How Martha got her helicopter back:
A journey, by definition, is an act of traveling from one place to another. However, there’s no limit on the number of intermediate stops or how long you take, which is good because my journey with pole has taken some unexpected detours.
My friendship with Shannon dates to the early 1990s. I was in my 20s and fresh out of a divorce. Looking for a change, I moved to the beach and signed up for classes at Bolt Aerobics, a small fitness studio in east Arlington. Shannon was an instructor and we V stepped our way to a close friendship that saw me remarrying, the birth of Carmen (Shannon's daughter) and, in 2000, me moving from Atlantic Beach to a horse ranch on Black Hammock Island in northeast Jacksonville.
Between work, horses, and family we lost touch until April 2013 and the inaugural One Spark festival in downtown Jacksonville. I was walking back to my office after lunch and saw some women in bright tank tops spinning on dance poles. Like a moth to a flame, I was drawn to the group and came face to face with Shannon. After a long hug, I took a quick pose on a pole and within a week started a beginner series. I quickly learned to climb and invert and performed my first solo that December to The Zoo by the Scorpions. I was sold.
My journey made a hard stop in June 2014. On Father’s Day, my Dad passed away and, two weeks later, I was thrown from my show horse and broke my right hip and fractured my leg (an intertrochanter spiral fracture for you medical types). I had emergency surgery and the doctor implanted a titanium rod in the marrow shaft of my femur. As my sister Laura put it, I got what I always wanted: a hard rod and two screws. I spent 12 days in the hospital and then a couple more months at home before I returned to work full time.
Ilene Chazan at Ergo Body Pilates and Physical Therapy in San Marco (www.ergobodypt.com) took over my PT and taught me to walk straight and without a limp. Three months to the day, I excitedly climbed back on my horse but it was another six months before I tried pole again.
I continued working with Ilene in twice weekly Pilates sessions and began private lessons with Shannon, working on strength and conditioning. Unfortunately, as my hip and leg got stronger, my back began to fail me. I’d suffered from nagging lower back pain for years and it worsened, aggravated by my hip injury and extensive driving for work. My back got tighter and stiffer and I lost mobility. I was unable to tuck my pelvis without pain. I had always been a strong climber but it took more moves to get up the pole and I couldn’t do shoulder rolls. Most importantly, helicopter eluded me. Without this basic invert, I would be limited in advancing my pole skills.
There is a synergy between the movements of pole and Pilates and in my lessons with Ilene and Shannon it became our mission to regain helicopter. Shannon deconstructed the move in every possible way. Ilene encouraged me to make lifestyle changes, such as a standing desk and a car with better ergonomic seats, which she helped me adjust so that I was sitting properly.
With both, we took the time to rethink each movement and focus on proper execution and use of core strength. Although not an overnight improvement, we began to see positive changes. I could do a long spine in Pilates again. My pole climbs were gooey. Finally, in March 2018, I stood at the pole and helicoptered. Dominant and non-dominant sides. It was if a switch had been flipped.
Cher is famously quoted for saying “Fitness – if it came in a bottle, everyone would have a great body.” There was no pill or easy quick answer to regain mobility but rather a continuous and tenacious desire to reach my goal. It really is about the journey: focus on each step, finish the move and don’t bail, and don’t forget to point your fucking toes.
Away from her pole sisters at Aura Aerial and Yoga, Martha is a professional engineer who focuses on transportation planning, traffic operations and safety. She and her husband own a horse ranch and she shows her home bred Irish Sport Horses, Elle and Fiona, in dressage. (Elle is the guilty party in this story).
We are so delighted to host Steve Piscitelli, studio member, as our blog guest submission for April. He is an inspiration and community mentor in the Jacksonville Beaches area. Enjoy his motivating blog post!
A Tweet read, “Please don’t bring your agenda today. Bring your love, prayers, heart and support to those who have been hurt and are hurting.”
“Please don’t bring your agenda today.” While I assume only the best intentions by the tweeter, those words bothered me.
