Tagboth sides

Cross Training For Aerial – Part 9 : HIIT

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and may well come to become your new fitness best friend.

I have previous watched a few HIIT classes at the gym, and had heard people rave about the benefits, but it wasn’t until it was endorsed by Dr. Jennifer Crane (who has collaborated with The Artist Athlete) that I decided to try it out. She is just laying on the floor lifting her arms, I previously thought. Boy was I wrong!

Why do people do HIIT?

High Intensity Interval Training is where you set yourself a series of exercises with a short rest in between. For my program we do four exercises for 40 seconds each, with a 10 second rest in between, repeated 3 times. Yes, most of your workout is done just over 3 minutes! If you are super fit, do 6 sets! Add in a warm up, some focused body work and stretching and you can be done and dusted in 30 min or so.

This short session time is very appealing. For non-athletes, finding 30 minutes in your day, or even every second day, should not be that hard. Finding 3 min for a little heart rate burst (with a warm up first of course)  should be even easier! For aerialists and pole dancers, if you were to incorporate HIIT into your warm up, on your non-pole/aerial days, or use as part of your conditioning, you will reap the benefits in terms of stamina, agility, strength, and mobility gains.

Think of it as prehab: long enough to feel the burn and get things working, short enough to not reach failure so your form can stay strong for you to target the muscles that should be working. It’s amazing that such simple movements and exercises can be so challenging.

BUT, not all HIIT are made the same …

The four exercises in your sets should cover a whole body workout. Balance your sets to include both upper and lower body exercises as this will also help you give areas of your body a break to during the exercise. You should be focused on form, remembering cues about your abs, neck alignment, where to engage etc. It’s not about busting out as many as you can in 40 seconds, it’s about retraining your movement patterns to support safe and functional movement.

Dr. Jennifer Crane reiterated this idea of neural pathways during her HIIT coaching. It’s not just about your brain and muscles communicating about where they are in space and how to move. It’s about teaching the muscles to respond and keep the joints stable and safe. If you twist or are off balance, how do you ensure your stabilizing muscles will kick in and help and not just let your larger muscles try to grip? When some muscles are overworked and what should be their complimentary muscles are underdeveloped, injuries are likely to occur.

For example, the muscles in my lower back are currently a lot stronger than my abs. During planks and movements from this position I have tendency to arch, which continues to perpetuate this problem. There is usually a lot of core work involved in HIIT programs, and by slowing down and focusing on form, I can start to retrain my core to ensure my back is not taking all the load. This also helps my posture and conditions my abs to be able to support other movements, in the muggle world and the studio.

Need more convincing?

Train evenly – Pole dancers are always talking about the need to train both sides, and HIIT can support this as you work your whole body. This kind of balance will reduce your chance of injury and help you reach your goals as combos and tricks become easier on your goofy side.

Increase stamina – Find yourself exhausted after running your routine, or short of breath after a long combo? Many pole dancers and aerialists actually spend a lot of time in class standing around, listening to instructions or waiting for a turn. This down time is not useful and can actually let your muscles cool down too much between time spent in the air. Classes like this lack a cardio component and so when you go to run through your entire choreography, it’s exhausting! HIIT will get your heart rate up giving you a cardio workout along with your strength training. The 10 second rests are enough to catch your breath and reset for the next sequence, but you will be straight into the next exercise before you know it.

Coordination – Ever find yourself falling over as soon as you let go of the pole? Do you avoid adding dance and floor work to your routines because you feel off balance and uncoordinated?  By incorporating lateral movements (moving side to side), jumping, twisting, and functional movement patterns into your HIIT program, you will be training your brain and muscles to support yourself moving through these positions. Backward rolls, fish flops, stepping up from a lunge, and even pirouettes will suddenly become much cleaner and more achievable when your body is working as a whole.

On a final note, many HIIT programs can be done in your own home, no equipment necessary! HIIT can be a great compliment to yoga and training at home. Feel free to get in touch if you would like to start a personal training program that is right for you!

Stall Bar Challenge

Join us in July for the #stallbarchallenge!

I’ve teamed up with Pole In Style and Mighty Grip to bring the best cross training challenge to the Internet! Stall bars are one of the most effective off the pole apparatus that pole dancers and aerialists can use to up their training game.

“Lots of aerial arts rely on creating tension between two points, usually with a “push vs pull” action. This motion is best performed when joints are stacked, and muscle engagement is coordinated with your breath. This is a lot to remember when you are learning an aerial trick, and poses can be even more difficult with the swing and sway of hoop, or the spin of pole!

Learning how to engage the appropriate muscles in your back, or work on activating your glutes from the ground, can be a safer and more effective way to train. Stall bars are a static apparatus and many of these exercises can be practiced with your feet only just off the floor. Training with good technique helps you to build muscle memory and strength, reducing the risk of injury or aggravating imbalances in your body.”

Baby poler Mel in 2016!

I have been using stall bars as part of my warm ups and conditioning program since 2016, learning about muscle engagement and building up strength for moves before taking them in the air. Now I am ready to share some of my favourite exercises with you!

All entrants in the challenge will also go in the draw to win amazing pole wear from Pole In Style and grip aids from Mighty Grip!

What do you need to do?

Join the #stallbarchallenge from 1st to 31st July 2018.

How to enter:
1. Like and repost this photo on Instagram and tag your friends in the comments
2. Follow host @melnutter_baudelaire and sponsors @mighty_grip and @poleinstyle
3. Complete all 8 exercise challenges before 31st July
4. Make sure your Instagram profile is public so we can see your progress
5. Share your videos using hashtag #stallbarchallenge, and tag @melnutter_baudelaire @mighty_grip and @poleinstyle in each post

July 1st – Tucks
July 5th – Push Ups
July 8th – Plank
July 12th – Sit Ups
July 15th – Dragon Flag
July 19th – Side Plank
July 22nd – Iguana Mount
July 26th – Split Grip

You can find stall bars in your local gym, pole studio, or even in playgrounds outdoors. Keep and eye out and prepare yourself for a month of strength building! See you on Instagram!

