder and carrying you off to his lair, this desperately-in-need-of-a-good-Brazilian monster decides to hang you — upside down, of course – from the tallest tree around. What do you do?
If you’ve been taking aerial silks classes, this situation won’t even phase you! In fact, you’ll see it as a delightful chance to practice that “man in the moon” move that you’ve been working on in, all while enjoying the exquisite view from the top of a 100-foot tree.
Aerial silks is so much more than simply a stunning dance through the air while suspended from delicate-looking fabric. Aerial silks teaches you how to climb, how to balance, all while building up an insane amount of muscle strength and control, all perfect for those camping trips gone horribly, horribly wrong.
So you’ve stolen the diamonds from the chateau on the hill. You thought you were home free, until those danged kids tipped off the police – and now you’re running for your life along the winding cliffside path when, oops! Over the edge you go!
Luckily for you, you’ve been taking pole dances classes at Embody. Not only do you look incredibly sexy as you dive over the edge, you’re also able to use your incredibly toned arms to grab onto a branch and break your fall. Most people would panic, but not you – pole dancing emphasizes a focus on breathing and movement meditation, so you keep calm and cool, even when you look down at the crashing waves on the rocks so very far below.
And, thanks to pole dancing’s focus on flexibility and strength — as well as the series of grips, braces and hooks that you learned – your arms, core and legs are strong enough to pull you back up to safety, where you leap into the waiting helicopter and make your escape to your own private tropical island where you can enjoy your ill-gotten gains in blissful peace.
So before your next camping excursion or jewel heist, be sure to get fit!
Spontaneity. Individuality. Expression. Creativity.
Freestyle dancing encompasses all of these concepts and more in one wild,
wonderful package. Sometimes known as street dancing, un-choreographed,
freestyle eschews choreography for a raw, in-the-moment style that truly
channels the mind-body connection. My first attempts to dance I found it most
difficult to get out of my own way, stopping in the middle when I felt silly or
I’d believed I’d “messed up”, believing I lacked grace of movement, basically
undermining myself to the point of discouragement. It was when I gave myself
permission for wild and free movement I began to understand, to realize my
body WANTED, NEEDED to move, to dance, unhindered by my own timidity.
Bravery, daring, self-confidence it takes all of these to allow yourself the
freedom of movement, especially if you’ve never danced before, but believe
me, take that chance and you’ll never be sorry. You’ll come to appreciate
your body and yourself in a way that borders on magical. The wonderous
acceptance of you, ALL of you is nothing short of miraculous.
What is Freestyle?
Though it can be loosely defined as any dance that isn’t choreographed,
freestyle’s roots run deep. Perhaps more than any other type of dance,
freestyle allows dancers to use body language to reflect what’s going on
inside their heads. The only requirement? The ability to express the effects
of music through physical movements. That means anyone, anywhere, can
freestyle. And, as every individual invents their own freestyle as they’re
doing it, this dance form is – by necessity – constantly evolving. However,
unchoreographed dance in its current incarnation has roots that stretch
around the world, from the streets of New York and Los Angeles to Jamaica,
England and Ireland, where it has in turn inspired and influenced a range of
History of Freestyle
Unlike the structured steps, routines and foundations that comprise sequential
dancing — such as ballet and ballroom dance – freestyle is based on improv
and the ability to, literally, think fast on your feet. In the 1970s, partner dancing
in clubs swung away from the stylized moves of the ballroom. Instead,
dancers could make up new moves and explore their own personal style.As
disco slowly burned out in the early 1980s, Latin dance champion and
ballerina Anna Jones – also known as the “godmother of freestyle” – added
elements from these two worlds of dance into the club scene. The trend
spilled over onto the streets, where the style became more confrontational,
sometimes even aggressive. Street styles — like break dancing, hip hop,
popping, locking, and krumping –all stem from the early days of freestyle. In
New York and L.A., house dance and hip hop also emerged from the freestyle
movement. In Jamaica, freestyle strongly influenced the development of
In the U.K., freestyle– known as “disco dancing” — has transformed into a
social movement. In recent years, freestyle has exploded in popularity among
an unlikely group: Children, tweens and their parents. There, kids dress up
in the most glittery, glam costumes imaginable and get on stage to impress
judges with the most intense, unique and assertive moves they can muster
– on the spot – in 60 seconds or less. Winners get big bucks but, more
importantly, freestyle instills confidence and self-esteem in dancers that helps
keep them out of gangs and off the streets.
