(That doesn’t mean high, it means CERTIFIED)
Was I supposed to do this from a health standpoint? Absolutely not! My shoulder’s still super fucked up!
the note I got from my doctor the day after I bought a package of pole classes to prep for Elevated, a month before Elevated :|I originally signed up for Elevated (for teaching Pole Level 1, to be specific) after Thanksgiving (because heyo, black friday deals, YAS). I was feeling strong in PT, and thought having a date to be “better” by would be a motivator to heal faster/get back on the pole sooner.
SPOILER: lol that didn’t happen.
PT stagnated and my shoulder has still been too weak to pole on, despite doing everything I’m supposed to be doing. (And sometimes doing it multiple times a day! Ugh). So I wasn’t physically preparing or at all in a mentally good place to take this training. But I got through it, and got a lot out of it! More on that in a minute.
[Extended side note: I panicked a little a month ago that I wouldn’t even be able to grip a pole anymore for Elevated, so I signed up for classes at a new studio I’d been meaning to try, New York Pole Dance. The plan was just to get a little conditioning in again before doing the teacher training. But first, as soon as I paid for the classes, I got the above note from my sports therapist that I should NOT pole after her assessment at my last appointment (clusterfuck number one, because the classes were only good for a month). Then when I went to my first class, everything was locked and another student waiting outside informed me that the studio had CLOSED. Like, out of business closed. Did anybody else know about this??? Is this not shocking??? Crazy. I did just get my money back though, so that’s good. But huge loss for the pole community, from all the good things I’ve heard about the studio].
ANYWAY: I did Elevated, and honestly, it was pretty physically tough because it’s all day and it lasts for almost three days. Ever try to do pole sits the day after doing, say, 45 minutes of pole sits? It fucking sucks. And it sucks much worse if you haven’t done a pole sit in 6 months. Putting all your body weight on a spot that’s both bruised AND Indian Burned=instant regret, re: everything, ugh, just don’t ever do it.
There was plenty of variety of moves though– if we weren’t on the pole, we were doing floorwork or warming up–which made it more tolerable, if not any less exhausting.
I’m sore AF, but also pretty proud of myself for hanging in and gitting ‘er done despite an injury, a now weak and slippery climb, burning hands, and pitifully unconditioned thighs–for hour after hour of teaching, “student-ing,” spotting, and repeating. It’s a feat!! I’m proud!
And the best part is, the only part of my body that doesn’t currently hurt? My injured shoulder! Granted, I modified to the gods. But I’m SO encouraged that there is stuff I can do on the pole without hurting it! Safely!
(NOTE TO SELF: I gotta share my new PT routine with y’all because I’m seeing a new therapist now and these exercises are fire. No really though, your delts will burn and for the sake of your shoulder stability you’ll LOVE IT. I really think these saved me and might finally get me rehabbed for real).
But anyway. I want to dish a little on what I learned in Elevated before I forget any of it! I have to be fairly vague because I feel like the teachings of Elevated are like, Ark of the Covenant-levels of protected. But actually, fuck it, let’s do this 10 Commandment-style! Here they are, 10 (of many) Commandments of Elevated (ie. pole teachin’ wisdom I picked up):
1. Thou shalt have multiple ways of explaining things
And they should pull on multiple senses! You never know what’s going to click with a student, and having visuals a student can picture (“hold a piece of paper between your knees”), ways of touching a student, different types of directives (spacial (“butt to all four corners of the room!”) or directional “hips to the left!”) in your arsenal make you a better prepared, more effective teacher for all the different types of learners you’re bound to encounter.
2. Thou shalt know the reason for everything you’re teaching
Everything taught in level 1 is prep for more advanced moves. That’s serious! If you’re teaching beginner polers, you’re giving them habits they might have for years. Are they really engaging their lats to pull their shoulders down, or are they just mimicking you in the mirror using their upper traps? It’s important that you’re communicating what should be happening! And to that end, there are no “throwaway” moves in beginner pole if you’re doing it right. A level one class should be chock full of moves that prep for “later on” skills like inverting, intermediate/advanced poses, and controlled, momentum-driven spins that generate enough air-time for complex variations. And thinking about this in reverse (“how can I get students working towards a jade in a level-1 appropriate way?”) can be great for creative class exercises!
3. Thou shalt prep students for moves you’re going to teach in the damn warmup
This blew my mind: if you have certain moves planned for your class, the warm-up should specifically prepare you for them. (whaaaaaaaat…. *cancels 10 minutes of jumping jacks and planking*) That means plows should be included in the warmup for a class that will touch on shoulder rolls; abs should be properly engaged for upcoming pole crunches/invert preps. And of course, all muscles of the body should be engaged at one point or another to prepare them to fire at the right time during all the climbing, spinning, and strength maneuvers your students will be performing.
4. Thou shalt order thy class intentionally
Physically and mentally, there are reasons why most Body and Pole classes start with spins and end with “up the pole” stuff. PHYSICAL AND MENTAL ONES. Putting yourself in the shoes of your future students will go a long way in helping you design a class that’s challenging, but not intimidating, tough, but not impossible. And I got a great tip from my instructor: make sure your students are challenged, but that they get a chance to feel successful too. Everybody knows the feeling of being in a class that’s way too hard and totally inaccessible, and just wanting to crawl into a hole (and never go back to that class). By striving for ~balance~ (a popular word in this training), you can keep your students both progressing AND feeling confident.
5. Though shalt… spot properly.
This was just a skill I flat out learned.
Because I’ve always taught “on the floor” moves, I never really learned how to properly spot anybody. Hint: support their anchor points (the contact points that are the most key for performing the move, like inner thighs in a layback), and support YOURSELF with the pole (if you topple, you can’t help your student). I’m so much more confident in making myself useful now when friends are poling around me and want a hand. Exciting!
6. Thou shalt make thyself heard
I have a baby voice, which is a problem, but I’m working on it. Loud music is no excuse. Project!
7. Thou shalt explain at half the speed thou thinkest thou should explain at
Way too fast is another common “new teacher” problem. Hint: what speed would you teach at if you had to explain a move without using your voice? That’s closer to where you should be at. Also, use those hand gestures!
8. Thou shalt know thy modifications
Easier? Harder? Have a plan for each move you teach before you’re in front of a class that’s likely to be a mix of experience levels.
9. Thou shalt take thy warm-up as seriously as the class
Because it sets the tone for the session and tells your students whether or not they can trust you. TRUTH BOMB.
10. Thou shalt have a bomb playlist
But also, be sure your classes feature a warm temperature, low lights, and a fabulous attitude. Fluorescent lights, AC and an “I’d rather be waxing my crotch” face on a teacher are all mortal pole class sins, in the Book of Elevated. (I’m inclined to agree).
So that’s a little of what I learned. And of course I’m already thinking about going back for the flexibility training…
Have you ever taking a teacher training? What do you learn? PLEASE SHARE WITH THE CLASS!
And here’s my diploma, complete with the extra R in my name. *Sigh* I swear, that extra R is gonna be on my death certificate.