I remembered a conversation I had had years ago with a mentor. On that day I had sought his advice about a personal issue. I said, as a way of apologizing for taking his time, something to the effect of, “Isn’t there a verse in the Bible that speaks about feeling bad for yourself because you have no shoes. Until you see someone with no feet. Then you recognize how insignificant your issue is.”
My mentor did not miss a beat. “Yes, that may be true. But those shoe-less feet, they are still your feet.”
In essence, he told me not to short-sell my agenda.
While others may suffer far more than you, it is not about comparatory suffering. It’s not about being cavalier about others. It’s not about shining the spotlight on yourself for a self-congratulatory, self-centered me-me-me moment. It is about paying attention to your core needs that resonate with your core values. This is not about selfishness. It is more about your life, relationships, growth, and resilience.
Regardless of what happens in the world today, your world continues. Your agenda (your list of things to be done) does not disappear. Your children. Your community. Your health and well-being. Your healthcare insurance. Your significant other(s). Your debt. Your food insecurity. Your suffering loved one. Your savings account. Your community activism. Your issues, trials, tribulations, strife, successes, failures, collaborations, family, friends, and resilience mean something to you and to others.
Do not let anyone discount your agenda.
Steve Piscitelli is an author, keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, and a retired professor. You can find resources and more about Steve and The Growth and Resilience Network® at www.stevepiscitelli.com. This blog post adapted from a post on The Growth and Resilience Network® blog (October 8, 2017).
If someone had told me that one day I would be competing in a pole dancing competition, I never would've believed it! But...it happened and just like everything else with pole, I absolutely loved it! It was a truly amazing and exciting experience! Even more amazing is what I realized in reflection. After the competition, the main thing going through my mind was that it truly is the journey and not the destination that matters. For me though, this was not just the journey of preparation over the months leading up to the competition but a much larger journey. A journey years in the making, a journey of self-discovery, self-love and finding my authentic self.
I've always had a performer and competitive spirit in my heart and a great love for dance, music and the arts. I lost sight of it for awhile and didn't even realize it was missing, or rather I knew something was missing, but didn't know what that something was until I discovered Pole Dancing 2 years ago and felt such a sense of fulfillment, ease and just overall peacefulness and happiness. With Pole dance, I had re-connected with what makes me feel passionate and gave a large part of my true authentic self a voice which had been stifled for years. I am a performer. I am a dancer. The truth is, I always have been. Sometimes in life we get distracted or too scared to accept or believe the magnitude of our true potential and our hearts desires. Sometimes it's easier, safer and less risky to play it small, just do what others say you should do or divert yourself with other things instead of sit with yourself, do the digging and acknowledge what is screaming to come out.
My competition piece was a Sleeping Beauty theme. We all know that in the Disney movie, Aurora is awoken from her death's sleep through true loves kiss. For me though, this piece signified my own awakening. Being awoken by true love yes but in a more symbolic sense. My version is the awakening of my authentic self by the true love within. I had to learn to love myself first and in doing so I awoke to my dreams and there I was on stage dancing and performing - my passion! All found because I FINALLY listened to myself, finally stopped and stood still, finally believed that what is in my heart IS meant for me - imagine that! I actually get chills when I think about it! This was not fixed or planned by me at all but yet the music, the theme, everything about it was just so perfectly aligned and the symbolism to me is outstanding.
The great lesson in all of this: If you feel an urging in your heart and your spirit, it is not there to be ignored or to be avoided through other vices and distractions no matter how scary or unrealistic it may seem. It's there for a reason to push you to your best self, your true authentic self where you can feel happy and at peace and then share that with those around you. Listen to it, sit with it in silence alone, even if you feel very uncomfortable - embrace that discomfort and welcome it as a sign for changes ahead. Find comfort in the discomfort and know that amazing things are on the way! It's funny - now when I feel even a little discomfort I actually get excited because I know this means I'm being presented with an opportunity to grow and discover even more of what is meant for me in this beautiful life. And this is also very important - listen to what your heart and spirit are telling you is right for you and not what other's tell you to be. Other people will project their own insecurities and beliefs (usually not even realizing it or meaning any harm). Leave them out of this - this is about YOU. They can't possibly know what is right for you. Your job is to get out of your own way (no room for negative self talk), really listen to yourself, believe then take the first step - even if it's a 1/4 of a step...take action and watch how the universe responds. And trust me when I say - it WILL respond. The next thing you know, you're pole dancing your heart out on a stage portraying your favorite Disney princess! Well that's my version anyway - yours will be something magical and suited perfectly just for you.
