This week we decided to ask our competitors (all six of them!) either to write a letter to themselves starting pole or to describe to us what advice they would give to people thinking about starting pole or complete beginners! Most of us have been posting in the love your pole challenge which was a fun way to show how much we enjoy our hobbies! This week reading through what the others had written had me with tears in my eyes! We are like a little pole family <3
So coming to you all the way from Seligman, Arizona. This is why I'd have to say to someone thinking about starting Ariel hoop or pole! Firstly no it's not sexy, the majority of the time it's not pretty and it hurts! It's hard and frustrating and man the bruises can be nasty! The amount it takes to just lift your own body weight of the floor is ridiculous. But if your looking for something to challenge you in ways nothing else can, give you the confidence, completely change your body shape and allow you to do what you never thought was possible then these are for you! (God I've made it sound like an advert) 🙈 if you'd have said to be when I started that in a few years you'll have completed in both pole and hoop and won a title, taken instructor exams and be able to teach both I wouldn't have believed you. They become such a big part of your life and 2 of my best friends I found doing this! There's times in classes where everyone gets it and the moral of the class is great everyone supports each other, but I'm even when your not there's always someone there to help you if you needed it! We've had so many laughs, tantrums and crazy moments that no class is ever the same! So my advise is do it, come to a class and you'll see for yourself the atmosphere, the highs, the struggles but it'll give you the buzz for more and before you now it you'll be competing as a pro, in three categories for one competition!
I started pole a few years ago and my main advice for people would be never to think that you can't do it! I'm also on the committee for the aerial sports society at southampton university and I've had lots of people say to me that they don't think that they can do pole or aerial sports because they aren't strong enough or flexible enough and that's so wrong! I started with pole as my first aerial sport and I had no flexibility and no upper body strength whatsoever, it hurt just to do a basic spin, and I used to fake notes from my mother to get out of sport at school, but it doesn't matter! You can start from the ground up and you'll be surprised at how much pole can improve your flexibility and strength when you start doing pole regularly. I also cannot recommend Southampton Aerial Arts School highly enough, all the instructors are amazing and I've progressed so much there and you can enter as a complete beginner and get an incredible amount of support, not just from the instructors but from the entire SAAS family :)
I have been lucky enough over the last few weeks to have an opportunity to chat with lots of girls (and guys) thinking about starting pole. I have been helping Zorena and her uni teams with taster sessions for both universities which for me is a really rewarding experience! I have first of all been saying to everyone to do it! It's so much fun and gives great targets to work towards! I remember when I first started I couldn't touch my toes, I couldn't do more than a few push ups on my knees… now I'm so much stronger (even if I am still spaghetti armed) my balance and coordination has improved dramatically, I'm more flexible, more confident… on very rare occasions I even point my toes without getting cramp!
I think at first pole and hoop can be quite daunting because all the moves seem so far out of reach - particularly pole is difficult to find that love for the beginner moves and it's hard to see yourself as ever being able to handspring, shoulder mount etc… but I think that makes it more exciting when it does happen, and it will! I am like the biggest quitter ever and if I can keep at it then so can any aspiring aerialists!
Advice to new-to-aerial Emily would be invest in arnica, you will get bruised! Take photos of everything you do, especially if you are crap at it because you will want to look back on it when you are better! Do everything on both sides from the start, the bad habits you learn will come back to haunt you!
Before I started aerial arts, I was nervous and could barely lift my own body weight. But as it was something new and fun I was determined to keep going and keep telling myself I will progress but it takes time as through my years of hoop and pole,I have had so many ups and downs but always picked myself back up and tried again and again and now I am starting feel extremely successful and the feeling that you CAN do something different and new and be good at it is so uplifting, and this is a big improvement from when I started and especially so young! It proves that no matter your age you can do anything as we are all working at different levels and paces, but all succeeding!
Dear Past Lexi, That aerial stuff looks fun and impressive doesn't it? But it also looks difficult, it looks like you need strength and flexibility and you think you don't have any. You also think that you're too big and maybe wouldn't fit in with the other students if you went to a class. I'm here to put your mind at rest. Let's address difficulty first. Yes, it isn't the easiest thing. You might walk out of the first class having compared yourself to more advanced students. Guess what? They were like that first time too (apart from Zorena, obvs.) You'll soon be able to do stuff you thought impossible. After a year of practice and conditioning you'll be deadlifting yourself into a shoulder mount, wondering what you were worrying about! I'm not gonna lie, you'll work hard to get there but you'll also have loads of fun and really enjoy it so won't really notice. Now, strength. Yes, aerial sports take strength all round. But saying you can't go to aerial classes because you have no upper body strength is a bit like saying you won't go to school for the first time because you can't read. The teacher isn't going to give you Shakespeare in your first lesson, just as your pole instructor isn't going to make you Iron X off the cuff. As long as you find a good school that teach conditioning and only introduce new moves when you're ready for them then you'll get stronger. Adding extra fitness classes like kettlebells and body sculpture helps too! Flexibility-wise you'll improve, but there's still loads you can do without it. You will also lose weight. 2 stone to date! Weight isn't the most important thing in the world but you are going to feel so much happier! You also won't mind clothes shopping as much. And you don't need to worry about fitting in. SAAS is awesome and inclusive. All shapes and sizes and personalities are welcomed and encouraged. It's a happy, slightly dysfunctional family. So just work hard and have fun and you'll achieve stuff you'll be really proud of! You'll even perform in a crop top on stage (yes, really!). Oh yeah, and you've got a hoop competition final to prepare for… get going! Lexi (2016) x
This week Hannah was on holiday so we let her off her homework :P Don't worry, I'm sure Zorena will give her extra push-ups in her next warm up!
Staff and students of Julie's Dance Studio, based in Sholing, Southampton.