Kristy Sellars' Top 10 Tips to Choreographing a Pole Routine

A huge number of pole students DON'T have any dance background but have discovered a love (ie PASSION) for Pole Dance.

The one thing a lot of girls (and guys) struggle with is choreographing a routine, so when I found this great article by Kristy Sellars I thought it might help some of you :-)

About Kristy Sellars - She started her dance career at Dance World Studios, where she studied ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, lyrical, Indian, Chinese, musical theatre, tap, flamenco, modelling, singing and more. She took a major interest in hip hop, which lead her to the states where she worked with well-known choreographers such as Kevin Maher, Tucker Barkley and Shawnette Heard. She started pole dancing in 2007 and quickly became addicted. In 2009 she competed in her first ever professional competition Miss Pole Dance Victoria.

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Pol-ebrity Interview - Maria Cossia

In the first of a series of interviews  with both Aussie and International Pole Celebrities, I recently had the opportunity to chat with one of Australia's newest "stars"...Maria Cossia from Queensland (Australia).

About Maria Maria grew up in Argentina and moved to Australia with her young family in 2005. Growing up she started gymnastics and dancing from a very young age and worked with a contemporary dance company in Buenos Aires before starting to coach gymnastics. When Maria moved to Australia she continued coaching gymnastics and trained as a PT and group fitness trainer. She came across The Pole Gym in Lawnton (Qld) not long after and her passion for pole dance has been growing ever since.

The Pole Gym studio owner, Dannah Dowling, has since become Maria's best friend and has travelled with her to every competition. Maria says, "I feel like I have found my family here." After a bit of time off the pole, Maria came back to training in the middle of last year and entered her first amateur comp at the Gold Coast in October. "I was very nervous about competing and it was an awesome surprise when I won the final. This gave me the boost of confidence to train for a bigger competition and so I entered Pole Candy Semi-Po Comp, where I placed runner-up," Maria told us.

Following this experience, Maria went on to compete in the Australian Pole Fitness Championships. Then it was the Queensland Pole Championships where she was awarded the title of Queensland Pole Champion 2013, and this opened the door to represent Queensland in the Australian Pole Championships in Canberra earlier this month, where she took out the Best Trickster title in the professional division. To top off a very exciting and eventful 2013, Maria was also invited by X-Pole Australia to take part in their Protégé Program.

Maria Cossier 3

Maria was kind enough to answer some questions- here's what she had to say...

Cherene:  How did you get into pole dancing - what was your motivation and how long have you been doing it?

Maria:  I started pole dancing four years ago, but took a break for two years in the middle. When I started out I saw it as another way for me to express myself through

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Got a Bad Back? Then get off your a***

We seem to spend half our lives sitting - and often with bad posture.

As kids we spend hours sitting in the class room hunched over a desk writing, then we go home and spend more hours sitting doing homework and studying, followed by a couple of hours sitting in front of the TV.

As adults, many of us spend hours sitting at a desk hunched over a computer, then there's the trip home sitting in a car, bus or train, and when we finally get home - more hours sitting in front of the TV or on the computer (again). How many hours a day do you spend sitting - and is it any wonder so many of suffer from lower back problems?

When your back hurts, getting up off the couch may seem like the last thing you want to do - but you should probably make it the 1ST thing you do. Research shows that getting moving is exactly what you need - provided you go about it the right way! Did you know that exercising will...

  1. strengthen the core and back muscles that support your back
  2. increase your flexibility and range of movement
  3. improve your overall mobility
  4. improve your posture and spinal alignment
  5. reduce the chances of developing arthritis and osteoporosis which can cause back pain.
  6. release pain killing Endorphins (the feel good hormone)

Let me start by saying, I am not a doctor, physiotherapist or anything like that, and I definitely recommend that if you experience back pain you should consult your doctor or health care professional before undertaking any new form of exercise to ensure you don't aggravate the problem. In saying that however, most health care professionals will advise that you avoid high impact and full body contact activities like running, netball, weight lifting and football - any activity that involves heavy, sharp, high impact movements.

