Black Box Interviews: Uncut w/Lori Myers

All of our Black Box interviews are uncut, unsanitized and real, so don't say shit you don't want to see in type. Lori agreed to be my test subject and she was a doll! Join us as we dish cupcakes, NorCal, pole dancing, weight & comic books!

VB: Hi Lori! So fyi I’m so ill, I’m really sick.

Lori: You poor thing.

VB: Yeah. I just had a horrible day. I did not work out because I can barely breathe. My throat’s messed up. So I thought this recorder was the new--, interesting way to try to do this for me.

Lori: Well you sound good.

VB: Yeah, well, because I’m sitting outside in the sun but if I had to type or try to write while we’re talking, it would be awful. And I type with one finger anyhow; I’m like a horrible typer.

Lori: Got it. That’s hilarious. You’re a ‘finger-typer’.

VB: Yup! So I wanted to talk to you about a bunch of things but first I wanted to get a little background on you. So if you could just kind of tell us about yourself, what you’re about. And I don’t want everything to be about pole…

VB: I want to know a bit more about Lori as well. So, yeah, if you could just give me a little bit of your background…

Lori: Got it. Alright, well, I grew up--, so I guess I should say it for your recording, my name is Lori Myers…

VB: Yeah.

Lori: … and I write ‘Confessions of a Twirly Girl’. I grew up in Brentwood and not the LA Brentwood that everyone thinks about, where OJ lived, but the real Brentwood in Northern California - that was farm towns and ranches. My grandparents had actually an apricot orchard so I grew up eating fruit off the trees or off the ground which sounded better because it was easier to reach but you know whatever. I got into the legal field when I was 18 and I’ve been in the legal field ever since, I worked as a litigation secretary even though I have a paralegal certificate. A few years ago, I also started writing and helping companies with their social media and in connection with a lot of pole stuff and started doing that for pole companies and I’ve done that for non-pole companies as well so, my professional background really is in the legal field but when I started writing a few years back I picked up all different kinds of clients and different companies and things like that so I think outside of pole I enjoy, although I haven’t been able to do much lately, I enjoy horseback riding and all the outdoor stuff, like if I could live on the beach and ride horses I would die a happy girl.

Yoga at Grace Cathedral

VB: Yeah, that’s one of the questions I wanted to ask you about, whenever I see you online I do see a lot of non-pole activities. I see that you’re really kind of involved in Yoga now and I was really jealous of the Yoga class that you were able to do in the church; I thought that was absolutely beautiful…

Lori: Yeah.

VB: So, what do you like to do just for you, in your non-pole, non-legal time?

Lori: Well, you probably know I had gastric-bypass 10 years ago; my anniversary is actually tomorrow on St Patrick’s Day but I lost a lot of weight that way, but I’ve always been involved in some kind of exercise so when I was a kid it was step-aerobics because I thought that was huge when I was in high school and so that’s what I started doing, the step-aerobics and then probably about 15 years ago, so before I had gastric bypass and I was still pretty large, my highest weight was pretty close to 350 pounds but I could still do Yoga and that was kind of my--, you know, I would go to Yoga a couple times a week and I was pretty active at the gym, lifting weights and I would do step classes or spin classes but Yoga has been pretty consistent for probably a good 15 years.

Lori: And then after I had surgery I did get a little bit lazy because the weight was coming off and so you forget that you’re working out to be healthy not to be thin so when I came back to it, Yoga has always been huge for me so I got back into Yoga. When I was probably in my best shape, I was doing Yoga three times a week, I was taking Pilates Reformer class and I was doing a cycle class a couple times a week and meeting with--, I had a little group of people that we would just lift weights and stuff at the gym but regardless of what I do, whether it’s pole or whether it’s all the other stuff Yoga has been pretty consistent for a while now so the Classic Grace Cathedral in San Francisco was my favorite.

Lori: That is the only thing I really missed about working in San Francisco, you know, after that class on Tuesday night you just go down to grace cathedral and you set up and 500 people would come to this class. The instructor would wear a microphone and there would be assistants that walk around too, not just kinda willy nilly doing yoga, nobody’s helping you but it was amazing, it was a really beautiful building. That’s something I may; every once in a while maybe ask if I can leave work early here so I can get back into San Francisco and do that because that’s one thing I miss about San Francisco.

yoga in tahoe

VB: That’s cool, here in LA we have Hollywood Forever cemetery and with movie nights there...

Lori: Oh.

VB: … There’s this big huge white wall there and it was an old cemetery that had a lot of old Hollywood stars and it kind of fell in disarray and it was sold and these young guys; think in their early 20’s, bought it and revamped it and brought it back to the beauty of what it was before and one of the ways they were able to do that when there were tourists and you could see all the graves, it was a really lovely cemetery but one of the ways they did it is, they have movie nights in the summer and then into fall.

Lori: That’s funny, I’ve actually heard of that.

VB: Yeah, it’s amazing and you go and you sit in the grass and there’s this huge wall and they have a DJ and they played movies and they have this huge grass area, it’s not like we’re sitting on people’s graves so you know.

Lori: Right

VB: It’s in a certainly different area but it’s still kind of a fun funky thing and I always thought they should do a Yoga night there

Lori: Right, that would be cool; my boyfriend’s friend goes to that, his name is Corey and he’s talked about that before at that cemetery so that’s funny so you guys have probably crossed path without even realizing it.

VB: Probably.

Lori: Next time we’re down we’ll have to go.

VB: Yeah definitely. So, you touched a little bit on your weight loss journey and your surgery, did you find pole before or after that journey?

Lori: I found pole after my surgery. I had surgery 10 years ago and I having been poling for little over 4 years now so, 6 years out from surgery. I was in fairly good shape right before I started pole dancing and then it’s like life catches you, I tried the new medication and I gained 25 pounds in a month, horrible. And then I got a hip injury and then I got a foot injury last year, it’s just been a trickle effect and like everything that could go wrong has gone wrong so, I’m actually probably in the worst shape ever right now, so I’m kind of battling back from the foot surgery; I had foot surgery in August so it’s been kind of a frustrating journey because I was in a fairly good position to improve myself and do well in pole and then, just little things happened and it just never happened so I feel like I’m in worst shape now than when I started pole and so I really don’t want to re-injure myself. I really could go up from here. That’s the only place to go because I’m as bad as I’m ever going to let myself get so I’m doing Yoga, I’m going to cycling classes and trying to pole 2 to 3 times a week because I may never be thin but I need to be in shape. It’s not an option for me; I have to be working out. I don’t have the option to be lazy because my body has the memory of sleeping fat and it loves being fat and it’ll go back there as quickly as I let it so, I try not to let it.

VB: So now with the whole weight loss surgery, how do you think your outlook on pole classes or your pole journey would be different or how do you think that--, do you think that you have a different view of it having gone from a couple different sizes? How do you think that that affects pole - weight I mean, because a lot of times we tell people, “Oh, you know, anyone at any size can pole”, and that’s true, everyone at any size can pole but the reality is that if we’re lifting more weight, which I am, which you are, it is harder and people don’t really like to say that a lot, I find. I think that it’s great in which it empowers women and men of any size, any age, any disability to do pole but there is the reality that it is a little harder or different; you’re going to have to do things a little differently.

Lori: Absolutely.

VB: And I think people kind of gloss that over and so I’m always interested to hear other people’s views on that and what they think of that.

Lori: Right. So, it’s hard because I like to say pole dance is for everybody but I also can fully recognize that it works better for different bodies and not even just thinner bodies but even shorter bodies although I think that you have to find out what works for you because tall people will say “Oh well when you do this move, it’s really hard to have long legs” and short people will say “Well if I have long legs I can do this move”, so for me it’s finding the move that is going to work for you and then working on it. I shocked everybody I think when I did my first hand stand and I swear to God my arms were going to fall off the first time I did it because as soon as I got upside down all the air went out of my body and my blood stopped pumping but I did it. That’s my thing am I lifting into it properly; absolutely not but I can do a hand stand and I can shock the shit out of people and that’s what I do. So I’m trying to take the moves that work for me and become better and get stronger at those moves because I’m probably never going to; like I’ll never do a spatchcock I can guarantee that and that’s not being negative, that’s just being honest and realistic.

VB: Um I think it’s kinda ugly – shhh don’t tell anyone I said that.

