Picture courtesy of the BBC website, it shows two marines learning to pole dance
Firstly thanks to Amytree and Ziggy for their comments on my previous blog, don't worry there are no plans to start teaching that level of gymnastics yet! Today I wanted to write a little about the dangers of pole dancing (AOL video of Jo & I).
This video will give you some idea of what can go wrong with pole dancing and will explain a few of the things that I am about to rant about. Now with any form of exercise you take the risk of injury but it is important to eep thoe risks at a minimum. You can buy tricks mats such as the pole-o-mat (made by the lovey Deb Riley who came second in both the Pole Divas and Mis Pole dance uk competitions last year). Obvioulsy once you start to invert your body there is more risk of something going wrong, Ideally you should always have someone with you when you are inverting especially when you are learning new moves. You should also have appropriate clothing, the lady in the fall video has no skin contact between her shoulder and the pole and therefore has little or no grip. It is also essential to know your limits, moves such as shoulder mounts require excellent upper body and core strength and are certainly not for beginners.
It is preferable to learn from an expert, watch out for inexperienced pole teachers/schools and always ask instructors what level of experience and qualifications they have, Also check your school / instructor is insured and has a first aid qualification before attending their classes. Don't be afraid to check how many people there will be per pole, any more than 3 is not good for a fitness based class as you will not get to spend much time on the pole and will increase the risk of injury as your muscles may get cold.
Another thing to consider is which pole you are using, don't be conned into buying a pole like the peek-a-boo-pole which is designed as a novelty and depsite the claims on the box it is not designed to take your body weight. Generally the rule is if the pole is too cheap it probably is not going to be suitable for gymnastic pole dancing, occasionally secondhand poles crop up on ebay but watch when buying secondhand for chips or other damage to the pole. We sell x-poles as they are strong and versatile and prefect for spinning or static pole.
Try to avoid locking your joints when dancing, it is easy to think you are stronger than you think you are and end up with tendon or ligament damage such as tennis elbow especially when using a spining pole or when carrying out moves with bracket arms. Also avoid putting moisturisers or oils on the skin prior to practice, even the fluid you use to clean the pole may have a polishing agent in it which could make the pole more slippery therefore increasing the risk of falling.
Always warm up and cool down before attempting to pole dance, due to the high impact nature of pole dancing if you throw yourself straight into an advanced move you are more than likely to experince problmesm. There are plenty of free sources of advice on the internet for effective warm up and cool down techniques such as the stretching institute website. Remember that stretching is sports specific and you may even want to tailor your warm up and cool down according to the nature of what you are about to practice on the pole.
Be aware of your own body and its limitations, it is better to advance slowly than to push yourself too quickly and end up with injury, You should not be pole dancing if you have recently had surgery or if you are pregnant, Always consult with your GP if you are usnure and inform your GP exactly what pole dancing is, some GP's still don't quite understand. We at the art of dance have a standard letter that you can take to your GP to ascertain whether you are ok to pole dance or not.
Lastly be aware of damage to your wallet, many people are more than happy to cash in on the current trend for pole dancing and will charge you exortionate amounts, usually these companies are the ones with bad instructors and 10 people per pole. I noticed this ad on a well known website advertising a pole dancing lesson for two priced at £99, this is ridiculous, we charge £20 per person for a two to one but the cost is much cheaper if you are attending a group lesson. Don't get ripped off.
Unfortunately at present there is no real governing body for pole dancing in the UK (this should be changing soon!) Despite the con artists there are lots of great schools and instructors as well as people who do carry out safe practice in their own home. As I am passionate about pole dancing I am always available to help people with any questions or advice they may need regarding their pole work. The last thing I want to see is someone ending up being paralysed because they have fallen badly, Remember that all activity poses a risk but if managed carefully risks can be reduced to an absolute minimum.
Lastly please dont use Britney's recent video as a source of reference for how to pole dance or how to be sexy, check out this quote from Entertainment Weekly who complained "I've seen sexier pole work during an afternoon of fly-fishing."