I've heard it all. At first it's sad - that so many people live their lives driven by fear and insecurity and laziness but at some point you just get angry. Angry at them and angry for them. Angry at society for the way we churn out over-sized babies who can't take control of their own lives. Angry that some of these people seemingly cannot be helped. The fact is, I was one of these people once. I was the worst kind - the kind who didn't even want to leave the house for a number of years through a mixture of anxiety and laziness. The path of least resistant.
Some students need support and help, others need a kick up the ass. So here is your kick up the ass, if you are in need of it.
Do you know why you suck/can't do a move/are not progressing/can't dance? Because your attitude fucking sucks, you're inconsistent and you're lazy. There I said it.
This doesn't apply to every single person who has ever said those things. Some of them have mental health issues, have had horrendous lives that grind them down, others work their asses off week in week out, others have potential but are not given the help they need. But these are not the people I want to talk to. They're not the ones I need to get at. It's you; lazy, inconsistent, bad attitude, you.
Not long after I was asked to teach, I got a wake up call. I was in class, having an off day, tired, moany and miserable. I sat in the corner and watched for a lot of the class. My instructor came over and told me off. She told me that I would need to sort myself out if I wanted to be an instructor. That even if I am just taking a class - I am still an instructor now and represent the studio. That I must have a good attitude, work hard and be a role model. I forget the exact words she used but I remember it being a kick up the bum.
Pole is the only area of my life where, for the most part, I have had a good attitude and work ethic. From the moment I started taking classes until today; I made sure to have no expectations and to work hard. I never set out to be an instructor. I never set out to become even vaguely good at dancing. In fact I was fucking terrible in the beginning (proof here, my first ever freestyle video). I just enjoyed what I did, and did it, and did it until I saw progress. And this is what I want for all my students.
So many students come to class with a bad attitude or they simply cannot be bothered. They decide before they even do something that they can't do it. Some decide that, even when they've achieved a move perfectly first time, they still can't do it. Others get upset when they don't achieve something others have. Some refuse to even partake of certain activities. Others are patchy with their commitment. All of these things, and more, are the reasons why they're not progressing in the way they should.
And I've noticed amongst my own students that there are only two ways it can go; they either change their attitude or they walk away. So, what will you chose on a bad day? Will you take a deep breath, remind yourself that it doesn't matter, that you're fabulous and keep working hard? Or will you throw a tantrum? Will you quit? Or will you just bring down the class atmosphere?
What choice will you make?
How to get good at pole:
- Have reasonable expectations: You shouldn't be thinking about inverts, becoming an instructor, a competitive pole dancer or a pole star in your first lesson. Enjoy every moment. Stop rushing ahead to the next thing. It will come to you when it's ready.
- Consistency: an hour a week, two hours, more. It doesn't matter what frequency but if you only take a class every few weeks you won't progress in the way you are supposed to. Make time for it on a weekly basis. But also don't over train, let your body rest or you'll injure yourself.
- Stop caring what others think: at the end of the day no one cares about what you're doing on your pole in your corner. They're too busy thinking about what they're doing themselves. You're holding yourself back. You have to make a conscious decision to stop caring. Look at how you react to others when they make a mistake or do something silly. Are you cruel? Or, more likely, do you not even give it much thought?
- Don't skip the strength training: I was shocked to find many studios don't do strength training and I presume many self taught pole dancers don't either. Strength training is IMPORTANT. Either at the gym, using bodyweight exercises or using the pole. Simply doing the moves is not always good enough. Stop being lazy. It will be hard work, but the rewards are worth it.
- Stop saying "I can't": The only acceptable usage of "I can't" is in the sentence, "I can't do it yet but I will be able to if I keep working at it". Like it is the most annoying thing for any instructor to hear. Stop it. Just leave your baggage and attitude at the door. Believe you can and you will.
- Just enjoy it: have some passion. If you don't enjoy it and you're just doing it for some misguided end goal then you likely won't make it there. Do what you enjoy.
- Work to your strengths, work on your weaknesses: It took me a year from first doing Marley to actually achieving it. It took me about 10 minutes of practice to do my first unassisted handspring. Some moves will be easy for you, some won't. Some areas such as flexibility or dance ability will come naturally, others won't. Go watch some famous pole stars videos and you'll notice a pattern in what they do and don't do. Very few dancers are good at EVERYTHING.
Remember: you are better than over 90% of the worlds population. You took that step to walk in that studio where others didn't. A simple fireman spin is better than no fireman spin at all, after all.