Lori: I don’t really want to, it’s not my favorite at all but there’s a lot of moves; even a basic invert, I struggle with a basic invert and not just because of my lack of strength but because when I get upside down, my body decides that it’s going to start sweating and I will lose my place in the world and so until I get use to inverting and then being able to hold up myself up there without sliding to my death, it’s not the move for me. I feel like if I can’t do tricks, whatever kind of trick very well then I’m going to take the moves that I can do and I’m going to make them as pretty as I can so I’ve been taking a lot of dance; like my Saturday classes are a contemporary dance class.

VB: Yay.

Lori: We’re in the pole studio but we’re doing mostly contemporary with a pole move in our routine or whatever so, if I can’t invert and I can’t do tricks and stuff like that then I’m going to take what I can do so I think that whatever your issue is, whether it’s weight or height or you’ve got an injury you’ll have to find out what works for you and then just kind of rock that because no matter what it is not even just weight holding me back, like, I’m super inflexible so when people are like “Let’s do a hello boys” and I’m like “Oh well, here’s mine]. I don’t have a ‘V’ split that I can show you guys so I don’t have anything there so I have to just kind of work with fake splits and things like that because I can’t do any of that stuff so rather than sit around being sad that I can’t do any of that stuff, I try to figure out what I can do and make that as amazing as possible.

VB: Cool, so how did you end up finding pole, what brought you to pole?

Lori: First I heard an ad on the radio and not really an ad, just some of the girls from ‘S Factor San Francisco’ were on a radio show and as soon as I heard them I was like I’m going to try that. I’m going to go, I’m going to find somebody to go with me so I found a girl from my gym and I was like “I want to go to S Factor and try this class, will you go?” and she said “Yeah” and I live about 30 miles outside of San Francisco but getting into the city can be a pain in the butt if there’s traffic so I think it took us about an hour and a half to drive to the city and we literally barely made it into the class before they closed it because we were going to be late and it was a great class, we had a really good time. The S Factor; I feel like not everybody loves S Factor because it’s not just about pole, you got 10 people in there and 2 poles so you’re there to find yourself not to learn how to pole dance really but I really enjoyed it. But I couldn’t realistically drive that many hours every Saturday, give up 4 or 5 hours just to go into the city for S Factor so I just kind of waited it out and randomly; I want to say about a year, little over later, one of my friends got an email that a studio had opened up in Pleasanton. Pleasanton is still about 25 miles away but it’s along a freeway that’s much easier to travel so it takes me about 30 minutes to get there. So in December of 2009 I took my first class with one of my friends and we both are still going so 4 years and 4 months later we’re still members.

VB: That’s Twirly Girls right?

Lori: Yea that’s Twirly Girls pole fitness in Pleasanton so that’s kind of been my home ever since and Belle who owns studios is in her 60’s but she is a little spitfire and she fosters a really great environment for people to come in and flourish so it’s been easy to be there, so it’s great.

VB: Right, well how did you end up teaching there as well?

Lori: About 2 years after I started we were at a Christmas party and Belle pulled me aside and she’s like “I have visions of you teaching” and I was just like “You’re crazy and probably drunk so you should probably sit down and think about that for a while” and she came back like “No, I’ve really been thinking about it, I really think that you should”. And she’s been teaching pole for years, she had taught at a gym and then kind of built Twirly Girls out of that class and then opened her studio; her very own studio in July of 2009 and so she’s been teaching for a long time and she was expert certified and she’s like I’m going to teach you how to teach people. So I started shadowing her; I came into her classes and I started just basically watching how she taught because you don’t realize if you’re in class to learn you’re not learning how to teach so I had to come in from a different kind of angle and be like now I need to learn how to teach other people. So I shadowed her for about 4 months and then she gave me my very first class; my class actually just turned 2 years old just recently so yeah she kind of surprised me with it, it wasn’t what I was expecting and my biggest concern with her was I will only be a beginning teacher. My students are going to surpass me and there has to be a point where we all have to agree that that has to happen and it’s kind of funny because it’s just now that it’s starting to happen.

my class being silly

Lori: One of my students Robert that you’ll see on Facebook a lot, he has surpassed my level and I keep telling him to stop coming to my class but he won’t. So he comes to our class and he goes to other classes and it feels nice because he likes being in class with us and we like having him in class but this was kind of also my nightmare, where someone was going to surpass my skill level and I wasn’t going to be able to teach them but I feel like there’s always stuff you can learn from people, even if I can’t teach him tricks we’re working on his dance because he’s not dancing. It’s probably not his forte but he’s doing really well with the tricks and he’s learning how to dance so it’s still fun.

VB: Yeah, I always feel there’s something people can learn. There’s so many people who can do great tricks but are they beautiful, are they pretty, are they perfect tricks? I know people get tired and once they’ve gotten that trick they want to move on to the next thing but until you can really do it perfectly, it’s something you should still continue to work on so it’s not to say that you can’t move on but I kind of actually like the idea of taking multi-level classes whether you’re in a class that is a higher level and then you go to a lower level class because sometimes when I would go back to a lower level class you’re like wow, I forgot all of this and I really didn’t do this and I really should do this, so I think there’s something to be said there for everyone.

Lori: I agree, when I went to the California Pole Dance Championship last year, I was floored and slightly saddened by the number of neo-competitors busting out sloppy fonjis. I mean, you’re an amateur performer, you probably shouldn’t be doing fonji in the first place and especially not if you’re not flawless with that movement, it’s so dangerous. I feel like the competition world is going a direction where they’re pushing people into things they’re not ready for but they feel like they have to do it because if the whole neo-division is doing their fonji then you feel like you have to come with something better than that next year so what do you do that’s more difficult than a fongi? I mean you’re doing death lay to start every single routine or something I don’t really know but I think they’re getting back to because I feel like the routines that win these competitions are well balanced so they do have beautiful twirls and transitions and they have the tricks but I think for a second there people are just kind of like rabidly; what ridiculous trick can I throw into this to make people go crazy and not realizing everybody doesn’t want to just see the death defying tricks there’s got to be something like a whole story around it or something.

VB: Alright boom - which leads into my next question perfectly; you have created the Northern California Pole Presentational and I wanted to know what prompted you to want to do a presentational vs a straight on competition? What was the thought behind that?

Lori: This exact idea came from a friend of mine; Amy Bond came to me last year and she was like “I want to put on a pole event in Northern California and I need you to help me” and I was like “Cool, this is going to be so fun”. What do we do, we just call a couple people and everybody shows up? I had no idea the amount of work that was going to go into making this thing happen. This is what she tells me and I completely agree and basically it was that, I feel like when I go see pole showcases, there’s less pressure and I feel like the routines come off so much better because there’s no pressure to compete, so it kind of came from ‘hey we want to put on a great show’ but sometimes people are preparing for events and so initially I think she wanted it to be ‘come showcase your routine for PPC’, not really thinking that people aren’t going to want to give up their PPC routine because then if their competitors are there watching then they’re not going to want to show it. So initially there was a push to get this done in February of this year so that people could do their PPC routine, have judges give them feedback so that when they got to PPC they would be completely polished and they would have had all this great advice. And I told her as soon as she told me that, a part of that was like people aren’t going to do it and so we talked to some other studio owners and they kind of agreed so we kind of put it on the back burner where we were like, you know what, we don’t need to get this out before PPC but we still like the idea of come and showcase your routine on a big stage.

Lori: People want to be on a big stage, they want to have the lights and they want to look pretty and you put on their routine so their friends and family can come watch, because there’s a lot of events in Northern California that are based out of studios so Poletential does Air Show and Twirly Girls does ‘Trick or Twirl’ and the Lovely Rita Fundraiser for the National Kidney Foundation, Studio Botan has one, and also Entangle & Sway, I think every 6 months they do showcases in their studio for their students. There’s nothing in Northern California that is just independent from any studio, so initially we kind of wanted to maybe go PPC style, make it big and we’re still kind of there making it. You just pay your fee you’re in and you can come showcase your performance but we will have judges there so people who want to receive feedback on their moves, they can. So it’s kind of the best of both worlds without the pressure of ‘I have to make third place and get a title otherwise this was all for nothing.

VB: So how many people put together this with you?

Lori: Ok so Amy came to me in January, Amy Bond and she was in Boston and then she came out to California and took the California Bar and she went to law school in Boston and took the California Bar out here. She dropped out in January and basically was like, “My life is just crazy I need to focus on other stuff”, so then I talked to Ellen Lovelace and she teaches up here; she’s teaching at Twirly Girls, she teaching it at a couple of other studios. She used to be at Poletential and I just respect her as an instructor and as a poler so I just kind of went to her initially just kind of feeling out like what did she think about this idea, was it worth continuing with and she’s been amazing. She came on board, she’s been my partner ever since and she does a ton of work having to do with this. I mean if I had known what it was going to take just to get a rigger, oh my God down there in LA I’m sure there’s so many shows It’s not a big of a deal; nobody up here has ever done rigging for a pole show and so every single one of them is like you want to do what? Can we do this? Like no, we can’t do that, It needs to be this or well maybe can we get--; no you can’t do that, we need it this--, and it’s been crazy but she’s been doing a lot of work and she claims I’ll be making up for what I haven’t done on the day of the show.

