Tagpole goals

A Story about Stretching

2015-12-06 11.29.25For anyone involved in the pole dance community, you would have had a thousand involved conversations about flexibility and stretching. Studios everywhere offer conditioning classes to compliment your dance practice, and most people’s pole goal list is dotted with dreams for flat splits and bendy backs. After a few months of dancing you may have also amassed a stash of foam rollers, thera bands, and spiky balls to support you on your journey to flexiness!


Coming from a yoga background, I already felt I understood the benefits of increased mobility. But it wasn’t until I started pole that I really focused on stretching and learning about muscle groups and how I could work towards my flexibility goals.

StudioVeena was my first inroad into dedicated stretching in 2013. She still offers tutorials for front and middle splits and back flex and encourages foam rolling as part of a warm up to increase blood flow and support muscles relaxation. The tutorials are between 20-30min, the perfect length to fit into my schedule. After riding home from work, I was already well warmed up and could foam roll and then stretch before dinner. Doing this nearly everyday, I was making amazing gains on my front splits.

I also purchased Delavier’s Stretching Anatomy book, which offered 130 stretching exercises covering the entire body. The diagrams and clear details about how each stretch targeted different muscles really helped me articulate to myself how each stretch was benefiting my body. I could also begin to see how different stretches related to different pole moves, discerning how a strong and stable Butterfly pole pose would require strength and mobility in my back muscles, chest, shoulder, hips and glutes.

It was around 2014 that I started to learn about the difference between dynamic stretching and static stretching. My yoga classes and the StudioVeena series at the time were using static stretches. Cleo had just released her Rockin’ Legs N Abs DVD and I was excited to spice things up.

As well as a being a high intensity warm up and cardio challenge, Cleo worked through exercises for dynamic flex with lots of high front kicks, side kicks and back kicks. The women on the DVD are incredibly flexible and strong and inspirational in their range of motion. It was a great full body workout, but I have found that I don’t use it as much as I had hoped.

Sometimes dynamic stretching gets a back rap, the concern that if you bounce through a stretch or kick your up into a split without the proper strength to hold it there, you risk injury.

Personally, I am very careful with dynamic stretching. It’s important to remember that pole, like yoga, is a body work practice, and you need to listen to your body. After tearing both hamstrings, my physio advised that to reduce the chance of re-injury, I should take it slow with my tendons. If you have grown up with dance and ballet, your muscles and tendons may respond differently. I’m a massive advocate for “it’s never too late to start” but please remember that if your body is older and you don’t have a background in physical activity, diving in to the Rockin’ Legs N Abs video may be too dynamic for your body to handle.

It’s been a long road to recovery after my hamstring injuries. Physically it has taken nearly two years for my hamstrings to feel like stretching again. Emotionally it has also taken nearly two years to work through the fear that I might tear them again too. Attending a flexibility class or even just stretching at home used to bring up a lot of anxiety about damaging my body and I would get flash backs from the moment of injury. Thankfully, time away from stretching my splits allowed me to focus on other goals – back flex, strength tricks and dance flow have been the main focus on my dance practice for the last 2 years.

I still dream about the splits, and my feet touching my head in a back bend! Recently, a friend told me about the Easy Flexibility series and after doing one video with her I bought a split stretching series. I was pleased to find the videos offering a balance between static and dynamic stretches and stemming from an awareness of anatomy that made sense to me. It is also refreshing to be able to complete a video and not be sore the next day. I have been able to get back into a routine of stretching everyday which is great to make progress towards my flexibility goals but also supports range of motion and general well being.

Last month, Indi Pole Wear also released a stretching guide for pole dancers
outlining a sequence of 22 stretches for back and hip mobility. The stretches are familiar (cobra pose, pigeon etc) but also show how you can use a chair or pole to correct form or increase the stretch. The authors also comment on how important your breathing is to promote a relaxed stretch. I’d recommend the sequence to anyone starting out on their stretching journey but like all tutorials that can be used without the spot of a trained instructor, be aware off what your body is telling you in each exercise and take it slow.

Stretching can be a wonderful practice to do on your own, even meditative and insightful as you engage with the process and movements of your own body. But when pushing yourself to get flexier, if you don’t have a teacher to correct your form or remind you to breath, you do run the risk of injury.

There will be a summary of this story in the Cross Training Series, including tutorials of my favourite stretches, as I genuinely believe stretching is beneficial for your pole practice. But I hope that this story inspires you start or return to stretching, either in a class at your studio or at home with one of the methods I have used. If you have a great stretching practice I’d love to hear about it too! Please comment below or get in touch with me through Instagram or Facebook.

