“…’Cause I’m a little unsteady…”

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As my spring running season dies down, I’m preparing for my first ever pole competition. It’s just a little local competition in my hometown, but it’s certainly out of my comfort zone. I signed up in the fall and began preparing my routine in January. Some people can come up with choreography overnight – me, I need months. I’m NOT a dancer. While I can do some pretty fun tricks on a pole, putting them together to music is a whole different story.

I began pole dancing last year in June, after ending my running season with a disappointing finish at Grandma’s Marathon. It wasn’t the time on the clock that bothered me, it was how terrible I felt while running it. I felt weak, and I needed to figure out how to build strength. When I returned home from that race, I was off for the summer since I’m a high school teacher. My sister-in-laws knew I had time in my schedule and that I wasn’t training for anything. They dragged me to my first pole class, even though I had no interest in it. After a few classes (they were free to try for a whole week), I thought it might turn into something I do on Wednesday nights with them until marathon training intensified. What I didn’t realize was that I would quickly begin to love it as much as I love to run, and that I would make amazing friends in the process.

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When I used to hear about pole dancing classes, I used to laugh at the concept and think about the stigma associated it. Some studios do offer classes that are a bit racier and cater to the “sexy” side of pole dancing. While I’d never judge someone if that’s their style, it doesn’t appeal to me. When I started taking classes at Airflex, I realized quickly that the studio is geared more towards those who are interested in aerial arts without feeling like you had to act like a stripper. I have no problem with any style of pole dancing and think it’s all beautiful. I’ve developed a true appreciation for the floor work, dancing, and sultry side of the sport, however, that’s not the side that interests me.

I signed up for the competition, and my original song choice was by Justin Bieber. I liked his “Where Are U Now” remix with Skrillex and thought it would be a great song for a routine. As I worked on it, the tempo was a little too fast for me, and I felt no real connection to the song. I liked the beat and enjoyed trying to choreograph pole moves to it, but anything I came up with just never really seemed to fit. One day, I was running and heard “Unsteady” and thought how awesome it would be for a pole routine. I didn’t give it too much thought. A few days later, I was in pole class working on my Bieber routine and “Unsteady” came on in the background. I started doing the routine I’d choreographed for the Bieber song just to see how it all worked out. It was like it just fit, and I felt much more connected to some of the lyrics. I changed my song, and the rest of the routine quickly came together.

This past weekend, we did a “demo” at Airflex on Saturday night. Anyone could come and watch all of us do our routines, and they get a pretty big turnout for these events. At the dress rehearsal the night before, I fell out of every single trick and felt awful. I actually stopped halfway through my routine and walked out of the room because I was so frustrated. It reminded me a lot of how you feel during a marathon taper, actually. I often feel heavy, sluggish, and like crap in general in the days leading up to a race – and that’s how I felt on the pole. Everything I’d become so comfortable with felt so hard. Needless to say, I was a hot mess all day leading up to the demo and really didn’t want to go.

Somehow, it all worked out and I did my routine for the first time in front of an audience! I felt amazing, and almost everything went perfectly. There was one trick I was super nervous for (it happens after I climb the pole the first time, it’s called a “drop”) and it had been a huge shit show the past few days. When I nailed that part, I  got so excited that I abandoned the pretty little floorwork transition I’d been working on. One of the moves in my first part of the song wasn’t exactly as perfect as I wanted it to be, but it wasn’t noticeable to the audience (it was just the way it felt to me). But if I can repeat Saturday’s performance on 5/21, I would be pretty damn excited. I have zero expectations about winning anything but I’m really proud of what I have. So, here it is – I think it’s as good as it’s going to get!

Side note: the X-Ambassadors are coming to a huge music festival, called Musikfest, in my town in August. I wonder if they need a pole dancer…

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56 Replies to ““…’Cause I’m a little unsteady…””

  1. I never thought too much about pole dancing until you started doing it either, but what a workout! I was exhausted just watching your whole routine. That takes a tremendous amount of strength in your whole entire body. It all looked so amazing!! How are you just so good at everything you do?! Oh wait, I know – you work damn hard and put 100% into everything you do. No wonder you’re such a beast 😀

    1. LOL!!! Next time you come for a visit, I vote you come take a class with me! It’s so much fun and such a challenge. Surprisingly very complementary to running (other than the whole stubbing the toe thing, ha)!! I do love it!

      1. Hahaha I don’t know about that…it’ll take some convincing 😛 I remember all those bruises you got from the first few times doing it lol

      2. Hahaha oh those bruises still happen on the regular 😉 They just aren’t quite as bad as the beginning…but my legs are definitely always bruised somewhere!

  2. Holy cow! You are strong! I can’t imagine how much core strength that routine takes. And standing up out of wheel is a serious move. I can drop back, but I’ve never been able to stand up.

    I know this was not the point of this post, but I really needed to read how sluggish you feel during the taper. I feel like all of the shits right now and I figured that couldn’t be good heading into my first marathon. My legs are heavy, sluggish, and I’ve been having trouble hitting paces that I EASILY hit in a 50+ mile week. I’m glad you feel similarly… that actually gives me a lot more confidence. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Kerry! I used to have a pretty serious Ashtanga practice and worked with a teacher named David Garrigues regularly. He’s in Philly so we’d take practice with him and he was HUGE on backbends. He would not let us progress until we could stand up and drop back on our own! I hadn’t done it in a long time but it was like muscle memory. I definitely had more control back in my serious yoga days, though. Have you tried rocking a little to stand back up? Not a habit you want to hang on to but very helpful to get a little momentum to get up and feel what it feels like. I wish I could help you in person because if you can drop back, I KNOW you could stand up!!!!