What kind of exercise SHOULD you do if you suffer with back pain? Answer: Low impact activity that will increase overall strength (particularly core, back and pelvis), flexibility and range of movement - think swimming, yoga, low impact strength and resistance training.....OR you could try pole dancing and aerial yoga :-) As a 41 year old Mum, I had experienced Sciatica and lower back problems for many, many years. I'd seen Doctors,  Physiotherapists and Chiropractors, all of whom had provided minimal, short term relief, but the pain always returned. I was popping several "over the counter" pain killers EVERY day and still suffered from a great deal of pain.

I spent a great deal of time protecting my back by avoiding any moderately strenuous activities, and even general housework, gardening etc had become a nightmare. As mentioned in one of my previous articles "I'm too _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ to Pole Dance" I discovered Pole Dance back in 2004. At that time there were only a few schools here in Australia – and who had the time to travel 1.5 hours (each way) to do a 1 hour class? PLUS I knew that I was too old, too unfit and too weak, so who did I think I was kidding?

For some reason which I still have trouble explaining, the voices in my head would not give up on this pole dance thing – and as with all things that you just HAVE to do, I found a way to make it happen - and thank God I did! I got a dance pole at home and hunted down some DVD's (rather dodgy ones, but never-the-less) and in those early days I struggled a bit (read a lot), but I persevered and eventually nailed some pretty cool spins and tricks. I noticed pretty quickly that my back pain was starting to become A LOT less frequent, and I was waking up in the morning feeling refreshed and revitalised, rather than dragging my aching body out of bed to try and face another day.

Before I knew it, I was hanging upside down and then worked out I could do crunches hanging upside down on a dance pole - only a couple at first, but it didn’t take long before I was doing 10 and more! In those early days I quickly noticed that my back wasn’t giving me as much trouble as it had and I was moving more freely than I had in ages! All that hanging my own body weight off a vertical pole was actually helping to decompress my spine as well as build my upper body and core strength. The pain killers were down to only a couple a day (generally after a day at work).

CTS Flagging

Over the next few months I was able to do more advanced moves which continued to build my overall strength - including my core and back. I was off the pain killers completely by this stage - and I was feeling fitter, stronger and more self confident than ever before.

Another excellent example is our business partner in Adelaide, CHRIS MEASDAY.... Chris was a competitive gymnast and coach. He started doing gymnastics as a young boy and continued through his teenage years and into adulthood. While training for an upcoming competition, he was performing a triple back flip with a double twist (or something equally as impressive) but didn't quite make it. He landed badly as was rushed to hospital with suspected spinal injuries. Fortunately, there was no spinal cord damage, but he had managed to break his back in seven (yes I said 7) places. A lengthy recovery and rehabilitation followed - and his lifetime of gymnastics was suddenly out the window!

Once he was recovered Chris started looking at other low impact activities he COULD do that held the same interest as gymnastics had. It was then that he discovered Pole Dancing. As one of the first men in Australia (and probably the world) to show an interest in this predominantly female industry he found it hard to find a studio that would accept a male student. Like myself, he ended up getting a dance pole and playing around at home.

He re-built his old strength and with his knowledge of gymnastics was able to develop some pretty cool moves. Fast forward seven or eight years and Chris is now the Ultimate International Men's Pole Champion and has won and placed highly in many national and international competitions. He is well known around the world for his fun, gymnastic inspired routines which are often mingled with a little comedy.

He is Director and co-owner of Pol-arise Fitness & Dance in Adelaide (SA), where he and his team teach both ladies and guys to Pole Dance for fun and fitness and at 32 years of age, he continues to perform, compete and judge in competitions around the world.

chris-ipc-wideDon't get me wrong here -  I'm not saying that EVERYONE is going to get the same results as either Chris or myself - but from our experience I will say that many people suffering from back problems and lower back pain CAN and DO get relief from exercising - and Pole Dance and Aerial Yoga are both FUN ways to get fit, build overall body strength and you will SEE and FEEL the results quickly! It is a low impact sport with no hard landings or sharp movements making it ideal for people with back problems.

