Day 1 of Training:There is nothing I like better than learning (I’m a HUGE nerd) and I show up at OC Pole Fitness with what I hope is a beginner’s mind: empty and hungry. OC Pole Fitness has a brand new studio space in Aliso Viejo, and the first thing I notice when I walk in is a beautiful picture of Collette on the pole with her two adorable girls. All three are dressed as angels. If you spend just a few minutes talking to Collette, you will quickly understand that the angel metaphor is actually quite fitting, which makes the picture that much sweeter. She has a huge heart and her goals in teacher training, in class and in the pole industry seem to be driven by a very sincere desire to give of herself while building partnership and trust with others. For example, OC Pole Fitness is running something called The Pole New You Fitness Challenge right now. They offered five women a free 90-day program to lose one hundred pounds. This kind of gifting is the brainchild (or should I say heartchild) of Collette and reflects her devotion to spreading the joy that pole dancing can bring to women.
Now, back to the décor! The second thing I notice in the lobby/retail area is the fabulous rhinestone jewelry and leather cuffs on display. I am a huge sucker for such things and they are arranged in a way that makes the whole entry seems to sort of shimmer like a magical fairy room. Add to that the purple walls and curtains and the zebra striped furniture and instantly you are in the mood to get your sexy on. There are also a number of dance and fitness clothes for sale, and yes, some of them have rhinestones as well!
The main pole studio has a total of eight 15-foot Platinum Stages poles, all of which can be turned into spinning poles and three of which are on a stage with a one-foot rise and lights. Yes a stage. I can’t imagine anything more fun for a pole party! There are mirrors on two of the three walls and the back of the room is a row of ceiling high windows that have been covered with heavy purple curtains for privacy. However they can be opened if daylight is desired. The lighting is low and pleasing and the floors are a walnut colored hardwood. In one corner there is a large, overstuffed easy chair. It’s a lovely, nurturing space, but functional as well. In addition to the main pole room, there is a smaller room for private lessons just next door. A room for aerial yoga is still under construction, but has a similar feel to the pole room, with more natural light.
There are a total of five of us in the instructor training and most are already teachers or studio owners. Their reasons for being there are similar to mine: to learn proper terminology, to learn how to teach and because they love the sensuality of pole dancing. Collette starts us off by talking about why students come to pole dance classes, who is drawn to them and what keeps them coming back for more. She makes the point that everyone will have a different reason for coming in at first and that while we will have to adjust our teaching styles accordingly, it is important for us to stay true to why we are teaching and what our credo is. There are, after all, many different ways to teach pole. She then spends a fair amount of time on safety before leading us through a warm-up.
What I found so interesting about the training was just how much sensuality was in the movement. Because I knew the classes would be focused on pole safety and proper technique, I kind of figured that sensuality was out of the picture. But I was SO wrong. Collette manages to teach both sensuality and proper technique and she blends the two seamlessly. I was pleasantly surprised. Also pleasantly surprising was the amount of freedom offered to us in the choreography. There is no “one way” to get to where you want to go next in pole dancing, and, as Collette explained to me later, the goal of certification is not just to have an eye for good moves, but to develop an eye for variations. Longevity of curriculum after all, is an excellent way to keep your customers coming back for more.
We covered a tremendous amount of material on the first day. The certification process is designed to teach those who might not know a trick how to do it. This has both benefits and downsides. The downside of course being that each student might be on a different page when it comes to learning, and the class can get bogged down. The benefit is that there are live learning experiences happening which makes it the perfect arena to practice teaching with one another.
One of the strengths of this program is that it provides the students with a comprehensive and consistent way to approach pole tricks by using specific terminology for foot and hand placement (i.e. outside foot plant, baseball grip). This primes the mind to begin to think about where the body is in space in a very specific and consistent way, trick after trick, which makes it easier to build on tricks and makes corrections to form much easier. That is, until your arms turn to jelly.
Six hours and I don’t know how many spins later I am exhausted and ready to go home. I’m in need of a hot shower and a soft bed. I now have so much more sympathy for dancers who train competitively and practice like this 5 times a week. My head is swimming with all of the material I’ve covered – Thank God for those PFA flashcards, that’s all I have to say. Stay tuned for Day 2!