We sign the waivers, we think we know the risks of pole dancing. We worry about rotator cuffs and IT bands…but injury isn’t our only nemesis. There’s another sneaky beast who you won’t read about in any waiver. And even though he’s ugly, you hardly ever see him coming because paradoxically, he is nothing at all.
By nothing, of course, I mean the dreaded plateau – the notion that we can give our bodies all of our time and energy and in return our body could give us…nothing. The plateau wears many hats, but he is always the horrific idea that despite your best efforts, your body has simply reached its capacity to succeed.
This won’t be gentle. The plateau may not go quietly, but he must be destroyed. Hold fast, pole dancers! In this issue, we’re out for blood.
1. Consider the possibility that you’re wrong
Some people know more about their phone than their bodies, but one of the most powerful things you can do is get to know your own body. I revolutionized my training by recording my daily weight, fitness activities, minor injuries, and food intake…or, as I like to call it, confessing my sins! I use this data to measure how my body interacts with certain foods and how quickly I heal from injuries. I figure, I’ll be stuck with this body for the rest of my life, I should figure out how it works!
As the homage goes, progress is measured in millimeters. How do you genuinely know you’re in a rut if you don’t have the data? Discover the best way to measure your progress, and be consistent with your recording!
2. Embrace the monster
The first step to slaying this beast is admitting that he is real. He’s 6 months of no improvement on your running time, he’s the five inches you need to finally get your center splits. You’ve found a monster, you’re shining a flashlight into his eyes.
Now, in your best evil villain voice, promise to kill him. In other words, set a reasonable goal and pledge your loyalty to the cause. Research a reasonable plan and commit to it.
3. Shake it up
Face it: what you’re doing isn’t working anymore. Do something else! This could be as simple as trying a different pole instructor, or running at a different park.
Your plateau may even be an opportunity to experience something new. Maybe there’s an aerial art you haven’t tried – I recommend flying trapeze! Parkour, break dance, trampoline, rock climbing, skating, there are thousands of ways to get a workout!
4. Revisit the Basics
No one is ever too advanced to revisit the foundation of their craft. Try taking a lower level pole class and pay attention! (Yes, even if you’re already an instructor!) Listen to the questions the students ask, watch for common mistakes. You may discover a bad habit you didn’t even know you had!
Here’s a fun project: First, locate some early pole footage of yourself. Now, re-record yourself doing the same moves. When you watch the videos side-by-side, you’ll be amazed by the ways you’ve grown…and by the ways you’ve stayed the same. (Find me on Facebook to see my video, reflecting my last 4 years of progress!)
This exercise may be the motivation you need to push past the plateau!
Maybe it’s time to step away. Give those muscles a chance to rest, and try focusing on another trick for a little while. You may be surprised when you revisit the move that’s got you stumped!
7. Phone a Friend
Pole sisters and brothers are among the most useful assets in your pole career. Not only will they keep you motivated, but they also may know a different way to train. Pole siblings may notice form issues or identify unproductive elements of your training. Try inviting a friend to train with you, and see what happens.
8. Stay motivated
Ok, so this isn’t exactly a trick, but it’s worth a mention. Whatever you do, don’t let the plateau win! Have patience with yourself, treat your body with respect, and do not give up. I know you will accomplish extraordinary things!
Photo Credit: Stefan Reyes with Dionysian Revolution