Tuesday, 2 February 2016

A beginners guide to pole shoes

The time has finally arrived. 

Your confidence has grown, or your curiosity has been piqued. 

Maybe you've secretly yearned for them, you've marveled at others on them, or you feel you may be close to being ready.

Perhaps you get a bit giddy at the thought of them, your breathing becomes shallow and rapid, you feel the adrenaline surge. Or that could be just me, I don't know?

Anyhoo, the time is closing in, or the time is now, whatever the reasons...

A variety of 6 inch heels
Your first purchase of pole shoes can be quite daunting, as well as exciting. There seems to be a huge array of styles, colours, and brands, and there is. The decision making process involved is mind blowing and can seem overwhelming. 


Chillax, I'm here to help. 

By no means do I consider myself as having the status of pole shoe queen or goddess... yet, I've reached double digits in my pole shoe collection and I've learned a few things along the way, practical and mistakes too.

First up my go to brand is Pleaser. I fully agree with the adage "You get what you pay for". With Pleaser's you expect quality, and I've not been disappointed yet. The Pleaser pole shoe is designed for the rigours and demands that pole dancing will place upon the shoe. They are light, and under the circumstances reasonably durable. Non pole shoes just can't handle the demands you will put on them. 

Pleaser's range of shoes and variety of styles is HUGE. And when I say huge do not for one second think I'm exaggerating. By huge I mean load the website, make a cuppa and a small snack because your arse is not going to lift off the chair your sitting on for a few hours.

The start off heel height I recommend is 6 inches. 
The classic glass slipper: Pleaser 6 inch
I know some people reading this are squirming, and not with excitement, instead it's fear, trepidation, or anxiety. 

Now let me explain a secret that will help calm your nerves. That height and that anticipated awkwardness, it's all an illusion. It truly is a good old trick of the eye and comes down to the platform under the ball of the foot. With the six inch heel the platform is almost at two inches which really gives you the equivalent heel height of wearing a four inch heel. A four inch heel is your standard women's high heel. See, you can do this.

Selecting a style you like is very personal. Pole shoes come as a slide, a strap sandal, ankle boots - open toe or closed toe, knee-hi boots, thigh-high boots, or chaps.
So many styles and only two feet... *drool*
When you're starting out I say go the strap sandal. The reasoning being inexperience can lead you to fling off a slide during a routine - so not sexy and very dangerous to anyone else in the room. The boots are a bit dearer and too lovely to be destroyed which makes them a good second buy when you're more experienced and know what you're doing, or a buy you save for performances. 

Did your heart skip a beat there at the word destroyed? Unfortunately it's true. Your pole shoes, as gorgeous as they are, are essentially the equivalent of gym shoes, and we all know how they end up over time.

Remember your shoes will be dragged as you sashay about the pole. They will be banged together as you master clacking and floor work. They will slide and drag when you do rollovers and any sort of tumbling, and they will knock into the pole intentionally or unintentionally. Basically your beautiful high heels will cop a beating over time. But then you're not buying them to look at them right, they're a functional piece of equipment for you to dance, and move, and be sexy in.
My first pole shoes *sigh*
These are my very first pair of Pleaser's. They lasted two years before I had to stop wearing them. I love the style, the chrome base with the black top. The colour variety available in the chrome is like a rainbow, just gorgeous. The chrome hardly marked at all considering the significant amount of time I spent banging the crap out of them with leg work. 

As you can see I have worn the front down from floor drags, but even that's not so bad. What made me have to give them up was the black covering stretching through wear and my toes sliding forward. Instead of dragging the tip of the shoe I was dragging my toes and that hurt like a bitch. Fortunately for me the time was right and I also went up a heel height as I felt very confident in the six in heels.
Toe overhang took a while but the material will eventually stretch... ouch
Yep, I now dance in eight inches, I train in them when I can, and believe it or not I'm very fortunate that I get to wear them to work. Working as a receptionist a my pole studio has some wonderful perks - like shoe wearing to showcase the different shoes I have... just because.
I know what 8 inches is ;)
Now here's something to remember... YOU CANNOT ORDER PLEASERS DIRECTLY FROM THEIR WEBSITE, they wholesale only so you need to find a retailer. A lot of pole studios are able to order in shoes for you, but not all. If you find yourself in this situation I have the PERFECT retailer for you! 