Lori: She’s awesome; she’s really awesome so I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.

VB: So how did you actually start or what prompted you to start your blog?

Just me

Lori: Initially, I really just was like ‘hey’--, I don’t even remember, I feel like somebody was just like “Hey you should keep an online journal.” I didn’t even think they called it a blog cause I figured people who wrote blogs were like real writers, like you had to be a professional writer or something and so I initially started it on a defunct site and I remember I wrote a couple of posts and I was just like “Ah, this site isn’t working for me” and I remember someone mentioned ‘Blogger’ so I moved over and started with Blogger and it was really just to kind of chronicle my adventure. I think I started poling in December and I think my first blog on Blogger was like January so within a month I was already blogging.

Lori: So I really didn’t expect anybody else to read it, I just kind of thought that it would be a place for me, one place for me to go and look at what I’m doing so it was really just kind of random and I never in beginning was like “Oh, people are going to read this”, you know, maybe a couple of my fellow Twirly Girls might but never in a million years did I think that it was going to go as big as it did and so it’s been kind of cool but sometimes I think that when I sit behind my computer and write, it’s never occurred to me that other people are going to read these words and then that affects other people in my life when I’m especially sharing very personal stories about growing up and stuff and so it’s affected my relationship with my mom and many of my other family members so…

VB: Is that hard?

Lori: Well, it is sometimes but then at the same time there is great quote and it was like “Write about your experiences”, you know “people are upset that they know your writing about how they treated you and they should have treated you better so it’s like if she’s mad that I’m writing about stuff, maybe she shouldn’t have done that stuff” so, yeah but I do try to be mindful and not write completely shity stuff about my mom but, you know, a lot of ‘why I am the way I am’ is because of her and my upbringing so yeah, it is what it is.

VB: Yeah, my blog--, I don’t really think there’s anything in there that was annoying my mom in my blog. But I never really told her about it and then the other day she called me and she’s like “You know that recipe in your blog and blah blah blah blah blah" and then she’s saying “I can’t really tell if it’s supposed to be a cup of sugar or a cup and a half because in one place it says a cup and a half and then it says a cup”. I was like, my blog? What are you doing on my blog?

Lori: Well, my mom doesn’t have the ability to find my blog on her own, thank God because even though she’s not that old, she acts like she is completely--, well she doesn’t act, she is completely technologically retarded so--, but what will happen is that she has a expletives friend who will find the really juicy ones and send them to her and incite violence between the two of us so they have all been de-friended on Facebook so now they can’t look through my stuff anymore.

VB: There you go. It’s a start. Yeah and the day my mom called and said why haven’t you accepted my friendship on Facebook? I hadn’t even noticed and I was like “Oh shit, on Facebook?" How did my mom find Facebook?

Lori: Right?

VB: Okay so what’s the one thing that we don’t know about you that you can share with us?

Lori: I really hate fish to the point of it making me want to puke every time I smell it?

VB: Really? So you don’t do sushi?

Lori: I don’t do sushi, I don’t eat tuna, I don’t eat anything fishy. I don’t do shrimp, I don’t do fried shrimp; I don’t do tuna fish sandwiches. Everybody thinks like “Oh, you could do fried shrimp.” Nope, I don’t want any of it.

VB: So no lobster?

Lori: Nope. No lobster.

VB: Freak! And if you were a cupcake, what flavor would you be?

Lori: Mmm, all the flavors. Oh, apricot.

Lori: So my favorite cupcake place is a truck, it’s called “Cupkates”. It’s apricot-almond. Oh my God, they only did it one time last year, they do it for a month, they have a specialty flavor. If I could eat that cupcake, I would eat it every day for the rest of my life.

VB: Apricot-almond, that’s a weird combo.

Lori: Totally. But it’s delicious.

VB: Speaking of delish what’s up with the whole comic book character thingy?

Cosplaying as Candy from Chunky Girl Comics

Lori: Last year, I started trying to find more "fat positive" things on Facebook. I was kind of tired of the "Fitspo" memes that all told me I didn't have six pack abs because I was lazy. So I found Chunky Girl Comics' Facebook page. A bit later, they were casting cosplayers to play their characters. A Twirly Girl friend tagged me and said, hellooooo, you'd be perfect for Candy. I had looked at the characters and remembered thinking I was tall and built like Candy but I have red hair, so I wouldn't qualify. Marisa Garcia, the writer of the comic came on to Facebook (because we were having this conversation on the fan page, of course), and said I would be perfect to play Candy and could wear a wig. So Lori as Candy was born! I did a comic book event in Stockton and had a really great time. In November, I went down to Los Angeles for Stan Lee's Comikaze. I had a great time, took lots of photos with people shocked to see a 6'4" in girl (in my boots), and received quite a few complimentary comments about how much they admired my guts for wearing such short shorts in public. I really feel like younger girls especially need to understand not all bodies are created equally and they don't need to be ashamed if they aren't tiny. Marisa also created Super Hero Within and goes to schools to give speeches on self-esteem. I feel very fortunate to be part of a great group of ladies with "non-traditional" bodies!

VB: Amazing! My god Lori we’ve been on the phone for like an hour, thanks so much for speaking with me and being so candid!

NCPP is Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 at the San Jose Stage Company Theater Please visit their web site for ticketing info.

You can Find Lori swinging it all around here: http://lolorashel.blogspot.com/www.facebook.com/TwirlyGirlConfessionswww.PoleNorCal.com

The Body: 5 Questions Answered & Asked

Human Canvas Abstract Projection by Duerring Photography CC BY-ND 3.0

The Body Is Art. What does that statement mean exactly, to you, to myself, to others? This month the PDBA asks us to explore our bodies. What moves them, what they are to us, how we express them, how we celebrate them. What is your version of "Body Consciousness"?

I spent a lot of time on this question. I wrote a lovely inspirational article, one that said all the right things, one that set up the "Body Consciousness" that people, including myself, think they should have. But for the life of me I could not hit "Publish" and then it hit me, my body was fighting writing this article, O.M.G. my body was faking it!

Secretly my body doesn't want to go to class tonight, it really wants a cheese steak, a beer and to watch Survivor Man reruns so when I ditch all of my responsibilities and run off to the rain forest I will know how to make fire and eat. Fuck my body is a cheese steak eating traitor. My body doesn't want to pretend it is as tight and light and airy as it was when it was 25, it kinda wants to put on some hammer pants and grab its snuggy and veg. My body & I clearly need to have a talk.

Triangle Connection by Duerring Photography CC BY-ND 3.0

Is that art? What's happened here? My body needs to remember all of the reasons why its amazing. And it IS AMAZING! Hopefully these 5 questions from the Speed Round can help jump start a little self love.

  • Describe your body in one word. STRONG
  • In what environment, do you typically feel the most amazing? The beach, skiing, the mountains, the beach. Yeah I live for the beach.
  • What do you love about your body and about yourself in general? That it is smart enough and strong enough. That it allows and empowers me to live, be & create a life I love.
  • What feels really good to your body? Hot Tubs, Chocolate, Sleep, Sex, Sleep, The Ocean, Sleep.
  • How does your body feel when it is dancing? Alive!

Think about what these questions mean to you. I would love to hear how you celebrate your body.

Love & Glitter,

Social Culture & Pole: What Should Pole Dancing Be?

Whenever I am writing a blog post I get so hung up on the "tags". I know that for the internet they are important but I am over them in life. There are so many different views on what pole dancing is, where pole dancing originated and what pole dancing should grow to be. Society puts enough pressures and labels on us already, I'm overthose tags, I choose to embrace these...