Benefits of Freestyle Dance
While freestyle might incorporate moves from many other genres, dancers
must essentially think on their feet, an exercise in spontaneity and creativity.
In many urban areas of the U.S. and U.K., freestyle offers kids an option to
crime. Plus, like all other types of dance, freestyle offers a superior workout!
Practicing freestyle dance offers an enjoyable way to get in touch with your
emotions, be in the moment, and get in shape – all at the same time!
Check out how this same routine seems so different depending on the dancer and the music!
Since beginning ballet lessons, I’ve changed, so much. My toes are pointier, my lines longer and crisper, and my movements more graceful. It’s also given me a sense and awareness of my body that I didn’t have before. Ballet has brought the ideas of dance to me in a way that blankets all my movements. Once I moved past the awkwardness and fog that accompanies doing anything new, I began to understand and appreciate how the movements of ballet really are the foundation of all dance. I feel a sense of peace and calmness while I practice, ballet brings me pleasure and allows my mind to relax. Meditation while practicing ballet, yes, awesome. Ballet has been medicine for the soul, a way for me to calm my mind, movements precise, classical music moving my arms, legs, hands, and feet.
From its extravagant origins in the gilded courts of Renaissance Italy to today’s stunning advances in technique, the history of ballet is – at its core – the history of dance itself.
Practicing ballet absolutely leads to better balance, coordination and leg strength – seriously, there’s almost no better way to get those amazing calves, not to mention that strong, toned body that ballerinas are famous for – taking ballet barre classes Embody Ballet Barre can also kick up your performance in other dance genres, from pole dancing to hip hop cardio, aerial to belly dancing. Ballet even helps calm your mind by incorporating a form of moving meditation into your fitness routine; I feel that ballet’s meditative qualities are just as effective – or even better — than yoga. Check out ballet’s history for a better understanding of how this influential dance form has evolved over time.
The History of Ballet – Seriously Abridged Version
In the late 1400s, Italian nobility staged huge feasts for their rich guests, and dancers — along with poets, musicians and painters — provided the between-course entertainment. Over the next couple of centuries, professional ballet troupes began to appear, especially in France. The dance was almost completely dominated by men; male dancers performed female roles disguised in masks. Toe dancing developed in the late 1700s, around the same time that women became more involved in ballet. During the 1800s, trends shifted toward a light, ephemeral dance style known as romantic ballet. As the epicenter of ballet shifted away from Paris toward Russia and the U.S., a more innovative and technical style grew popular. Through the 20th century, ballet influenced – and was influenced by – other popular dance and musical forms, from rock to jazz and exceptional dancers attained celebrity status; think Mikhail Baryshnikov or Julie Kent of “Center Stage.”
Looking back over ballet’s history, it’s easy to understand how, when you take barre classes, you’re joining an ageless tradition. As amazing as that is, though, you have to admit that the physical and mental benefits of ballet as just as incredible. There’s a reason why dancers across genres train using ballet moves: They’re isometric, which means that you hold a muscle in place against resistance. There’s no better way to increase strength, flexibility – and attain that sleek, toned physique – than through isometric exercises. http://embodypolefitness.com/how-the-embody-barre-program-works/ .And that’s not even to mention ballet’s meditative qualities; holding those poses not only strengthens your body, it calms the mind, too. No matter which type of dance you prefer, Embody Pole Fitness’ Embody Barre classes will help you improve — and get into amazing shape at the same time!
