The Battle to Get “Fit Enough”
For those of you who have been following my pole posts as I prepare for a photo shoot, I’m very chuffed to announce that I just got bounced up to the big girls’ class … well the intermediate class actually, but it’s the big girls’ class to me. I’ve looked forward to this major milestone since my first session. I can now do my basic spins, I can climb, do basic stands and sits, manage some really cool looking poses and as of today … wait for it … I can do my invert! It’s not elegant yet, and it’s not without a lot of effort, but still, getting upside down is a major accomplishment. Happy dancing all around!
What being booted up to the intermediate class means is that the learning curve, which is already steep, just went off the chart again, and the hard work is just beginning. Like any other challenge, there are obstacles to overcome. With pole, once I was hooked — and that took me all of ten minutes of the free trial class, I began to realize that the real obstacle, as much as learning the techniques, is getting fit enough to perform them. Essentially that means getting strong enough. I started out fairly fit, but as my instructor, Lauren McCormick, reminds me, everyone starts pole at the beginning, and being fit doesn’t necessarily make you fit for pole. I wasn’t … I’m still not … BUT I’m getting there.
I have two pole workouts a week – one with the group and one that’s a private lesson. I can’t afford to miss either if I’m going to get where I want to be. In addition to that, I have one brutal workout at the gym a week with Klaudia Cel. We train strength, stamina and endurance as well as coordination and balance. That workout is entirely geared toward pole. Right now with an occasional kettle bells class, that’s about all I can handle. I do my regular pole conditioning and stretching exercises at home as well as kettle bells and walking everywhere I possibly can. Am I a bit obsessive? Of course I am! But any of you who know me already knew that. Even so, I only have to be with the pole ten minutes before I realize just how unfit I still am. And no matter how impatient I am – which I am – it takes as long as it takes.
The lovely instructors at Polerocks have a fantastic way of helping us gage our improvements. It’s called The Board of Pain, which I experienced for the first time Tuesday. There a dozen and a half basic pole conditioning exercises written on said B of P with a space under each for our names and our times or rep counts. We record those as we complete each exercise. To complete the exercises on the board takes an entire class. We’re competing against only ourselves, but in three months time, we’ll do it all over again and see how much we’ve improved. The B of P is a way to chart our progress. Like any other discipline, the basics are the building blocks for everything else, and conditioning is a seriously basic build block essential for pole.
The other battle with conditioning for pole is the bruises. I’m getting fewer as I progress, but every time I learn something new, there’s a good chance I’ll do it wrong multiple times before I do it right. And, as I mentioned before, the pole is not the most forgiving dance partner. That being the case, there are only so many times I can practice a move with repeated bruising until I have to give it a rest and practice something else.
I know it all sounds a bit mad, but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it, if I didn’t love the challenge of it. I push myself hard because I’m impatient, and I want to do really well. The truth is I adore the creative aspect of fitness. I completely understand why people get bored with the typical gym workout. It’s a bit like writing the same novel over and over and over again. My body craves creativity just as much as my mind does, and thinking through spins, combos, ways I can train core, ways I can gain conditioning and flexibility, is like thinking through the plot of a story.
This week’s challenge was the superman move at the top of the post, which Lauren had me approach from an invert. Strangely enough though it was my first invert on my own, I was so focused on the superman, that the invert seemed secondary.
Slowly but surely. I’m learning the techniques, I’m getting stronger and more sure of what I’m doing. Progress, any progress makes me feel powerful, and I have to admit I like that feeling, bruises and all.
I’ll be back with another update in a week or two. If you’ve missed the first two installments, and want to read them, follow the links below.