See, I've even taken the hard work out of this bit.

If your pole studio cannot order your Pleasers then there is a WONDERFUL online business I've been dealing with for well over four years now. I actually got my very first pair of 'real' high heels from her (Ramarim) and I haven't looked back; I started late with this whole shoe thing, my 40's, up until then I was a 'practical and safe' shoe wearer (boring) which really means I wasn't confident in my own skin to give high heels a go.

What is this wonderful business of which I speak? It's Shoe Me Gorgeous run by Jess Brown. Jess's customer service is OUTSTANDING, and delivery is quick - if there are delays she will get in touch and it is pretty much always a hold up at the other end. Another bonus is if you're not sure of your shoe size and you haven't been able to wrestle someones Pleasers off them to find out your correct shoe size (Pleasers are sized USA which is different to Australia and Europe), Shoe Me Gorgeous does offer exchange. One off pole studio orders may not be able to offer this.
Yes, be that chick!
I hope you like the information above and do note it is by no means exhaustive, it's just a beginners guide - something to get you started, just a tip of the heel that is pole shoe wisdom.

There is so much for me to tell you and teach you in the many months ahead about pole shoes. Until then what are you waiting for? Put the kettle on, rummage up a snack, open the website and get to it!

Happy pole shoe shopping... xox
This one makes me smile every time ;)
P.S. If you do go ahead and buy pole shoes please, please, please take picture of them and post it to Grip and Squeeze's facebook page. I'm always up for a bit of shoe porn <3

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Support Pole Dancing competitions

I wrote a brief comment on the loss of two significant annual pole competitions held in Queensland for the past few years, on my Facebook Grip and Squeeze page that I'd like to share here.
Just for the few misguided ones of you who have yet to 'like' the page on Facebook ;)

With Queensland having recently lost two outstanding pole competitions, Queensland Pole Championships and Miss Pole Dance Australia - Queensland heat, (Queensland entrants will now qualify through video submission) it is VITAL that we financially support the competitions and events we do have left. Yes, I do bring up the dreaded 'F' word - financial is the word for those naughty ones looking for another f-word in the last sentence :) 
Events and competitions are not charity or voluntary services offered by our community. They are expensive exercises involving many, many work hours, coordination, and significant up front costs in the months leading up to their date: venue hire, insurances, staff, equipment etc. If we want these events to continue we have to put our money where our mouth is and buy the tickets and get bums on seats. There is no other way. 
It truly is quite simplistic... you want it, you've got to go to it, and bring as many others as you can. It is a demand driven, financial enterprise. 
We need to let event organisers know, those people who are crazy enough and able enough to put these events on, that they will get the support they are so deserving of.
SO BUY THE DAMN TICKETS people, dress up, wear shoes to impress (I do make shoe contact before eye contact), and lets support our pole family and those of us driven to compete... they're special and need our love ;)

I added a further comment later in the discussion:
... and while a video submission may qualify you for the heat to travel interstate to compete at a National comp; video qualifying doesn't give you the pre-competition build up, the crowd experience, the shivers, the nerves, back stage dramas, tech runs, having to cope with a live audience, instant feedback, and learning to use your adrenaline to bring the performance home.
That live experience is truly NEEDED by those undertaking competitions. 
It's not just about the competition or competitors either. Every time I step away from an event I'm re-inspired, re-motivated, and fall just that little bit more in love with our community. It makes me want to be a better pole dancer, and flows in to various aspects of my life beyond the pole too <3
To wrap up, I don't believe all is lost, but then I AM an eternal optimist and ALWAYS look for that silver lining.

I think the competitions' absence, of however long but hopefully not too long, plus the huge growth we are seeing in poling, will drive the demand to bring these competitions back. But it will need to be demand driven and will need to become truly financially viable before anyone should consider investing in these once again.