I love health fads, can’t help it, I’m a healthy girl. It’s what moves me, sends me in new and interesting directions. Newest fad, well new to me, JUICING! My brother got me into this delicious new way of life (Yep, it’s a lifestyle!) and I LOVE! What I don’t love is throwing away all the fiber and vegetable left, wasteful and just seems wrong. Sooo, I made soup. Yep, Chicken Rice Soup! Turned out so delicious I thought I’d share my recipe. Along with a 7 phenomenal benefits I’ve found with juicing. Seven is my lucky number!
1. Control of my sugar intake. My name is Diana and I’m an M&M Addict. Since my Juicing Journey has begun I’ve been able to all but give up my beloved, but unhealthy, M&M’s.
2. I find myself full of energy. Much more energy, no 5 Hour Energy Drink necessary!
3. I am more consistently positive and cheerful, no matter what comes my way. I always try to see the best in every situation. I think the juicing has just made it that much easier.
4. I wake up feeling sharp and well rested, even if I have had less sleep. True, true. No more coffee for the new Diana, Orange, Apple and Carrot Juice=Super Diana!
5. The juices flooded my body with so much nutrients, I rarely felt hungry. Definitely getting my fill of vitamins!
6. I also noticed a heightened sense of taste and smell. Yes, everything TASTES! Could be attributed to the lower sugar consumption, but it all works together to make a better Diana.
7. My skin started to glow, my hair and nails grew faster. People started to comment on how much younger I looked for my age. Who can’t use younger? At 43 girl, I take all the GLOW I can get!
Delicious Afternoon Delight Juice
10 Organic Carrots
6 Stalks Celery
Chicken Soup with Rice
Juice Pulp from Afternoon Delight
6 Cups of filtered water
2 cubes organic vegetable bullion
2 organic chicken breasts
1 16 oz. bag organic baby carrots
¼ cup fresh parsley
¼ cup fresh thyme
¼ cup fresh sage
Combine filtered water, bullion, and pulp. Dice chicken, chop onions. Chop parsley, thyme and sage. Add chicken, onion, carrots and herbs to mixture. Once soup has reach boil, lower flame and simmer for 3 hours. Cook rice while soup simmers. Add rice just before serving.
1. the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.
2. the idea, image, desire, feeling, etc., itself.
3. the state of being obsessed.
4. the act of obsessing.
Why is Pole Dancing so addictive, so compelling, so…encompassing? The glory of mastery, the beauty of movement we are able to produce, the kinship and sisterhood formed, the challenge, yes it is all of this and more. The more is the part that is difficult to articulate, but you dancers, you feel what I mean. Pole Dancing and now Aerial Dance has taken over my life, become a welcome obsession, now a big, giant BUT, but…sometimes it can go too far.The desire to become more, to become greater comes with a price. The price-over doing it.
Shoulders, back, chest, arms, so necessary to our art, so necessary, in fact that they are highly prone to overuse injuries. I recently tore a muscle in my upper back prompting a visit to my chiropractor.
My chiropractor-“Wow Diana, this is really bad. It’s almost like you’re pulling great weight up and down constantly. You’ve torn a muscle in your back, connected to your lat. You’re going to need to take a couple weeks off, at least.”
Let the negotiations begin…a couple weeks!!! How about a couple days…I’ll ice…So I proceeded to medicate with the miracle drug Ibuprofen and continue training. I might have taken 1 day off, but I don’t think so.
Fast forward a week, I can barely put my pants on, carrying my purse takes my breath away for the pain. My obsession has gone too far, has caused me to injure myself to the point of immobility. How to deal with Pole injures and the consequent depression?
First-When you feel it injure-STOP! Don’t continue training, sounds simple right? It’s not, not when you have this drive, this desire to become greater. You must stop, because trust me, if you don’t it will get worse.
Second-Ice immediately, and continue icing for 3 days after the injury
Third-Take time off to heal, don’t wait until you feel a little better, call it good and jump back on the pole, only to re-injure the exact same area, but this time worse.
Fourth-Take Ibuprofen, it brings down the inflammation and helps with the pain.
The anger and depression that follows an injury are sometimes worse than the injury itself! Why won’t my body cooperate? Take this time to stretch and working on your flexibility. You’ll feel as though you’re moving forward and helping your injury heal.
