eek Four – Pole
After our usual warm up with Hannah (I think I am 99% there now!), we launched into our lesson.
We revisited the Chair Spin from last week. Originally, I hadn’t found this too hard, but ‘polishing’ it up to ensure I had the correct hand placement, a good form and pointed toes was a little challenging.
Hannah then moved us on to a Carousel Spin, initially I was a little sceptical about being able to pull this one off, as it was my first time using a Split Grip (AKA Bracket Grip) and like most people, I guess I have a dominant/stronger side (right if you were wondering!). My inclination is always to hang from my right hand and push with my left for the spin. Trying it in the reverse with my left ‘leading’ was an interesting experience, but after the first couple of tries, it felt a lot better and I managed to get some nice clearance from the floor and finish in a good foot position, rather than just landing flat on my feet.
Another move we revisited during this session was the Fan Kick. My ‘coordination issues’ came back into play at this point. I think if I begin to practice these kinds of things at home off the pole on the floor (read Fan Kicks and Shoulder Rolls), it will eventually become more natural and less forced. After a few attempts I got there, not to the level that I would like, but passable.
Hannah then introduced us to the Pole Sit. I am so glad that I had purchased a pair of ‘short shorts’ for this week’s session, as trying to do this in my usual basketball shorts would have been pointless! Even my new shorts were a bit long for what I was trying to do (make skin to pole contact with my upper inner thighs)! The first time I attempted this move I also nearly crushed ‘the family jewels’ in my enthusiasm to get a decent way up the pole! Then the dreaded ‘pole kiss’ happened (my first I’d like to add)! My inner thighs were stinging for the rest of the night, but after that initial shock and the some ‘management of my assets’ I did manage to remove one hand from the pole and lean back to make a nice shape, so I consider it a win.
We went back to our Pole Climbs, after the Pole Sits, this felt like a blessing! I was determined to beat my own personal best of about three climbs from the previous weeks sessions, and with a little verbal encouragement from Dion (cheers for that mate!), I got within touching distance of the very top of the pole (it’s a 4.2m pole in the studio, so a big achievement in my mind) but after that, I was absolutely shattered! Next time I’ll definitely get to the top.
Tying all this together and making it smooth was the next task and I must admit, it’s nowhere near where I would like it to be, but it’s progressing.
Hannah mentioned that next week we will be trying our first attempt at inverting; I. Can. Not. WAIT!
Week Four – Aerial Hoop
I had been looking forward to Hoop all week. The pace is always a little slower than Pole on Mondays at Aerial Attic and generally less crowded, so you can really get into whatever you are doing. But the workout is just as challenging and satisfying, so I went into the studio feeling great and ready for a good session.
Ellie warmed us up as per usual and again, I think I followed it 99% accurately this time.
We then moved onto conditioning on the hoops, including shoulder shrugs, seat, pike and straddle lifts (good form straddle lifts still elude me, but it’s something to improve on at home).
After that, we revisited Man In The Moon transitioning to Amazon, which I really feel comfortable with now (even Ellie commented that it’s becoming very fluid now). I did manage to ‘upgrade’ my Amazon too, by taking my hand off the hoop and using my head/neck to stay in, which I am really pleased with.
It was time to then get back to really nailing Gazelle and Ellie also showed us a few variants for those who have been attending classes longer (Split and Twisted Gazelle). I focused on my basic Gazelle and felt 100% more comfortable this week.
Finally, Ellie showed us the Birds Nest. Watching this filled me with a cold dread! The thought of balancing all my body weight in the small of my back was not appealing, but I was soon to find out that wasn’t event too bad (it stung a little afterwards and I can still feel it a bit today, but nothing to write home about). It was the transition into inversion that really put the fear in me for a moment! Being upside down, with your legs spread wide holding you in the hoop along with all your weight on your hands behind you and then moving your body to a folded position to be able to get into a Double Knee Hang was the scariest moment of hoop I have had so far, I was so sure I was going to fall, but with some spotting and guidance from Ellie I managed it (very untidily in my opinion, but hey, it’s something).
It has been one month since I started this journey. I didn’t know if I’d make it this far to be honest. But I am incredibly glad that I started and have stuck with it. It has been so much fun and I can already see progression in both Pole and Hoop. I know I’ve recommended beginning either pole or hoop if you haven’t already tried it before, but I’m going to say it again, the feeling during and after class for days afterwards is amazing and I already feel stronger and more confident in what my body can achieve if I really put my mind to it. It’s also driven me to get back into training at home, whether it’s practicing what I have learnt in class or more conditioning/bodyweight stuff, which is a huge positive. I’m eating healthier, feeling stronger and really enjoying being active.
Bottom line, don’t wait for the ‘new year, new me’ guilt to kick in, get yourself to your local pole and aerial studio and enrol in a class or two, even if you are a seasoned gym goer, the variety of the classes will make you work in ways you hadn’t thought about before, while having an amazing time supported by great people. I can’t wait for next week’s sessions with Hannah and Ellie!
Joey heads up the UK and European marketing efforts for X-POLE (www.x-pole.co.uk). He is a career marketer, with previous experience at some of the biggest global brands and award winning marketing agencies. His expertise stretches across creative strategy, digital marketing, public relations and marketing communications.