Do you know I wasn't able to pole once when I was away? It was terrible! I contacted a pole studio in Dublin who let me book in for a couple of casual classes, only to then tell me they wanted a letter from my instructor accepting liability if I injured myself because their insurance didn't cover non-student casuals! As any sensible person would do, I promptly asked for a refund and told them I would not be attending their classes. Any sports/fitness studio that demands an instructor thousands of miles away, on the other side of the world, who will not be there and will not be spotting, take responsibility for what happens is not somewhere I want to be setting foot in. On a more positive note, they did give me a refund and there were no hard feelings.
Since I got back I have been back on the pole and trying to work myself back up to the level I was when I left. That, of course, takes time, but I have been pleasantly surprised to see that I haven't lost too much of what I had.
Martini is still as good as ever!
One thing I have lost however, and that I'm not happy about, is my front straddle.
Front straddles are one of those things you either love or you hate as a pole dancer: I loved straddles before I went away, but since coming back I have found empathy with my fellow Divas who believe that this trick has been conjured from their own personal hell. Straddles certainly didn't come easy for me: it took me roughly thirteen months to nail my static straddle, and then nine months after that to get a spin straddle, and I didn't stop doing them once I had them either. Given I was at pole, as a minimum, three times a week and doing either straddles or straddle strengthening in every class, I was actually quite pleased with how strong my straddles were getting and was starting to be more careful in my inter static class, making sure I actually held my straddle before hooking into a Ballerina Hold (I'd been getting into a bad habit of flipping and hooking, which I wanted to kick).
But then I went away for a month and wasn't able to pole. One. Whole. Month. And when I came back, I couldn't straddle. I knew I would lose things over my break, it's inevitable, but to lose my straddle was particularly devestating. I can honestly tell you that I saw this as some kind of personal failure and spent quite a bit of time after I came back tearing strips off myself over this perceived failure. Logically, I know that a trick like a straddle is one that is hard to get and easy to lose, and that I will get back to the level I was at before I went away as long as I continue training, but it is hard to be logical sometimes when I trick you loved has suddenly become your worst nightmare.
In practice time on Saturday, I was working on my spin straddles. Before I went away I actually passed Beginner Spin, but for various reasons I couldn't continue spin classes n the term before I went away, so I had actually been off spin for roughly twelve weeks before I jumped back into the last four weeks of term.
I left practice time feeling angry, frustrated and furious with myself, because I'd spent a whole hour working on my straddle and I hadn't managed to single, f**king one! Then I got home and went through the video footage I'd taken of both class and practice and was stunned.
There, in my videos, was not one but two spin straddles.
The straddle on the left is my first and I do put my leg on at one point before coming out, while in the straddle on the right I mount without touching the pole and unfold in the same way. They're not glamorous, I'll admit that, and they're certainly not perfect, but my shock at accomplishing this when I believed I'd achieved nothing all practice time gave me pause for thought.
My negativity over the fortnight had done nothing but bring me down and make me miserable. All that self-doubt had thrown me into such a deep, dark hole that I couldn't even recognise my achievements anymore! Twelve weeks off spin, and three weeks back I was able to straddle again! That's huge, but I didn't even see it at the time because I'd been so busy telling myself that I'd lost my straddle and what-a-terrible-dancer-you-are.
So there's two morals to this story: the first is that filming yourself is excellent and don't let anyone ever shame you for doing it. The second is that self-doubt and negativity are toxic and you achieve nothing by talking yourself down.
And if ever I needed any confirmation that I really have got my straddle back, this happened on Tuesday night at the end of spin class...
Yes, that is a signed off pass on my straddle combo for Beginner Spin, and also for my Martini combo (although I wasn't too worried about that one). I'm heading off to a workshop on Sunday and hoping to get the rest of the combos done - I'm feeling confident as I've been able to execute all of these tricks since coming back - and hoping to find myself in inter spin next term!
Jewels is back in her J-Zone!
If you're afraid to fall it means you're prepared to brave the heights from which you might fly.
Me With No Apologies.