POLE DANCING IS LIBERATING "you can be who or what you choose with only the music and movement as your audience!" ~HD

POLE DANCING IS GANGSTA' "It pushes you to your limits and beyond. its makes you feel like you can conquer anything ... and you can!" ~Makeda Smith

The confidence makes it sexy ~Lena Fumi

POLE DANCING IS FOR EVERYONE "If we were to limit pole dance only to those who already can pole dance "perfectly," we would deprive so many people of the joy we feel when we dance. The emotions that I personally suppress in my every day life are often brought out when I dance." ~Lori Lolorashel Myers

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-PI53028b8?rel=0]

POLE DANCING IS SEXY"The freedom of the movement makes it sexy. The undulation of a woman's hips makes it sexy. The potential for wild abandon in movement makes it sexy. The way you can slow things down or speed them up at your own leisure makes it sexy. The tease makes it sexy. The heels make it sexy. The tug at a piece of clothing makes it sexy." ~Claire Griffin Sterrett

POLE DANCING IS FEMININE

POLE DANCING IS STRENGTH "redefining what your muscles are capable of..." ~Roz Mays

POLE DANCING IS HARD "But because it is hard it is also rewarding. There is nothing like putting a move on the shelves for months because you never thought you would get it and you gave up, just to pull it out one day and find you nail it. It breeds perseverance and with that perseverance confidence. ~Pam Labratski

POLE DANCING IS"ADDICTIVE" ~Shayne Evans

I mean damn, who doesn't like swinging around a pole in 7 inch shoes? ~Veruca Blue

POLE DANCING IS MASCULINE "Masculinity has a different weight to it than femininity. The experience of holding, manipulating and creating with your own body weight that Pole requires feels powerfully masculine to me." ~Chad Everett Allen

chad & iris

POLE DANCING IS"medicine for the soul" ~Claire Griffin Sterrett

POLE DANCING IS FREEDOM "Finding the strength to let go and express ones emotions while being so exposed is freedom" ~Veruca Blue

To me pole dancing can't be or shouldn't be put into a box. It's many things to many people. I would love to hear what POLE DANCING IS to you?

Love & Glitter,

My Emotional Rescue - The Power Of Music & Movement

Photo by Blue Muse Fine Art CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Photo by Blue Muse Fine Art CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

My first time, I remember it well. The lights were low, the room was quite - less some heavy breathing on my part. It had been an annoying day at work and I just wanted everything and everyone to disappear. Tonight needed to be all about me. I distinctly remember being in a funk that I was sure would last for days and decided on the spot to not worry about pointed toes or smooth movement or tricks or balance...and then the music came on. That night by letting go of "perfection" and not giving a shit, I had the perfect dance. While I couldn't tell you who was in the room or what I was wearing I remember with all clarity the emotions, the music and the dance. It's ironic because while it felt great for me I thought it probably looked like crap for everyone else. As my teacher screamed "SHIT that's your song - never seen that from you before!" I realized apparently my letting go resonated across the board.

From that moment on I became obsessed with music and movement. While I recognize the beauty in "perfection" I also recognize the beauty in different emotions. I realize I like to get angry and wild and sad and happy and stunted and loose and free and large and full and small and dirty. In realizing what moves me isn't always perfect or clean, my definition of "dance" has become less narrow.

Numerous studies show a strong coloration between emotions and movement. The word emotion stems from the Latin "emovere" which means "to move out". De Rivera’s A Structural Theory of Emotions suggests "When we examine individual f.t motions they reveal different types of movement and these different types suggest that an emotion is not an isolated entity, but rather part of a system that governs object relations..." (De Rivera, 1977 p.12). Our emotional experiences reflect our relation to the world and life around us.

What moves you? Which emotions does your body want or rather need to express?

I would love for you to share your first time with me. The first time you REALLY felt your dance, the first time you were completely out of your head and fully in your heart, the first time you truly felt the emotionality of movement.

Love & Glitter,

*various forms and styles of movement that I love!

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Dance - Getting Down On The Floor To Learn How To Fly!

One day I was sitting around the studio trying to think of class ideas that would compliment aerial & bring more cardio into our lives, lord knows I need more cardio. I started poking around YouTube and it hit me - I secretly want to dance. Just dance.

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And not "pole dancing" with out the pole (which is admittedly fun), not in the air in a hammock (which I love), not spinning in a hoop, or wrapped up in silks, I want to embrace some contemporary dance, some modern, maybe throw up a jazz hand or two, dance on the floor - on the ground.

Just dance.

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This actually seems to be a theme among a lot of my friends lately. Maybe it's all the competitions or the need to push our selves to extremes? Maybe with our busy lives we just need a release from our hectic days or training schedules, maybe we need an excuse to buy more leg warmers, maybe we need to learn to incorporate other forms of dance into our aerial routines? Who knows, but the drive is there and it's strong. I can't remember the last time I went out dancing for the hell of it and I'm pretty sure I used to love it.

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”   ~Friedrich Nietzsche

 

So we rolled around the floor, we leapt, we spun, we got sweaty, we giggled at how much we were out of our element, we became invigorated and acted like giddy children.

And we just danced!

Sometimes you just need to get down on the floor to learn how to fly!

Why not challenge yourself to take a break, get off all of the apparatuses & just dance, however that dance might look for you.

[youtube=://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpVfF4U75B8&w=854&h=480]

Gender, Men & The Art Of Pole: There’s a man in my pole class. PT3

Photo by Poleagraphy

By Danielle Giannantonio

“Is he gay?” That’s always the first question. When people find out that there is, often times, a man in my pole classes, their first concern is if he's gay. Most of the time the answer is yes, but it's not like I've ever actually asked. It shouldn't matter. It certainly doesn't matter to me. In fact, when I was first asked to give my opinion on having men in my class, I was worried. I was worried that I didn't have enough of an opinion about the topic.

I hadn't ever put much thought into it. And with that realization, I immediately felt proud of myself for my forward thinking. And I felt brave for stretching and bending and strutting around, barely clothed, in a co-ed class. But don't get me wrong... it's not like pole dancing isn't sexy. And I understand why the topic of men in pole classes should be explored. Some, maybe most, women may not feel so comfortable straddling their legs open or body-rolling with a man looking on. But I suppose it's all about point of view. Pole dancing is a sport. And the amount of booty shaking involved is completely up to each individual. Man or woman.

Which leads me to my next realization: When I am in a class full of women, we will often times learn a routine. A routine that includes hip rolls, figure eights, crawling, etc... the sexy/sensual stuff. But when we have a man in class, we never do. Never. The class is always focused on tricks. Something I had never put together before I sat down to write this. Once I realized this, I experienced a bit of a perspective change. I began to think about how a man might feel in a pole class. Maybe teachers at other studios aren't so aware. Maybe they don't change-up the plan depending on who's in class. How would a man feel about being told to "lead with his ass" or "arch his back and stick out his chest"?

I realized that maybe it isn't us women who are brave enough to include men in "our" classes, but the men who are brave enough to ignore the stereotypes and do it because they love it. Gay or straight. I don't care whether they want to embrace the sexy or the strong... or, like me, both. All I care about is if they are serious about learning and are supportive of their fellow students. And I hope that all instructors are as considerate as mine is to who is in class on any particular day. But, mostly, I hope that "Is he gay?" can no longer be an issue. In more than just the topic of pole dancing.

"Male pole enthusiasts are extremely fun to work with! They are usually open-minded and eager to learn! The only thing I wish was different about male pole students is that we had more of them!" - Performer & Instructor Veronika Pole

*This is the 3rd and final article in our series exploring Gender, Men & The Art Of Pole. I hope that each of these perspectives can be a jumping point for conversations. Communicating our fears respectfully to each other can be amazingly empowering. I know that by starting this discussion with my friends, students and others in the pole community, I have a better understanding of some of the challenges men face in pole dancing, as well as the women who dance along side of them!

PREVIOUS PT 1 - Gender, Men & The Art Of Pole

PREVIOUS PT 2 - Gender, Men & The Art Of Pole: It's A Mans World - Or Is It?

This post is part of our entry for the “Pole Dancing Bloggers Association” Feb Blog Hop on Pole Dancing & Men

Click here to enter your link and view all the additional Pole Dance Blogs in the Hop…

 

Gender, Men & The Art Of Pole: It's A Mans World - Or Is It? PT2

Photo by Jar Alcala

By Chad Allen

My exploration of pole dancing began almost two years ago following a 20 year plus professional dance background as a performer and now choreographer.   Pole dance was something I was always intrigued and intimidated by.  Dancing for the purpose of expressing sensuality, sexuality and eroticism was something I could hardly imagine a person could feel free enough to do.  I assumed this was largely a bias coming from my dance background where technique and correctness were synonymous and using dance and eroticism in the same sentence was a different kind of professional. Now I'm not so certain it was my dance background that I had to overcome, but more an insecurity as a man, that made pole and sensual dance so intimidating.

As a student of a studio that embraces men in pole classes I have to say I have never been anything but supported both in my desire to be in class and my presence in class.  I do make a specific point to introduce myself to all the women so that they know that I am there in support of their own journey.  The studio environment, staff and client, is extremely friendly and extremely supportive. What I have come to observe and I offer here is a subconscious expectation of men, or possibly a lack thereof.