So stop sitting around - get off your arse, and get moving and grooving....whatever your style of fitness is. Your back will thank you for it :)

If you've enjoyed this article, hit the LIKE button on the bottom of the page, and as always we love to hear your comments and feedback, so drop us a line the Comments box below :)

Yours in health and fitness -

Cherene x

Mixing It Up to Avoid Injury

Although pole dancing and aerial classes have the potential to be an excellent total body workout, the specific muscles that are being worked, and how hard, really depends on what kind of moves you're doing .

When spinning and climbing, the muscles of the upper body are obviously being used to hold your own body weight. Specifically, the lats (large muscles in your back), shoulders, biceps and forearm muscles are called into play with these types of moves.

The core muscles also play a very important role in pole and aerial, particularly in inverted moves where the exit or transition from the move involves reversing the inversion in what is essentially a crunch using the forces of gravity as resistance. Beginner level students aren't yet ready for the more advanced moves, but can still get an excellent workout! Many beginner level spins require considerable upper body and core strength, especially for someone who is new to these forms of dance/exercise. Even simple moves that don't require both feet to leave the ground can work the core and lower body muscles. This is because these styles are typically done in a relatively slow and controlled manner, which tends to help the dancer focus on muscle control and engagement.

There are also numerous exercises you can do on a dance pole or aerial silk/hammock to build strength in preparation for higher level moves. In other words, you can also use the apparatus as a workout tool to prepare you for more advanced moves. Remember, pole dance and aerial are both fun forms of fitness BUT it is still a workout. Make sure to warm up sufficiently before training and cool down afterwards. As with any workout routine, you will build strength over time and it's best to take a gradual approach to avoid injury.

Overuse and Repetitive Use Injuries - Overuse injuries are fairly common in pole dancers and aerialists, particularly in the shoulder and back areas. It's important to pace yourself during a class or training session and to stop when you feel too tired or too sore. The old "no pain, no gain" philosophy can actually set you up for an injury. You can get fit without feeling pain, so don't push yourself to the point of pain. Repetitive Use injuries are also fairly common in pole dancers and aerialists.

It's also important to mix up your workout throughout the week in order to work different muscle groups and/or work them in a different way. As an example,  the ideal workout mix should include a 1 or 2 classes in your preferred genre (Pole Dance or Aerial) plus 1 or 2 workout classes in another genre/style - eg. Pole Dance + Aerial Yoga + Body Blast or Stretch/Flex. The benefits of mixing up your weekly workout routine like this are multiple, including -

  1. You'll be working the muscle groups in a very different way. This will "confuse" them so they never get used to doing the same thing all the time,
  2. You'll beat the boredom factor, as each class is completely different to another
  3. You'll reduce your risk of overuse and repetitive use injuries,
  4. You'll learn skills and gain benefits from another genre which will compliment and enhance your preferred genre - eg a pole student will gain increased flexibility from doing an Aerial Yoga or Stretch/Flex class,

To clarify - footballers do not ONLY play football to maintain their fitness - they spend hours in the gym doing circuit training and weights, they swim, they run - they mix up their workout. The same is true of almost all exercise/sporting activities - dancers, gymnasts, tennis players, motor racing drivers to name just a few....they ALL mix up their workouts - and for very good reason. To avoid injury! Injury can happen to the best of us, no matter how experienced or how fit you are, but you CAN significantly reduce this risk by following these workout precautions -

  1. Warm Up sufficiently before every workout
  2. Cool Down and Stretch after every workout
  3. Mix up your workout routine regularly, and
  4. Rest if you are injured

Keep an eye out for my next article - FUELLING YOUR BODY FOR TRAINING

If you've enjoyed this article hit the LIKE button at the bottom of this page, and feel free to leave your comments in the box below :-) Cherene