Pole Fitness and Crossfit, can you even?

Recently, I decided to return to pole dancing after turning my focus solely to Crossfit for a few months. By the time I returned, I had not touched a pole in almost a year! Now I’ve realised that my love of Crossfit and my love of pole dance really do complement each other and I don’t have to give up one for the other. One month back on the pole and I have learnt a few lessons:

Lesson one: Crossfit has made me, strong! After not attending pole dance in almost a year, I have been feeling well conditioned and have not been stiff and sore after class. For the exception of Hedwig’s attack on the Gluteus Maximus during warmup!

Lesson two: Pole dancing has turned me into a bodyweight machine! At Crossfit, my best performances have been with bodyweight exercises. When I started Crossfit, I was one of the few girls who could manage strict pull ups. I am still one of the few athletes in the box (Crossfit lingo for gym) who can climb a rope effortlessly, including legless rope climbs (yes, even better than some boys!) and true to pole dancer nature, I may be known to pull an invert at the top of the rope.

Lesson three: Pole dancing has taught me to have an iron grip. Every exercise that challenged grip went really well for me. And If you are familiar with Crossfit, you will know about the dreaded “hand rip” that happens when you do exercises on the pull up bar. Thus far, my hands have been holding up really well and I have never torn it badly (touch wood). I may be wrong about this, as I am not – by any stretch of the imagination an expert on all things exercise, but I really feel that my grip on the pole has transferred to having a good grip on the pull up bar which has saved my hands tremendously.

Pole Fit & Cross Fit

Pole Fit & Cross Fit

Lesson four: Crossfit has taught me not to give up. Pole dancing can become very frustrating. We all know the feeling when everyone else in the class nails a new move, and you are still looking like a awkward giraffe after 3 months of trying! It is easy to give up and just not try, or become frustrated and feel like you aren’t good enough. At Crossfit, the Workouts of the Day (WODs) are really hard and test you not only on a physical level but emotionally as well. This is an ongoing lesson for me as I am my own worst enemy. I find it hard to pick myself up when I get frustrated. Working on not giving up is not an easy road to walk, and I am still on this journey. But with the support of the amazing community at Cape Crossfit, I know I am improving and starting to believe in myself.

Lesson five: The straight leg leanback is the most painful move on the planet! Honestly, this used to come so naturally to me and now I realise exactly how hard it is! To all you girls who can leanback for days, hats off to you. You are all incredible! Never underestimate how strong you are, and especially how much pain you can handle. It is definitely way above human levels!

Lesson six: I can never and will never fit into a neat little stereotypical box. I am a pole dancing crossfitter, a crossfitting pole dancer and I absolutely love it!

A quick shout out to all my coaches at Cape Crossfit, previous personal trainers, instructors at Pole Project and Pole Dance Cape Town and my amazing friends for all the encouragement and support. You have turned a skinny chameleon into a mean machine!

Don’t Stop Believing…

Xx

Zahrah Price

Ready for your first pole photo shoot?

The best way to fully enjoy yourself on your first pole photo shoot is to prepare ahead of time. It is meant to be fun and relaxing so we’ve put together some tips below, to make sure the day can go off without a hitch.
 

1. THINK ABOUT YOUR POSES

Prepare yourself for the photo shoot, know the moves you want to shoot as not every trick you love to do in class looks great in a static image! Try a test shoot on your home pole or in studio with a friend snapping you from a variety of angles. You might be surprised at what poses look best – simple poses are often the prettiest.

 

Know your moves

Know your moves

2. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

Your pole shoot is NOT the time to bust out a new move you have been working on and haven’t nailed yet. You may not be able to hit it on the day which can lead to frustration for the rest of the shoot. Once on the pole, relax your face, and think that you’re the most beautiful woman in the world. The more comfortable you are the happier you will be with the final product.

 

3. WARDROBE CHECKLIST

Bring several outfits including one that you LOVE. It’s super fun to dress up and have a theme, so get creative with accessories. Try a floral or sparkly head piece to add a romantic bent to your ensemble perhaps and create a unique look that will make your pole photos stand out from the crowd.