This blog actually took quite a different direction. I was going to write about my competition experience but as I sat typing, all of this is what came out so I feel this is what I am meant to share. I want to share it because, for so long I was anxious and unsettled, I had unhealthy behaviors and patterns and despite doing everything I was "supposed" to do, I just felt stuck. There is no worse feeling. I know I am not the only human who has had these feelings and I want people to know there is hope and an incredible life waiting on the other side of the mess and confusion and the answers all lie within YOU. I am forever grateful for everything that has happened along the way - the good, the mediocre, the bad, the ugly, it has brought me to where I am now - a fulfilled, confident and truly happy person who is at peace.
As for what is next - I am already signed up for another competition that will happen in June. I will be performing at a theater in New York City. How does this make me feel? Terrified - yes, over the moon excited - yes, alive - very much so and it is for these reasons I know this is exactly where I am meant to be!
One of my favorite quotes by Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Author: Christie Loesch
Christie Loesch is a certified Project Management professional working in the IT industry for the last 19 years. When not managing projects during her day job, she spends most of her free time involved in all things Pole Dancing most recently performing in a competition. She looks forward to continuing to grow in her Pole Dancing journey all while having so much fun along the way and hopefully influencing others to find their passion and live their best life!
So cliche, but, WOW, does time pass quickly! Here we are beginning a brand new year 2018. Now is the time that many of us reflect back on the past year: What were we thankful for? What were our disappointments, frustrations, missed opportunities and worries? And, what do we hope for the new year?
This past December, we contemplated these very questions in my yoga classes. We celebrated the Winter Solstice giving thanks for the wonderful things that happened during 2017 then began thinking about what was not quite right in our lives this past year and why. My personal reasons why 2017 was not quite what I hoped? Same as everyone else: Not enough time or money, too many distractions.
When I was preparing for my yoga certifications, I was required to read The Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar. I use this book as a reference so much that it is dog eared and falling apart. I really love this book! One chapter refers to Perception and Action. The book states "An important concept from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras has to do with the way we perceive things, and it explains that our perception or "misperception" is the reason we have difficulties in life. If we create such problems, that we can also learn to free ourselves from these problems." Avidya is incorrect comprehension while Vidya is correct understanding. This philosophy teaches that, over time, we accumulate so much Avidya (through habit mostly) that our vision is clouded, foggy. We do not see life and life's situations as they really are. Our perception has lost clarity.
This hit home for me as I thought about 2017 and my disappointments. I confess that I have allowed, through habit, influences to cloud my vision, my perception. Social media has played a big roll in fogging up my world. As a result, I wasted time & emotional energy on things that frustrated and angered me. In not being clear in my perception, I squandered away valuable time, energy and opportunities.
Does this sound familiar to anyone?...
If so, join me in taking decisive steps to clear away the fog of misperception!
1. No need to delete your social media accounts. They can be a source of fun and enjoyment. However, take some time to scroll through your feeds. If a post is negative (whether it is confirmational bias or not), un-follow it. If it does not bring you joy, peace and make your heart smile, un-follow it. If it tears down another human, un-follow it. Limit your time on social media. Copy & paste these links on ideas on how help limit unproductive screen time: https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykarcz/2017/06/14/how-to-break-your-social-media-addiction-with-the-binky-app/#2325380321c7, https://blogs.systweak.com/2017/11/5-best-apps-that-track-social-media-usage-app-to-limit-social-media-use/, https://blogs.systweak.com/2017/11/5-best-apps-to-fight-social-media-addiction/
2. This makes me sound old, but, back in my day...the news came on maybe two times a day and was never called "fake". Now we are inundated with "information & misinformation" 24/7. Let's be responsible for what, how often and when we decide to bring in outside info. Make wise decisions and do our homework. Make sure what we are absorbing is Vidya, correct understanding. Limit your time watching the news.