Pole dancing found me 3 years ago. I watched an instructor demo in an intro class and I was struck speechless. As I sat transfixed, I just knew what I wanted, I had to be able to move like that.
It’s been a wonderful, arduous, humbling, enlightening, journey, and it’s been my journey. I am a far along as I am. I do not allow myself to compare, I love my movements, I know where I want to improve, how I want to look, and I’ve learned to allow myself the pleasure of enjoying my journey.
About 7 months ago, I felt as though I’d reached a plateau in my growth as a dancer. I realized it’s time to take the next step. This would require another level of extremely hard work, and humility, more than I’d been putting out. So, among other things, (see my Just Pole? blog) I decided to submit for a competition. Although this seemed like an impetuous decision, I’d been considering and contemplating for several months, I was just building up the courage. The courage to put it out there, for everyone to see. The flaws, the missteps, the awkwardness, but also, the beauty, the hard work, the smooth transitions, snazzy tricks, and of course the sweat, tears and bruises. Speaking of sweat, tears and bruises, wow! Practicing the routine, over and over and then over again 20 times, I am a walking bruise. I’ve lost skin, I’ve grown bumps and ouchies in the oddest places and I LOVED it!
Creating the routine was actually the toughest part, I found it incredibly difficult to put together a graceful, flow of movements. I love the challenge! I attended a class at The Choreography House, in LA, Creative Poleography, a phenomenal class that opened many creative doors in my mind. I also attended Pole Narrative at Embody Pole Fitness, in Corona, another workshop that put me on the path to forming a routine with melodious flow between movements. I’ve a long way to go, but creating the routine for USPDF was not only illuminating and incredible, but instilled an incomparable sense of accomplishment.
I’ve read it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in anything, and while I was a little short of 10,000, my goal was to practice my composition so many times, it became muscle memory, a habit. Like using the brake in your car, you can text, eat, put on makeup and still hit the brake, without thinking. I found a training partner, who shared my goals, my obsessive perfectionism, and couldn’t care less about the bruising. Everything is more fun when you have someone to share it with! And so we practiced, then we practiced some more, and then again, ad infinitum.
The day had come, “Submission Day”, up to the very last day, at the very last minute, we began videoing. Surrounded by the best of friends, one of which was holding the video camera, I started shaking, felt anxiety, unfamiliar little flutters in my stomach, OH!. I had stage fright. I didn’t see that coming. Take 1, “no, look at that weird thing I did with my hand”, Take 2, “what’s with the flexed foot??” Take 3, “I don’t know, its better, I guess…are you sure it that move doesn’t look awkward”, and on it went. FINALLY, we both had videos we were happy (reasonably) with. Excited we posted on YouTube and sent the email. Knowing next time, will be even better…it really is a wonderful journey!
Just Pole? The second part of a two part blog. To catch up and read part 1…click here.
Yoga, wow, this was a tough one! Yoga has always bored me to tears, I apologize to all you Yogis out there. I began 6 months ago with once weekly lessons and quickly learned while I could outrun any Yogi any day, I really struggled holding a Warrior 2 pose! Talk about humility! I have learned to love Yoga, love the balance I have gained, love that I no longer fear a handstand, love that I can move fluidly in and out of movements while controlling my breathing. This control has translated to balance and endurance on the pole. Pole is hard! Yoga has given me the gift of breath and the understanding of where my body is in space, which has helped me learn to move fluidly while executing a sequence of moves on the pole.
I read it takes 10,000 hours of training to become an expert at anything, which means you have to put in the time and focus. I read an interview of Natasha Wang, by Aerial Amy, I was impressed by the amount of time that Natasha spent training. 9 hours one day, that’s dedication. It’s also inspiring. Pole training is hard, it can be frustrating and unless you maintain the right mind frame, it can be demoralizing. The first step is deciding that you won’t settle for mediocrity. You are worth the effort, the sweat, and the time. The truth is that everyone has the potential for greatness. Two of the greatest pole training tools ever, IPad, for YouTube videos, and a video camera. Nothing beats seeing yourself move. You immediately know what you want to change and can start figuring out how to do it.