Safe stretching!

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!

New Year, New Pole Goals

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream.”

10547553_10154477041425425_4923286836691610026_nAs I opened Write Monkey to begin this post about pole goals, this was the quote presented to me.

I’m definitely a dreamer when it comes to pole goals. There is research to suggest that visualization and dreaming are useful tools when setting and working towards goals. You probably do it too when you waiting for a bus or sitting in traffic, a song comes on and you drift away to the performance space in your head where you are flying around the pole nailing your nemesis trick.

There is always a lots of talk about pole goals at the beginning of the year. Bad Kitty have two articles offering advice to keep you on track and motivated when times get tough, and even United Pole Artists share their take on charting your progress.

It’s fun to joke around and set far out goals. Phoenix? Sure! Bird of Paradise? I wish! Rainbow Marchenko? I must be dreaming!

But I think sometimes pole dancers forget that the professionals we swoon over who can accomplish these tricks, are PROFESSIONALS. A home poler, or someone who dances in the studio two or three times a week, unless they have super human flexibility, are unlikely to be able to rainbow marchenko any time soon.

It is also cause for concern when dancers set goals that are too high and set themselves up for injury by skipping over the foundations that would help them get in to the move safely.

I’m not saying don’t dream big, but perhaps use your pole goals as baby steps to reach those dreams.

For example,

Dream move: Phoenix

Baby steps: Regular static pole practice
Ayesha / Static V
Iron X Controlled descents
Handsprings with variety of grips (cup, split, twisted)
Cartwheel mounts
One arm spins

Off the pole conditioning: Handstands, shoulder strengthening,
core work, breath work.


You could even put these smaller goals on a timeline and chart your progress. Rather than just attempting a phoenix every pole practice, failing and getting demotivated and then not trying it again for months, the smaller successes will help you stay on track and ensure you are always moving forward towards the end goal. By recording the baby steps and including them in your regular pole practice, you will likely have more strength, control, and understanding of the trick to nail it when the time comes.

The initial quote suggested you need action as well as dream to accomplish your goals. Create an action plan and your dreams will soon be your reality!

Happy New Year!



Shall we all smash our pole goals, have sticky poles, become amazingly flexible, and all achieve our aerial deadlifts in 2016!


Stay safe over the holidays!

I Hear Jingle Bells!

xmas pole challengeXmas Pole Challenge – Volare Magazine

This challenge has some of my all time favourite pole artists, and is sponsored by some great pole brands! In the lead up to Christmas with no more comps and only a group showcase to go, it will be great motivation to get on the pole and try and smash those pole goals before the end of the year!

I wrote about pole challenges before, suggesting they are a great way to learn new tricks and try things outside of your normal pole routine. Considering this list, many of the tricks are familiar – Layback, Pike, Jade Split, Crescent. Some I have heard of but never accomplished – Remi Sit, Sneaky V, Kelly Tilt. And others are completely new – Dragon Fly, Trapped Runner, Back Split?

With such big names in this challenge, and big sponsors, I can see this as a great chance to network between pole champions and those poling at home in their lounge room. It’s not often I praise technology, but this kind of social networking is amazing!

Join me for the challenge! And help me work out how to do a Dragon Fly!

Four years of pole dancing

20151108_200722I have blogged before about my pole journal and how important I believe it is to document and reflect on your dance journey.

I started my journal in 2011, about 6 months after I started dancing, as a way to record my first pole performance.

I still remember the night – The Art of Pole Christmas Party. Held at the Vanguard, Newtown, it was a daunting venue for my first time on stage. The whole night was surreal, sitting in the audience watching the show, then heading backstage to warm up and get into costume, and then in a matter of minutes, resuming my seat to watch the finale. I remember thinking, did I really get up on that stage, that Jamilla Deville is now dancing on? Were the crowd really watching me?

Brad from Vertigo Photography was there and he gave me a few shots from the night, that confirm it wasn’t just a blur of a dream. And they, along with choreography notes are in my journal.

Four years later, I just wrote on the last page in this journal. What a milestone! Over 15 solo routines, countless showcases, 2 Encore! Sydney Pole Shows, and a couple of comps.

Moving into 2016, I’m about to start Book 2. Will it be four years until I reach the last page? In 2020?

What I do know is that I’ll still be dancing 🙂