Cross Training For Aerial – Part 4: Stall Bars

For both strength and flexibility training, sometimes your best choice is to try a new apparatus!

You might have stall bars in your studio, local gym, or maybe in an outdoor playground, and they can be a great asset to your pole training – just ask Oona.

I have been using the stall bars during my warm up and for added conditioning, supporting my strength and flexibility training as well as alignment. My work on the bars has also supported building strength and coordination on my goofy side, the horizontal format allowing me to focus on technique before taking those skills to the pole.

Here are just three ways I’ve been building my stall bar workout:



I have many posts about how yoga has helped with my back bends, but the stall bars open up new opportunities for opening my chest and shoulders.
Drop backs can be scary and without a spotter or the right technique you risk crunching through your lower back or hurting your wrists as you land. The stall bars can support you as you walk your way down to the floor, or back up. It’s often gentler on the wrists to hold on to the rails and you can move slowly, allowing you to focus on alignment and technique.


**Speaking of Technique**

The theory behind pole moves talks a lot about push vs pull, stacking joints, muscle engagement, and breath. When you’re upside-down, however, it’s hard to remember which leg is your left and right let alone think about all those things!
Lots of work on the stall bars can happen with your feet on floor, or at least just off it, inviting you to work on engaging muscle groups and consider alignment before you go upside-down. This kind of training will build muscle memory and strength to reduce the risk of injury or poor technique in more advanced moves.



Let’s face it, crunches are boring! If you’re a pole dancer, you probably find lots of other exercise boring, which is one of the reasons you started dancing in the first place! But, what if there was a way to make strength training fun again?
Hanging leg lifts are a great ab workout and will incorporate many more muscle groups than sit ups on the floor. Try them with bent knees, straight legs, to the side, air walking. Your straight leg straddles will thank you!


For more advanced stall bar tricks, please check out the experts – Oona and Nadia make their workout look just like kids on a jungle gym! What could be more fun than that?

Train Both Sides

2016-02-02 21.23.39Last year I made a conscious effort to train both sides. I even went back to basics in the studio, joining a lower class to work on inside and outside leg hangs and simple combos.

And I can finally say, that it’s starting to pay off!

If you’re an advanced pole dancer you will know that many combos at higher levels require you to interchange with both sides. To land on your good side split, you might need to start on a goofy side leg hang. Or to make sure your strong arm is in the right place in your ayesha, you will need to hook your goofy leg at the beginning of the sequence.

Essentially, you should have no good and bad side for the fundamental moves. Super human pole dancers seem to be able to do everything on both sides, but let’s stick to the basics for now.

The list of moves I was working through for both sides is as follows:

  • floor spins (chair spin, angel, back grab, front hook etc) – left hand high, right hand high
  • climbs – left leg in front, right leg in front
  • straddle – both sides
  • layback – left leg on top, right leg on top
  • hangback – cross knee release and cross ankle release
  • hello boys / wrist seat – left hand high, right hand high
  • inside leg hang – both sides
  • outside leg hang – both sides
  • cupid – both sides
  • pike – both sides
  • butterfly – both sides
  • shoulder mount – both sides
  • brass monkey – both sides


I’d also like to add that training both sides for these fundamental moves also helps you remember the contact points and important components of their technique. Sometimes we have learned a move so long ago we’ve filed it in muscle memory and are less aware off what our bodies are doing to hold on. Relearning the basics was also a great mental exercise in discovering what my body was actually doing in each pose.

I’d like to add jade split, ayesha variations and allegra on both sides this year. Especially after seeing the fruits of my labour for the list above in the last few months.

Surprisingly my shoulder mount on both sides was easier than an outside leg hang and cupid. Even my goofy brass monkey seemed to stick more often! It’s taken a long time to feel secure hanging by my goofy leg. But then today .… break through!

Cupid on both sides, so secure, no hands! Success!

So please persist! It hurts, there are bruises, but you will get there! It will help your body feel more balanced and it will make advanced combos so much less scary when you are asked to land in a goofy leg hang!

Pole Goals



How long is your pole goal list? I would put money on it that it includes “flat splits” and “deadlifts”, but it’s important to set realistic goals as well. And create a plan to be able to work towards them.



A plan will keep you on track, and support your strength and flexibility training so when you do finally reach that goal, you’re less likely to injure yourself.

My pole goals include both strength, flex, technique, and performance goals. Things like straight leg inverts, something I find I get lazy about maintaining because I really just want to get up the pole and do that other amazing trick!

Another one this year was working out what to do with my hands! I have so many videos and photos of a great trick that is spoiled by sloppy lines caused by weird hand shapes.

Planning to work toward these things can be hard. To work on my lines and hand gestures, I’m trying to find a ballet class in the area, hoping it will help me learn how to use my arms more effectively when I’m dancing.

I also had a goal this year to work solidly on my bad side. This is a hard one to keep, but I made a commitment and spent an entire term in the studio focused on my bad side. I let my instructor know and she committed to the pain with me. It was hard work, but it has definitely paid off. I can now hold a comfortable inside and outside leg hang on both sides, as well as brass monkey with both sides. Now when I’m trying more advanced moves, I have a solid starting point and am working on balancing out my strong and weak sides.

As the end of the year approaches, have a think about the pole goals you started with and reflect on what you might need to change in your pole practice to make them happen. Like my extracurricular ballet classes, some might even involve cross training, or conditioning away from the pole.

Happy poling!