 

Stand out from the crowd

Stand out from the crowd

 

4. LESS IS MORE WHEN IT COMES TO HAIR & MAKEUP

The shoot is about your body’s shape on the pole, the shots are almost all full length, which means your face is pretty small in the grand scheme of the photos. Keep your make up light and natural, a look that can easily be touched up throughout the shoot and be aware that your hair will move, so forecast a hairstyle for your inverts. Sometimes the simple beauty of the lines of the body make for the most stunning images.

 

Forecast a hairstyle for your inverts

Forecast a hairstyle for your inverts

 

5. PREPARE YOUR BODY & MIND

Minimise bloating by avoiding salt in the days leading up to the shoot and keep hydrated which should also leave you with dewy, soft and much more photogenic skin. At the end of the day realize that this photo shoot is about celebrating you, your progress, ability, and general awesomeness! Be kind to yourself and don’t compare your images to professional pole artists or anyone else.

 

MOST OF ALL

Believe in yourself. Forget about the camera and feel like the world is yours.

You are your own biggest artist… be unique!

New workout = New fitness apparel = New attitude – right?

Dressing like you kill it can actually boost us to work out and improve our attitude about exercise.

The Pole Project recently launched their first range of hot new pole shorts, designed in conjunction with and made by Karma Kit, in a range of fabrics bursting with colours and crazy patterns. Seeing new tricks come to life and the faces of our members glow with excitement as they spin around the pole (whilst constantly checking out in the mirrors just how fabulous their bottoms looked in their new pole wear), made us think about the role fitness apparel plays in affecting our work out motivation.

Ever bought a new sports bra or a gym tank and feel like you just can’t wait for your next workout? Or believe that if you donned a pair of Puma’s EvoSpeed Sprint Spikes, endorsed by Usain Bolt, that you’ll be able to run like the world’s fastest man?

The psychological phenomenon is known as “enclothed cognition”, which suggests that the clothing a person wears can trigger mental changes that positively affect their performance. In the fitness world, the psychology of wearing trendy and often expensive gear and apparel can provide motivation and commitment to working out.

Says Victoria Moran, author of Fit from Within: 101 Simple Secrets to Change Your Body and Your Life: “On a practical level, you need special workout clothes simply because street clothes are either too constricting, or they’ll rip, or they’re made from non-breathable fibres. But psychologically, you need special workout gear to convince yourself it’s time to work out.”

Good workout clothes help individuals get into the right mindset for fitness. If you look at yourself before you go to the gym and think “OK, I look good. I feel good”, when you go to the gym you are going to kill it. Then there’s also the additional factor of people spending more money on well-known brands for a cooler-looking logo, or just so they can be associated with a certain brand. Workout clothes go beyond performance, they are also about image and making a fashion statement.

Whether it’s motivation or fashion, athletic apparel is a multi-billion dollar industry these days, and every sports seems to have its own special apparel that fitness fanatics and trend setters feel they must have. Pole fitness appears to have its own skimpy version of gym apparel that send some people running for the hills for showing too much skin or being overtly sexy… but let’s educate here – minimal clothing serves a functional purpose. What is helpful in the beginning and becomes more necessary as you advance, is skin grip. Legs, arms and torsos need to be exposed in order to perform certain tricks and spins… this is a safety concern.

Basic beginner pole fitness kits usually consist of shorts and a tank top, which inevitably tends to shorten as students progress up pole fitness levels – the shorts start getting shorter, and eventually shoulders and bellies are revealed. It’s an amazing transformation to witness. Most pole dancers do not have an issue with how skimpy the apparel can be, since their focus turns away from what their bodies look like and onto what they can achieve on the pole. And as you tone your body and become more confident in your own skin, you’ll probably want to show it off more too.

