Pole Fitness Northwest

There are always a few poles moves you’ve attempted and thought to yourself that it would be a physical impossibility to actually accomplish them, let alone make them look graceful. You see them flawlessly executed by professionals in competition, as well as the student right next to you in the studio, but how did they get there? Can I do that one day?

This is the challenge and excitement of pole, whether it is for fitness or artistic expression. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, be they muscle strength, flexibility, or elegance in our performance. To me, the true art of pole dance comes from each dancer’s unique style, from the repertoire of moves, their combos and choreography, to the choice of music, costumes, makeup and theatrical presentation.

I’ve made it a hobby, and perhaps at some point a profession, to travel to different studios to learn from different instructors. No two studios are the same. Pole fitness is not sterile and standardized like cardio and resistance machines at a gym. Pole fitness is more stylistic. The ambiance of a pole studio creates the experience, much like a yoga studio. Sure, you can do yoga in the exercise room at the gym, with generic flow and a simple series of moves, or you can practice in a studio with dim lights, incense, and soothing pan flute music coming from speakers hidden behind an intricately carved statue. The same is true of pole fitness… well, perhaps a little different.

Golds Gym, eat your heart out. Tina’s studio, Pole Fitness Northwest, is where women go to get fit. Pink fitness balls, free weights and hand towels compliment a room full of static brass poles. Pink and black foam tiles decorate the studio floor, providing comfort and safety. The first thing we learn in pole fitness is to not only trust the apparatus but our capabilities as women athletes as well.

Tina is self-taught and has an intuitive feel for the pole. She’s developed a signature series of warm ups and spins to open each class session. Emphasis is on fitness, and several core and upper body strengthening moves are practiced before pole training, especially in beginner classes.

In intermediate class, students focus on tricks, inverts, climbing and more advanced spins. Tina has a few tricks and tips to get you into those moves you’ve been trying for months, and will personally spot and assist each one of us as we try moves for the first time. We work on a variety of spins and tricks each class so we don’t overuse certain body parts and get injured. Each class we progress and one day we will just spring up into that one move we thought we could never achieve.

Yup, that’s me hanging sideways from the pole with an ayisha grip. (My legs are not touching!) Thanks to Tina, I managed a knee hold for the first time, a position I thought my body was clearly not capable of balancing in, just by getting into it from a move I already had mastered. After a quick explanation about how my arms should create forces on the pole, I popped right up into a regular grip handspring as if I had been doing it for years. Who knows what I will be able to accomplish in a few months from now. Perhaps the move in the photo will become an iron x, one of the toughest positions to hold on the pole. I’m excited.

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Autumn in New York, Part II

Later that day, the plot thickens…

Visits with family that you love very much and don’t get to see very often can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. My experience is more like an emotional bullet train. My family does not beat around the bush: they want me to become a school teacher. Both of my parents descend from families who value education and refinement above most other things.


I thoroughly enjoyed the long father-daughter chat this morning as we navigated Continue reading

Tri Training Part II

Today I discovered a few things as I continued my triathlon and began my ski training. This morning’s workout consisted of my usual stretching and exercise routine, with a few extras added in, and concluded with some one-legged squats to improve my balance and strength for ski season. Towards the middle of my workout I began taking small tastes of the tangerine flavored PowerBar energy gel I bought yesterday at the shop. How to describe the sensation… Continue reading

Acclimation

Status

Slowly but surely I am gearing up to Winter ’11-’12 in Park City. Today I went for a hearty 25 minute jog around the neighborhood. It doesn’t sound like much but I haven’t been able to jog for the last 3 months and yesterday’s was my first jog since my injury. My body is recovering nicely and getting used to the elevation again. Last night I went to our orientation at PCMR, meaning I am once again employed. I just need a place to live so I can get situated and start working! I can’t wait to try out my brand new Lange ski boots.

But wait! There’s more!

There’s more of my life I need to share with you. I am still not settled back into Park City – I’m couchsurfing in my own home town (not unlike last year – thank you, Lacey). Therefore, I can still consider this part of my trip in my travel blog. Besides, my adventures never end.

I told Emily just now that ‘this is was an Anna day.’ I slept well, woke up to a cup of chai tea, did my stretches, and then both of us went to the middle school to swim laps. It felt amazing. I didn’t feel like my muscles were getting worn out, but I was certainly breathing harder, a sensation I didn’t feel at all in San Diego or New Zealand. I miss exercising at high elevations, and I’m happy to be back to swimming! I am excited about the Masters Swim coaching on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings from 6:30am-7:30am and look forward to getting my first swim lesson in 20 years!

After our swim session the weather cleared up. The light snow ceased to fall and the sun shone transparently through the thin cloud layer. I prepared for the Studio Soiree Christmas Recital at Trails by choosing my music and outfit, then headed to Salt Lake City during twilight.

The recital went extremely well – I am so excited to see the ladies from the studio and meet some instructors from Pearl, another pole studio in Salt Lake City. To be honest, I planned my return to Utah around the December recital since I enjoyed the Rookie Night in August so much. I am going to continue my training, but will be careful not to injure myself again. I will focus on core strengthening and conditioning, and my goal is to prepare some choreographed pieces.

