As you all know, I celebrated my first pole anniversary last month. In honor of that, I decided to make a video compilation of all my successes (and failures) over the past 12 months. I’m really proud of my progress and how hard I worked to get to where I am today. Nothing feels better than seeing that with determination and patience, anything can be possible!
That being said, there are plenty of areas that I need to work on to become an overall better pole dancer.
Here is a list of the areas that I would like to focus on in the next year:
- Work on flow, more combos, and freestyling
- Increase my floor work repertoire
- Stretch more frequently
- Focus on my opposite side
- Don’t push too hard/Do try to avoid injuries
My first year of pole was very trick heavy. I focused on learning as many new moves as possible, so I didn’t get as much time to work on combos and building fluidity between the movements, which is just as important, if not more, than individual moves. On that note, I also need to work on freestyling – dancing to music without choreography. I’ve only recently started to get my sweaty hands under control, so I’ve freestyled to a song maybe one or two times. Freestyling is a great way to build up endurance and learn how to string different moves together while looking graceful. Freestyling only gets better with practice, so I need to work on it a lot more if I want to start actually dancing and putting together routines (rather than just execute individual moves).
Going along with what I wrote above, floor work is crucial in all routines (choreographed and freestyle). Songs can range anywhere from 3:30 minutes to 6:00 minutes, so it’s important to incorporate floor work in order to avoid wearing yourself out before the song ends (doing trick after trick on the pole is not possible for an entire song!). Currently, my floor work repertoire includes 2 things: body waves and hair flips. It goes without saying that I need to explore different types of floor work (shoulder rolls, headstands/handstands, splits/jumps, jazz/contemporary dance moves, etc.) so I can be able to dance to an entire song without passing out on the floor!
I’ve talked about this before, but I have ridiculously tight hamstrings. For having such great flexibility for the most part (back, hips, neck), it’s unreal how unflexy my hamstrings are. Even though I stretched pretty frequently over the last year, I didn’t have enough deep stretching sessions and I didn’t focus on my hamstrings nearly enough. Because it’s so painful and hard to stretch my hamstrings I would always focus more on my back and hips, resulting in my hamstring flexibility to fall even further behind all my other body parts (such a catch 22). So, if I want my hamstrings to be flexy by next year, I need to put in just as much effort and dedication into stretching as I put into my pole sessions.
In pole, I am right dominant (meaning I invert to the right of the pole, my right leg is dominant for gemini, bird, knee hold, etc.) and over the past year I favored my right side more than I should have. I was always told from the beginning to train both sides and not to develop a “good” side, but somehow ended up neglecting my poor left side. Now, I am terribly uneven – my right shoulder is stronger but less flexible, my right bicep is bigger, and my right leg is stronger. Being uneven in terms of both strength and flexibility is not good and makes you prone to injuries. From now on, every time I practice a move I will do it on both sides – eventually I won’t even have a “bad” side. I’m actually challenging myself this month to “Opposite Side November” – I’m going to train exclusively on my “bad” side this month so make up for all the lost time. I will be blogging about my progress at the end of the month so keep your eyes out for that!
Lastly, and most importantly, I want to avoid overtraining and start listening to my body more. Over the past 12 months I’ve sustained several (minor) injuries – rotator cuff strain, hamstring strain, patellar tendonitis and pectoral strain. All of these injuries were a result of pushing myself too hard. I need to understand that sometimes more isn’t better and that putting 110% effort into my training can cause more harm than good. Muscles need rest in order to get bigger and stronger. In the next year, I want to figure out a better schedule with more rest days so I can avoid injuries and develop my strength more efficiently.