So start saving you ticket money, and when the time is right make sure you're there and bring support with you. Make sure to support the competitions we do have left, and encourage those within your communities to do the same.

They will be back, better, brighter, shinier than before... for now we just hold on to what's left and we wait.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Revealing your belly

I did it.

I poled in a crop top.
I exposed my midriff.
People saw my tummy.

No one ran away screaming.
No one looked repulsed.
No one pointed.
The world did not end.
I did not die.


First let me explain if you're a non poler reading this. The reason pole dancers expose midriff, thighs, a bit of butt, hips, upper arms, and shoulders, is skin is needed to 'stick' to the pole. Unlike fabric which slides, slips, and doesn't hold grip at all, skin does.

Think about it. Could you pull yourself up on a pole with cotton gloves on? No. Now take them off and use your bare hands, your skin. You grip, you stick, you can climb.
Because of the tricks pole dancers do, the gymnastic type moves, the heights, the speed of some of the moves, the poler needs to stick to stay attached to the pole, so skin it is. The more challenging or difficult the trick, at times the more skin is needed to stick. Multiple tricks, different body parts need to stick to grip on and that equals less clothing worn to be able to accomplish these beautiful moves.

Having finally moved on from level 6 to level 7 at my pole studio, the tricks in this new level are harder, higher, and consequently require more skin to be exposed to be able to maintain grip to the pole during the trick. They are tricks which need midriff exposed to grip, and inner upper arm, just down from your armpit. So that means I NEED to expose my tummy, as squirmy and uncomfortable as it made me feel, if I want to do these new tricks and poses then off comes the top, so to speak.

The bruises are fresh, the muscles are sore, and my skin is once again slowly toughening, very slowly, at the main contact areas where these tricks are performed. And more skin equals more 'conditioning', which is a nice way to say it hurts until it doesn't.

Here's my suggestion if you're reluctant like I was to bare you midriff, show off your tummy, or even lift your top a bit for your skin to grip more... take a deep breath and DO IT!
Every one else is so busy concentrating on themselves and what they're trying to accomplish, focusing on where to place their hand, their foot, grunting and lifting into position, staying put and not crashing to the ground... honestly no one notices!

I will confess to you it's a bit of a let down even, after the self talk, the "You can do it!" in your head, the deep breathing as you peel off your clothes... and no one notices.

For me the following week at the end of my class my instructor casually walked up and said she noticed and she was proud of me for doing it because it was something she wasn't comfortable with herself. Mind blown! I would never have known if she hadn't told me. A classic example of being wrapped up in my own little bubble of insecurities and neuroses that other people's hang ups go by pretty much unnoticed.

So take that as the predominant position of most of your class members and go for it. Show your beautiful skin, as flawed, scarred, marked, or damaged as you think it is, it's not. It's a tool to use to achieve beautiful moves in pole, it's part of what makes you the beautiful poler you are, and it's part of the story that makes you uniquely you. 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Five weeks of lazy

I must confess I'm quietly shitting myself. I've had five weeks break from poling, from fitness, from any activity that could potentially give me a bit of a sweaty sheen to my skin. 

Yep five weeks of complete lethargy, and it's been totally by choice. 

I've loved it but the time has ended and tonight I return to the pole world. Tonight I have two, one hour classes back to back. 
Tonight, well basically tonight my expectation is I will die.

Okay, okay, I'm going for the dramatic here... maybe not die but I will feel like death I'm sure. 

And it's all my own doing so I don't expect any sympathy what so ever, but if you do offer me some I will grab that on to it and cling desperately for dear life.

For five weeks I've been a gluttonous sloth, and I've loved it. 

I've eaten whatever the hell I wanted whenever I've wanted. I have over indulged, I have enjoyed Christmas and New Year. I've celebrated with family and friends. I've sat in front of the television binge watching Supernatural. It's been wonderful, but now the reckoning happens, now I pay the price.

And it's no surprise, it is what it is, and I am okay with it. I have a long year with lots of hard work ahead of me: physically, nutritionally, intellectually, emotionally. 