Oh, and my day finished up with one of my absolutely deeeeeelicious spinach salads!

Amendment: Travel must be part of the picture

As I was deeply contemplating my career opportunities during my time in San Diego I reached the conclusion that I wanted to enter the field of science communications. My life, as I know it, does not have set chapters, a beginning or end to any phase. It is not a story book, but merely continues and my adventures, education, and employment bend and weave through time and space. I am not the typical cookie-cutter young adult American, graduated from University and thrust out into the adult working world. That’s just the way it is, and that’s the way it is becoming for more of our generation. The necessity of marriage, property ownership and financial security are concepts fed by industries and long-established cultural practice. They are not requirements for my nomadic and adventurous lifestyle. I am proud of what I am, what I have achieved and what I have become as a person. Even my alma mater, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute promotes the concepts of diversity and entrepreneurial spirit. Yes I’m going to change the world, but I’m not going to do it your way. I’m going to do it my way.

I am making an important amendment to my career goals. Continue reading

Bet you didn’t know that I’m a Pole Dancer

Great abs, self-confidence, new friends, and toned arms are only a few of the reasons why I began pole dancing in Queenstown last year. I discovered the Queenstown Pole Studio last August when a group of my friends who work at Coronet Peak got together to have a ladies’ night at the studio.

Anna Ashton does a phenomenal job of making beginners feel welcome at her studio and offers a progressive six-week beginner course every few months. She varies her classes so everyone can work on something at their own level, and gives positive feedback and treats every one of her students like the star that they are! Anna teaches yoga, dance choreography, more advanced dance and aerial classes, and provides open practice time on Saturday mornings.

Pole dance studios foster a great sense of community amongst their students, and the best part of training is that every time you come to class you find you can do something you couldn’t the day or week before. It’s addictive!

Studio Soiree, in the Sugarhouse suburb of Salt Lake City, is where I train back in Utah. The studio is larger than the one in Queenstown in that it has two pole rooms, and a wider range of courses and instructors. On Monday nights I love to shake it in Rebecca’s Belly Dance class, and get new bruises holding crazy aerial poses in Alexa’s Tuesday night Intermediate Fundamentals class.

When I first introduced myself at Studio Soiree they asked me how my training in New Zealand was different from the American style. The names for the spins and holds vary between countries and studios, as well as the thickness of the poles, and the studios’ focus in their classes. Anna’s studio in Queenstown features poles that switch between stationary and spinning with the simple turn of an allen key, and her choreography is about half and half for each technique. Studio Soiree offers a variety of classes centered on cardio fitness and conditioning, and invites men to join the Pole Core classes. The pole is used for exercises that strengthen the core muscles, like a vertical pilates class!

Women of varies sizes, shapes, backgrounds and points in their lives come to try out pole dancing, and most women love it! What’s almost as enjoyable as my own training is seeing the other girls who work so hard on their dance routines and moves, and welcoming new women into the studio. I see women who are nervous and confused transformed into dancers with self-confidence and grace in their movements.

Since joining the Dance Club in University at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute I have made dance an important part of my life. At RPI I would attend an hour and a half jazz class, an hour hip hop class, and then run back to the lab to complete my experiments for the night!

Teaching is one of the most rewarding professions in the world – both of my parents have been pressuring me to become a science teacher for years! – and I am considering completing a level 1 Instructor Certification course and sharing this fun and flirty form of fitness with the gorgeous women of the world!

Going Public

As of today I am officially inviting the world to view my 2011 travel blog. I have spent a lot of time writing, posting photos, and working on the layout and it is finally at a stage that I feel is presentable for its purposes.  I intend for this blog to have several uses:

1. Travelers can use my blog as a guide for transportation methods, where to stay and amazing places I have visited

2. Locals can read my reviews of restaurants, services, etc

3. Friends and family can read about my exciting adventures!

The sidebar on the right side of the Home page lists all posts by date, title and category for easy reference.

In addition to the layout, the last building block I have put in place is the entry I just posted for September 7, “Humble Beginnings.”

While this entry is the cornerstone of my career saga thus far, it is the most difficult to write and present to the public. Some of my crazy travel-related activities and life choices may not be suitable for a corporate image, but as a writer, a traveler, an adventurer, the risks we take are what make a tale worth telling.

The purpose of my travels is to develop my niche, and to find the best people to work with. I am not simply a degree-holder in search of filling an available job position. I was in search of a direction for my career and my life’s work and I found one:

I am going to pursue a career in Science Communication.

Day 21: Return to San Diego

This morning I spoke with Tom Tomp of the graduate department of Biological Sciences at UCSD. I explained my situation and discussed my proposal with him. I actually surprised myself even, as I spoke animatedly about the field of Tissue Engineering. I proposed that I could build from the research I conducted at RPI and write up a review of current work in the field and liaise these studies with work being done at UCSD. Continue reading