Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Everything you need to know before your first pole class

You've finally been brave enough to book your first pole class, now what?

It can be daunting attending pole dancing classes for the first time, particularly if you haven't partaken in exercise since school. Many new students have little knowledge about the pole world, have never seen the multitudes of pole videos on youtube and/or have been dragged along to class by someone else (this was me). 

The great thing about this is that you have no expectations! It's a great way to enter in to a relationship with the pole community. 

However, there are some things you need to know, my beautiful readers.


Know where the studio is. 
You laugh but pole studios are often in hard to find locations and if you miss the warm up you may not be allowed to join in with the rest of the class.
Wear something comfortable.
Some studios may ask you to wear shorts from the first lesson. We allow students to wear leggings or jogging bottoms for the first few weeks if they prefer. Most studios are barefoot. Some people do wear trainers, ballet shoes or heels to pole! I recommend bringing a pair of socks for choreography every week, it's hard to slide around beautifully on bare feet. Leg warmers are also great for winter, but not necessary. DO NOT MOISTURE ON POLE DAYS. I REPEAT DO NOT MOISTURE ON POLE DAYS.
Research your studio.
You've already booked, but you should have done some research as to the pole schools in your area. Every studio is different! Not all are created equal and there are many different sides to pole. Do your research, ask questions. Always try different studios, and instructors, if there is more than one available to you.

On the day:

You've arrived!
Ensure you get to the studio early as there may be forms to fill out. Find out where everything is; the toilet, water, where you can put your things and get changed if you need to. You will be introduced to your instructor, who will explain everything you need to know. Don't be shy to ask questions! Take LOTS of photographs and videos, you'll want to look back on these later down the line, and you should be proud of your achievements! You're a badass pole dancer now.
The class.
Every studio structures their lessons in a different way, depending on their style. Below is a break down of what a typical class at Saints & Spinners looks like:

Warm up: a full body warm up with particular focus on the arms and shoulders, as these are the muscles we will use the most! One to two songs in length.

Strength training: exercises on and off the pole designed to warm you up further and build strength for the moves you will eventually learn. This is an important element and will help you to progress more quickly and safely.
Stretching/Choreography: certain weeks we ditch the strength training and do something fun! This may be some stretches to help with flexibility, it may be choreography, it may be learning to freestyle (dancing without a routine) or playing games.

Tricks and moves: You will then be taken through a certain number of tricks and dance moves individually, ensuring you have a good understanding of each one. To finish you may link these moves together in a combination or routine. This will form the bulk time of your lesson.

Cool down: This part of the lesson is super important to injury prevention and increasing flexibility. You will be given some time to wind down your practice and then be taken through stretches which focus on the muscles you have used. 
Each studio will have different rules regarding safety and behavior in the studio. They will likely run you through this at the beginning of class, or give you this information as the lesson goes on. But primarily; do not talk over your instructor, be kind to other students, do not play on the poles before warm up, do not try moves you have not been taught directly by your instructor, do not touch the poles after cool down. These are basic studio etiquette but there may be more. For example, in my classes, anyone heard talking badly of themselves has to do press ups or burpees!
Don't put pressure on yourself to achieve certain things or compare yourself to others. Every individual has a different background and different starting point. You may be the unlucky one to end up in a class full of ex-gymnasts and dancers. This doesn't mean you're rubbish, it just means they've been training their bodies their entire lives, and you haven't. Only compete with yourself. If you improve week on week then your instructor will be happy and proud. Don't give up on self growth because others are further ahead on the journey. They are not important, you are. Have a good attitude and you will go just as far.


Spinning or Static.
The poles you use may be spinning or static. Your studio may only use one or both. It can take some time to get used to the spinning motion on either type of pole, usually within a few weeks any symptoms of dizziness or sickness go entirely. Take it slow to begin with, you will learn to control your spin speed, and let you instructor know of any concerns. They will adjust their teaching to help you!
Small hands/Big Hands.
Poles also come in different diameters, the smallest are generally 38mm,up to 50mm. At Saints & Spinners we primarily use 45mm, with usually at least one 40mm and 50mm in each class. If you have small hands you'll want to use the smallest pole you can find! Most students dislike the old fashioned 50mm poles; but you find the odd person who still loves them. Try every pole.
Sweaty Hands.
Sweaty hands are the curse of pole dancers everywhere. There is lots you can do to help.
As previously mentioned NEVER MOISTURE ON POLE DAYS. This is the cardinal sin of pole dancing. Not only will you be slippy, but you will make anyone who uses the pole after you slippy also. They will hate you. 

Wash your hands before and during class. It's not a long term solution but it can make a difference. 

Use a smaller pole - the smaller diameter will help if hand size and strength is the issue.

Clean your pole. Most studios will provide a pole cleaner and cloths. Always clean your pole before class, regularly during, and after. Beginners never clean their poles enough. On slippy hot sweaty days you may need to clean your pole between every move!

Buy a grip aid for sweaty OR dry skin. Grip aids come in many forms and are used across the board by pole dancers it is not cheating! There are different grip aids for different ailments. Always ask your instructor, some grip aids are not to be used on certain pole finishes and your instructor may have a product they prefer.

Use a grippy pole! If your studio has poles of different finishes, there may be one type that suits you better. Chrome is the most common pole finish but not the most grippy! Look out for brass, stainless steel, silicone or powder coated and other finishes. 

And remember; your hands and arms will get stronger, allowing you to hold your spins and moves for longer. Patience is the best solution for slippy hands!

After Class:

Let your instructor know how they did! Honest constructive feedback is a helpful tool for growing a business. Whether bad or good, we love to hear it. You may even wish to pop a review on the facebook page. 
Share your journey!
Post up your photographs, your videos, let everyone know about your new hobby. Some individuals still have an issue with pole dancing, but the majority of people now understand that pole is not a dirty sin to be hidden but a wonderful form of exercise and expression. Don't be shy! And your recommendation, your enjoyment, does more for our industry than any advertising we could pay for...
Look after yourself.
I remember being sore for an entire week after my first class. Putting on and taking off clothing was interesting, to say the least. Take a warm bath, do some gentle stretching. REST. In the weeks to come your recovery time will get shorter. It will get easier, your body will get stronger.
Get excited for your next class!

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