Archives > April 2017

The Danger in Comparison

For those of you who saw my latest instagram post, you’ll know that this blog relates directly to it, but I’mma go in more detail. And if you read that instagram post, you’ll remember how I discussed writing myself off this weekend. Writing myself off for not feeling good enough, strong enough, fit enough – all the negative things bundled into one “you can’t do this anymore!” emotion.Never Give Up

With the upcoming Pole Convention in Vegas that many of us are attending, I feel that this post is especially important. Ya’ll are probably in workshops that sound like a blast such as “deadlifts with 60 year old Greta Pontarelli” I mean, she’s 60 – if she can do it, I probably can… right?

Check yourself, before you wreck yourself. Literally. 

So what sparked all of this inside of me? Well let me tell you, it isn’t a one-time feeling that drifts by… it’s every time I take another instructors’ class, or when a Pole Star comes in to town.
Pole stars always make me nervous. I’m picking this stranger up from the airport, and I barely even know what they look like. Not only that, but what do they eat?!
If you know me well, you know that I don’t have the most nutritious or balanced diet. Therefore, whenever a pole star comes in to town, we stop at the grocery store so that we can pick up what their athletic diet might entail. And let me tell you, it’s all the things that I never eat. Sam star this weekend? Yeah, girl got excited about Avacado. Like… as excited as I do when it’s Pizza Hut night at our house. What I would give to look at Avacado as lovingly as I do a pepperoni pizza….

The next morning rolled around and I made us a healthy breakfast of eggs and coffee. As I lazily plunked myself down on the couch to drink my coffee, Sam was working out her morning crunchiness by doing Handstands next to the kitchen. Yep, handstands – no biggie or anything. Hours later, her workshops started, and my confidence plummeted. She would do a move with SUCH simplicity and strength, that it almost looked easy for anyone to do! Such was not the case when it came to actually trying it. And then for her third workshop of the day – heels… YES, I’ve got this, I can do some cool stuff in heels. Wrong again! I didn’t check myself, and therefore, I wrecked myself.

And there it was. Instead of being proud of myself for the one new trick that I learned and decently nailed, I was upset at myself for all of the ones that I didn’t get. I wrote myself off.
I thought “ugh… must have been nice to have taken gymnastics or dance as a child. I didn’t get that opportunity, and now I’m just a clumsy adult because of it.”
My negative thinking spiralled into many more “what’s the point?”(s)
What’s the point of training anymore? What’s the point of even eating healthy? What’s the point of trying?

You see my friends, there is danger in comparison.

I went back to the studio on Monday, and worked on some choreography and conditioning…. and I felt GREAT.
And it all hit me – I love this. I don’t do this because I’m the best at it.
I don’t do this because I can be a travelling pole star, teaching my acrobatic calisthenic skills to the world – I do it because I have found JOY in it.
I do it because I used to look at some of the moves that I do now, and think “I could never do that”… and now I’M DOING THEM
I do it because other people who see what I do say “I could never do that,” and my heart just YEARNS for them, and I think “if only you tried!” If only you didn’t write yourself off like that, because you’re really missing out!

Trying is better than giving up. It’s better than comparing, and it’s better than writing yourself off altogether.
Maybe in years from now I will be able to do all of the things that I learned in last weekends’ workshop. You can bet I’ll be working on them, and the satisfaction of getting them will be that much sweeter.

So from here on out, I say congratulations to the many pole stars who have dedicated their time to complete athleticism. They dedicate their diets, training, and lifestyles to it completely. They didn’t just half-ass walk into it and nail every move. So then why did I compare myself to them? How can I, someone who doesn’t dedicate my diet, or train 20+ hours every week, compare myself to them? They’ve trained hard for what they’ve earned, and that’s a simple fact.

Take it easy on yourself. Outside of pole, you have a whole wonderful life. Maybe you have children, maybe you go to school – your time is diverted elsewhere.
And when you come to class? You rock it.

And that is why I love all of my baddass students at Aradia. You’ve already done SO much more than everyone else. You’re in a baddass sport that many people immediately write themselves off from ever even attempting.

I hope that when you’re in your Vegas workshop, talking yourself down from not being able to deadlift into a handstand – just remember where you’re coming from. Think of my voice whispering in your ear saying “you’re actually amazing, and lots of people look up to you for the incredible things you already can do.”

The danger in comparison my friends, is the risk of writing yourself off, and never seeing what you’re fully capable of.

Instructor Spotlight – Lisa B

1. How long have you been pole dancing for, and what got you started?
I have been pole dancing for 4 years as of March. I had heard of pole fitness through a women’s magazines and the odd newspaper article, but seeing a YouTube video of Anastasia Sokolova performing to “Tainted Love” on Ukraine’s Got Talent prompted me to Google search “edmonton pole dancing’ – and here I am! (routine starts at 2:30)

2. What do you find most challenging about the sport of pole?
Besides the actual physicality of pole: managing expectations. Often I will catch myself or my students comparing our progress against other students, other instructors, other pole stars on Instagram… it’s very challenging to shut out that critical inner voice and focus solely on your own progress! We truly are our own harshest critics. But it is so crucial to remember that we each have our own strengths and weaknesses, and that we progress at different rates. It’s what makes our pole journeys uniquely our own!