      You are right on track for an awesome marathon!!! Feeling sluggish and crappy means you are doing it all right!!!! I could barely hold my easy pace right before Kentucky. You GOT THIS!!!!

      1. I do that a little to get from wheel to handstand. I basically rock until I feel like I can kick up. Haha! But, when I try to go to standing, it’s like my core is too stretched to do anything. I haven’t tried that move in a while… I’ll give the rocking a go and see if it works. Thanks for the encouragement. Maybe feeling sluggish is a good sign.

  3. Allison!! That was incredible! Holy sh!t, you are strong! I love the song you chose and it flowed so perfectly with your choreography. Do you have a gymnastic or dance background? I can’t get over the moves you did and how much strength you have!

    1. Thank you so much!! It is really such a great song, I love those X-Ambassadors!!!! I actually laughed out loud when I read your comment about the dancing 🙂 🙂 🙂 I have ZERO COORDINATION and never danced or did gymnastics. I do have a pretty significant yoga background. The part where I go from the static pole (first part) to spin pole (second part) was the hardest thing for me to come up with. That part is called “floor work” and I try to avoid it at all costs!!! You should see the dancing some of these other girls can do – truly amazing. I hope they upload their routines to YouTube so I can share them on here. There were some really impressive routines!!!

  4. I was fixated to the screen when I saw this on Facebook. You are so incredibly strong and no doubt pole dancing has helped with your running. Simply amazing and incredibly impressive!

  5. Totally what Helly said. I started watching it in the kitchen and then I walked across the floor to the living room without taking my eyes off the screen and I was like OH MY GOD. I kept thinking about how you broke your toe doing that too, and how now I can see how that might happen. What strength and power and flexibility!!! MIND BLOWN.

  6. AAAAHHH so cool! That looks amazing Allison! You are so flexible and strong! Also, what’s weird is I had “Unsteady” running through my head when I opened my Bloglovin’ feed, and then there you were dancing to that song–crazy!

  7. That’s so amazing! So, I’ve always been freaked out (for me personally!) by the “sexy” side of pole dancing too… but after seeing how cool it is, I’m thinking of seeing if there are any free trial classes in my area for after Ironman training. Except I have no yoga background and absurdly bad flexibility, so it may just be a shit-show…

    1. I’m telling you, I am not sexy. Neither are my sister-in-laws that talked me into it. You just have to scope out the studios in your area and see who caters to what. The studio I go to really is more like gymnastics, and then there’s another studio that focuses is less on tricks but more on dancing. The girls that post videos from that studio never look slutty but they are very flowy. But there is a studio in my area where the instructors are either strippers or former strippers. They have classes that are called “naughty girl” that would definitely not be for me. The girls that do it definitely own it and rock it, but I could never do that! My suggestion would be YES, do it but stalk the Facebook pages of the studios so you get a feel for the clientele!

      1. I definitely will scope out the studios! I live in a very conservative area, so I’m sure there are some gymnastics-heavy, hold-the-sexy studios in my area.

  8. There is no other way to say it. You are a total bad ass! I am amazed. The upper and lower body strength and then the core. Holy crap. I’d break my neck. So thank you for letting me admire your work so that I don’t have to attempt it and kill myself 😉

    1. Awwww thanks Sarah!! I never had upper body strength until I started doing pole fitness. I’ve gotten a lot stronger but there are definitely lots of things I can’t do because I’m still building up strength! I always hated lifting so this has been good for me!

    1. Thanks Ali! It was an eye opening experience last year. I went there with a bit of an ego – I mean, I’d just run a marathon – a little pole dancing shouldn’t be hard, right? HA! I got knocked off of my high horse in the warm up!

  9. You make it look so effortless and fun. I’m not coordinated so it would be a struggle for me. I’m glad you had such a great time and I enjoy reading these posts and living vicariously through you.

  10. Such a gorgeous routine. I kept thinking, “How can she do that?!” It’s just amazing to me, and you make it look awesome. Good luck at your competition!

  11. I can’t believe you’ve only done pole for a little over a year. You’re really talented! I don’t know how you have the energy to be good at so many athletic feats. Good luck at your competition. I know you’ll kill it, like everything else you do!

    1. Thanks, Liz!! I am getting excited – I think I’ll be able to hold my own but I am sure I won’t be among the top competitors. There are some truly talented women competing. I actually get to go first in our category, which means I get to watch everyone after me. I’m really excited for that – I love watching other people and seeing what they choreographed!!!

  12. What you said about pole dancing is exactly how I view it now–I used to think it was just about being slutty but now I can see it’s about being strong as hell. This reminds me of stuff Pink does in her concerts. So empowering. Are you trained as a gymnast?

    1. I have zero training in gymnastics or dance! I think I would have really enjoyed gymnastics, though. Did you see Pink’s new video? She does the aerial silk stuff in it! It’s so cool!!! I never realized that there was more to pole dancing than being a stripper until my sister in laws dragged me to a class. It’s so much fun!!

      1. That’s really amazing then; when you did a bridge and flipped over on the floor (I forget all the gymnastics terms; I only did it a couple years as a kid) I was sure you’d been a gymnast as a kid. I haven’t seen Pink’s new video but I have no doubt it’s awesome.

      2. It’s the yoga – I have a pretty significant background in Ashtanga yoga. That back roll on the floor was actually a big transition in the practice so it almost happens like muscle memory for me! Same thing with the backbend – I had a serious teacher that would not let you move on to the next series if you couldn’t drop back and stand up from a backbend. It used to look a lot prettier in my yoga days, but I can still do it when I am warm enough!!

    1. Thank you Laura!! It will be a year at the end of June. I can’t believe I stuck with it. I didn’t like my first class but had a free week so went to use it and fell in love!

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