Sunday, 27 February 2011

Pole Dance Grading

A few of my students have been asking about pole dance gradings so I thought I could use today's blog to tell you a little bit more about the Advancement and Accreditation Programme (AAP) run by the Pole Dance Community and available to you at the art of dance and through any other PDC approved instructor/school.

The AAP gives students the chance to get international recognition for their pole dancing progress and gives them a way to chart their pole dancing progress as well as being able to share their success by showing friends and family their achievements.

Firstly I must congratulate those art of dance students who have already successfully graded:

Emma Thorpe - Level 4
Linda Jerrett - Level 4 (pictured right)
Christina Pearce - Level 3
(pictured above left)
Kerensa Spinks - Level 3
(pictured above left)
Emily Keen - Level 2

The grading process is simple; a student who is thinking about grading should peruse the Pole Dance Community Syllabus and see which pole dance moves they are working on and which level of the syllabus those moves relate to. Once a student has established which level they are at they can then select their best 5 moves from the preferred level. I recommend chatting to your instructor to help you decide which moves are your best, that way your instructor can help you revise those moves during class time so that you can execute them perfectly on the day of your grading to guarantee success.

So, once you have decided on your 5 moves you can book your grading with your instructor. You need to have your AAP membership (costs £30 annually) and then you need to pay for your grading. At the art of dance we charge £15 per grading and this includes your certificate on successful completion. Our next grading day will be held on Saturday 25th March.

You may find the following videos helpful in learning more about how the grading works.

Emily Smith from Emily's Pole Fitness doing a beautiful Level 1 pole dancing routine.
Emma Thorpe from the art of dance doing her Level 4 pole dance grading.

You can also download the grading sheets and notes from the Pole Dance Community website's AAP page.

Their is more to the AAP membership than just grading, you can record your pole dance competition success, record which pole dance schools you have attended, log courses and work-shops and you get free personal accident cover if training with a PDC approved pole dance school/instructor.

I can't wait to see the next group of students receiving their certificates.

I must also send big congratulations to Charlie Picton, Sabrina Plumb and Bo Dickens from PDC approved pole dance school Princess K who all successfully graded at level 1 last week.

If you need any more information on pole dance gradings simply contact your nearest PDC approved pole dance school.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Take away in Plymouth

Having just blogged about eating out in Plymouth it seemed only fair that I should now blog about take-aways in Plymouth. OK, so most take-aways don't really provide much healthy food but there are a few exceptions and let's face it the odd take-away isn't going to kill us as long as we eat them in moderation.

So if you fancy treating yourself to a night in on the sofa and a take-away then why not try one of these fantastic Plymouth food outlets:

One of my most favourite and most indulgent take-away's has to be Pizza and there is no finer pizza delivery place than the aroma-wood-fired pizza establishment in Regent Street. This independent business has its own purpose built pizza oven and they even bake their own tomato sauce, the range of toppings available is amazing and they currently offer a buy one get one free offer on all pizzas. Once you have sampled one of their delicious pizzas you will never want to eat from Dominoes or Pizza hut ever again.

If Indian food is more your thing then look no further than the Spice Well. This restaurant offers traditional dishes as well as gorgeous specialities such as Nawabe and Jhinga La-Jawab. This really is a great take-away that also has a restaurant if eating in is more your thing.

If its fish and chips you are after then you have to visit Plymouth's finest West Hoe Fryers in Radford Street, West Hoe. I am not actually a big fish and chip fan but my husband is and this is definitely the place to go. You get great service and huge portions of not-too greasy chips and succulent fish.

Picture courtesy of Caz Harrison.

Obviously I would usually be recommending home cooked food and exercise but sometimes you just need a night in and all of these take-aways can now be accessed on-line with the fabulous Just Eat website. Simply visit the website, type in your postcode and search for your preferred take-away, you can pay on-line and you get order updates so you know what time your food will arrive. You can also peruse previous orders to re-order your favourite items and you can give feedback on your order.

Before I sign off for today I wanted to quickly mention a restaurant I forget to blog about in my eating out post; The Seafood and Pasta bar situated alongside the Sutton Harbour quay in Plymouth's historic Barbican, this bar has both fantastic views as well as a sumptious menu suitable for both fish and meat lover as well as vegetarians. Don't forget to check out the special boards or the Boulliabaisse style fish soup starter.

Well after all that lying on the sofa and eating fast food you'll be needing some pole dancing lessons or you could try one of the other subsidised sporting activities on offer from Plymouth City Councils Sports development unit.

