Tagtraining

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

If you have been following me on Instagram and Facebook, you may have seen my most recent achievement – flipping my grip! I have always gained strength much more easily than flexibility, however a quick scan through my posts from the last few months and I’m starting to change my mind.

A long time ago I read somewhere that if you desire to be flexible you should start doing flexible tricks (der!). This sounds super obvious, yet it is surprisingly common to see people avoid certain aerial tricks or transitions because they have convinced themselves they can’t do them.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for ignoring signs that your body has had enough. Always listen to your body and never push your joints and muscles too far. But, with safe training in mind, have you considered that there could be some front split or side split moves that you can do, even though you don’t quite have a flat split floor?

At the beginning of June I made a commitment to myself to try more flexy moves rather than avoid them based on my assumption that I am not flexible. After just one week I was sorting out the videos of my phone and found screen shots like this –

Motivation much?

If you look closely in the third photo you can see the reflection of the pose in the mirror. I’ll be honest, appearing flexible is just as much about perspective and angles as it is actual mobility. Regardless, I felt that I was on to something!

Each training session, whether at home doing yoga, or in the studio in the air, I reminded myself to try a splitty trick, or a back bend pose. During my warm ups I also incorporated more dynamic kicks, silencing the voices that told me “your kicks are not high enough”, “you look silly”, “just do 5 pull ups, it’s much more impressive!”

Exploring these new poses, I was also able to find a way to make them work for me. Having hips like Cleo the Hurricane is not one of my short term goals, but in the right poses my splits can still present with good lines and be dramatic enough for an audience to say wow!

The final push into completely re-framing my perceptions of my dance abilities came during aerial hoop class just last week. I have a tendency to skip through the pose of splits under the bar, never thinking it was worth holding because my splits on the ground were still rubbish. But since adding more front split moves into my aerial repertoire, guess how they looked? My training buddy called out, “look at your splits!” and when I took them time to extend through the pose, I even shocked myself.

So my advice to you is to get out of your head! Stop comparing your body to other people’s and start focusing on what you’ve got. Visualization works for learning choreography and routines, so why not apply the same techniques to your flexibility training? Fake it, ’til you make it, and you might find you make it sooner than you think!

On a final note, before there are too many questions, I am continuing to train my square splits diligently, as well as doing my contortion drills from circus class. Believing you are flexible is just part of the journey, but a very important one to share.

Nutrition for Pole Dancers and Aerialists

Since moving to Cambodia, my training schedule and format has changed dramatically. It rarely drops below 30C here, even at night, meaning that even a simple walk up and down the Riverside turns me into a dripping mess.

Joining the circus to train on lyra and silks in a large warehouse with no air conditioning also has it’s challenges. By observing and listening to how the locals train and manage the risks of dehydration, I have learned a lot about how to maintain optimum form during my training sessions, and to recover adequately afterwards.

It’s common practice to consider carbs and protein intake when thinking about how to prepare for, and recover after, a workout. But if you find yourself finishing your aerial dance sessions utterly exhausted, or taking longer to recover than your peers, or even if you feel sluggish mentally and emotionally days after your workout, your diet could be lacking in trace elements that support your body and it’s functions.

Trace elements such as zinc, magnesium, potassium, iron, and selenium occur in many foods that you may already be eating. Depending on how intense your training sessions are, and the unique make up of your body, you may need to consider adding more or less of each of the ones described below. Ensuring that you are eating nutrient dense foods before and after your aerial or pole session will support your energy levels throughout the workout and your recovery afterwards.

Let’s look at each mineral, how they work together, the effect it has on your body and which foods will offer you these benefits *

 

Zinc supports the function of over 200 enzymes in your body, including wound healing. If your pole kisses are beginning to build up, adding more foods with zinc in your diet could help them heal. Zinc also works to strengthen the villi in your intestines, increasing the surface area of your digestive tract, allowing your body to absorb more nutrients.

Where to find zinc – Brazil nuts, pecans, kelp, beans, cashews, chickpeas, whole grains, dairy foods, egg yolks, liver, red meat, seafood, oysters, dulse flakes.

 

Calcium is important for bone health and muscular growth as well as cardiovascular health. Your levels of vitamin D affect how much calcium you are absorbing from your food so make sure you get a little bit of sun every day too – what more of a reason do you need to take your pole outside or to the beach?!

