Sunday, 22 January 2012

Cross training and overcoming fear.

As much as I love pole dancing (just in case you hadn't noticed) the new year has been a time to try some new activities, it wasn't a new years resolution as I don't do those, it was more of a chance to cross train, boost my fitness levels and meet new people. Last week I reached one of my big goals, I have been working since September 2011 to be able to get my toes onto the back of my head, to achieve this I had been doing some contortion training Marlo Fisken style (for those of you ho don't know who Marlo is she is a New York based pole dancer with an amazing background in theatre, circus and dance). I had the pleasure last year of a 3 hour workshop with Marlo at Spin City in Bristol and Marlo was able to teach me lots of new stretches to help me to increase my flexibility.

My next goal was to overcome my fear of toppling, I should explain that there are certain moves in pole dancing that require the body to turn in a way that my brain does not like, walkovers generally terrify me so every Thursday night at 8.30pm I'm off to train at Swallows Gym aka Plymouth Gymnastics club. My first session at Swallows was, as expected, terrifying. I went with the lovely Megan Hookins who unfortunately for me is a gymnast, let me set the scene; Swallows is huge and is full of every bit of kit you can imagine. After a brief warm up everyone in the room, apart from me, started somersaulting, vaulting and generally doing things way beyond my ability. As I watched in awe a lady arrived and explained that it was also her first session, brilliant I thought. My happiness was short lived as Tasha then explained that it was her first session after a 2 year break but that she was a former Kent county gymnast, Megan and Tasha then disappeared off across the mats triple somersaulting as they went.

I decided to start with something that might be within my remit, we have a set of gymnastic rings at the Art of Dance so the rings at Swallows seemed plausible. The first hurdle was the height, the rings are several metres of the ground and I wasn't even sure how I could reach them, I managed to shimmy up one of the crash mats and balance precariously before jumping on to the rings, after a few poses and turns I landed rather ungracefully on the crash mats below and then watched as one of the gymnasts lowered the piece of equipment that allows you to get onto the rings with ease! According to Dave, one of the coaches, I managed a German Hang and a dislocater (I felt the dislocater and it's name perfectly described the sensation I felt through my shoulders)) and the German Hang was actually a case of me hanging on for dear life as I became aware of exactly how high the rings are.

Next up was some rope climbing, this should be easy I thought, one of the guys showed me the basic technique and off I went however the gentleman failed to inform me that climbing a rope in bare feet is not such a good idea, I left most of the skin off the top of my foot at the bottom of the rope but did manage to climb a few metres.

Despite being completely out of my depth I loved every minute of it and now on week 3 there is some progress in my ability even if it is very small. This week I got one rotation on the baby pummel horse which may not sound very good but trust me the pummel horse is ridiculously hard work so much so that the first time I tried it with the lovely Vicki Terry we spent most of our time either falling off or laughing. Laughing and falling off things was pretty much the theme of my second week at Swallows.

Week 3 of cross training had one additional element - Zumba! My Mum has been doing Zumba with the lovely Emma Newton-Bates for some time now and I have been wanting to try it for ages, I have never liked traditional aerobics (that is why I hated doing the practical element of my YMCA ETM course) as I find it too restrictive, Zumba allows more free flowing body movement and expression which is much more appealing to me. I expected to be rubbish but wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting, perhaps after being so pathetic at gymnastics anything was going to seem easier?

So if you want to see one of my failed attempts at gymnastics just check out Megan's videos of my springboard faceplant and my first assisted walkover (this one worked - the second one which thankfully wasn't videod involved missing the mat and landing on the back of my neck). Oh and here's Megan showing me how it should be done.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Kirstie Tancock - one very brave lady.

I have just finished my interview with CF sufferer and double lung transplant survivor Kirstie Tancock.  I first met Kirstie when I performed alongside her at the Exeter University Pole Dancers charity showcase for Help for Heroes where we performed alongside local Marines.  I was unaware of Kirstie's battle with CF and was just amazed by her natural grace on the pole. I became aware of  Kirstie's predicament through a mutual friend and fellow CF sufferer Kimberley Liane Neill. (my first blog about Kim - a very brave bunny) Both ladies have shown me incredible bravery and determination as well as a natural ability to pole dance.