More to follow on International Women's Day!

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Eating out in Plymouth

I have been meaning it write this blog for ages and Sunday always seems like a good day for blog writing. I would like to share with you some of my favourite places to eat in and around Plymouth. Over the past few years I feel that the amount of good cafes and restaurants has increased offering more great food and service than ever before (I still miss Barzeegco though!).

I must start with a pub/restaurant situated just outside Plymouth in the picturesque valley of Milton Coombe on the edge of the stunning Dartmoor National Park. The Who'd have thought it inn is a 12th century inn that has just received an award as one of the top 12 pubs in Britain. The menu is superb and the food I think, is reasonably priced when you consider the sumptuous dishes on offer. The pub is dog friendly and offers some of the best cask ales I have tasted in a long time which is why the pub has earned its place in the Good Beer Guide. I think my favourite dish to date is the locally sourced Haddock cassoulet with a rosemary and parmesan crust accompanied by a pint of Sharp's Honey Gold.

If you fancy some where a little more central then there are 2 waterside eateries I can recommend, the first is the Brunning family restaurant, The Bridge at Mountbatten. The Bridge is a brand new build that has been beautifully decorated and has amazing views of Cattewater and the Sound. The food is locally sourced wherever possible and most of the vegetables come from the family's own farm venture the Nearly Naked vegetable company.

The menu has something for everyone and you can choose from the lavish restaurant or more relaxed ground floor dining area with its beautiful, decked patio overlooking the water. I recommend the fish stew with alioli washed down with a pint of Hunters ale Half bore (not to be confused with its stronger 8% brother Full bore!).

The 2nd seaside establishment is the Waterfront Restaurant, which in my opinion has one of the best sea views in Plymouth. The waterfront has recently seen the installation of a new chef, Sam Lounds, a protege of Jamie Oliver. Sam has revamped the menu so that once again the Waterfront is a great place to eat and savour the amazing views. The restaurant is open all day providing breakfast, lunch and dinner.

One of Plymouth hidden gems has to be Bistro One, tucked away in the increasingly popular Independent shopping quarter of Ebrington Street. Bistro One, run by local wine expert and chef Stephen Barrett (pictured left), offers perfectly cooked recipes and great service. The breakfast/lunch menu is ideal for those looking for a lavish bite to eat and giving you a chance to peruse the evening menu which is sure to entice you back for more. Don't let the restaurants small size put you off, this place is brimming with ways to stimulate your senses, it is a wine lover's paradise as well as featuring regular art exhibitions, live music events, poetry and much, much more. Don't take my word for it, try it for yourself.

You may have already guessed that I have penchant for Seafood and Real Ale so it is hardly surprising that I can't resist a 10oz Tuna Loin cooked on a black rock grill and accompanied by a pint of Sharp's Doom Bar or the pub's very own Hunter's ale brew Butcher's Best. The Butcher's arms is often overlooked as many people flock to the new Seco Lounge, my preference is to go to the Seco Lounge for a quick drink first and then dine at the Butcher's arms. In addition to the lovely food and ale the Butcher's arms has one of the best bar maids in the world and it is worth going to the pub just to be served by Leanne.

When talking of eating out in Plymouth I really should mention the Tanner brothers restaurant and their other venture the Barbican Kitchen. I have only eaten at the latter of the two establishments but it is rumoured that the celebrity chefs are about to get their first Michelin star.

Another eaterie I have to mention is the place where I had my final meal before getting married. On the morning of my wedding my Mum and I collected Fern, one of my bridesmaids and headed off to the Port of Call for a good old English breakfast. For me the Port of Call is like Cap 'n' Jaspers (picture above of me drinking tea at Cap 'n' Jaspers), it is a part of Plymouth and it provides food at great value for money.

OK, so there are places I have probably forgotten who do deserve a mention so feel free to comment and share any of your favourite places to eat out. Before I sign off for today I would like to have a quick whinge about what was one of my favourite places to eat/drink; The Coffee Shack, this tiny building has one of the most panoramic views of Plymouth Hoe possible (check out part of the view in the picture above) but I feel the price for enjoying this view is now too high. Whilst I appreciate that all businesses are finding it hard and many have been forced to put their prices up there really is no excuse for charging £4.50 for a sandwich and £2.95 for a coffee. I visited the coffee shack yesterday and spoke to several people who were eating there, they were tourists and were horrified at how much they had been charged, then I spoke to several local people who used to be Coffee Shack regulars but who now take their own drinks and sandwiches to enjoy whilst visiting the Hoe.