According to Wiki choreography is-The art of planning and arranging dance movements into a meaningful composition. Choreography means to me, musicality, presentation, a story. Moving seamlessly, melodiously, floating in and out of moves is part of a routine, but it’s not what keeps me transfixed in front of my computer, held by the genius of a performer. It’s all of those things put together in such a way as to create magic. I attend Choreography workshops and classes to practice this art. Felix Cane, Jenyne Butterfly, Natasha Wang, Oona hold the audience in their hands, we are at mercy, waiting in anticipation for the next beautiful, delightful move. I watch these great performers and I learn, I stretch my brain, my creativity and reach for greatness.
My measure of growth is against myself, where I was last week, last month, last year. Sometimes it’s difficult to see that growth, as it comes to you in tiny little packages. I realized that my growth in pole dancing wasn’t what I wanted it to be. Not that I wasn’t learning as fast as I wanted, although that was part of it. It was more a lack of understanding the movement of my own body. So I began a quest, a quest to understand how my body wanted to move and balance, to provide myself with more “tools” allowing me to move the way I wanted to.
This two part blog tells the story of my quest for beauty in movement. The first order of business was to set up a schedule, incorporating all the fitness modalities needed to obtain my goal.
• Strength Training
• Flexibility Training
• Dance Classes
• Pole Training
• Choreography Training
Let’s start with strength, I believe you get strong as a pole dancer, by pole training. The muscles you use to pole dance are unlike the muscles you use to run, for example. In order to build those muscles you obviously have to use them. However, I also believe in order to build the core, arm, back and leg strength necessary to achieve the balance in the body I am looking for, requires strength training and endurance training. Enter cross-training, cross training has been proven to drastrically improve overall performance. Taking advantage of the effectiveness of one training method, while at the same time compesating for the shortcomings of that method by combining it with other methods, in this addressing weaknesses. Introducing High Intensity Strength Training and Kettlebell Training. Strength and endurance galore.
Next Flexibility Training, BY FAR, the most difficult, at least for me. I struggle with flexibility, having lifted weights and run all my life, my muscles are not stretchy, at all! I force myself to set aside 45 min. 5 days a week to practice focused stretching. I did my research and learned that dynamic stretching is the fastest way to the sexy flexy body I was looking for. Having made this commitment 5 months ago, I learned today while pole training, that is has paid off, in spades! I received a little package of growth. I couldn’t stop grinning! It was a small thing, but I was able to get into a move on the pole that would have been impossible several months ago. Allegra you are finally mine!
Ok next on the list, Dance Classes, this was my Achilles heel, having come to Pole Dancing with no gymnastic background and no dance training, I struggled with grace and flow. I felt ill equipped to move the way I wanted to and no matter how much I practiced I felt as though I simply didn’t have the knowledge to create, within myself, the movements I wanted. In other words I lacked the tools. I signed up for Modern Dance and Contemporary Dance classes. I’ve been studying and practicing for several months, although all the above mentioned have worked together to achieve my goal of understanding the balance and movement in my body, these classes have made the greatest impact. I feel equipped to move in ways I never even considered before. I now hold firmly in my grasp a grace, balance and beauty in my movements, that a mere 6 months ago, felt just out of reach. I love the dance classes and am inspired by them. I have given myself the tools to be creative, to use my body and movements as a way of expression.
Why Should You Strength Train?
First, let’s talk about what strength training is. According to the Internet Oracle Wikipedia, Strength Training is the use of resistance to muscular contraction to build the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. There are many different methods of strength training, the most common being the use of gravity or elastic/hydraulic forces to oppose muscle contraction. In other words, lifting weights.
Strength training isn’t just important, it’s imperative! Strength training is absolutely the most important kind of exercise for any and all individuals to participate it. Building muscle through resistance training helps to burn fat, regulate blood sugar, and control cholesterol levels. Muscle also helps to improve your posture and strengthen bones. And if you do any type of physical activity, from running 5ks to burlesque dancing, to playing with your kids, to pole dancing, improved muscular strength will improve your ability to complete those tasks.
