Author: Fallon Lang
Do you feel as if you have plateaued along your pole dance journey? As if your progress has slowed down noticeably or even come to a stop? This may be caused by you unknowingly sabotaging your own potential growth, due to previous habits, short cuts or even from trying to progress to quickly. Here, I've listed some of the most common mistakes which could be whats attributing towards your delayed progress, and may deter you from continuing with pole fitness which you don't want. And if you are reading this now, and aren't feeling like the following would apply to you; keeping reading, because what I have to share with you might help you avoid any future feelings of slowing or decline in your practice progression.
Not Training The Fundamentals
If you are training from home, then this is something which you can quite easily fall into the trap of. When you learn by dissecting videos/pictures of pole dancers on social media, you fail to master the essential ABCs; gradually building your muscle's strength and flexibility to adjust to your new fitness regime and learning how to activate muscles correctly. With little knowledge, comes poor technique, incorrect muscle engagement, and eventually injuries which can dramatically slow your progression.
There's nothing wrong with learning from home. For some of us there are many benefits to doing so, but to ensure that you are practicing proper techniques correctly and safely, I would suggest taking a few beginner classes at your local pole dance studio. If some studio time is not an option for you, there are many free instructional videos by some great professional instructors on YouTube.
Over Training vs Under Training; Is One Really Worse Than The Other
Falling into a pattern of over-training with pole can happen so easily as it's so incredibly addictive. The process of learning is such an enjoyable experience, that you tend not to realize how much mental and physical energy you've poured into that training session. You must remember to take the time to rest your mind and body.
If you are training for extended periods of time, day after day, with no rest days in between, with no visible progress and are becoming frustrated, then you are most likely training on fumes. When mind and body are fatigued, you will not be getting the most out of your pole session, and you will greatly increase your chances of injury. With periods of over-training, you may start noticing some regression in your strength and skill-set, which I myself have experienced before. Let go of your ego and allow your body and mind time to rest. You aren't going to fall behind by taking a couple of recovery days between sessions, taking time to rest will actually help you in the longevity of your pole dancing journey.
On the other side, leaving a long period of time between every training session is also going to harm your progress. By under-training your strength cannot build, your technique can not improve and your mind will not retain the details from lessons you have learned. Everything will seem like much more of a struggle than it needs to be. Over time this will become extremely discouraging, draining on confidence levels, and most likely will lead to longer and longer distance between practice sessions. Eventually bringing levels of inspiration and motivation down to zero.
Picking Up Bad Habits
When you are new, you may become more concerned with conquering every pretty trick you come across, and not giving much thought or time into mastering any of them, being too eager to jump to the next. I am a big believer in confidently executing a trick to the best of my abilities; strong, graceful and seamless.
When you become neglectful with training and start creating short cuts for tricks, the amount of effort put in shows in the final result; messy and unpolished.
When training a new trick, you should go slow and be patient with the learning process, in turn you'll be far more aware of which muscle groups you are engaging, knowing whether you are hitting the correct pressure points and have proper body placement. When you execute slow, deliberate movements, you are building a stronger, more alert group of muscles, which in turn will make the transition more fluid and even help aid you in the process of learning other tricks.
Have patience and enjoy the process of learning a new trick. A handful of flawless tricks, are far more impressive as oppose to twenty sloppy ones.
Neglecting to Stretch
Incorporating stretching into you practice regime will change the world as you know it. Stretching out your muscles benefits everything in your life, above and beyond your pole work. Releasing the tensions that builds up in the fibers, is not only for increasing your flexibility. Tight muscles restrict blood flow withing your entire body. When blood flow is restricted, oxygen isn't traveling to everywhere it is needed to be. When tissue is lacking the oxygen it needs to function fully, it becomes tired and weak. When this happens, your body and brain, look for other ways to accomplish the tasks you give it. One way it does this, is by calling for assistance from other muscles throughout the body; ones that are bigger and stronger, more capable. This might seem like a smart thing to do. And it is, usually. But not for us. Not today.
By putting the load onto other muscle groups in different areas of the body, many things happen below the surface, and if you don't know what to look for, they will very likely go unnoticed. Just because a muscle is bigger and stronger, doesn't mean it can't be over worked or strained. When a muscle gets tired, it gets lazy. When it gets lazy, is when injuries happen. Injuries can put a lengthy hold on any progress you might have been enjoying, potentially leaving lasting discomfort that remains with you after healing. When other muscles are carrying your body through motions that other muscle groups are not ready for or capable of controlling and supporting, momentum is created. This momentum is what causes strains, pulls, and tares; not only in muscle tissues, but in the ligaments and tendons that are responsible for connecting our muscles to bone and keeping joints tight together and functioning smoothly.
Stretching properly is as much about the details and correct form, as the poses and postures I speak of in previous topics. A well conditioned muscle group will allow you to use them fully, and create a much more graceful series of movements when executing and joining tricks together in a routine. Stretching a muscle does exactly what it sounds like, it makes them actually longer. And simply put... longer muscles means more bendy.
Comparing Yourself To Others
It’s natural to compare your progress to others within your class or on social media. When you do this, it can really work against everything that you are working towards. Doing so, may create feelings of inadequacy, which can be disheartening and damaging of your morale.
If you are fortunate enough to recognize these feelings next time you watch a video of someone executing a trick you desire flawlessly, stop and remember that you are seeing their polished version. You are not witnessing the events going on behind the scenes; the hours invested into each movement, having gone over the smallest of sequences over and over again until it becomes committed to memory and develops into a new habit. The slips. The falls. The mistakes are as much part of a trick, as a perfect posture.
One final note, after reading over the topics discussed above keep in mind that nothing comes over night and things through progression over time so use this as a check list that you can come back to as you grow as a dancer. You will become your best You through patience, persistence and a positive attitude. These are not hard to find rules, I've merely shared these to assist you on your pole journey. With any luck you will develop your own set of rules and guidelines which are best suited to your individual practice.