Some of you may have seen Kirstie in recent media articles and the moving BBC 3 documentary 'Love on the Transplant list' directed by Mel Beer.

Please take a moment to read my interview with  Kirstie.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Calling for the resignation of Vivien Pengelly.

You only have to read the current headlines to get an idea that people have had enough of our 'leaders' keeping their snouts firmly in the trough. David Cameron has promised to cut down on the fat cat culture although I fear that despite saying all the right things his actions may not be as positive.

At local level it seems the frustrations are just the same, the arrogance of our council leaders has intensified with their disregard for the city's views on the incinerator; Vivien Pengelly wrote a letter to the Herald only this week stating that the incinerator decision was not based on party politics yet of the 12 voting members on the planning committee the 7 that voted in favour were all Conservative and the 5 that voted against were all Labour - statistically that is one hell of a coincidence.

Within a week of announcing the go ahead for the incinerator Plymouth City Council launched it's housing consultation which apparently aims to make Plymouth one of Europe's finest seaside cities and create the best living conditions for Plymouth residents; Not quite sure how they hope to achieve this with no airport, a crumbling waterfront, an embarrassing bus station and poor train links, oh, and the incinerator.

Also emerging this week is the introduction of the council's take on the Sexual Encounter Establishment Licensing that has come about as a result of the Policing and Crime Bill 2009. Ironically the Herald report on this was entitled 'Plymouth People to get power to block sex clubs' - I look forward to the day when the people of Plymouth are genuinely empowered and not ignored and ridiculed. I wrote last year about my concerns about the legislations and how they would be interpreted and I share those same concerns today as the legislation proposed by Plymouth City Council fails to clearly identify the difference between pole dancing as a recreational and sporting activity and pole/exotic dancing that is used as a pre-cursor to a sexual act.

In all honesty I think the people of Plymouth would rather see time and money being spent on some of the cities more pressing issues, at a time of cuts to frontline services I am sure the council could schedule its priorities a little more effectively? Here are some of the comments from the Herald article on the S.E.E. proposals:
Plymouth people to get power to block sex club plans its a pity that the same self righteous hopefully soon to be sacked councillors didn`t give the peopel of Plymouth the power to block the massive eyesore and health hazard they recently approved at Weston Mill. Roll on next election is all I can say.
Ironic that the advert next to this was the Samaritans - need to talk?...we'll listen

They don't get paid - PCC you do and you don't listen!!

 “OH PCC you do make me laugh! Plymouth people to get power - that'll be the day!

"RESIDENTS could have much wider grounds to object; Under the new legislation, however, residents are able to object to licence applications on much wider grounds – for example, if they feel a club is not in keeping with the character of the local area or is too close to a school or church; It covers issues such as hours of opening, health and safety requirements; we have consulted with residents' groups and associations"

Just like you did with the incinerator proposal...even after a 6,000+ petition, hundreds of objections you still IGNORED us. The incinerator site is too close to homes and schools, the hours of opening are not acceptable, health and safety still a grey area due to research still being carried out....consulted with us-that means nothing!

Bet these clubs employ more people than an operational incinerator and are probably monitored more stringently.

Double standards again in this 'fair' city!

 “sorry is it 2012 or 1932? why is this country so uptight, a sex industry will be there regardless, rather it was regulated and looked after then seedy back ally illegal clubs which is the way we will go back to if they start banning all lap dancing clubs.

Last time I looked (oops) these places weren't open during the school day, and if you took a bible you could be catered for, and there were lots of interested parties.
There are far more alleged illegal sex acts committed outside of these places than within.
One particular brand of church has been in court worldwide over this.
Keep your curtains closed if you don't want to see who frequents these places - unless it is your fed-up partner of course! :)

Anyway back to the point in hand - we have been seriously let down by the current conservative administration  - the same administration that have refused to take pay cuts at a time when they are happy to cut front-line services. Just read some of my previous blogs to get more examples of the council's failings:

Vivien Pengelly is missing the pointHave they lost the plot, incinerator is wrong, angry.

I do not think we should have to wait till the May elections to get rid of those who are letting us down. If Vivien Pengelly and her cronies really cared about Plymouth they would do the right thing and resign now - preferably without a golden handshake.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x