It might not be back to school yet, but for many of us we are now in the Back to Pole period!
Some people have had great home pole set ups and have been enjoying our online classes every day. Whilst some have had less than ideal home pole set ups that meant they couldn’t train as much as they would have liked. Some of us had no home pole but kept up conditioning, stretching and floorwork. And some of us had too many personal or professional obligations to do much at all. Lots more found the pressures of living through a global pandemic too overwhelming to even think about pole.
All of these things are completely fine!
Back at London Dance Academy, we have found we have all returned to a much more relaxed environment, where egos are totally left at the door whilst we all laugh about our struggles together.
It doesn’t matter whether you had a home pole or not, all of us have found we have lost certain skills and stamina to a certain extent – even the teachers!
What have we missed the most?
Training at home is different, we’ve loved being able to see each other, chat and join in from home. But who had the wonderful height of Studio 2? We loved being able to use our sofa in the routines, but really, how many times have you kicked it? All the studios have got added space between the poles and equipment to let us have the space we need to feel safe.
And for the stretching, flexibility and conditioning classes. In the studio, there is no cheeky way of turning your video off and take a few extra brakes. The teachers and students encourage each other to push the exactly right amount for our day.
As a result of everyone having trained at home or less, our teachers are very understanding, and are building things like conditioning up slowly and gently. They will correct your technique to make sure your moves look pretty and you won’t injure yourself. But they won’t yell at you if your legs have a microbend in your fourth invert of the class. Or if your “bad side” is several levels behind your “good side” because you were too scared to train it in lockdown.
One person per pole
With only one person per pole or hoop, you will get plenty of one on one time with the teacher, and as much of a workout as you want – if you want to keep practising the combo non stop you can, but if you need to take 5, that’s fine too.
The elephant in the room as you go up the higher levels is obviously spotting. Sadly we aren’t allowed to touch each other due to the government Covid guidance we have to follow.
The good news is, we have plenty of crash mats you can use, as long as you clean it thoroughly before and after use. Although we can’t spot you, the teachers and students are always keeping an eye on each other and making sure everyone feels safe and training at the correct level.
There are progressions available in every class, to make sure you can build up the skills slowly, avoid the moves you don’t feel safe doing solo just yet and focus on the positives such as having your own pole and so much extra time with your favourite teachers and friends.
What level am I on?
Levels are a little more fluid now than they were before. In my case, although I had a home pole, it was the same height as me and a different width than what I was used to, which was very demoralising and meant I couldn’t do many of my usual moves at all.
As lockdown restrictions began to lift, I was prioritising cycling across town to reunite with my long lost friends over conditioning, and then took a two week holiday in France where I did absolutely no exercise except swimming, and drank all the wine and pizza.
I went back to my pre lockdown level
My first pole class back was at my “old” pre lockdown level, and I was surprised to find that I learnt a new trick, despite having serious doubts about whether I should have signed up for a lower level class first. Unfortunately, I had unexpectedly lost a very basic skill – my shoulder mount – most likely due to loss of upper body strength, and was getting very frustrated and embarrassed about it.
I spoke with my teacher Sophie about it afterwards, and asked if I should go back down a level or so for a bit. Sophie replied that she was totally happy for me to keep coming to her class, as long as I was more or less happy with the rest of the class content, and worked on my conditioning. Something I had already been planning with plenty of pull up bootcamp classes already booked!
As long as the muscle memory is there, and you commit to working on getting your strength back, it will come back quickly, and there will be no judgement from the teachers or fellow students.
However, I did decide to level down in spin, as spinning pole nausea is something you do have to develop stamina for. I had a wonderful time making pretty shapes with Sophie and my pole bestie, and it helped me rediscover my joy for the sport – even though I had to take long breaks between goes to help with the motion sickness.
Again, lots of students were having similar issues and we all laughed about it, and Sophie was of course prepared for that. I know that it won’t take many spinning classes for me to get over it, just like last time.
Make your own decisions
Overall my advice with levels, now that I have been back to a few classes, would not be to hold yourself back too much if you have only lost a couple of skills and a bit of strength – constantly going over things you have already learnt will become boring and demoralising quickly. Make your own decision about spinning pole based on your tolerance for the motion of it, but there will always be new pretty shapes for you to learn regardless of level in this discipline.
What about other Aerial Classes?
We’ve got Aerial Hoop back in the studio, and Aerial Yoga too. All our Aerial classes will be mixed levels. But you have to make sure you’re confident in getting up on the Hoop on your own, because there is no spotting!
If you find yourself getting frustrated about lost skills, start back with some pole flow or exotic to help you rediscover your love for expressing yourself on the pole. I am so looking forward to my first ‘Sophie Saturday’ of pole flow, exotic and spin in a few weekend’s time for this!
You can work on your strength separately. Such as in the Sundays conditioning classes with Andrew, or in Jo’s Hoop classes. Going to hoop if you pole but haven’t tried it before can be very liberating as you have no expectations going in. The diversion of doing something new will take your mind off of everything and you will still be using and building good strength for pole as well!
Overall, the atmosphere at the studio is one of utter joy at being reunited after surviving such a mad time of our lives, and what level you are, what skills you have or how pointy your toes are has absolutely no impact on that.
Our new protocol was reviewed by the council and we’ve passed with flying colours. I fyou have any feedback, ideas or concern, please don’t hesitate to email us: firstname.lastname@example.org