I am in the midst of competition training for PSO’s Atlantic Pole Champsionships. It’s my second time around competing – while some things have gotten easier (like knowing what to expect) many challenges especially the mental ones are still there.
Shoutout to my home studio Foxy Fitness & Pole for inspiring us to make the leap from student to competitor ♥ If anyone in the NYC area is interested in going through the journey, I highly recommend checking out Foxy and their competition workshops taught by pole champions! The training and the community make all the struggle so worth it that you crawl back wanting more.
Stage 1: Committing
After admiring other polers from afar, you’ve finally decided to give yourself a challenge and compete in a pole competition. You may be in it to win it, but really it’s more for yourself – pushing your pole training, creating a beautiful routine. The first stage of any pole competition is to actually commit usually in the form of money for the registration. For some reason putting down that $90 makes me committed to competing even though in the end the actually training process would cost a lot more (financially and emotionally).
Feeling: Excited, Nervous, oh-shit-what-did-I-just-sign-up-for, but mostly excited.
Stage 2: Brainstorming
Now comes the most creative and inspirational part of competition training. You start looking through music, coming up with story lines, maybe even preliminary costume ideas I envision bling! And lots of it. Instagram and past competition videos on Youtube become your main form of entertainment. You start working with your teachers on some of the moves you love. Things are good. Things are happening and you are freaking excited.
Feeling: Super excited!
Pain Level: None.
Stage 3 are where things start getting serious. Since you are in a pole competition you will generally focus on your pole combos first. If you’ve never touched the magical thing called spin pole you are in for a treat! You begin putting in moves with other moves. You may even incorporate new moves you’ve never done before and can barely get at this initial stage. You start creating transitions, floorwork, dance, and musicality. At this stage you will begin a close relationship with your pole teachers.
Feeling: Excited but physically tired. Mentally a little worried about all the work you have ahead of yourself. You may also feel frustration when there are certain moves or transitions you just can’t master yet.
Pain Level: Medium-High. If you are learning new moves where certain body parts haven’t gripped the pole in a while you will be seeing bruises. Also if spin pole is new to you be prepared for some nausea.
This is the hardest part both physically and mentally. It’s an accomplishment when you can get through a combo. It’s a death-defying feat of amazing human strength and willpower when you get through an entire routine. For some reason when those combos and floor transitions are put together it feels like forever. You will be gasping for air. Have barely enough strength to invert. But you will get through it. The more running through the better prepared you will be for the actual day. Running through helps you build stamina. At this point your relationship with your pole instructors may turn into a love-hate one when they yell those dreaded words “One more time!”
Feeling: Exhausted, out of breath, but still having the glimpse of excitement.
Pain Level: Super High. You will be sore. You will be tired and you will still have to run through again.
There will be a point during your training process where you will break down – usually as it gets closer to competition time. If you escape this stage you are lucky and maybe just have super pole and confidence skills. After all the intense training, your body is going to be going through a lot. Bodies were not conditioned to do the extreme things done in pole. There will be times where it just can’t keep up and you think of it as a failure. So you break down and wonder why the hell you are even putting yourself through this. You question if you are ready to compete. You may compare yourself to others and think you are so far behind. It will be an emotional battle.
Feeling: Defeated, worried.
Pain Level: Super High still because even though you are having a breakdown you still are probably running through your routine multiple times a week.
After you have your temporary break down, Yes that’s right Stage 5 is temporary! you will begin to see yourself and your routine strengthening. You are no longer dying for air after each run through – in fact you may be okay to just do it one more time. You feel your moves lightening and things that used to be a struggle become less so. It will still be physically challenging and demanding don’t get me wrong, but it will become easier.
Feeling: Exhausted, excited and a bit more confident.
Pain Level: High. Perhaps not as sore as when you first started running through.
You are ready. After all the intense training you’ve done over the past months you will be ready whether you like it or not. There’s no backing out now. You’ve accepted that fact and you’re going to go forward and give it your best. You’ve trained for months, and now you’re ready to show the world what you’ve got! You may hit all your moves, you may miss a few but you will go on and take that final bow at the end. After your 3-4 minute routine, you will be on a pole high and it’s the best feeling in the world. You just did it and completed all the stages of competition training like the beast you are.
Feeling: Nervous, then relief, then accomplished.
Anyone who does pole/aerial wears many faces. Many of us have full-time careers, we’re parents, spouses, caretakers, pet parents … need I say more?
Point is, we are usually not solely living life up in the air or have our bodies wrapped around a pole.