Where to find calcium – almonds, brewer’s yeast, Chinese cabbage, kale, broccoli, salmon and sardines (with bones), dairy products, fortified foods such as cereals and tofu.

 

An important mineral that works in conjunction with zinc and calcium, supporting strong bone health. The trio (zinc, calcium, copper) also help transport red blood cells around the body – read: more oxygen delivered to your muscles.

Where to find copper – Cocoa, peas, raisins, almonds, barley, beans, beetroot, broccoli, oysters, liver.

 

Required for strong and flexible joints, skin, and bones. Silicon also supports the health of your heart. By ensuring foods with silicon are part of your diet everyday, you set yourself up to be able to train from a strong and healthy starting point.

Where to find silicon – alfalfa sprouts, beetroots, brown rice, oats, capsicum (peppers) apples, cereals, raw cabbage, peanuts, carrots, onions, cucumber, pumpkin, fish, whole grains, almonds, and oranges.

 

Supports strong healthy bones, nerves, and muscles. This element is also responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. If you find you are craving sweets or a high energy hit after a workout, adding foods rich in manganese could help you curb the cravings and stabilize your blood sugar levels throughout the day.

Where to find manganese – avocados, nuts, pulses, tea, whole grains, seeds, pineapple, and seaweed.

 

Selenium is an important antioxidant used to support the immune system, heart health, and thyroid function. Deficiencies in selenium can weaken the cartilage in your joints, something you want to avoid given how much pressure we put on our joints through during aerial training. You don’t need a lot so it’s safest to get this trace element in whole food form.

Where to find selenium – Brazil nuts, grains, brewer’s yeast, egg yolks, garlic, whole grains, broccoli, dairy products and red meat.

 

Low iron is the classic diagnosis for someone who has low energy and finds it hard to recover after a workout. Iron is responsible for transporting oxygen to the blood. When you are pole dancing, or engaged in any other workout, your muscles need oxygen to function. This is also why learning to breath properly doing a workout is essential.

Where to find iron – Green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, eggs, fish, red meat, poultry, liver, fortified foods, nuts, peas, whole grains.

 

Essential for thyroid function and regulates the function of every cell in your body. Due to soils having naturally varying amounts of iodine, you may need to find supplements and iodized food to ensure you are getting enough.

Where to find iodine – Kelp, iodized salt, seafood, saltwater fish, corn, prunes.

 

Supports strong bones and muscles and assists in metabolizing calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Boron is also believed to reduce the symptoms of arthritis as well as support cognitive functions such as hand-eye coordination and short term memory, all skills that aerialists need to be safe and successful.

Where to find boron – apples, dates, oranges, plums, sultanas, kiwifruit, carrots, grapes, pears, whole grains, avocado, soybeans, chickpeas, hazelnuts, peanuts, lentils, onion,  and potatoes.

 

Find yourself drinking gallons of water but still feeling thirsty? Get half way through a routine and have to stop due to muscle cramping? Your body is probably in need of electrolytes such as sodium. This mineral maintains the body’s water balance and is one of the key ingredients in sports drinks. Skip the sugars, though, and get sodium from these other sources.

Where to find sodium – olives, miso, celery, shrimp, ham, salt.

 

This mineral supports nerve and muscle health and is also an electrolyte like sodium. It can also help to stabilise blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Insufficient potassium can lead to muscle weakness and dehydration.

Where to find potassium – Coffee, bananas, whole grains, molasses, parsley, mushrooms, pumpkin, fish.

 

Supports bone health, cell renewal and your metabolism. Phosphorus is also needed to make ATP (adenosine triphosphate) a molecule which provides energy to our cells. It is rare to be lacking in phosphorus but if you find you have a low appetite or muscle pain it may help to add some of these foods to your diet.

Where to find phosphorus – asparagus, corn, pumpkin seeds, bran, pulses, leafy green vegetables, eggs, beans, lentils, pork, dairy products,

 

Essential for healthy bones and the functioning of nerves and muscles. Magnesium is also a relaxant and can be used to soothe aching muscles. Add some Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate) to your bath or start taking magnesium supplements to support recovery after a workout.

Where to find magnesium – Eggs, green leafy vegetables, shellfish, dairy products, nuts, whole grains, almonds, wheatgerm.

 


* This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.