3. Soul search. Ask yourself: Is what I watch & listen to, or do the people with whom I decide to surround myself make me happy? Does it or do they agree to build a strong, diverse community for the greater good of us all, not just those with our skin color, political affiliations or religious beliefs? Does it or do they inspire me to be better, happy, productive and compassionate? Does the media I watch or the people I am around support clear perception or wallow in Avidya?
4. Read more books!!
I am down for a clear 2018!! Anyone joining me?
Shannon is Co-Owner of Aura Aerial & Yoga, mother of 3 and (almost) 53 year old movement teacher. She enjoys the happiness, sorrows and lessons of living a full and messy life. Join her at Aura Aerial & Yoga for yoga, aerial yoga, pole fitness and conditioning classes.
Last year I competed for the very first time. The experience was so positive I wrote “You Had the Power All Along”. In that blog, I stated I wasn’t one to push competing. I am forced to retract that statement. Normally I stand by my word. Integrity ranks high in my personality chart so it’s important for me to lay out the reasons for my retraction.
When I entered in that first pole competition, it was to prove to myself, who is introverted and sometimes socially awkward, that I could face my fear and perform on stage. What I wasn’t prepared for was how welcomed I was into the competition community. The crowd applause was just as loud and supportive for the beginners as it was for the professionals. It was then that I became hooked.
When the organization sent out opportunities to become an ambassador this year, I jumped on it without hesitation. The reason I was so drawn to this competition organization specifically is that their mission ran quite parallel to our studio’s mission statement. Pole Sport Organization’s motto is, “Anyone can have a chance on stage”. No video submission and no judgement in entering. Sound familiar? Even though I don’t really receive anything monetarily for this role, I am passionate about seeing others overcome their fears and experience the benefits of pole performance.
Because I had placed the first year, rules stated I had to move up a level. Logically I understood the rule but that meant I had to move up into the dreaded two point of contact inversion tricks. Handsprings and Ayeshas always scared the bejesus out of me and I refused to practice them…… until I was forced to. Once I acknowledged I had to progress beyond my comfort zone to improve, it became just another goal to work towards. Now I can bust out an elbow grip Ayesha with ease but that darn handspring still has me hard at work!
We can easily get stuck in our own studio bubble so it’s beneficial to receive exposure to different styles and levels. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a performer do a trick or transition that I’ve never seen before or wouldn’t have thought to try. The pole sport is constantly evolving so it’s important we stay tuned into new things. When I competed in Seattle, I was completely blown away by the skill level and artistic ability in that region. I immediately wanted to take those inspirations home and apply to both my pole growth and teaching plans.
We are all human and want to place and perform well but the mutual support for each other is very present. Seeing your competitors support you is very encouraging and calming. Continued relationships are built because you experienced that anxiety, fear, and success together. In Orlando, I got to hang backstage with my previous competitor from Atlanta, JBeck. We had maintained contact through social media and although we were competing in different divisions, we ended up backstage together cheering each other on as if we were old gal pals. The same is true for the vast majority of other performers. I’m always amazed at how humble even some of the pros are. Watching them perform is like having a seat at the Olympics. Despite these Polympians (as I call them) being advanced athletes, most are quite approachable and extend support to even the most beginner of polers.
The downside of being a performer over a spectator is that you miss some beautiful and creative pieces getting ready for your own performance. That said, I make it a point to devote time both before my event and after to watch as many performances as my schedule will allow. They inspire me so much! No matter how experienced, it takes so much courage and vulnerability to get up there. We put so much dedication into a piece and pray it translates. That’s someone’s heart up there dancing, and their performance is a gift to us as the audience. My latest piece, was a tribute to my partner’s parents who passed. I loved them dearly and wanted to celebrate their memory, honor their passing into the next life, and hopefully lead the audience on a journey under the narrative that death isn’t the end.
My boss at my day job is a great mentor and career developer. One of the areas he’s always coaching me through is confidence. I’m either a nervous talker or don’t speak at all. One day he said to me, “Dawn, you can do flips on a pole but where is that confidence on a conference call?” Touché, Mr. Bossman. Competing taught me to stand tall in life no matter the circumstances with dignity just like we do on stage. Everyone has a value and sometimes you just have to overcome a scary or intimidating situation to realize yours.