Bring it, it's going to be brilliant!

But tonight, that first night back at training, the reality check at just how far I've let myself go... it's going to hurt so bad.

The next day it will hurt a bit more, because the second day is always a bitch, and then it will lessen. Day by day after that it will lessen until eventually I return to the constant state of having a dull ache somewhere, a niggle here, a bruise there. Those things bring their own rewards though. They signify strength returning and increasing, flexibility unfolding, new skills being mastered, and old ones refined.

So bring it, listen to me bitch and moan, laugh as I suffer, and then join me as we kick some serious pole goals in 2016.

Yeah baby!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

My First Pole Challenge - THE RESULT

Well, let me start by openly confessing I'm a bit up myself right now.

The 6 week Pole Challenge is over, I won a prize, and I'm incredibly happy.

Yep, I got the prize I was after, but more than that I got some pretty awesome results.

If you've not read my previous post, my pole studio ran it's first ever six week pole challenge where individual attendance at pole classes and casual classes was tracked... we had a wall chart, I LOVE CHARTS! There was a weigh-in and measurements taken of all participants before the start, at the halfway point, and just before the end. The prizes on offer included winning a 6 week pole course, or winning a photo shoot. To win the pole course you had to have attended the most pole sessions during the challenge. To win the photo shoot you had to have had the most outstanding result. I desperately wanted the photo shoot, not only because it's lovely to get some nice pics but because the photographer is one of the instructors at our studio and she does amazing pics.
So how was the six weeks?
"Interesting" is a word that sums it up pretty well.
One of the best things about this challenge was learning more about my fellow competitors. We had a separate group page set up just for us to whinge and complain, to boast, to support, to nag, to show pictures of our food, and to jolly about, I loved it. I loved showing what I could do, I loved telling people to keep going - one slip doesn't wreck your whole day was a common theme, I loved complaining, and I loved goading. I just really enjoyed communicating and sharing... no surprises there I suppose, hey.
I loved how this interaction with my fellow competitors kept me motivated. It stopped me from sticking my head in the fridge, or ordering something I "shouldn't" because I'd feel the need to confess. It made me accountable I suppose. I felt how could I encourage others if I didn't practice what I was preaching, that helped me immensely, and helped me get the dramatic results I got.
I also loved being at the studio so frequently during the week, it was fun. The vibe was amazing, people knew we were the challengers, they asked about the chart and how we were going. It engaged us more with our pole sisters. I didn't hear one negative comment, only support and encouragement, and I wouldn't expect anything else from these babes.
The hardest thing about the challenge... being at the studio so often. I know this completely juxtaposes the previous paragraph but I have this terrible affliction called guilt. I believe it's common to a lot of women, especially mothers, though not exclusively I will add.
My family were very encouraging of wanting me to ping off out of the house to get my pole on. They could see the benefits that were happening, my changes, my growth. But, that never really stops you feeling guilty for stepping out and leaving the kids (18 & 14, yeah I know, big kids) home alone. Or hub having evenings to himself, even though he was doing late nights with work and not home much before me it turned out.
I did find it hard cooking two sets of meals. I ended up stepping back and made the family's meals very, very basic, or left them to their own devices. There wasn't too much junk, only because we're rural so not much close by. But kids don't see food, they see ingredients, and that's just too much effort to turn into food, so basic is a good way to describe how things were a lot of the time for them, especially towards the end.
So what were my specifics, my dramatic result? For those wanting details here they are....

I lost a total of 7.4 kilograms, that's a bit over 16 lb's for those non-metric people.
Yep, in six weeks it just dropped off and there were only two days where I could have chewed the leg off a cow, the rest was pretty smooth hunger-wise all things considered.

