One of my favourite parts of the pole dance journey has got to be a good, old fashioned practice session. It’s in these sessions that I have nailed some of those utter bastard moves, had the biggest laughs with my pole buddies and taken some cracking Sunday Bumdays for good measure too. After almost four years of top quality practice sessions, I thought I would share my tips with you all about how to make the most out of those precious, few hours of the week (or day if you’re mega dedicated) and have a fab practice session.
Heads up before I start, this is not a series of top tips on the biology of training or anything like that. As I’ve said before I am in no way qualified to offer fitness advice to anyone (seriously my idea of a quality detox is three cups of coffee before 11am), these are just tips I have found over the years that have helped me have a productive practice session.
Make a solid list of the moves you intend on practicing
If you go to practice with no agenda you’re going to flounder around doing fuck all. Believe me I have been there so many times. I trot along to the studio with no agenda or goals and end up doing about three Cross Knee Release variations, twenty minutes of clock legs and spend the rest of the time chatting to my friends and titting about. If you want to make the absolute most out of your practice sessions, concoct a solid list before going of the moves you wish to attempt and tick them off when you’ve practised them. I swear there is nothing more satisfying and soothing than ticking something off a list, especially when it’s a pole list!
Get yourself a motivational pole buddy!
It would be positively treasonous to talk about creating pole dancing lists without crediting the queen of lists herself – my pole buddy Dani (pictured with me above). Before Dani and her lists of wonder came into my practices I was indeed floundering around procrastinating as mentioned above. However, when Dani and her badass, motivational self and lists arrived, I started conquering moves I despised, getting a hell of a lot more achieved when I set out to practice and just generally had a more productive time on the pole. That’s not to say we don’t still tit about and do our best Tina Turner celebration moves when we achieve a new trick. Seriously if you have a pole buddy who is not only fun, but also knows how to crack the whip and motivate you when practising – get training with them immediately.
Practice at least one nemesis move every time you practice
As bitter a pill as it is for us pole dancers to swallow, we ain’t going to smash through to the next level in our training and abilities if we keep re-practising the same moves we can do with ease over and over again. Yes, this is coming from someone who has practised a Gemini at least 200 times and the nemesis Stag approximately two, but 2019 is the year that I shall start taking my own advice. So far, I have drilled at least one nemesis move at every practice session in 2019 and as much as they cause me torment and pain on a deep and spiritual level – it does feel damn good to start finally facing the buggers.
Slot in some solid strength training into every practice session
Strength training feels like a mammoth fucking effort (that’s because it definitely is) but we all know how important is for developing our pole abilities. Right now, my three main strength quests that I am valiantly embarking on are to nail a good, clean Aerial Invert on my bad side, to regain my ability to Shoulder Mount in my eight inch Pleasers on both sides and finally to be able to bust out an Aerial Shoulder Mount on my good side. In order to turn myself into the kind of absolute, hench unit who can execute these moves, I am training the shit out of my Inverts, standing Shoulder Mounts and Shoulder Mounts from a seated position on the floor at the start of every practice session, as that’s when my energy levels are at their highest. It does feel like my abs are trying to escape via my belly button with every attempt at one of my three strength goals, but hopefully said abdominal agony will pay off eventually.
Work out your favourite time in the day/week to get your practice game on
Now this one is very important. Personally, I like to get my training done first thing in the morning on a weekend (provided I am not hungover), as this is often when I have had a few hours extra in bed, so I’m more full of beans than usual, and also first thing in the morning is when the stresses and strains of an average day haven’t worn me out yet, so I’m more motivated to crack on and get shit done on the whole. The later on in the day I practice, the more knackered, in pain and general can’t be arsed-ness I feel. Although obviously that’s not the case for everyone, as those of you who are night owls would probably prefer to practice in the evening, basically what I’m trying to say is find the best time in the day to practice for you.
Do not go to pole practice on an empty stomach! (Also take snacks)
Fucking hell I don’t think there is anything in life that I do on an empty stomach. I’m amazed I manage to even get out of bed in the morning without having a crafty Alpen bar to ease the process. Pole is definitely no exception to this rule. We all know how intense pole is and how much oomph and energy it requires, therefore doing it when you’ve had sod all to eat for ages isn’t the best idea. Personally, I make sure I have something moderately substantial an hour before training for that extra boost. My pole class is on Thursdays so on those days I treat myself to not one, but two yummy lunches (one at 12pm and another at around 4:30pm) ready for class at six. Also, if you’re a greedy guts like me, being hungry when pole training often results in my mind wandering and all I end up thinking about is my next meal or snack instead of what moves I should actually be doing. Food is very important kids!
Floorwork makes for a very effective warm up
Holy shit my buddy Patricia told me this and she was 10/10 right. If you’re having trouble getting warm seriously keep your leggings and jumper on, strap on your favourite pair of Pleasers (and knee pads if you’re a bit of a wuss like me) and commit to ten-15 minutes of floor and flow freestyle. Keep that shit up and you’ll be positively roasting by the end of it. Besides it’s always a cracking practice session when you manage to fit in some decent floor and flow too. Trust me if you’re feeling a tad on the chilly side head straight for the floor and partake in some warming floor fuckery, you can thank me later.
When you smash a new move/ pole goal, don’t forget to celebrate.
Pole is a journey after all, so don’t get so caught up on the destination that you forget to enjoy the views and have a picnic on the way. When you smash a new move or even a pole goal, don’t forget to celebrate. Jump around, do a victory dance, go to the pub after practice and have a victory pint, whatever it is, make sure you treat yourself for working hard and smashing it. This is another example of where I need to take my own advice, as I am often too caught up on moving forward and attempting the next thing pole wise to actually appreciate where I am and what I have achieved, however I have now started busting out a rather fabulous, Tina Turner-esque manoeuvre as mentioned in point two once I achieve a nemesis move, small steps!
Now, this is something I definitely don’t do (yet), however my more experienced pole buddies who I always see busting out some badass moves at practice always manage to fit in a full and proper stretching session in beforehand (not the piddly amount of stretching that I do). Obviously it goes without saying how important stretching is, so I shall endeavour to get as much in before practice as well as my twice a week sessions.