There’s so many other benefits to competing than I’ve listed but one thing is for certain. It is life changing and I recommend everyone to give it a try. Everyone should have a chance on stage and a time to shine!
Dawn began her journey to fitness and well being through pole dance in 2013. After quitting smoking for over 17 years and recovering from a digestive disorder, she was ready to take charge of her health! Finding mainstream gyms to be boring and unmotivating she decided to give pole dance fitness a try. Her life changed forever! She was immediately hooked on how fun and challenging pole fitness was and excited to see the changes in her body, strength, stamina and most especially her self-confidence! So much so, she became an AFAA Certified Instructor and loves sharing the amazing benefits of pole dance fitness!
(Tonia Phillips takes group exercise class with Shannon Burbridge. She is married with two grown sons. She has had several careers, a social worker, sales person and finally a school bus driver for special needs preschoolers.
She has yoyo dieted for most of her life and never exercised until until two years ago. Now she loves the "new" her and hopes to inspire others, regardless of age, size or fitness level, to take control & get healthy and fit!)
Here is her story...
I retired to Ponte Vedra Beach two years ago and decided to join a gym to get healthy. I started with three classes a week and soon increased to five times a week. Still, after one year I had not lost any weight. What was the missing link?
Last November I went to a new doctor, and I told her I wanted to lose weight. She provided a weight loss package plan for me. I thought it was cute that she believed me. The plan included the same old same old, diet and exercise. What caught my eye was an app called Lose It. I downloaded it and entered all the required info. I entered how much I wanted to lose per week ( 2 pounds was the max). It lets you know how many calories you can eat per day and when you will reach your goal. I was really excited that I could lose 62 pounds by July! Totally doable.
Shortly after I downloaded the app, my son told me he was going to ask his girlfriend to marry him. This was the final push I needed! I started looking at mother of the groom dresses and I knew everything I saw would not look the same in a plus size. I decided I was going to to lose weight for the wedding.
I began my new eating habit right after Thanksgiving and didn't weigh myself until Christmas Day. I thought if I weighed myself too soon I might get discouraged. I cut my portion sizes in half and was amazed that I still felt full after meals. I was relentless! In less than 1 month I lost 7 pounds! I never thought it would be possible to eat a cup of pasta instead of a half pound or a sandwich made with one slice of bread instead of two, but that has become my new normal. I didn't give up any particular food or eat anything special. I ate everything I used to, just less of it. I even could drink alcohol but I realized it would be better for me to have an apple than a glass of wine so I chose wisely.
By May I had lost 40 pounds. My doctor slowly lowered my my blood pressure medicine and I now am medication free. What an unexpected benefit!
I finally reached that goal (67 pounds in 293 days) this past weekend!
I have 10 more months to go until the wedding. I have given away some of my clothes that no longer fit and plan to go shopping for that dress!
Side note from Shannon: This woman has such a joyful smile and beautiful energy. I was so inspired by her story and her commitment. I hope her story inspires everyone to take control of their health and well-being!
Merriam-Webster defines happenstance as: a circumstance especially that is due to chance They came together by mere happenstance.
Sometimes the best things in life, happen by chance…
I have practiced yoga off and on for much of my life. Only recently have I begun to practice on a regular basis. Upon entering the Theater Program at the University of Central Florida, I attended a few yoga classes looking for something to do and to stay active. Something just clicked. I began to really get hooked on yoga. I connected with a few teachers that I really enjoyed and soon I was practicing three to four times a week and began my own personal practice. Since I began practicing yoga seriously, the benefits have been overwhelming. I noticed time and time again the positive changes in my acting abilities, and my metal and physical health.
The acting programs at UCF place a huge importance on breathe. Professors instill in students that breath holds the key to emotional life. I learned about breath energy (different breathing for different emotional states), how to grow your capacity for larger, fuller breathes and even how to breathe through your lower back (I know, crazy to think about). As my yoga practice grew so did my acting abilites. I noticed a link between the two. Yoga became a way to practice the breathing techniques I learned in my acting class. It became a place to focus on breath but also to focus on emotional health. This created a better understanding of myself that, inadvertently, helped me as an actor.
