This exercise will help you build the core and upper body strength needed to do lifts, holds and spins on your dance pole.
If you're a beginner, the sitting pole-up is the place to start. As you progress, or if you're already at an intermediate to advanced level, you can try two more difficult variations: the kneeling and the standing pole-up.
Start the Sitting Pole Up exercise by sitting cross legged with your legs around your pole.
Sit close enough so that your body is touching or almost touching the pole. How close you'll get depends on your body weight and build, so don't worry too much about this.
If you have large breasts or a round belly, some of your "squishy bits" might touch the pole. If you're very thin or lean, there may be a gap between you and the pole. Either is fine, not to worry. The main thing is to sit straight and not be leaning into or away from your pole.
Next, reach your hands just above above your head, but not too high. Grasp the pole with your elbows bent and a firm grip.
When you're ready, engage your core muscles (think of pulling your belly button in and down towards your tailbone) then slowly lift your body off the floor. Focus on using your core and upper body to lift yourself. Aim to lift yourself so that you are looking directly at your hands. You may not get there right away, but keep it in mind as your goal.
Allow the edges of your feet to give you a little support and keep you balanced, but try not to use them to actually lift yourself. You may need the help of your feet at first, but as you get stronger you should be able to rely on them less and less.
Avoid rotating your feet all the way so that the soles are on the floor. If you do this, you may push with your legs and lose most of the upper body benefit.
When done correctly, this exercise is quite challenging!
Remember: it doesn't matter how high you lift yourself. The important thing is that you get off the ground. If you can only lift half an inch at first, that's great! Keep at it and soon you'll be lifting higher.
Lift slowly and with control, keeping your core muscles engaged. Pause at the top of the movement (ie the highest point you're able to lift yourself to), then lower yourself back down slowly and with control, all the way to the floor.
Keep your body very close to the pole as you lift, make sure your pelvis remains tucked underneath you, and keep those core muscles engaged!
Now change your hands around so the other hand is on top, and repeat the lift. It's important to change up your grip each time, as this will be very helpful in developing balanced strength. It will also help develop your ability to execute moves using both your dominant and non-dominant sides.
Depending on your level, you might start out with only 1 or 2 lifts on each side. As you get stronger, work up to 6 lifts on each side (12 lifts in total) before moving up to the Kneeling Pole Lift variation (this variation is explained in the pole exercises DVD).
The Pole Fitness: Strength & Toning DVD contains many more exercises designed to build pole-specific strength. Using only your dance pole and your body weight, you'll get a great workout that will increase both your strength and confidence.
Or, get the full Pole Fitness Program, a 3 DVD set that helps you build the strength, stamina and flexibility you need for pole dancing. It's a great complement to your regular classes or your at-home training, as each DVD focuses on a different aspect of fitness training on your dance pole: strength, flexibility, and cardio.
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