Working both sides: building good habits from the beginning.

As a teacher of all levels pole classes I frequently have people that are brand new in class.  I also have some faithful students who are into advanced level upside down moves.  Inevitably the new students are a bit intimidated and want to know how to get from where they are to where my other students are I tell them there are a few “rules of pole.”

1. you must do everything on both sides of your body.

2. You will like one side better than the other.

3. All that means is you must work extra hard on the side you don’t like to make sure it can keep up with the side you do.

4.  Just because you like one side better for most things doesn’t mean that there will not be some things you do and feel more comfortable with on the “bad side”.

I learned every move or spin I had (except one) on one side going the same direction.  When I began teaching it was a new studio so we taught basics first which included a lot of spins.  I learned to teach all my spins on both sides but until I wanted to do the jade it didn’t even occur to me to flip my body onto the the pole from the other side.  I always flipped upside down with the pole on my left, left leg hook for inside leg.  Only one problem: my only split at the time was on my right.  Meaning I could split only with my right leg in front, left leg in back.  I was working on my left side split but I had a feeling it would take me longer to get my left split than it would to learn to flip upside down on the other side.  I set about the task of learning to flip and one leg hang on the other side and from then I knew that I had to learn everything I could learn and then when I was done if I hadn’t been doing it all along, learn it on the other side.

At first I wanted to learn everything on the other side because it was cool!  Look what I can do! After I hurt my shoulder I realized that learning everything on both sides could provide enough balance to not only keep myself from getting injured  but also allow me to rehab my injury while still teaching my classes.  Some things I am better at on the right and some surprisingly on the left.

I was right, it took two more years to get myself into a left split.  In that time I learned almost everything on both sides, some things I am still working on getting on the other side.  I can feel the difference and have more confidence on one side than the other which means though I will continue to work things on the uncomfortable side I may not be able to show it for a performance.

Performance is of course a long way away for most students just starting out but when they are just starting out you can get them into some good habits before they have time to develop bad ones like only working on their “good side”.

Thanks for reading. 

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