Later in my training, both as an actor and a yogi, I noticed benefits to practicing yoga in relation to acting that I had not even realized would happen. I began to notice how yoga helped me become more in tune with my emotional self. I became able to have a real dialogue with myself and could more accurately understand the emotions living within me. I am beginning to understand what I am feeling and why I am feeling it. It is becoming easier to connect, emotionally to the work, because of my personal yoga practice. As well, I am better able to control my nervousness and be more at peace and content when acting and in every day stressful situations. I am able to transition into a character’s life easier. In contrast, after taking on the personality of a character, yoga helps me shed the negative emotional qualities taken on during a scene. For example, during a recent scene, I played a rape victim. I found it exhausting and unhealthy to carry that emotional energy with me throughout the day. By practicing a grounding flow and meditating, I was able to shed the character and proceed with my life in a healthy way.
One day I hope to obtain my yoga instructor certification. In the meantime I will continue to take yoga classes, grow my practice. I look forward to seeing where yoga and acting take me, by happenstance.
For more information about the benefits of a regular yoga practice go to https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/count-yoga-38-ways-yoga-keeps-fit
Carmen Burbridge is the daughter of Shannon Burbridge (Co-Owner of Aura Aerial & Yoga.) She has studied acting and theater since the age of 10. She began her theater journey at Players By The Sea in Jacksonville Beach FL and progressed to the acting program at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville FL. She is currently studying theater at Shenandoah University, continues your yoga journey and is excited to see where both of your passions take her.
It happens every time I go back home: I open the car door, smell that wonderful, sweet air, step out onto the mountain...my soul settles, well-being fills me, I can breath! There is something so special about going home to the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains. I just don't experience the same sense of belonging, healing and peace anywhere else. Every cell in my body knows this is home. Interesting as well, my children, who were born and raised in Florida, feel the same way! My youngest, Abby, always says, "Mom, there is just something about those mountains! I love it!"
For the past 2 years, I have been studying Ayurveda yoga. During a course I attended with Matthew Remski, a wonderful yoga and Ayurveda teacher and consultant, he discussed the deep, almost cellular connection we all have with our home land. That region or area where we grew up and generations of our ancestors settled. I FEEL that connection when I go home to my mountains. For more about Matthew, copy and paste this link: http://matthewremski.com/wordpress/about/
Connecting with our roots is not so easy in the world we live in today. Our society has transitioned away from clans, tribes and extended families living close by. We are very transient. Our lifestyles and jobs require us to move far from our birth home and to move often. I believe commercialism has contributed to this transient trend. We are conditioned to always want more, better and bigger. If only we had a bigger home or fancy car, then we will be happy and content.
As a result, connecting to that sense of home, contentment and peace is a challenge. We are left feeling anxious, un-grounded, confused with a sense of not belonging. So, how do we connect to our roots even if we are miles and miles away from home?
Understanding why we feel disconnected and up-rooted is the first step. Any life change can make us feel this way. A job change, relationship changes, children growing up and moving away, any shift in our regular lives can make us feel confused and anxious. Acknowledging why we are feeling this way is key.
Begin a healing movement practice that helps you connect with your root chakra and the nurturing energy of the earth. Go to https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-25826/6-yoga-poses-to-ground-your-root-chakra.html to learn a few yoga poses to help you feel grounded on those anxious days.
In May, I attended an instructor training course called Flow Movement created by Marlo Fisken. This was a 4 day training with A LOT of movement involved. I expected to return home from this training sore and barely able to move. However, I left feeling wonderful! This training is based on low to the ground and floor movement transitions that left me feeling whole, grounded, healed and peaceful. If ever there is a program that connects you to the earth, your sense of stability and home within yourself...this is it!
Below, check out this short flow I created using a few Floor Flow movements with yoga poses.
So when you feel anxious, spacey, un-grounded, reconnect with your internal roots, your sense of personal stability, who you really are deep inside.