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what you choose to wear, as long as you feel happy, confident and secure in it, it gives you that extra boost to sweat it out and lets your dance moves come to life on and off the pole.
Do you have a favourite workout outfit? Do you find you focus better on the actual workout when you’re wearing this outfit?

Featured in Maire Claire Magazine

It’s official – The Pole Project is at the forefront of pole dancing as a fitness trend, according to the May issue of Marie Claire Magazine!

What are you waiting for? Go grab a copy now!

 

Marie Claire SA Magazine May 2014

Marie Claire SA Magazine May 2014

 

Cardio vs. Strength Training

Conventional wisdom equates “exercise” with “cardio”, but recently, many fitness gurus insist that strength training is where it’s at. When it comes to getting the body you want (toning, torching calories or improved health and fitness): should we focus on cardio or strength training?

Here are 3 myths surrounding cardio and strength training that will make you rethink traditional gym routines.

timthumb1

Myth #1. Cardio burns calories fast

Minute per minute, cardio indisputably burns more calories than strength training, but it may cause you to burn fewer calories overall. Strength training gives you a metabolic spike for an hour after your workout as your body helps your muscles recover. And it builds lean muscle mass, which fires up your metabolic burn throughout the day. For every 1.5kg of muscle you build, you can expect to burn an extra 500kJ a day – just vegging – because muscle takes more energy to sustain.


Dumb Bells Myth #2. Strength training will make women “bulk up”

Even if you’re using heavy weights, you’re not going to turn into a female version of The Incredible Hulk — really!Women typically have less muscle tissue and produce lower levels of testosterone than men, meaning we’re less physiologically prone to becoming bulky. Further, because muscle tissue is denser than fat, adding a bit more muscle to the body and decreasing your fat actually makes you look leaner – not bigger. So unless you are really working with the goal of “bulking up” in mind, the best women can hope for is nice muscle tone and a tight butt.

Myth #3. Crunches are not actually the best way to flat abs.

They don’t burn off a lot of calories, so they don’t help in a major way with fat loss. What is important to understand is that there’s a big difference between strengthening your ab muscles and losing the layer of fat on top of them. In order to lose fat, your body temperature must increase enough to trigger the metabolic effects necessary to burn fat. Using one small muscle group, such as the abdominals or the biceps, is not significant enough to create the amount of heat necessary for fat burning to begin. This is why high-intensity, full body activities that use multiple muscle groups more effectively engage your entire core and create a ton of heat in the body. These exercises will also help build muscle and give your body the toned shapely appearance everyone is after.

Crunches

Pole fitness is a combination of strength AND cardio training. It demands the strength of gymnastics, the focus of Yoga and gets the heart racing better than any treadmill. One of the most inviting things about pole fitness is that those who are very seriously into the sport tend to develop lithe, toned, and flexible physiques that are more “cut” and less massively built. This is because many pole dancing moves require you to use your own body weight as a resistance, producing lean muscles that avoid the bulk that you might gain by using weights.

Pole Fitness

Despite its intensity and results, pole fitness is a fun and safe way to build strength in your body at your own pace. Through repetition and practice, your strength and flexibility grows and you are gradually able to undertake more advanced moves. It is also a great cardio workout that require every major muscle group in the body to work in synergy, so it benefits your weight management goals and helps keep the heart and lungs healthy. On top of all that, when your workout is also your hobby, it takes the boredom and monotony out of keeping in shape. It keeps you wanting more – the challenge of gaining more strength and endurance, and becoming more flexible. We’re confident you’ll keep coming back for more!

Featured in Elle SA Magazine

We’re thrilled to be featured in ELLE SA magazine’s April issue!

Grab your copy today! Much ♥ ♥ @ELLEmagazineSA

Elle SA Magazine April 2014

Elle SA Magazine April 2014

 

Let’s Take It To The Streets

Give us a jungle gym, a lamppost, a street sign, or even a train and we are in pole paradise. Pole dancing has moved out of strip clubs, into dedicated studios and has spilled over onto the streets. The city has become our playground.

