I’ve taken and taught hundreds of pole classes over the past 6 years, and one thing that drives me crazy as both a student and an instructor is seeing a student standing around in class, not doing anything because they “already have the move”. Whether the instructor was teaching a move they already knew, or the student was able to do it after just one or two tries, no one is EVER “done” with a move! Pole is a constant work in progress. There are tons of things you can be doing to improve yourself as a poler even if you “have the move”.
1. Do your other side.
Of course this one was going to be first! Every instructor teaches differently – I tend to teach a move on one side and students work on it/repeat it on that side until we, as a class, move to the other side – but not everyone explicitly teaches both sides. When I first started learning pole, I was definitely taught moves on whichever side was more comfortable for me, and that hindered my progress later. ALWAYS do moves on both sides: you don’t want your strength or flexibility to be uneven, and you never know when you will want to connect it with another move that you are truly limited to doing on one side for whatever reason.
A simple spin combo we've been working on in class using a cool spin-sit-spin transition from @jujupoledance! Edit: called the #jujugenie! I like combos that can be reversed and still be the same: palindromes are my favorite! #poledance #polefitness #poledancenation #poledancersofig #unitedbypole #gratadesigns #teambittersweet #bittersweetstudios #bittersweetstudiospc #lupitpole #pdspintransitions #pdspinpole
I love switching this move from side to side because it transitions so nicely!
2. Make sure your legs are straight and toes are pointed
OK, so you’ve done the move on both sides now, so you’re good, right? No! Go through the move again on both sides, and this time make sure you have energy going through your legs at all times: are the legs supposed to be straight? Bent? They’re almost always purposefully one way or the other; rarely does a move have just a slightly bent leg as it often looks like it’s just hanging there. And as always, point your toes! Tons of people have pointed feet when their legs are away from the pole, but flex them in knee holds. Be aware of what your legs and feet are doing. Feel free to spend as much time here as you need, until it becomes second nature.
3. Think about your arms
This depends on the move, of course. If you’re holding onto the pole with both arms for the duration of the move, then you don’t have too many options. But say you’re in a nice armpit hold: what is your outside arm doing? Hanging limply? Curved in front or up like a ballerina? Reaching towards the audience? If you’re in a leg hang or hold, what kind of shapes can you make with your arms? Try to find different positions and see how changing arm shapes can totally change the look and feel of a move.
A lot of times I do moves that require both arms on the pole, but they were free here. I definitely could have done more with them, but I like how my arm mirrors the angle of my legs in that move near the end.
4. Change the tempo
Go through the move at different speeds. If there are several movements into a final pose, try doing a couple of them fast and really milking one of them, then switch up which one(s) you stretch out. If the move is a dynamic one, try doing it slowly and controlled. If it’s a flip or something that can’t be slowed down, try entering and exiting the move at different tempos. You never know if at some point in the future you’ll want to put that move in a routine with a song that requires a specific tempo!
This is an example of both tempo and genre change – I want to do more of these in class!
5. Change the genre
Go through the move like you’re dancing to a classical song, then like you’re dancing to a Metallica song, then a Halsey song… you get the idea. Change the style of your movement to fit different genres of music, even if the move (or name of the move) doesn’t seem to fit. Ballerina spin to Godsmack, anyone?
6. Connect it to another move*
How are you getting into the move? What about getting out of it? Are you just inverting or climbing directly into it and falling out of it? See what moves you already have under your belt that you can connect to the new move to make a combo. Explore different entries and exits.
~See pretty much my entire Instagram library: I try really hard not to post just one move, but put whatever I just learned with at least one other move in a combo.~
7. Do it backwards…*
How did you get into the move? Can you reverse it to come out of it the exact same way you got into it? This is a great way to find new moves and transitions! It’s not the same thing as trying it on the other side, but it’s usually a reversal of movement. Is a thread-through involved? What happens if you thread through the opposite direction?
8. … Or upside down*
This is definitely not possible for every single move, but if it’s upside down, try it right side up and vice versa. I also think this makes for a particularly symmetrical and cool looking combo, plus you might find out that it’s actually easier (or you prefer the shape) the other way around! I’ve seen several right side up moves that I knew would be difficult, so I took them upside down to learn something new.
I think I originally saw this pretty shape upright and wanted to try it upside down, too.
Finally, never stop moving! You should never be bored in a pole class, no matter what level you are or what level the class is.
*always make sure the instructor is ok with this! Sometimes instructors don’t want you trying other moves while they’re teaching a specific one, not necessarily because you can’t do it, but because other students in the class may not be ready for it yet and want to try after seeing you rock a new move or combo!