The journey of breaking through the fears of being, and being seen as, sensual, erotic, beautiful and powerful may be a consideration for women that is not quite appreciated for men.  Men are afraid of exposure too.  It seems women almost expect men to be strong.  We're given permission to excel at tricks faster than women but I've noticed that women are less intrigued or sensitive to the journey of men when it comes to the eroticism of the dance as they might another woman. And maybe this is where we are all the most afraid, women and men alike.  I suspect it's the greater discomfort for everyone in the room.  We can watch someone struggle with a shoulder mount much more than we can watch them struggle with finding their own sensuality. But I wonder what is being lost when we don't.

I can say men, including myself,  use strength not because it's so natural but as a distraction from our own fears, especially our fear of "is this sexy?" or  "am I sexy?" I've seen many male pole dancers scale a pole about as sexy as the cable man and people still applaud the trick where I am quite confident the same forgiveness would not be given to a female pole dancer.  I have definitely heard it being instructed in class by our amazing teachers; it's not simply about getting to top of the pole, it's how you get there. I do think women really do want a man to climb to the top of the pole with sexy sensual deliberation, but maybe they are afraid to expect it.  And men, like women,  are just scared to be bad at it.

I am so grateful that I have been allowed to explore these questions for myself in an environment where I think everyone really does care, but we may still be trying to figure out how to articulate it.   At the end of the day, when I leave pole class, I am most fulfilled by the feeling that I have made myself present to other people's journeys and that, like me, it isn't only about the trick and skills.  Being exposed to a room of people and not shrinking in the corner when you don't necessarily feel terribly sexy that day is an accomplishment that I think has bigger value than a trick, or the workout, or the calorie burn.  I get to express being a man in ways the outside world might not embrace.  Just like my fellow female dancers.

You can find Chad in Los Angeles at The Xcceleration Station

PREVIOUS - PT 1: Gender, Men & The Art Of Pole

READ NEXT PT 3 By guest blogger Danielle Giannantonio

Gender, Men & The Art Of Pole: There’s a man in my pole class.

This post is part of our entry for the “Pole Dancing Bloggers Association” Feb Blog Hop on Pole Dancing & Men

Click here to enter your link and view all the additional Pole Dance Blogs in the Hop…

Gender, Men & The Art Of Pole PT1

Photo by Jar Alcala

Gender is such a tricky issue, it affects our relationships, our work environments, our love lives, it shapes and defines who we are. Navigating the ocean of femininity and masculinity is difficult enough on our own, without someone else assigning judgement to ones own view of gender. It made me wonder, just how does gender fit in within the pole dancing community and in pole dancing classes specifically?

This topic is one that is near and dear to me and as I started this post I realized there was no way that I could complete it without reaching out to some of my students and instructors to give their journey a voice as well. Therefore this entry is one of 3 that will come out over the next 3 days exploring Gender, Men & The Art Of Pole.

Being an African-American, female studio owner in her 40's, who hovers anywhere from a size 10-12, it was very important to me that my studio was welcoming and inclusive of all ages, shapes & sizes. I like to think of myself as that open, artsy, liberal type with friends that run the gamut whether it be sexual orientation, class, age, race, religion etc. I wanted, no, I needed a studio that represented all of these differences, hell our tag line is one studio, with no judgments, where everyone and every “body” can come together to work out and have fun while doing it. I was extremely proud of the fact that all of our classes were co-ed, well all except for pole. I saw nothing wrong with excluding men from the pole classes and it was never really an issue - until it was.

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We had only been open for a few months and started to receive a few calls from men regarding pole classes. While I was adamant about creating a "safe space" for females to explore their sensuality and pole, it never really occurred to me that maybe men would benefit from the same consideration so I cheerfully brushed the calls off with "Sorry our pole classes are female only but all of our other classes are coed!".  After a while that statement started to leave a bitter taste in my mouth. And then it got really confusing.

My husband and co-studio owner called me one day and said "We have a young lady who is a pre op transsexual in the middle of transitioning that would like to take pole. I told her I would speak to you regarding classes and get back to her. I think she should be able to." Boy, I did not see this coming. It really made me take a hard look at gender equality in classes and honestly I was torn. The liberal Gemini in me thought "Hell yes come take class!" The not so liberal Gemini thought "but if you don't allow men in class isn't this the same and won't the students feel uncomfortable?" I spoke with my husband and he said "Maybe it's just you who is uncomfortable, why not ask the students and instructor?" So I did.

Everyone was extremely supportive of her and at that point it hit me, one studio, with no judgments, where everyone and every “body” can come together shouldn't just refer to size, or age, it really needed to refer to gender as well. From that point on we went completely coed. Has it being tricky at times - sure. Do we deal with issues of finding a happy medium and balance for all of the students in class - yup. Are there some students that it may not work for - I'm sure there are. Do men have just as many issues exploring their sexuality in class - maybe more so as it is so unembraced and unexpected of them within our society. Do I regret having all coed classes - nope, and I wouldn't turn back! I have learned so much from our male and female students. I truly believe by working together we gain a better respect for each others struggles and emotions. I would like to think that by bridging the gap in pole class and helping to empower men explore their journey we are empowering our own as well.

"I've taught male polers of all ages, ethnicities, shapes, sizes and orientations. Contrary to what people may think, it takes a man very secure in who he is to embark on the rewarding adventure that is pole fitness. Pole can be what you make it: sporty, sexy, athletic, flexy... It's all a self-expression. " Veronika Pole - pole dancer & instructor

READ NOW -  PT 2 By guest blogger Chad Allen:  Gender, Men & The Art Of Pole: It's A Mans World - Or Is It?

READ NOW - PT 3 By guest blogger Danielle Giannantonio:  Gender, Men & The Art Of Pole: There's a man in my pole class.

This post is my entry for the “Pole Dancing Bloggers Association” Feb Blog Hop on Pole Dancing & Men

Click here to enter your link and view all the additional Pole Dance Blogs in the Hop…

*** And just because - here are 2 of my favorite pole dancing videos which happen to be by men. The first is by Ibrahim Tunic and I love it because it challenges what we think of Pole Dancing and the 2nd is Steven Retchless who is just pure hotness to watch and always challenges the norm!

 

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Defining My Gratitude Practice...

Every Thanksgiving I say to myself that I need to be more grateful for what I am blessed with. Every year I say I need to work thanks and realization into my everyday life, not just an acknowledgment a few times a year. Every year I fall short. I vow to be better. But just how does one define or embrace a constant practice of gratitude in their daily life? Do you start a daily journal, a vision board, chant, pray, volunteer? Those things are great and I highly suggest we all try some, but - I really think the key is to screw actually trying to define a practice as something we should do - and just DO IT already.  If we just breathe and embody love and gratitude in our hearts, always and truthfully, we never have to embrace a practice - it just is.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” - A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I AM GRATEFUL FOR MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS

"Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks - I’ve got the sun in the mornin’ and the moon at night." - Irving Berlin

I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE MOUNTAINS AND THE OCEAN

 I AM GRATEFUL FOR MR. RISK, MY HIGH SCHOOL SCIENCE TEACHER, WHO NURTURED MY LOVE OF SCIENCE & MR MARTIN, MY 4TH GRADE TEACHER, WHO CULTIVATED MY INTEREST IN FINANCE.

"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little,  and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die;  so, let us all be thankful."- The Buddha

I AM GRATEFUL FOR MY STUDIO, POLE FRIENDS & MY TELEVISION CAREER, ALL OF WHICH TEACH ME SOMETHING NEW EACH DAY.

What are you grateful for and how do you show your gratitude on a daily basis?

In the end I believe this JFK quote is perfect..."As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."- John Fitzgerald Kennedy

The divine light in me honors the divine light in you.

 

This post is my entry for the "Pole Dancing Bloggers Association" November Blog Hopon Gratitude.

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Click here to enter your link and view all the additional Pole Dance Blogs in the Hop...

Resolutions vs Intentions (or Veruca's fall cleaning blues)

I decided to update the look of my blog, a fall cleaning of sorts (I believe in spring & fall cleaning) Thoughts, comments, questions, concerns? Anyhow while looking through a few old entries I came upon this one: The New Year’s Resolutions…It speaks of setting intentions vs resolutions. That year (2011) I decided I was going with INTENTIONS, because while I intended to do a lot of those item – I was not quite sure I was resolved to do them. Um CLEARLY I wasn't because as I review the list I am getting mildly annoyed with myself, as you can see from my notes below, I didn't really get very far.