Shannon is co-owner of Aura Aerial & Yoga. She was born and raised in North Carolina where generations of her mothers family settled and grew the Boone and Cline families. She teaches yoga, aerial yoga, pole fitness and many other genres at Aura Aerial & Yoga.
THIS is what it’s like to be a part of the pole fitness community. The fitness, fun, and friendships began when I started poling at VIP Studio in Jacksonville Beach, then on to Vertical Fitness in Jacksonville Beach, and since February 2015, at Aura Aerial and Yoga Studio in Atlantic Beach.
I have always worked out: running, biking, dancing, yoga, Pilates, weightlifting, various fitness classes, and more. But I had never heard of pole fitness. Until my fitness instructor started talking about her own pole fitness experience. When she invited a group of us to take an introductory class, I went with great curiosity and wondered if it would be for me. I was literally and figuratively - hooked. I immediately began taking classes 3 times a week. I loved it! The classes were fun and progressive. You can learn a new trick and then learn another one. There is constant progression. It is not a boring old work out. Each trick, more challenging than the next. I love to tell new polers, "pole fitness is the hardest work out you’ll ever love! And it is the most fun you’ll ever have."
At first, I did not think too much about the overall benefits. I was enjoying the physical challenge and the joy of learning something new. But soon, I also realized the connection, joy and comradery of the women I poled with was even more beneficial! Cheering each other on as we learned new tricks. High five-ing when we learned a new spin. Really connecting with these women I exercised with!
The women I pole with make the experience even more awesome. We are bonded together by the art and athleticism of pole. It is a special “club” where all are welcome, but few join. There is room for everyone, and yet right now it is still considered an alternative fitness option or a new fitness trend. We are here because we want to work out, get fit, feel beautiful, lift each other up, encourage each other, and engage in a wonderful amazing work out. We are there to connect, be healthy and awesome.
The women I work out with are unique, with different religions, political views, and family lives. It does not matter. We are inclusive. We hug each other and laugh with each other. We cheer each other on as we learn new tricks. We even cry with each other, when life has knocked us down. It is a sisterhood of beautiful, confident women enjoying the amazing joy of pole dancing that keeps us climbing to new heights (pun intended!) I love poling for so many reasons: the blend of dance and strength, weightlifting and poise, sexiness and athleticism, and especially friendships formed.
Where Everybody Knows Your Name Lyrics by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo
Author Carol Cullen
During a recent Aerial Yoga class, my instructor challenged us to trust each other enough to support each other in aerial partner yoga poses. This was a challenge for some of us. We worried, "Will I hurt this person if I stand on them?" "Will they be able to support me if I perform a pose on them?" The facial expressions and body language screamed uncertainty.
However, as we began to try these poses, we were so pleasantly surprised that, number one, how much fun they were, and number 2, how amazing it felt to trust another person enough to support us as well as trust ourselves enough to be a support! The grins, laughs and genuine warm sense of community filled the room!
Why did we all feel so good when we performed these poses together and succeeded?
I began thinking about what it means to truly trust another person. Not only to support my physical body, but with my heart and mind. To be vulnerable, actually to be strong enough to allow myself to be vulnerable and let another person support me.
I realized, Trust is a gift. It is given, earned, received and honored. In order to trust another we must be willing to become vulnerable. Vulnerability is not weakness, it takes courage and strength to trust and ask for help and support.
When we have been entrusted with someone's secrets, emotions and burdens we feel honored and privileged to have been chosen. We rise up to the challenge. We except them as they are and love them. Being trusted is empowering.
The giving and receiving of trust is the creation of community. To share our struggles, joys and vulnerability will release us from caring the entire weight alone. The bonds we create are powerful.
So as women of the Aura family, don't be afraid to let someone be your base so you can climb. Allow your sisters to spot and support you. So you can grow and learn.
Julie Nelson Morgan
Julie is a mother of 2 young boys and wife to one. Thanks to my sister-in-law Hadley Nelson I have been practicing aerial yoga for almost a year. After 38 years of never working out or finding the right fit I couldn't be happier and now stronger than ever!.