What Type of Exercises Should I Do?
In general the kinds of exercises that are best for most individuals are multi-joint, multi-muscle exercises. It is important to cross-train, meaning MIX IT UP! Cross training refers to a training routine that involves several different forms of exercise. Cross training is a beneficial training method for maintaining a high level of overall fitness. For example, you may use Kettlebell training, Pole Dancing and Flexibility classes each week to improve your overall aerobic capacity, build overall muscle strength and reduce the chance of an overuse injury. Cross training limits the stress that occurs on a specific muscle group because different activities use muscles in slightly different ways.
Benefits of Cross Training
You can easily tailor cross-training to your needs and interests; mix and match you classes and change your routine on a regular basis.
How Much Weight Should I Be Lifting for Maximal Benefit?
If you are new to strength training, it is probably best to err on the side of caution. Most first timers should do exercises with little weight, and focus on learning and perfecting their form for each exercise. Since proper form is about the best way to maximize strength gains while minimizing injury risk, it needs to the priority, regardless of your skill level. (I often see very big, strong guys at the gym using improper form to lift, risking injury) Once proper technique has been mastered, begin increasing the weight a little bit at a time, continuing to maintain proper form.
How Many Sets and Reps Should I Be Doing?
Personally, I think the biggest general key is not letting your muscles get used to one distinct pattern. Switch up the amount of resistance you are using, as well as your set/rep combination. Your goal is to confuse your muscles and encourage them to grow. High intensity, interval training, such as ChickFit, is a phenomenal way to confuse your muscles.
The absolute ONLY way to become a better dancer is to train. No one, regardless of strength, gender, brain power, background, or any other advantage… gets better at anything without training.
I’ve been obsessed with the newest addition to my Kindle, “Talent is Overrated”, by Geoff Colvin. This book is phenomenal, one of those I refer to as a “game changer”, meaning, it alters the way you think and move through your life. We assume that Mozart was born with an astounding gift for music, and Warren Buffett carries a gene for brilliant investing. According to distinguished journalist Geoff Colvin, whose theories are thoroughly supported through scientific evidence, both the hard work and natural talent camps are wrong. What really makes all the difference is a highly specific kind of effort-“deliberate practice“- which few of us pursue. It focuses on the stories of extraordinary people who never stopped challenging themselves and who achieved world-class greatness through deliberate practice.
What this book has brought to me is the idea, the motivation, the belief that if I deliberately practice enough I WILL improve. Keeping in mind that deliberate practice is different than playing around on the pole. In a nut shell, a very small nutshell, as this book has so much to offer, it’s impossible to convey it all in a couple of paragraphs, you must have a practice plan and you must practice A LOT.
Ok, let’s apply this to Pole Dancing. Obviously there are people who are genetically predisposed to do better at Pole Dancing, shorter bodies, longer arms, and smaller frames, so if you’re taller with a bigger frame, does that mean you cannot be a great pole dancer? NO! It means you may have to work a little harder. But rest assured, regardless of physical advantages, in order to be great, hell, even good, you have to train!
If you want success you have to pay for it, in the case of Pole Dancing, you must pay in bruises, pole burns, fatigued muscles and mental exhaustion. (Pole Dancing takes it out of you mentally as well!) It takes brain power to creatively put together moves and tricks, again to be exceptional at choreography, you must deliberately practice!
Alright, let’s spend a few paragraphs touching on overtraining and fatigue. We’ve talked about deliberate practice and practicing a lot, how do you recover? I don’t know about you, but my body gets TIRED when I train hard on the pole. (whoever said Pole Dancing is not an athletic sport, has obviously never touched a pole.) Here are some tips for you on recovery and how to do it faster.
Why Recovery After Exercise Is Important
Recovery after exercise is essential to muscle and tissue repair and strength building. A muscle needs anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild, and working it again too soon simply leads to tissue breakdown instead of building.
10 Ways To Recover Quickly After Exercise
There are many methods of recovery. The following are some of the most commonly recommended by the experts.