  • Seriously work on my flexibility. Saying SPLITS seems like an elusive goal, working on flexibility makes more sense to me. It’s something I can do that might actually get me to those elusive splits I took for granted in my youth UM - NOPE - NADA GOT NOWHERE WITH THIS ONE. I HAVE NO EXCUSE OTHER THAN I SUCK AT BEING DISCIPLINED TOWARDS THINGS I DON'T FIND FUN... GOING TO HEAD HOME TONIGHT AND START WORKING ON THE SPLITS.
  • Let go of toxic things, people, thoughts etc that weigh me down. Honestly this is probably a life long process but I really need to start being better at it. In the end the only one you are punishing or is suffering is yourself and while I know this, the process is not an easy one. THIS IS REALLY SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE A LIFETIME PRACTICE AND WHILE I STILL HARBOR SOME ANGER ISSUES TOWARDS A FEW KEY PEOPLE I WILL SAY I AM GETTING MUCH BETTER AT THIS!
  • Get stronger! I think that if I was honest that this one would really be ”lose 20 pounds”. But I am trying to be positive Veruca, so I will not harp on weight and instead make a goal of strength. I do however believe with getting stronger there is an inevitable outcome of weight loss…how ever little or large that maybe. I AM STRONGER - YES SO THAT'S A WIN.  IF I COULD ADD A20 POUND LOSS TO THIS THAT WOULD BE EXCELLENT!
  • Take a vacation! A real vacation, somewhere out of the state for 5 whole days, with no doggy in tow and I must not think about work and not feel guilty about being away for 5 days! Clearly if I can’t leave my job for 5 days I am not being paid enough and quite honestly I am the only one who is making myself stay home. Work is FINE with me going on vacation…it’s just me. I always find more stuff I need to do or I let something get in the way. I need to get over this – this is a must for my sanity. HA VACATION YOU SAY - PLEASE VACATIONS ARE FOR CHUMPS (I WILL KEEP TELLING MYSELF THIS UNTIL I HAVE ENOUGH FREE TIME AND EXTRA $$ TO TAKE ONE)
  • Dance to my favorite songs, for an hour, at least once a week, by my self, at my studio, just for the sake of dancing. WELL AN HOUR MIGHT BE A STRETCH BUT I DO PLAY AROUND IN MY STUDIO BY MYSELF AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK (AND DOES CAR DANCING COUNT, I HOPE SO BECAUSE I CAR DANCE EVERY NIGHT WHEN I AM STUCK ON THE 405N)
  • Be a healthier, happier, less judgmental Veruca. Spend more time with my doggy outside, go biking once a week with my husband on our new Christmas bikes, spend more time at the beach this summer, work hard at my job and my studio but remember to enjoy the process a bit more and not worry so much about the outcome.  I AM GETTING THERE - NOT THERE YET BUT HONESTLY ISN'T THAT WHAT LIFE IS ABOUT?

So what have I learned from revisiting my "intentions". Clearly looking backwards isn't they way to go about life. Maybe I should just look at the now and towards the future, keep moving - like a shark always move forward. Not be so hard on myself and my "intentions".

I do still feel the need to come up with some actual concrete goals for 2014 but I'm thinking if I start them now I will have a little extra time towards them, so here we go...

  1. quit smoking
  2. work specifically on shoulder, hamstring & hip flexor flexibility
  3. lose 10-20 pounds
  4. work on my surfing
  5. take a vacation to Costa Rica (and do #4 above)
  6. pay down all credit card debt

With the best intentions,

-Love, 

 

I am a Pole Dancer...Or The Sanitization of Pole Dance

I want to get dressed up in a pretty dress and go to the ballet, be moved to tears by the dancers, impressed with the creativity of the outfits that enhance their story, amazed by their bodies and emotions.I want to drink strong fruity drinks, throw caution to the wind, grind up against a cute boy and try my skills on the dance floor in some sort of gyrating-ly sensual Latin dance with a flower in my hair not worrying about any overtly erotic manner.

I want to dance freely without judgement with glitter, heels and a low cut top.

I want to hang out with my female and male friends, go to a strip club, knock back a few Jack & Gingers and be impressed by all the floor work, pole moves and gluteal dances - that alas, my glutes long to do, but cannot.

I want you to feel comfortable with choosing not to wear the pretty dress to the ballet, not to engage in the Latin dance, skip the gluteal circus at the club and leave the glitter behind - as long as I don't have to - because I won't.

I watch the Olympics. I support our US athletes. I have no urge to see Pole as a strictly sanitized sport.

I am a TV Exec

A wanna be Aerialist

An Ex- Gymnast

A Wife 

A Studio Owner

& I am a Pole Dancer!

Please Check Out The Pole Dancing Blog Hop -

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Labor Day of Love...

Yes - I know why the holiday is actually called Labor Day - but I'm boycotting that name and this weekend I'm hiding out at home. I have a long weekend from work and I need to try to relax. I'm going to lay by the pool. Drink boat drinks. Try not to drive anywhere. Watch an entire Criminal Minds marathon. Veg out completely. Stay at home. I'm really going to try to lay low.Well, I might just work at the studio for a couple of hours one day and I do enjoy surfing so I may just sneak in a little surf time, plus I am NOT missing hammock class on Saturday....

Sometimes your cup runneth over. I have been out of control busy and while I really enjoy what I have been working on I still need to learn to find a better balance in my life, it seems to be an ongoing theme as of late.

For one, I have been prepping for our first Student Showcase (Midsummer Flight Dreams!) at my studio Aeriform Arts.  It was a huge success, incredibly fun and I am extremely proud of all the students and instructors, BUT it was a lot of work (look at the fun photo's).

Secondly, it's summer and I am trying to learn how to surf or rather learn to surf better. I love the ocean and love surfing, my shoulder on the other-hand not so much.

I like many other of my friends, am trying to fit 72 hours into 24 and it's not working, something has to give. As of late that has meant myhealth as well as my sanity. Not cool. I have always had issues with my "go gadget go mentality" & I really thought I had it under control but much like a drug - the demon has taken over and I feel trapped in its jaws!

Why is it that we all seem to take on so much in our lives without really enjoying what is already there? This thought always starts to hit home for me as we get closer to Thanksgiving. People spend one day giving thanks for everything in their lives, while at the same time mentally calculating their plan of attack for the shopping excess and insanity that is Black Friday - the following day no less.

I have my friends, my family, my career, my studio, 1 web site and 1 blog to run. Not to mention that I want to take sewing lessons, learn how to weld and find that perfect spot in the desert where my husband and I can build our selves that perfect little vacation home (and yes I do see the irony in this). Is that too much to ask for - maybe.

Plus as I get older it seems to get worse!!! What exactly is driving me to continually up the insane pace of my life. Could it be some sort of hidden agenda bucket list?  Who knows but something other than me has to give. I am reminded of the saying what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and I wonder, is that really true cause I'm thinkingwhile it may make you stronger it might also make you extremely tired.

The universe is filled with "balance" yin & yang, good & evil, day and night, Betty & Veronica, positive & negative, I need to get on board with the universe so I'm really going to try to find a way to balancemy labors of love - after I finish surfing.

 

Finding Your Sexy...

Sexy - How does one define it. Can it even be defined? Well I am an über geek so to me the Orion Slave Girl from Star Trek is sexy - but green is not everyone's cup of tea. So what the hell is it, how does one get it, KEEP it and why does it scare so many people? These are the questions floating around in my head due to, I am sure, the gaggle of amazing pole videos and pictures out in the "inter"verse  recently - no doubt brought on by United Pole Artists  "Bringing Sexy Back" 2 weeks - Great Idea! And while I am so grateful to see everyone bonding and putting it all out there, much like Prince I keep thinking "sexy never left" did it?

At least I hope it didn't.

I started my pole dance journey at S Factor and while I am no longer at that studio, my love for the fluidity and the sensual, sexy movement they teach/embody was, and is, the foundation of  my pole background. While I may no longer be part of SFactor - the beauty of their dance and many of the relationships I made there are still a huge part of my pole life. I like pole "dancing" and I like it hot, doesn't have to be raunchy but HEY sometimes that works really well and who am I to judge - what is one persons raunch is another's marsh-mellow fluff.  I view pole dancing as an art more than a sport (this I know, is a whole other topic for later) so for me the dance aspect is extremely important - I don't want the sex taken out of it. Which isn't to say that I don't understand, comprehend and completely respect the athleticism, total dedication to art, strength, body and form that the top pole dancers need & work HARD to perfect on a day-to-day basis. So many of the tricks today are jaw dropping, gravity defying feats of amazing physics and athletic skill - plus as an ex gymnast I will admit, I love them and would secretly kill to be able to do them but honestly if I could perfect the sexiest body wave in the world I would probably be just as happy.

