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.

How to Fly Standby on Delta Airlines

Is it an art form? A science? Or just a lot of good luck charms and mysticism?

Personally I believe in the last option…

It’s not shocking that I have far more experience regarding the logistics of flying down under than I do domestically in my own country. For domestic travel I’ve been flying Southwest Airlines exclusively for the last few years, mostly because of the flexibility in their booking and re-booking options. For overseas travel I’ve used Qantas and Air New Zealand, and Jetstar (a subsidiary of Qantas) for travel between and within Australia and New Zealand. I am planning to travel the rest of the world in coming years, especially Japan and Europe, and am looking at other options for affordable travel with flexible options.

Airlines such as Delta can not only get me to just about any city or country in the world, but also have rather luxurious First or Business class sections on most of their flights, especially those overseas. My grand fantasy was to be able to use a Delta Buddy Pass to fly a red-eye from Seattle to New York City, on any date that I wished, in a comfortable, fully-reclinable first class seat and get fantastic rest so I could greet the early morning sunshine and the hustle and bustle of a fresh new day in Manhattan. The world would be at my finger tips, and I would be right there ready to conquer it. Like a boss.

My good friend and fellow outdoor-enthusiast, Danielle, the one who procured said buddy pass, is by now very used to my fantastic and glamorous views regarding my life, but didn’t want to burst my bubble right away. Unfortunately the buddy pass was not Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket I had been dreaming of. Instead of being greeted with cocktails and red carpets, I barely got to New York at all that night. I got a window seat, but I forgot my pillow and how cold airplane walls get, so I slept horribly and felt miserable and stiff when I arrived. Since my father had driven out to Long Island the morning before (so much for flexibility with my travel plans), I had to spend another hour and a half alone in transit getting out to see my relatives instead of bursting with energy and romping around in the busiest city in the country like it was my playground. Oh, and it was raining.

On the way back to Seattle I wasn’t able to get on the 9:30am or the 12:30pm flights from Albany to Detroit, but fortunately I got the very last seat on my only option from Detroit to Seattle. I had never been so happy to sit in a middle seat for five hours straight in all my life. I suppose my travel plans weren’t as flexible as I originally thought. I just wanted to wait until the last minute to confirm them. I clearly went about this all wrong, and I intend to learn from my experiences and do it the right way next time!

Rules for Success Regarding Standby Delta Travel:

1. Obtain Buddy Pass from close friend who is willing to check standby lists any time between 5am and midnight to see if going to the airport is even worth your while.

2. Dress well, look presentable and be polite.

3. Do not carry excess luggage. If possible, try not to check bags.

4. Don’t fly to Atlanta, unless your final destination is Atlanta.

5. Do not fly out of any airport from which you can see cows and pastures – this normally is an indication of smaller planes, and thus fewer total seats leaving the airport on any given day.

6. Try to have several exit strategies before leaving your home airport, to avoid having to pay for a hotel in a hub city.

7. Carry a good luck charm at all times. Personally I use a good luck lady bug that my mom gave me before I went to New Zealand.

8. Always be flexible with travel dates and/or destinations. If all other flights are overbooked, be willing to fly to Brazil. Hey, life is an adventure.

Autumn in New York, Part I

The first exciting installment of my New York adventures…

…began at the Seattle airport, where odds had so far been in my favor of getting a seat… just any seat… on Monday night’s red-eye to JFK. I took my time getting through security and perused the magazine rack at the news stand. It’s a good thing there aren’t more exotic car magazines in print, otherwise I could have very well missed the flight altogether. Eventually I moseyed along to the train to terminal S, clearly the party terminal, from the huge plastic balloons and bright LED lights along the escalators on the way up to the foyer.

The airport was quiet at 10pm, but not completely desolate. After a quick stop into the restrooms, in attempt to kill even more time, I checked the monitors at gate S8. They were calling for passengers to check carry-on bags in anticipation of a completely full flight. I saw the upgrade list… 20 names… That didn’t bode well for my ambitious dreams of fame, fortune, and a reclining seat on a red-eye, but it meant some economy seats may be freed up. I was still third on the list, however. Just as Danielle promised, there I was, BAT/A, up on the monitor. Somehow that makes me feel important.

I had dressed up a bit, to make myself look business-class-worthy. As a frequent traveler, I generally have a few tricks up my sleeve for getting the seats that I want on a plane. Though I knew I would have to accept whatever seat was free as my name came to the top of the list, I politely waited in line at the gate and requested a window seat. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, after all. In reality, I was relying on all sorts of superstitious luck, and the kindness of strangers, who conveniently don’t get on a flight that is almost impossible to miss.

Second on the list… and the main cabin was already boarding. That’s alright… they were still calling names for upgrades. There’s still a chance, still a chance. For a split second I saw my name at the top of the list. There were only about 5 or 6 people yet to walk through the gate. It may have been me sitting there all alone, waiting for a chance to fly to MSP at 12:55am, with another stand-by card and a prayer. When it came down to it, I am fairly certain I managed to get on the plane because I had forgotten to bring my travel pillow. I texted this to Danielle as they called my name up to the desk.

When they handed me my seat assignment, 27F, I was fairly certain it was a window seat. Yes, a window seat. I love my life. Some people gamble, others take drugs, I get a high off of flying last-minute and getting fantastic seats on long flights. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

We sailed through the clouds just as my eyes were focusing on the city-scape of Bellevue, and when we turned east and emerged above the cloud cover all I could see of my new home was the top of Mt Rainier. I went to the back to change my clothes and get myself ready to sleep. The clouds thinned out over the eastern part of the state, where I knew one day I would find future adventures. Interstate 90 is one of the few main highways I haven’t taken across the country, and I think it deserves a voyage one day, especially to Glacier National Park, and of course, North Dakota, the last of the 50 US states I will visit.

Time went quickly as I dozed in and out of fitful rest. Over Wisconsin… Pennsylvania… We arrived 20 minutes early to a red-orange sunrise and overcast skies. I changed out of my pajamas and took my time getting to the baggage claim. Since I was one of the last people on the plane I had to check my small roller bag, but contrary to normal New York mayhem, I really wasn’t in a hurry. I am now on the Long Island Rail Road, one stop from Farmingdale, excited to see my family and take a trip to the Atlantic Ocean. The adventure continues…