We all know that we should have rest days. Between pole days, conditioning days, flexibility training days, training for comps, choreography sessions, and that push to try that move just one more time …soon you find you’ve been poling for three weeks straight!
Your body doesn’t tell you with a polite note slipped under the door either. It bangs on the door in the middle of the night and wakes you up sore, unforgiving, and perhaps even with the flu!
Being run down puts a big hole in your pole practice. You end up having to take a week off instead of just a day, and then you feel like you need to work twice as hard to make up the gains you think you missed.
It’s a vicious cycle, I see many people go through in the studio. Over training leads to injury and burn out. It is also an emotional roller coaster where unrealistic expectations crash with self doubt, and tuning out to the body’s cues.
So let me re-frame your idea of a rest day with these 10 tips that will make sure you are giving your body some love for all the amazing things it can do!
1 – Foam rolling
For a more in depth look at how foam rolling can compliment your pole practice, recovery, and flexibility training read this article. But seriously, your muscles will thank you and so will your soul. Show yourself some love!
2 – Yoga
If you really do feel like you need to move on your rest days, take up some yoga. It can be as flowy or vigorous as you like, even put in some handstands if you want, but it will offer a nice change of pace to pole dancing, and the connection to your breath will support recovery. Don’t forget your long shavasana, even if you have a home practice. Yoga doesn’t neglect rest and neither should you.
3 – Epsom salt bath
You may already be taking a magnesium supplement to help with muscle soreness, but what if I told you you can soak in the stuff! Add some aromatherapy oils, a few candles and a glass of wine …need I say more?
4 – Massage
Do you have tight shoulders? A stiff neck? Sore glutes and hammys? Muscles need circulation and rest to recover. Self massage is great, and foam rolling, but if you can book yourself in for a proper massage at least every 3-6 months your body will thank you. Take the whole day, let yourself be oiled up and let it soak in to those calluses and dry spots. When you get home jump in a Epsom salt bath and laze the afternoon away. Aaaaahhhhhh.
5 – Get outside
Many pole dancers have pole widows at home. They miss you and your rest days are a great chance to catch up on quality time with loved ones. Go for a walk, head to the beach, or just wander. The walk will help you feel like you haven’t just sat around all day, and the time to connect with you partner will also boost your spirits and hopefully make you feel less guilty when you spent the whole day in the studio tomorrow.
6 – Visualization
Maybe you have a pole comp coming up and really can’t let yourself take time off. Did you know, that visualizing your combos and routines can be an effective part of your training? Lie down, close your eyes, and put on your music. Visualize the stage, the audience, your introduction, the lights on the stage, your costume. This exercise will help with your memory of combos and floorwork and also help with your awareness of the music. All while giving you body the time to recharge to tackle the routine tomorrow!
7 – Keep a pole journal
I’m a big fan of journaling, for record keeping and self reflection. After a comp or showcase it’s a lovely way to document photos and the final choreography, and take stock in the experience. It also satisfies the desire to be living, breathing pole, while not actually over training.
8 – Costume making/fixing
Whether you make your own costumes, or just have a wardrobe overflowing with crops, booty shorts, tank tops, and tights, guaranteed some if it needs some TLC. Grab a needle and thread and fix those sequins on the costume you wore last time. Sort through your active wear and cull anything worn out, sweat stained, or that would be more appreciated by a pole friend. Lots of studios run buy/swap/sell events and it’s a great way to trade for new gear.
There are also a tonne of YouTube videos and tutorials about making your own costumes. Many patterns for underwear, bras, and crops are also easily adaptable to pole. Making your own pole wear and costume means you can always have a unique outfit to compliment your routine too, scoring bonus points from the judges.
9 – Colouring books
Cultivating mindfulness through colouring is a trend that’s taken the world by storm. Children colour and draw all the time, so why as adults have we tossed this hobby into the “I don’t have time” basket? There are now books with designs of pole dancers and aerialists! No excuses, take the afternoon off, go sit under a tree, and colour!
10 – Cook
Late night pole classes getting in the way of healthy dinners?
Are you finding yourself grabbing chocolate bars from work to the studio “because there isn’t enough time to eat anything healthy?”
Use your rest days for meal prep! Head to the shops and buy ingredients that you can use to make meals in bulk. Cook up a storm and then freeze the leftovers in single portions, perfect to heat up when you get home from class.
It is also super easy to make your own protein bars and healthy snacks. Cook a batch on the weekend and they will also last you all week, so there is no temptation to cheat while on the run.
Pole dance teaches us that our bodies can do amazing things. Show your body some love and take a rest day. Self care is not selfish. Recharge and refuel and return to your dancing stronger than ever.