I shrank my body by lots of centimeters.
  • Chest: - 5 cm
  • Waist: - 9 cm
  • Hips: - 6 cm
  • Arm at bicep: - 3 cm
  • Thigh at widest part: - 3 cm
I attended almost 40 classes during the six weeks, averaging six classes per week. I also attended The Australian Pole Festival during week four of the challenge, this equalled 12 pole or pole related workshops during a three day weekend, yes it was hectic but it's pole!
I built muscle and lost body fat, and my upper body strength is developing along nicely.
I've debated the past few days about putting the following comparison pic up, you know trolls and well - internet, but it's also a pic of my 6 week achievement so "Fuck it!" Being honest there's already pics of me in my underwear out there from a previous blog so not much different really. Do remember with the before pics I was in a month long binge prior to starting, stress and issues. I still have them, stress and issues that is, I just manage them differently and will continue to I hope.
Yay me ;)
So what now?

Yep, the studio is doing another six week challenge, same prizes, and I have signed up and am continuing. I'm not expecting the same dramatic results, but I know I'll get good results regardless. My motivation is high and my goals are realistic. I don't think I can attend six sessions a week, but I can do things at home to help. I have the above pics as my guide of where I've come from and I know where I want to go to. I want to be stronger, fitter, able to do more complicated pole tricks and moves, pole better overall, and just feel better and healthier... and I think I'm well on my way.
Keep going babe
P.S. Thank you Roly Poler for making me edit, decide to put in my pics, and hit the publish button... xox

Saturday, 12 September 2015

My first pole challenge

The pole studio I attend is holding a challenge starting the end of this month that runs for six weeks. I've never done any type of fitness challenge before so I thought I'd give it a go. 
Next week there will be all kinds of measurements and photos, the usual 'before' stuff, to provide a baseline to compare with the 'after' stuff.

I know some of my fellow challengers are nervous about this aspect, especially being photographed (even though they will be private and taken on our personal devices), to be honest I'm actually quite excited, I even know which sports bra and knickers I'm going to wear!

I'm excited because I am so ready for this: to make changes, to push myself, challenge myself, and compete with myself. This first lot of measurements and photographs is just to pinpoint in time where I am, to document where my body is and it's current state. For the past month or so I've been comfort eating to deal with shit (yes, I have issues), I've not been consistent with exercise, and I've not been as supportive of my health as I should be, as I want to be, and maybe as I need to be. But we all do what we can, when we can, right. For me the time to make changes is most definitely now.

There are prizes involved with this challenge too; one for the most classes attended, and one for the most outstanding results. To track and record our attendance there will be a wall chart. I LOVE CHARTS! Yes, I confess I was the school girl whose day/week/month/year was made if she earned a gold star because 'back in my day' you had to earn those bitches!

I'm not convinced I'll be able to attend the most classes, but I do have a few extras scheduled that will become part of my normal routine during the challenge. I will give it my best shot and see how things look on the chart week by week. Did I mention I love charts!

The title I'm shooting for is the most outstanding results. One of the beautiful things with pole dancing is to make significant changes to your body, your strength, and your flexibility you don't HAVE to do it daily. Sometimes life get's in the way and you need to change your priorities, but with pole dancing you still get results. My personal theory here is to go no more than two days without it, that is something I can set as a personal challenge to be faithful to and I truly believe I can achieve great results with this.

Here's where my competitive streak comes out, and here is where being involved in a challenge with fellow polers will help to inspire and motivate me. Though knowing myself as I do I'm not convinced it will be reciprocated. You see I have this Dr Jekyll and Miss. Hyde thing that happens when I get really competitive. Normally I'm all loveliness, light, sweetness, and kindness, but when I'm truly competitive I am one seriously mean bitch, as in I could make the devil weep, big fat you-hurt-my-feelings tears. 
I have friends that are STILL traumatised from playing board games with me, and we're going back twenty years here! Even though the word "Pussies" springs to mind I will not let it leave my lips. The trauma has affected them so much they STILL bang on about it!