Today we explore the origins of street pole dancing, or the more acrobatic style of pole. A little known fact is that ancient Chinese and Indians have been pushing the boundaries of acrobatic pole for thousands of years. The traditional Indian sport of Mallakhamb (meaning “man of power” or “Gymnastics pole”) requires the performer to turn, twist, stretch and balance on a wooden pole, wider in diameter than a modern standard pole.

Award winning Mallakhamb troupe

Award winning Mallakhamb troupe

It isn’t pole dancing as we have come to know it, but it’s intense, jaw-dropping routines utilising similar principles of endurance and strength. Whilst pole is practiced today by both men and women alike, Mallakhamb remains a very male dominated environment in which women do not participate. Check out Mallakhamb Acrobats Vijay Ashok Bhojane and Rajesh Amrale as they perform on a wooden pole in the lead up to the Sydney, Parramasala festival in 2013 here.

Pole dance has furthermore been influenced by Chinese pole.

Example of Chinese pole dancing

Example of Chinese pole dancing

This form of acrobatics is most notably performed in the circus, with performers executing “gravity defying tricks” leaping from pole to pole, at approximately twenty feet in the air, similar to that of Cirque Du Soleil.

Chinese Poles Act as part of Cirque du Soleil's traveling Saltimbanco show

Chinese Pole act as part of Cirque du Soleil’s travelling Saltimbanco show

Pole dance is becoming an increasingly popular sport across the globe, with people from all walks of life seeing it as a means to improve their strength and fitness, but it still has a long way to go before it is taken seriously for the astounding art form that it is. Taking this incredible combination of acrobatics, gymnastics and fitness to the streets can help dispel any negative connotations about pole dancing. It is an easy forum for us to showcase to the public the strength, flexibility, balance and core control required to perform pole tricks.

The Pole Project team take it to the streets of Cape Town

The Pole Project team take it to the streets of Cape Town

And it’s not just us that love street pole, people have taken to it across the world to showcase their talents in places ranging from the streets of Mexico City, Poland, Argentina and Hong Kong to the London underground, creating a stream of double-takes and admiration from the general public. Who would have thought that everyday street fixtures could have so much joy to offer?

Look! Even Jason Statham is a fan:

Look! Even Jason Statham is a fan

Tips for exercising in the heat

Tips-For-Exercising-in-the-Heat-lg

Boy oh boy it’s been hot, damn hot, real hot lately! Like why-do-I-bother-to-straighten-my-hair hot.

With the heat wave hanging over the wonderful Cape, we are still trying to workout on a regular basis to counteract all of the summer braai, boerewors and ice cream we have been eating lately. Whilst working out in heat actually helps you burn more calories, here are some tips for how to deal with the heat when you still want to get a good workout, without passing out at the end of it:

  • Stay hydrated!

Continually drink water before, during and after your workout. Dehydration can cause light-headedness and nausea. Whilst it’s crucial to drink enough water while working out in the heat, making sure you maintain your body’s balance of electrolytes and salt is important too. Bringing along a sugar-free sports drink can help avoid confusion, nausea and muscle cramps associated with low electrolytes.

  • Avoid temperature peaks

Working out in the morning, before the sun has a chance to kick up the heat is the best. If you can’t work out in the morning, avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day from noon to 3 pm. Always check the weather forecast before leaving for a workout. If the weather forecast indicates another scorching day ahead, now’s the time to dust off that gym membership and keep your exercise session indoors. If you don’t have one, test out a facility for a day. You can sign up for a free trial class with The Pole Project here.

  • Wear light-coloured, loose absorbent clothing. Not cotton!
  • When you’re feeling lightheaded or fatigued, take a break.
  • Alter your workout.

If you usually run outside, change it up. Go swimming, try pole dance, do yoga, go for a bike ride and enjoy the (hot) wind on your face as you breeze up and down hills.

 

Has it been unbearably hot where you are this summer? What tips have you found helpful to beat the heat this summer while staying active?