So what is your sexy? Is it slinky, erotic, strong, angry, boot wearing, ass kicking, seductive, athletic, raunchy, light, airy, fiery, bendy or maybe even slightly Green Sci Fi - esque? Whatever it is we need to remember to enjoy it, use it, embrace it everyday so we never have to bring it "back".

 

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“A Day In The Life of a Studio Owner”

Sitting here trying to write this blog entry “A Day In The Life of a Studio Ower” I realize it should really be called "a day in the life of a studio owner/want to be aerialist/tv exec/wife". While owning a studio is a big part of me it is clearly not the sum.I'll start out by saying that while I still enjoy aerial hammock & cube I'm definitely cheating on them with bungee, harness, wall & cyr classes. I'll miss my hammock classes, sneak around - then come back to them. I have excuses as to where I've been, why I've been distant, unavailable & then pop into a class on the sly. I hear myself saying things like "I love hammock but I'm IN LOVE with harness"  it's like a bad Lifetime movie.

Regardless hammock will always be my first love (well after pole but…); it made me feel like a kid again, helped me formulate a huge support network of wonderful women (and men), boosted my confidence level, and from time to time taken it down a few notches, it's helped me to be more comfortable in my body, and it's made me annoyed with (I typed hate but hate is a strong word) my body for being too large, too tense, not flexible enough, it's messed up my shoulder but it's tightened my abs, pole helped me to decide to open my studio - which I love but it's stolen a lot of my free time. It's made me cry and it's filled me with more joy than I have felt in years. Much like a first love, it has helped define who I am, who I have become, who I hope to be...and I wouldn't change a minute of it.

FRIDAY:

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  • Summer Hours at my TV Exec job so I have every other Friday off - today I am off YAY!

  • BUT hubby just said he has an audition so I need to cover him at the studio BOO :(

  • 10am swim - I am a fish I LOVE water!

  • 11am Massage w/Nelson - sounds fun right - NOT - sports massage to try to fix my shoulder. The massage itself is a work out. I feel exhausted and beat up after.

  • 12:30 nail apt - yay this is fun except...

  • 12:30 start returning studio phone calls from nail appt.

  • 1:30 prep for classes, get Facebook and Twitter posts together for the week, call instructors, generate payroll, sweep floor and any cleaning before 3pm Pole Class. Work on any TV Exec stuff I didn't get to during the week.

  • After 3pm Pole Class & Open Pole Hang 9 hammocks for Hammock Class (sounds easy - but is really a pain in the ass).

  • After Hammock Class (which I will take) reset Hammocks for Aerial Yoga on Saturday (seriously up and down 11 times each for this and 9 previously is a work out of its own) studio cleaning, check schedule for Sat and lock up.

  • Speed home and shower and meet friends & Hubby for drinks etc. OR crash hard depending on how many classes I took. Try to eat some dinner because I probably skipped lunch.

SATURDAY:

  • Wake up at 8am.

  • Forget to eat breakfast - grab a bar at the studio.

  • Work at studio from 10am - 4:30...wait LUNCH crap forgot to eat? Bribe a student or my hubby to bring me some food then...cleaning, prepping, take a class or 2 while I am there. Respond to tv job emails (it never stops).

  • 5:00pm & I'm heading down w/friends to Hollywood Forever Cemetery for a picnic & screening of Roman Holiday w/lots of yummy food and champagne - plus cupcakes!

  • 12 am back home & it's time to sleep - sleep is SO good. Oh crap forgot to pack my bag for surfing!

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SUNDAY:

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  • Wake up at 6:30 AM to pack up the truck and meet my friends for our surf group (we suck hard but its super fun). Eat a bar I stole from the studio.

  • Surf from 8-10 then get brunch (yes I know 10 am is breakfast but I'm calling it brunch since it includes Bloody Mary's and Margarita's and booze that early in the morning only seems civilized when called brunch not breakfast).

  • Head home, go grocery shopping , try to cook some things for the week. Return more tv exec. emails, work on blog, fold clothing, do laundry and catch up on my TiVo.

There you have it, my 3 days "in the life of"! What does your life look like?

This Body...

This Body

*reposted with permission from our Instructor Lira’s web site The Sensual University

This body is old.  This body is ugly.  This body is slow, weak, cumbersome. It gets in my way and pisses me off.  It trips me when I’m tired and gets sticky when I sweat.  It has rolls and wrinkles, and cellulite dimples.  It has jiggly thighs and arms that aren’t half as strong as I want them to be.

I sit immobile at a desk all day and complain when my body gets sore. I work out and dance and stretch and move and push it to the limits.  I punish it because I want my body to know how wrong, how bad, how unruly it is.

And it forgives me.

My Body Forgives Me

My body accepts my complaints, my fears, my worries, my aches, my pains, my childish demanding nature that wants it to conform to the tiny girls in the magazines that are 15 years younger than me and photoshopped within an inch of their life.

My body gives me permission. To try something new. To emulate a pretzel on a flat yoga mat.  To twirl and spin on shiny poles. To dance until I can barely breathe. To smile and laugh until my mouth aches and my lungs burn. To run until my sweat turns pure.  To cry until my face swells and my throat dries up, and I simply can’t scream anymore.

My Body Gives Me Space

Space to withdraw into myself when I’ve said too much, gone too far, felt too judged. Space to watch the clouds drift across the sky.  Space to feel the sun heat my back and the wind caress my belly. Space to be whoever I want to be, whenever I want to be, with no expectations. Space to be held and loved. Space to share myself with the world or just one person. Space to choose.

My body is the one who listens when I rant and rave over something that I won’t remember a week from now.  It’s the one who knows all my deepest fears and doesn’t belittle me for them.  Who hears me and understands perfectly, even when I’m still figuring out what the hell I’m trying to say.

My body holds my memories, of the past that I’m not ready to let go of.  And the future I’m not ready to posses. It holds my dreams, my wishes, and my hopes with hands so gentle I sometimes think I’m floating. It’s the one who holds me until the sobbing stops even if it takes hours.

My body is the one that remembers to breath. Inhaling deeply from the pool of living air that surrounds me. Exhaling and releasing what I no longer need. The loving breath, the angry breath, the shallow breath, the purging breath, the cleansing breath, the everyday breath.  My body is the one who takes a deep breath with me, right before I take the plunge that could change my life forever.

My Body Loves Me

And loves me. And loves me some more. Everyday, every moment. Every shout, every tear, every laugh.  My body proves it’s love by showing up day after day, morning after morning.  I close my eyes in the dark of the night and my body loves me enough to keep me alive until I’m ready to open them again.

It asks for almost nothing in return. Food to feed me. Shelter to protect me. Water to sustain me. And for this it showers me with pleasure, sensation, titillation, emotion, intelligence, understanding, comprehension, nothing less than the ability to experience life over every inch of my skin. My body fills me with boundless energy and lets me ride that fluid wave over and over again.

My body is dedicated to being with me, loving me, living only for me, until I take my last breath.

And I’m Not Going To Punish It Anymore

I’m going to practice loving this body. Moving with love. Breathing with love. Being in love.

I’m going to practice acceptance.

I’m going to practice experiencing this body without judgement while it laughs and cries.  While it learns to fly and sometimes falls down.

I’m going to practice giving this body permission to be whoever she is. With compassion on most days and trust on the rest.

Because finally after all these years, I think I’m falling in love with her.

The Breath – First & Foremost

I had a conversation recently with a fellow yoga teacher about the breath. I was explaining to her how insightful it is to work with someone one on one, and specifically, how interesting it is to see breath awareness evolve. (It’s sometimes so much easier to understand this unfolding from the outside in, and to this end I am incredibly grateful to have the chance to work one on one with someone in this way.)

To give you more of an idea of what I’m talking about, a client of mine is learning a very common breathing technique that helps to relax the nervous system and slow down the heart rate as a way to ease the body into a more relaxed state. It’s a breath I learned a few years ago and have been practicing regularly ever since, it’s a breath I don’t think about anymore during my posture practice, it just happens as I need it to. Sometimes when I am working with her, she is reporting to me that she feels very relaxed, very calm and happy during practice; and her breathing patterns and the way her face is held and the way her belly moves while she is in the postures, tells me something very different. I can literally see where she is holding her stress in the body, and I can also see that the breath-work is not yet integrated.

