This past Saturday, a year and two weeks after I began pole training, the long awaited
photo shoot finally happened. It was nothing like I had planned out in my head. There were a few unexpected turns at the end. On Tuesday before the shoot, I pulled a muscle under my shoulder blade during the pole class warm ups. That meant no going over my moves for the shoot and no last minute practice on Thursday either.
On Wednesday, I spent time with my personal trainer, Klaudia, working to mobilise the shoulder and neck and other areas that had stiffened up to compensate for the pain. The next three days were filled with lots of stretching, Epsom salt baths and a diet of anti-inflammatories. Meanwhile my pole instructors were very supportive and promised me they could get me into the moves for the shoot.
It seems that for a photo shoot it’s all about getting the shot, and as my instructor, Lauren McCormick, told me ,technique goes out the window, which took the pressure off me and off my shoulder.
I wish I could say I documented everything in photos right down to the packing up of what I’d need for the day of the shoot. I wish I’d done that, but I didn’t. There are not shots of me getting on the train, me putting on make-up, no shots of me warming up. All my detailed plans went out the window with the injury, and suddenly the game plan was simply to get through the shoot with minimal pain.
Fortunately I went in with the very best supporter. Mr. Grace went with me to cheer me on, take photos of the shoot and to set me down and give me strong drink after it was over. Having him with me made everything a little easier. Plus it was great to share the experience with my best friend.
The photo Shoot was held at the fabulous My Body Rocks Pole Rocks Studio in Reigate, a place I’ve become very familiar with in the past six months. It’s the parent studio for the Guildford studio, and the brain child of one of my heroes, Samantha Holden. I have secret fantasies about just moving in to this place. Yes, it’s as totally cool inside as the door suggests.
Most of the mistakes I made had to do with the planning, not the shoot itself. I needn’t have worried about that. Between the lovely photographer, Simon Hooley, and my instructors, Lauren McCormick and Ben Weeks, and with my husband there to cheer me on, I was in good hands.
But I showed up way too early, thinking I would use the time to warm up and maybe relax a little, go over the moves in my head. Warming up was limited because of the shoulder, my head was such a muddle that I couldn’t actually think enough to go over my moves even in my head. I already had on most of my make-up. Changing clothes took five minutes, and putting on the feather necklace and playing about with the feather fan took another five.
It didn’t help nerves that the second studio, which was open for us to warm up and practice in, was a hive of activity. There were people working on hoop. There was a couple of women practicing doubles on the pole next to me. Along with that there was a constant flow of people coming and going. They were all fabulous, and I would have loved watching them any other time. But Saturday, I just felt intimidated, even though they were all very supportive.
However, once my time came, two very strange things happened. First of all, the half hour photo shoot felt like it went on forever – in a very good way, but I was exhausted by the time we were done. Simon joked that he made it his job to make sure we left the shoot completely broken. Actually, he was very helpful and very lovely. Second of all, it was over in a heartbeat. I don’t know how it could be both. I only know that it was.
Yes, the shoulder did hurt with almost every move – especially the getting into the moves. But it didn’t hurt as bad as it could have, and I was careful and took advantage of offered help to get into positions. I quickly learned to intersperse the hard moves with some easier ones. That saved the shoulder and saved me from being more exhausted that I already was at the end. When I started out with a superman, which is one of the hardest moves for me, and I managed it without too much trouble, I knew I’d be okay if I paced myself. After that the nervousness went away, and the whole thing became fun.
Another lesson I learned is that sometimes the very simplest of moves looks far more elegant than the ones that are the most difficult. The camera doesn’t really show technique or how hard a move is. It only shows the subject, and really, it’s all about the subject … that would be me … looking her best. And that is something Simon does VERY well.
During the shoot, Raymond took photos and short vids on my camera so I would have some idea of what the whole process looked like – what I looked like. I’ll have the proofs probably later this week. My husbands documentation, his efforts are what I’m sharing with you in this post. Believe me when I have the actual photos back, I will be sharing them far and wide.
I say that, but the truth of the matter is that Saturday afternoon when I shared a couple of them on Facebook, I found it a little hard to let them go. I found myself feeling shy and nervous, even still worrying about what other people might think of a 59 year old woman getting half naked and hanging from a pole. Sometimes the things we do for ourselves other people might not understand, and a huge part of the challenge is often to remember that it doesn’t matter. We’re doing it for us. Having said that, I have had nothing but support and positive feedback from people. Perhaps that’s another major lesson to me. While we might not always understand why someone feels compelled to do something, I think everyone understands that need to pursue a challenge that speaks to us.
I’ll have the final post of this year-long pole journey when I get the photos back from the shoot.