I'm now forced to only play board games with my immediate family, it's quite pathetic really. You see we're all in the same boat. It appears this competitiveness is shared amongst us, along with offending the sensitive ones around us, and winning, we are banished and our only resort is to play against one another. Hand on my heart, this is true.
I have forewarned the ladies taking part in this challenge that there may be moments where I will tease and stir, basically it's a nice way of me saying I will talk smack.  I hope to get as good as I give. So long as we're all coming from a place of fun, support, and motivation I'm good with it. If I'm whining too much I expect to be called a whingey bum. If I'm making lame excuses I expect to be called out on it, if I'm dropping back I want to be gently bullied to get back on with it. Like I said, I will be giving it, so I expect to receive it too.
So brace yourselves, get ready to read my frustrations, get ready to read my whinging, but mostly I hope you will get to laugh at my experiences and smile at my victories, I wouldn't stop you if you wanted to cheer by the way.

Friday, 24 July 2015

When frustration makes you cry

Driving home from my poling class late last night my mood became as heavy as the fog that blurred the street lights. The further I drove away from the studio and the lights of suburbia, and the deeper I drove into the darkness of the rural bush area I call home, the heavier it all became - the fog and my mood.

I entered my quiet dimly lit house, gently placed my pole bag on the floor next to the door, and quietly walked to my bedroom. I stared at my bed momentarily, then flopped onto it grabbing one of my pillows, and I waited as the emotion released. I sobbed quietly, alone with my thoughts. The tears kept coming and I let them, I didn't interrupt them, slow them down, or try to gain some sort of control. I cried unashamedly, sobbingly, I wet the pillowcase my head was on with my tears... and then I was done. It was over quickly but the release of the emotion, the flow of thoughts, the sense of being emotionally and physically drained it still sits with me this morning, but it's passing and I am accepting the situation I find myself in. 
So much fog this morning...
The cause of my tears is a common one to polers at some stage in their pole experience... FRUSTRATION. Complete, absolute, total frustration.

It's a roadblock of sorts that you just can't move on from or progress further with until you get it sorted. Well, that's how it seems when your frustration reaches a peak point, like mine did last night.

Having that emotional release, a good old cry, seems to trigger a response in me where it's time to decide what to do. Do I give up - which I don't want to do, do I change - I don't know that I'm ready to, or do I move on to something completely different? I don't know fully yet what I'll do, this is a thought in progress while I sit and write this.

My frustration is my core strength, well lack of core strength. I'm truly struggling with my inverted V, you may know it as an inverted straddle. And in the level I am currently in there is a layback, hands free, which I then need to pull up out of. I can get in to the layback okay, but pulling back up  is not happening. The fact that I am roughly two meters off the ground in this layback makes it super scary as there is no alternative way out.

I have practiced what I preach, I do only compare myself to myself. I do see how far I've come along in my poling, my strength, and my flow. But I feel I'm stuck at the moment, truly, truly stuck. 

I do have a good core workout, and I have made phenomenal improvements. I was someone who had absolutely zero abdominal strength, I have certainly come a long way from those days, but it's not enough to achieve what I need to achieve. Of course I want to achieve it quicker than I am as well.
The fog is lifting...
I think it's a bit serendipitous that the Pole Gym I attend is not too far off commencing a new term. There is courses on offer for Sexy style pole dancing, which is my love. I'm planning on taking them and really focusing on them, focusing on the moves, the floor work, the choreography, and freestyling. 

I will once again be holding myself down and repeating my current pole level, again. So this will be my third time at doing level six. I plan to continue with my core development program, and I think I will investigate upping it more, depending on how I cope, and spend the next six week pole term focusing on ab work and dancing dirty, and not so much on my level six course. 

I'm hoping that playing to my strengths will give my confidence a boost, my ego a bit of hug, and just not sweat the inverted V as much or layback pull up. I know it will happen eventually, it has to. So I guess I'm just parking the bus so to speak at level six and expanding my horizons with other opportunities.

Of course to ease my suffering I have ordered two new pairs of shoes, one for poling and one for going out all glam like. I'm sure you understand and probably agree this is a good way to cope with my situation. For the record this was also just a random cosmic coincidental event, it was meant to be... see I get my silver lining too.
Shoes make me happy
Time to take a deep breath, recognise everyone will have their pole struggles, and if you stick with it, try not to make too big a drama about it, it will happen eventually. So long as you're doing your best to get there, it has to.