Stepping Up!

So you’ve reached the end of another awesome term at Pole Athletica. Congratulations! Now comes the important decision: will you be repeating the same class next term, or are you ready to progress a level? It’s a question frequently asked by students reaching the end of term. Whilst some students might be content with making slower progress, others might feel compelled to keep up with their peers who seem to be accelerating through the program.

No matter where you are on your pole journey, remember that it’s not a race. Whilst it’s completely normal to feel like a beginner all over again when you’re in a more advanced level, you also need feel confident with the foundational moves at each and every stage. Skipping past these core skills will only make progress much more difficult – not easier.

On the flip side, there are also students who show potential but are reluctant to take that next step for fear of struggling or failing. Whilst staying in our comfort zone might feel safe, we may miss the opportunity to explore new territory and teach our body new skills.

So with this in mind, how do you know when is the right time to move up? What are the foundational moves that will help you take that step from one level to the next?

To answer that question, the following guide will help all Pole Athletica students. It shows the key progressions that students should aim for at three broad levels: Beginners, Intermediate - High Intermediate and Advanced. Achieving good form, technique and strength at each progression will help you move through the levels with confidence and proficiency.

Intermediate - High Intermediate

Other skills or techniques to broaden your pole experience:

  • Students should try to improve flexibility if this is a restriction and alternatively if they are flexible but lack strength, then they should focus on improving in that area. The old mantra applies here of ‘strengthen what you stretch and stretch what you strengthen’.
  • Practice both sides and make this a habit!
  • Add a bit of choreography to your repertoire by jumping into a Commercial Pole/Floorography/Lyrical class. This goes a long towards improving co-ordination, stamina, muscle memory and overall pole skills.
  • Cross training is one of the best ways to achieve a balanced workout and body.

Student example

We asked one of our students, Heather Robertson, for her insight into repeating levels at Pole Athletica and how this has helped her on her pole journey:

Hi Heather! How long have you been pole dancing for?

I started in May 2014, so coming up to 3 years.

What level are you currently at?

Level 6.

Which levels did you repeat, and how many times?

Level 2 - x2

Level 3 - x2

Level 4 - x3

Level 5 - x4

Level 6 - Currently on my 3rd but will most likely enroll into it for a 4th time

What were some of the reasons for repeating? How has this benefited your pole progress?

Each level has one or more particular skills that are the aim for that level. I have a pact with myself to not move on until I am strong and comfortable with those particular skills. 

This has definitely helped me out when I have moved up as I notice I'm able to pick up other skills in the new level easier, having already built that strength.

What were some of the nemesis moves you found took a while to achieve?

Going upside down for the first time is hard for everyone. I particularly struggled to get the hook leg to hold me up. I didn't actually manage to go upside down in that move until the end of my second round. By the third round I was comfortably laying back into it and completing the whole walkover with ease. That's when I knew I was ready for 5. 

What advice would you give to students who are struggling with a particular level or move?

I would recommend the following three things that I personally live by in everything I do. 

- Practice! That's the only way to improve. I believe that if I came into the studio to practice at least once every week consistently I'd be able to master the moves I struggle with faster and therefore move up the levels a little faster. I practice at home any way I can and sometimes I arrange to leave work early during the week so I can get into the studio. 

- Listen to your body. Every person is unique, with different strengths and weaknesses. It's really important to listen to your body and only push it to its limit, allowing it to grow in time. I have had troubles with my hips, knees, lower back and shoulders for the past 10 years because of a childhood sport. I know when something isn't feeling right and so I won't push it. I'll stop practicing that particular move for that day and try again next week. 

- Don't move on until you're ready. There's no need to rush on to the next level when you're body isn't as strong as it should be. You will only struggle with the next more advanced moves even more. I believe you should be able to manage these skills with ease and comfort, almost to the point where you're not even panting or shaking anymore because I believe if you are struggling to hold a skill then it means your body isn't ready. You will be though, with time :) 

Article written by Ebony Pole Artist