3. What do you find to be the most exciting aspect of pole?
Can I answer this twice?

1) Being a part of the student’s journey: seeing them get stronger, seeing them struggle, seeing them obtain their goals and make new ones, and seeing the mentality shift from “I can’t” to “I will” and “I can” I LIVE for those moments!
2) The evolution of the sport itself. Pole is expanding so rapidly, with new combos and transitions and holds – there is always something new to learn, and there is always a new way to teach it!

4. Who are your pole inspirations and why? 
Each of instructors at Aradia take the cake first and foremost. The talents of my colleagues are jaw-dropping, and the work they put in to develop their teaching skills is inspiring. (Special shout-out to the instructors who taught/subbed/inspired me when I was a student: Nyleen, Tina, Tasia, Erica, Jessi, Rachelle, Jen, Teryn, and Mel – I would not be the instructor I am today if not for you. Thank you!)
My other inspirations include: Anna-Maija Nyman, Lorenza Perrone, Tiffany Rose Mockler, Anastasia Sokolova, Sydney Claire, Julie Chapple, Sonja Sloane, Rebekah Mullen, Tara Myer, Dakota Fox, Lisa Corah, Nadia Sharif, Heidi Coker, Maddie Sparkle, Michelle Shimmy, Magnus Labbe, Aggie Ng, Rafaela Montanaro, Olga Koda, Tito Jane, Jordan Kensley, Bailey Day, Samantha Star, Felix Cane, Jenyne Butterfly, Daria Che, Philippa Rasidi, Sergia Louise, Steven Retchless, Phoenix Kazree, Cleo the Hurricane, Amy Hazel, Natasha Wang, Dirdy Birdy…

5. Describe your pole style and how it resonates with you
I would say that my style varies, but sexy is my favourite. I was bullied for many of my teen years and had horrible self esteem as a result, thinking that I was undesirable and not sexy. Coming to pole, developing strength, and embracing the sensual side of it helped to increase my confidence and feel more comfortable expressing my sexuality. Now I can say “I feel sexy” because of how I feel when I dance, and how that feeling follows me outside of the studio.
6. When people tell you that they don’t feel strong enough, or sexy enough for pole, what is your advice for them?
That it does NOT come over night (!!!) and it comes at different times to different people. Much like how strength takes time to train and develop, “sexy” needs practice! I rarely have students feel comfortable with wandering hands during their first class of Pole 101, and the first time I wore Pleasers, I stumbled about like newborn gazelle until I found my footing.

My advice would be to take it slow and take the time to learn to like the way that YOU dance; not the other people in class, not the instructor, but YOU. Practice at home or any environment you feel comfortable in: put on some of your favourite music and set some mood lighting, and learn how your body wants to flow to the music. I had to practice my hip circles in front of the bathroom mirror with the lights dim (and often after a glass of wine or two) multiple times before they began to feel fluid! The more often you practice, the faster the strength will develop and the more comfortable and natural the movement will begin to feel.

7. You also teach Aerial Yoga – tell us more about that! Can it benefit pole movement as well?

I’m biased, but I think that everyone – ESPECIALLY POLE ATHLETES – should do aerial yoga! The hammock can be used to make poses easier or more challenging, to deepen further into a stretch, to decompress the spine by inverting, for strength and cardio training, and to introduce people who have no aerial experience to the world of circus and fitness.
In regards to pole movement, it is a fantastic way to cross-condition. Many of our moves on the pole (and aerial hoop) transfer to the hammock (helicopter = straddle back; meat hook = meat hook; outside leg hang = gazelle; bird’s nest=bird’s nest, etc.), and the support of the hammock can help us get into positions that we struggle with in pole. We can also condition for climbing, inverting, flips, pull ups… and of course it is a great way to stretch out those sore, tight muscles, and help to achieve our flexibility goals!

8. You’re talented at creating choreography – tell us your tips and tricks for getting started on a piece.
I have a variety of techniques that I’ll use depending on the piece and any creative blocks I come across:
  • Listen to the song and visualize what movements suit the music, plan a rough draft of choreography – I write a LOT of stuff down – and then try to perform what I have imagined. Very rarely can I dance what I have planned, but it gives a nice backbone to a piece.
  • Video myself freestyling to the song multiple times, seeing what sequences I naturally want to do at certain points in the song (if any), and then noting what I like or what felt good when I watch the playback.
  • Taking a favorite combo and seeing how I can add to or restructure it to make it new, and fitting it into the choreography.
  • Emulating combos I’ve seen in videos that I’ve saved on Instagram or Facebook – I normally can’t do most of what I see the pole stars doing, so I ‘fall’ into variations that are new to me.
  • Write a bunch of moves on little scrap pieces of paper, toss them in a hat, and then draw a select number (normally 3-5) – in whichever order I draw them, that is the order I challenge myself to perform them.

The important thing is to get started! The sooner you start your piece, the more time you have to practice, perfect, and make changes as needed.

9. If you were no longer able to pole dance, what is one thing you would still be able to take away from your pole journey thus far? 

Aside from crippling depression because I can no longer pole dance? I would say I’d take the friendships I’ve made with my colleagues and my students; a love for fitness and what my body can accomplish; and (cheesy as it is) the knowledge that I can accomplish great things if I apply work hard and consistently.


You can find Lisa teaching classes at Kingsway on Thursday evenings! (And Wednesdays at St. Albert too!)