Other pub restaurants who really deserve more blog space than I am giving them are The Crooked Inn at Trematon (nr Saltash -pictured above), the Royal Oak at Meavy and the Mussel Inn at Down Thomas (perfect for the Whiskey connoiseur). All of these pub restaurants are family run, extremely friendly and offer great food and ale. They all welcome both children and dogs although I prefer the latter!

Well, it is now time for me to dash to work for some filming for a TV documentary, more to follow on that soon.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Pole dancing is good for you!

Picture above of Elena Gibson, Lorna Thomas, Kate Johnstone, Me (front), Genevieve Moody, Nikki and Dana Mayer at the Pole Dancing School studio in London. Friday 11th February.

The chances are that if you are reading my blog then you already know all about the benefits of pole dancing as a way to keep fit. Unfortunately you may still be in the minority of people who don't have their heads stuck in the sand when it comes to fitness pole dancing.

After the South Devon College fiasco I thought I had seen the last media frenzy over the teaching of pole dancing to members of the public but it seems that I was wrong.

The funny thing is this blog is meant to be about how pleased I am to have secured a tender with Plymouth City Council's Sports Development Unit to provide subsidised pole dancing lessons to the public in an effort to get more people back into fitness. I had been approached by the Plymouth City Council Development unit who were in the process of buying lots of different sporting activities to then subsidise and sell back to the public. Here is the fabulous list of sporting activities available from the scheme.

Having secured the tender I was about to blog about this important step forward for the art of dance and for the wider fitness pole dancing industry but at 7am on Friday morning I received a phone call from Radio Devon who were chasing up a story about people being unhappy with the council's move to pay me for lessons. It seems that people have added things up without checking their mathematical skills first!

With all the cuts to frontline services suddenly I am in the firing line for taking money away from essential services. Radio Devon had tried to contact the council to get a comment but apparently they had refused. I jumped at the chance to go on air and defend myself and my business. I explained to presenter Justin Leigh that the tiny amount being given to me for the lessons (I charged the council less than the normal lesson rate) would save the NHS a huge amount long term as I would be boosting the physical and mental health of all those I worked with and hopefully those individuals would be motivated to continue a more healthy lifestyle long term as a result of my classes.

The art of dance already works in line with the Governments Change for Life initiative to encourage people to have more healthy lifestyles.

In April it will be 7 years since I started teaching pole dancing as a fitness and I honestly thought things would have moved further forward by now in terms of peoples attitudes to my art. It is ironic that I write this as I return from the Equity pole dancers working party where we have just been discussing how much the industry has progressed within the last 5 years.

See picture below of EPDWP members at the Equity HQ, Friday 11th February - Kate Johnstone (Spin City), Stacey Sneddon (Vertical Leisure), Dana Mayer (Rock 'n' Roll Pole), Lorna Thomas (Pole Athletes), Genevieve Moody (Strictly Pole Dancing), Miss Glory Pearl, Elena Gibson (Pole Dancing School).

Anyway, I now wait to see what the next stage will be with my subsidised classes ad also wonder how the hell the public will react when I start my new i-pole classes next month, these classes will be teaching 12-16 years old to pole dance. No doubt, once again, I will be demoted to Satan's apprentice until the ignorant find something more interesting to gossip about.

Thanks to the fabulous team at Plymouth City Council's Sports Development Unit for being educated about modern fitness pole dancing and for having the courage to work with the art of dance, the team have made the decision based on what is best for their client group rather than worrying about those who will jump on the anti-pole dancing bandwagon. If you are lucky enough to live in Plymouth and you fancy trying some subsidised exercise classes just visit the sports development unit website for a full list of the great activities available.

n.b. if you happen to be one of the ignorant and you are reading this wondering why I am teaching pole dancing and what possible fitness benefits it can have simply go the PDC approved pole dance school finder and find a school near to you and go along and see what they actually do and maybe even try it! You may be surprised.

Stay Healthy

Sam x

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Fed up with Plymouth City Council.

As the world watches Egypt there seems to be a great feeling of unease in the air. I personally feel a big sense of disappointment towards government at both national and local level, just reading the local paper is enough to make your blood boil. It is unfortunate for us Plymouthians that we have a council made up predominantly of people who either don't care or simply lack the common sense to do what is best for our city. Those in power can justify building a multi-million pound Life Centre that will only benefit the minority whilst closing Welby, a lifeline for many. The same individuals who tell us there is no money to repair our crumbling waterfront or to replace the disgrace that is Bretonside bus station are now considering buying the same football stadium they sold just a few years ago.

