It all started with a Groupon gift card and a pull up bar that needed to be screwed into the wall (eesh).
My mom likes getting me Groupon gift cards for my birthday, because she knows my ratchet tactic ways. I want to go to a concert? Groupon. Need some camera accessories? Groupon. Anatomy course so I can start getting certified in fitness related ish for real? You know I got that on Groupon.
I have long wanted a pull-up bar at home, so when I got my shiny new Groupon gift card, I quickly found and bought something on the site that I… ya know, didn’t, like, seriously research or anything. I also didn’t take a walk around my house and realize that I have no doorways that aren’t right next to a wall, except for the bathroom. And when I got this pull up bar in the mail and a bunch of screws found out, I realized that it won’t even work with the bathroom door because drilling through tile is a heeeellll to the nah for me. And for my boyfriend, who owns the unit. (Sorry babe. He was not excited about this).
So, after hauling it to the post office this thing, I basically got a “Groupon Bucks” refund on it that needed to be used within a short period of time. That’s what led to my purchase of two pole DVDs, because LOL pole swag is always an easy decision, and I had money (ok “bucks”) burning a hole in my pocket.
The first is the “classic pole movement” DVD and I was startled to see it just… start. No warmup, no intro, just the first pole move (a crawl, very basic), followed by a slow mo version of the move and instruction via a voice over. Then on to the next. Rinse repeat for 50 minutes, with a gradually increasing level of difficulty. This was… fine… but not idea, because it wasn’t really a workout or routine to follow, and I didn’t feel inspired to get up and relearn moves without real-time instruction. I was most excited about the last few minutes which showed combos of the moves taught to make 5 different 30 second or so routines. This was dope! I love getting new ideas for remixing favorite moves, especially ones I can actually do.
“Contemporary movement” was a whole other set of issues, though. I was very pleased to see not only an intro but a solid 15 minute warmp up. Yas! I was already thinking about using this warmup before my own pole practice sessions, but that’s which shit got weird. When I tell you I’m ballet friendly, I SO am–I’ve been preaching the importance of good placement and lines for years, and am definitely a barre addict in my cross training. But without much explanation as to why the video would go on to focus on tendus and chaines turns for a good half hour (beyond “ballet is the basis for dance of all kinds,” which I agree with), I was perplexed and… not pleased.
I shit you not, this DVD spend like 37 minutes (I remember watching in disbelief and pulling my boyfriend over) demo-ing very specific ballet steps. Like, to a certain extent I get this and am with it. But when it got an exhaustive demonstration of pas de bourrees I was like… are you serious?
I think I would have been okay if the relationship to pole had been consistently established, and moves were immediately translated to pole, or if this DVD was literally called “Ballet Movement for Pole.” But something about sustaining my belief that things were ever going to get relevant while watching the instructor perform chaines turns on a diagonal and talk about “center work” was very difficult. When the movement DID finally translate to the pole, the connection was so tenuous, and the movements were so advanced (she did a full moon you guys…. like seriously), my boyfriend and I were laughing out loud. The instruction was pretty thin, but even if it hadn’t been, there’s no way we’re gonna learn a full moon from an instruction DVD guys.
Which leads me to wonder: what DO we hope to learn from pole DVDs and online tutorials?
For me, in my first year or so with pole, I was able to get some new spins from the fabulous Dirdy Birdy on YouTube. Spins happen so quickly that being able to watch over and over (and in slo mo, which DB did so well) helped me grasp something that seemed fast and intricate, but wasn’t actually that technically difficult. I feel like this helped me master moves I was already working on in class, helping me move forward faster to other, tougher stuff.
I also think learning pole-ography style routines could also be a great use of the medium–I’m always interested in new combos and flourishes, and mimicking what’s happening on screen isn’t that much harder than doing it in person.
But strength moves… inverts… stuff I don’t have a point of reference for yet… this seems much harder, and probably beyond the scope of my laptop. I also think just demoing choreo at the end instead of devoting time to breaking it down and running it half-speed with a view kind of takes the helpfulness out of even my favorite part of the first DVD.
Are there any totally self taught polers out there that find DVD’s successful? Do you find DVDs useful at all? What about these subscription services I see pop up?
BRB making this face forever 🤔