Proper body alignment is not only the foundation for each pole move but also the most mechanically efficient and safest position for the body to maintain, while moving around the pole. With good foundations, we can safely create and prolong momentum for spinning, sustain static holds and beautiful poses, move gracefully from one move to the next one without jeopardizing joint integrity or safety. Not to mention that exercises also become easier and more fluent.
More than often we see students “hanging” off the pole while spinning, shrugging their shoulders up in other to sustain a move, wrapping their wrist around the pole, “jumping” onto a pole hold, even kicking forcefully in order to achieve momentum. Unfortunately, these habits tend to stick around if not caught and corrected in time, and then passed onto more advanced pole levels where serious injuries have higher chances to occur.
During beginner levels, joint safety and proper body position instruction will ensure safe and adequate learning, avoiding injuries and creating “bad pole habits”.
- Keep emphasis on proper body position on every class, even through advanced levels
- Never allow students to “hang off the pole” in order to achieve a spin: Hanging is referred to as a position where the shoulder is pulled away from the socket while supporting the entire weight of the body hanging underneath, over-stretching the ligaments. This is not only an incorrect way to spin, it is also very unsafe. Students who struggle within this scenario must take a step back and practice basic “Pole Holds” until proper strength is gained and adequate shoulder position is learned.
- Watch for the wrist: An overly tight pole grip can easily cause the wrist to wrap. This is very common amongst beginners, for fear of falling and compensating by holding on too tight. One useful tip to ensure adequate grip strength when wrist wrapping is to keep the thumb on the same side of the pole as the rest of the fingers (Cup Grip). Wrist strengthening and stretching exercises should be practiced regularly.
- Watch for shoulders “going up”: Often, new beginners will tense up the upper shoulder muscles, neck and even the jaw muscles when required to do a hold or sustain a pose. This will likely cause neck pain, stiffness to the Upper Trapezius and Levator Scapulae muscles, and even headaches. Instruct students to relax shoulders down and and back, focusing on activating the upper back muscles instead, (Latissimus, Rhomboids and Lower Trapezius) to hold the body weight of the floor.
- Do not allow students to kick or swing the body aggressively around pole in order to get momentum: demonstrate how momentum can be properly created with a Basic Momentum Test:
~ GVE ~
The Pole Industry has seen a tremendous growth in the past decade alone and it is continuing to gain popularity as more and more women (and men) become interested, not only in participating, but also in teaching Pole Fitness and sharing their passion with others. Pole Fitness studios are opening all around us, at a fast pace, and consequently the demand for certified Pole Fitness instructors is on the rise. With the urgent need to supply this increasing demand, the quality of instruction and service provided is often affected.
Unfortunately, we see the industry flushed with instructors with little or no fitness, gymnastics, dance or even teaching backgrounds. This scenario not only puts students at a very high risk of injuries, but it also reflects poorly and unprofessionally amongst the Fitness Industry and related sports. Teaching is a whole skill and talent on its own: a proficient Pole gymnast does not always have the ability and knowledge to safely and adequately instruct others. Teaching is well beyond a beautiful demonstration, but being able to clearly describe, break down and relate moves in a safe and effective manner, as well as begin to be able to identify difficulties and to provide helpful feedback to students. Some of the signs of inadequate instruction and lack of educational background , commonly seen at Pole studios are:
Pole Fitness Instructors fall into the same category as professional fitness instructors do; as such they must hold a current fitness credential from a recognized institution, have current First Aid and CPR, plus a specialty module on Pole Fitness instruction. Furthermore, to obtain final designations some institutions do request a minimum of 30 to 50 hours of supervised instruction to ensure some degree of experience. Pole Fitness schools or academies must also be chosen carefully when deciding to invest time and money into proper education: CEC’s (continuing education credits) upon completion, approved by a national / provincial Fitness Association is one way to screen for quality training of some degree. Affiliations with Pole Fitness Associations, proper evaluation methods, adequate class structure with sufficient time (theory / practical modules) are also important things to look for.
As fitness professionals, studio owners and pole dance lovers, it is very important to maintain high standards of education and instruction, not only within ourselves but amongst our instructors, so that the industry will also continue gaining the respect and credibility it deserves. As Pole students, caution needs to be placed when choosing the right learning environment to avoid injuries, creating bad habits and an overall poor pole experience. For all of us: “good teachers are costly, but bad teachers cost more!"
Thank you for reading ~ GVE