As a self employed business owner I understand the simple logic of helping a business to survive, you have to put the customer first and you have to spend money on essentials before splashing out on luxury items, perhaps if our council adopted this policy we would all have a better service?

As a council tax payer I would rather see my money spent on buying grit in the winter months, repairing pot-holes, looking after the elderly and vulnerable, street cleansing and crime prevention. I do not want my money spent on council jollies to the World Cup (we were the only council in the country who actually sent the council leader, other councils opted for a cheaper alternatives). 

I also do not want to see a penny of my money going towards Plymouth Argyle Football club. The former beautiful game has now been tainted by money and greed, so much so that the government is now launching an investigation into how football clubs are managed. Players wages have rocketed and for me the fun of football has been largely removed, I would rather go and watch a local 5 a side game than pay to go to Home Park.

Of course many of the issues I raise with P.C.C could be sorted through simple consultation processes but it sees P.C.C are incapable of honest consultation, The Sexual Encounter Establishment debate cannot be easily found on-line, when I eventually tracked it down I was told there wasn't enough time to add the issue to the public consultation web page, I was directed to the S.E.E proposals and have twice submitted by concerns by e-mails but have been told my e-mails have not been received which is funny considering my local MP Oliver Colville, who was copied in on the same mail, did receive them.  I have re-sent the e-mail to the head of licensing too but have had no response and now I fear by the time my e-mails are 'found' I will have missed the consultation deadline.

Add to my frustration the recent pay rise accepted by vice-chancellor Wendy Purcell, At a time when University students are being asked to pay increased tuition fees Wendy has accepted a pay-rise of 20% taking her annual salary including pensions to a staggering £283,504. I do accept that Wendy has done a great job for Plymouth University but I fear that wages for those at the top are simply too high and there is no longer a fair scale between those at the top and those at the bottom.

We are all more than aware of the ongoing MP's expenses scandal and the issue of bankers continuing to receive outrageous bonuses despite failing their customers but what can we actually do to force change and stop us all being ripped off? Suggestions please?

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Attik Dance Community Platform - 16th March 2011.

On 16th March myself and other artists will be performing at the lavishly refurbished Devonport Guildhall. Artists and events on the night will include Ian Gilson performing live music, The Camper Obscura, Kingsbridge School, Thom Racket Dance, Access Theatre, Emily Dobson, Lucy Teed, Freefall dance, classes, Spindrift Dance Company, Attik 360 and Strictly collaborative.

The night will also include a series of short films being screened in the Lord Mayors Parlour. The whole evening will be photographed by local tog Stacey Hindom.

Here is the Attik Dance press release for the evening:
Attik Dance will be hosting a dance platform at the Devonport Guildhall to raise funds for Attik 360 dance classes.  Attik 360 are opening the doors to the Phantasmagorical Devonport Guildhall for the first ever Community Platform. On the 16th of March 2011 there will be performances of dance, film and art work displayed throughout the building.

We will also be holding a raffle with some great prizes including;
Youth Adventure Day at Mount Batten Water Sports, Family Ticket to the Marine Aquarium, Burlesque Voucher, Pole Dance Voucher, Make-up and hair Voucher, Space Hopper, Plymouth City Roller Girls Goodie Bag, Signed book – Haunted Plymouth, Painting by David Folley, Family Ticket to the Eden Project, A ride on the Cresta run at John Nike Leisuresport,

Attik 360 provides classes for adults with learning and physical disabilities. From the funds raised we will be able to buy equipment for the dancers to allow the sessions to be accessible and inclusive to all of the members.  Attik Dance will invite local dance and theatre groups to perform; our aim is to bring 170 local people into the newly renovated venue.  The event will promote the arts and also local businesses and organisations within the area.

Attik are looking for local businesses to sponsor the event, to be a part of the celebration and the regeneration of Devonport.  In order for this event to be successful and to raise sufficient funds for Attik 360 programme, we need exciting businesses and organisations to donate costs for food and refreshments for the night, raffle prizes, running costs of the event, decoration, costs for marketing etc, so that this event is like no other.

We would like to say a big Thank you to Print Options in Millbrook  and David Folley  for making this event possible.

For more information please call Attik Dance on 01752 395134 or email Clair.

Hope to see some of you at this event and will share info and pictures after the night. Off to PDC approved 360 pole dancing in Bristol now for my 3 hours worth of pole dance training with Becca Butcher!

Stay Healthy.

Sam x