Let’s face it, for the most part working out sucks. It is well, a lot of work. For maximum efficacy fitness routines must be intense enough to elevate the heart rate to a calorie burning zone. It also must be something one performs consistently—optimally at least three times a week. Most people can get themselves to do one of those intense workouts using a DVD for instruction every once in a while but how many actually consistently work these crazy intense boot camp style workouts? Treadmills that have become hangers do nothing for fitness, same with resistance bands that hang over the doorway pull-up bar.
The FIRM opened their first studio in North Carolina in 1979. Their premise was simple, a workout that combines both cardio and resistance training at the same time will be more effective. The company puts out a series of home based workouts available on DVD (and probably downloadable media). The reasoning made perfect sense to me, combining cardio and weight training made for a more effective workout than trying to do the traditional weights then cardio program. Many women don’t even lift because of irrational bulky fear. (Also known as the fear that lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds will make them look like steroid addicted man-freaks.) The FIRM is mostly aimed at women and it at least gets some resistance training in. The loyalists to the program have been very successful. For me, it was too much work and not enough fun. I didn’t stick with it.
I started lifting weights in the gym at 22. I had no idea what I was doing. At 23 I got my first personal trainer certification. Feeling like I still didn’t know all I needed to I hired a personal trainer from the health club I was working at. This trainer had a set way of training and only used a certain brand of equipment. While I lived in that area, I could complete my prescribed workouts on the machines I had been taught to use. That was great until I went to college 5 hours away and they had another competing brand in their student wellness center. Uh-oh. How in the world was I going to get a workout on these machines? They worked the same muscle groups but in a different way because of how they were set up. Figuring out this new health club and coming up with a new program was the first of many changes I would make over the years to my fitness routine.
From weight lifter to poler
So how does one look at a vertical metal rod and think “yeah, this is my new vehicle for fitness, I’ll finally have the body of my dreams!” How do you even think this could possibly be as good as boot camp, TRX, Barre, CrossFit, kettlebell hell, etc. At first it’s really perplexing and then you see videos of people who have done it before you and you see artists doing things with their bodies you cannot fathom you’ll ever be able to do. There are hundreds of moves and holds and people are coming up with new ones almost daily. Truth is though I myself lost weight with the “dance” part of poling throwing in only 2 upside-down “tricks” with my routine. All the “crazy” tricks I can do now came later after the weight loss as a result of the obsession not as a factor needed for weight loss.
Not only does pole fitness offer a cardio workout (meaning your heart rate is elevated) but lifting your own body weight also offers resistance training. (Remember cardio + resistance training creates an effective workout.) But here is where pole differs (IMO) from every other mode of fitness: it offers sustainable inspiration. Because there are so many different holds, poses, spins, combos, etc. that you can be busy trying to learn something and forget that you are exercising, that the whole reason you are contorting your body around a pole in the first place was to lose weight or tone up or whatever tweak you wanted to make. If you are so inspired to practice three times a week not only will you soon realize you have lost weight but you will see you are stronger, more limber, more flexible and more confident as a result of the new found things your body is able to do. Things that you told yourself you would never be able to do you work toward and conquer only to move on to the next one you told yourself was impossible.
“And it’s fun,” she said. “Everything you do builds to become something else. So if I learn this trick then it means I can learn the next trick.”~ Darci Thabes, 34, pole dance instructor from northern Minnesota 1..
So true. Once you get one trick, then you are inspired to try one more and then another. Even “bad” pole workout days are good workout days. Pole is like that. It is the arena where effort really does matter and close does count because 1. you’re working out! And 2. any move you don’t get this time around—because of whatever reason—trying brings you that much closer. Oh, and there is the minor detail of all those calories burned while you are attempting whatever impossible feat you’re stuck on this week/month.
That inspiration is what brought me through the many changes since moving to Florida. Though most of my employment since graduating from college has been in the fitness field I did have one brief foray into the sales industry. For the first time since my lifeguarding days I had a 40/hr/wk job that did not allow for a work out during work hours. That meant that like most of the population I had to work and then go home and work out instead of working out at work. Finally I could get a taste of what my clients were facing having to manage their time to get everything done including a workout. For me it took committing to coming straight home on workout days and actually starting my work out— no excuses. I knew that if I didn’t commit at this level I would not exercise as diligently. The biggest problem with that for me was not the inevitable weight gain due to less calories burned but loss of skill that I would suffer if I did not maintain what I had worked so hard for already. I loved it too much to let my skills slip away and in a short time I had a weekly routine.
On workout days knowing I had to go straight home I often thought about my upcoming workout. Questions like what was I going to focus on that day or did I have enough energy gave way to looking forward to my workouts. I would flip through the radio stations on my way to and from lunch and I’d be dancing in my car (yep one of those happy fools) in anticipation of my workout. I hope that people coming to take evening classes dance in their cars thinking about the fun they will have in class working out that evening.
Pole dancing is something every one of every age can do. You don’t have to “get in shape” or lose weight to start pole dancing. Pole dancing will very likely take care of that for you but it’s not necessary to show up conditioned. It’s a process and a journey everyone starts at a different place and for different reasons. Someone who has been conditioned since childhood as a ballet dancer or figure skater will have a leg up (so to speak) on someone who spent their 20s weight lifting, but that weight lifter has her own strength to bring to the mix.
Developing pole dancing skills has at least 4 major elements. I call them in no particular order: flexibility, stones, strength, and time. As I have already stated some will already be conditioned to excel at pole fitness because of their background. Time is effected by age, experience, and frequency of training. There is nothing you can do about your current age or experience but you can increase your frequency of training. Strength and flexibility are factors that will be effected by age and frequency of training. That leaves stones. Stones are what gives you the drive to do something scary, something new and unfamiliar. Stones are what drives you to try that trick/climb/spin/hold that is so scary. They are usually the result of continued training, confidence and strength, a quiet knowing that you can accomplish that which you set out to because you have prepared, you have trained, you have put in the time. Driven by desire and hope, inspiration and progress you keep on because you know the next achievement is only a session away.
September 21, 2014 3:30 pm • By Samara Kalk Derby | Wisconsin State Journal