…as a student learning these techniques, I don’t think that I was aware of how my body was held as I was learning them. I know that I wasn’t aware of my holding spots or what my diaphragm was doing. The learning curve is such a cool unfolding!

Anyway, it came up during our conversation something that I had read in a yoga sutra translation – that is, that you cannot teach another person how to breathe. I told her that when I read that, I thought to myself, “that isn’t true! you can teach people how to breathe. that’s what pranayama is…breathing exercises…’ Then she said to me, “You can’t teach people how to breathe. All we can do is teach breath awareness.”

And now I get it. Now that I have seen the beginning of this learning in another person’s body, now I get it. I cannot teach another person how to breathe, but I can teach another person how to become more aware of their breath. The tools and techniques that yoga offers is and always has been a personal practice, one that must be integrated into each individual’s livelihood as much as it is their body. Meaning that, even if the intellectual mind understands what the tool is and how it is used, the body-mind must take-up the technique in it’s own way.

Awesome!

***By Aeriform Arts Yoga Instructor Niki (you can find her at the studio or http://www.yogawithniki.blogspot.com/ )

Take A look At Your Sole

March 7th, 2012 Inspirations, Yoga | No Comments »

 

***by our Instructor Niki!

I’ve been going to a chiropractor for a few weeks now and have discovered some completely new information about my body and how I hold it in space.Today, during my chiropractic appointment, my doctor tells me that my right foot tends to pronate, or hold my weight more on one edge rather than an even distribution across the 3 major points of the foot [namely, the mound of the big toe, mound of the pinkie toe and center of the heel - creates a triangle] I have the unhealthy habit of wearing [cute] ballet flats which have no way of supporting or enhancing my standing and walking habits. He could tell by the wear on the sole of my shoe that I was a pronator! As I did some research online, I found that I actually “underpronate,” which causes stress on the lower leg…maybe the reason I used to get shin splints?… I don’t know :)So in yoga, [think Mountain pose] it is essential to bring the physical body to neutral, and do our best to bring our mental focus to neutral. When we do this, we communicate to the nervous system that we are safe and can begin to restore and repair on both planes. From this place of neutrality, we can then begin to condition specific aspects of the mind-body that we know [through self-study] are our challenge.Take a look at the link above for some interesting self-study. I’m not really promoting self-diagnosis here, but maybe the information will lead you to discover a small detail worth considering next time you step on your mat, or buy a pair of shoes.

Re Posted from YogaWithNiki’s blog

20 THINGS THAT I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT MYSELF BY AGE 44

Birthday Notes: 20 Things I have learned about myself by age 44:

Happy Birthday to me - I am 44 and I am going to own it! I got a little worked up about my age the other day thinking about all the stuff I wanted to do with my life, things I thought I had missed out on, things I wished I could change and then it hit me 44 is actually not so bad. I think I am doing pretty well. Sure I have made some miss steps - like that  idiot I dated in college, the Jheri Curl/Prince hair don't  in the early 80's, acid washed jeans etc. Hell if we all look back at our lives the list would go on and on. I have instead decided to view these moments in time, the skeletons in our closets, the bumps in the road, the bad judgements on my part, as tools. They are a map to help us see how far we have come, help define where we will go and ultimately who we are. Much like bruises from pole dancing I will proudly sport these moments because they are part of what makes me who I am and I wouldn't want to change a minute of it.

  1. True friendship is hard to come by - if you have it, keep it and them, close to your heart.
  2. I would not want to go back to being 21 years old.
  3. Men smell amazing after a shower.
  4. Every child should have a dog - it teaches responsibility &  love.
  5. A Shoulder Mount learn it!
  6. It is hard to be single - but sometimes it's nice.
  7.  It is equally hard to be married - but sometimes it's nice.
  8. I could however be 31 years old again.
  9. Life is hard and I don't truly think it gets any easier - we just learn to navigate it better.
  10. It's not the end result - it's the process, enjoy the process.
  11. Your eyesight will degrade as you get older so buy the coolest glasses you can and rock the sexy librarian look.
  12. I will never figure men out, but I will continue to try.
  13. Not everyone is meant to have children.
  14. Owning your own business is a great experience, I love it and I am glad I have done it.
  15. I underestimated the lack of sleep and the grumpiness that working 7 days a week would create.
  16. Learn something NEW you always wanted to do even if you suck at it - I surf - I am horrible and it brings me AMAZING joy!
  17. Sometimes the perfect pair of jeans and some good lip gloss is all you need.
  18. We as women are much harder on our looks then men - we need to loosen up a bit.
  19. You can't change anyone other than yourself.
  20. I would always rather have the cheese cake than not.

My goals for 45 are pretty simple: learn how to be more forgiving,  learn to surf better and learn how to make a really good spicy pork ramen.

What are your goals???

Good Food - Pumpkin Sweet Potato Spicy Love...

It's winter and that means soup! Which is great because I love soup...I mean it's good food right? Here is my favorite version of the classic "Pumpkin Soup".ENJOY!

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS 1 tablespoon butter 1 cup onion, chopped 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour 1/2 teaspoon curry powder 1/4 teaspoon cumin 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 2 garlic cloves, crushed 1 cup peeled and cubed sweet potato 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 (14 oz.) cans of low sodium chicken broth 1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin 1 cup 1% milk 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

DIRECTIONS 1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté onion for 3-4 minutes then add flour, curry, garlic, cumin and nutmeg and sauté for 1 minute.

  1. Add sweet potato, salt, chicken broth and pumpkin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered for about 20-25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are cooked through and softened. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes to cool.

  2. Place half of the pumpkin mixture in a blender and process until smooth. Using a strainer, pour soup back into pan. Repeat with rest of soup.

  3. Raise heat to medium then stir in milk and cook for 5 minutes or until soup is heated through.

  4. Remove from heat and add lime juice.

NUTRITION INFO Calories: 160.3 Fat: 4.3 g Carbohydrates: 21.6 g Protein: 10.3 g

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Cardio - Sweating To The Oldies!

So I have to ask, am I the only person who has a problem with cardio???For the life of me I am not sure why I have such an aversion to it.

Seriously, I can motivate to stretch, weight/strength train, dance etc but if I even think about cardio I start to sweat...and not in the good way.

I've decided the only way to get through my cardio slump is to reprogram my thoughts towards it AND maybe find some cardio that is not your typical cardio. If I don't think of it as cardio - maybe I can fake myself out of hating it. Clearly I'm going to have to sweat outside the box. Seeing as I tend to like new, hip, weird stuff I went out on a hunt, a hunt that took me full circle and made me realize that the "newness" I was looking for was actually in the past. I didn't really hate cardio when I was younger so... retro cardio here I come! Let's take a quick look at some of the ideas I came up with to shake up my cardio routine (and by routine I mean total and complete lack there of).

  • Bike riding. Real bike riding not spinning - we all know spinning is great cardio but it can be hard on your back and knees. This Christmas my husband and I decided to get each other bikes. Can't really get more retro than a bike can you. Mine is a vintage looking turquoise and yellow 3 speed cruiser with a big puffy seat (I'm old my butt needs cush), a removable basket and the loudest bell Mr Blue could find. Pee Wee would be proud. I plan on riding it on the beach all summer long but as I live in SoCal I need to break it out now!  Plus biking offers all of the benefits of an intense cardio workout - sustained elevated heart rate, calorie burn, muscle toning and active physical movement, with minimal impact. Not to mention it can be a relaxing, social activity and I can bring my dog.
  • Roller skating!  And I don't mean rollerblading by the beach - blech. I mean good old fashion roller rink skating. Backwards skate, couples skate, date night, girls night out, Saturday nights alright for skating, 70's & 80's music skating with real skates! We used to love it as a kid and guess what it's still super fun as an adult. Plus you can wear really cool glitter booty shorts and not look totally out-of-place which is always a plus in my book. Not to mention skating recruits so many large muscles in an ongoing rhythmic fashion, the oxygen and energy demands are high.
  • Richard Simmons classes at Slimmons in LA. I kid you not - I know people who LOVE THIS. I have yet to go but I swear every other week someone tells me how fabulous it was, and really how could it not be, its Richard Simmons for Gods sake. Here is the class description from the web site "My class starts out with a rhythmic warm up for the heart, then upper and lower body stretches before we dance to the hottest current songs and the great oldies that put a beat in your soul. Teenagers come to Slimmons, people in their 70’s and 80’s and everyone in between. Everyone in the room tries their best to get their hearts a pumping and burn quite a few calories. After all the cardio we again stretch our upper and lower body. Oh but we are not done yet. We pick up weights and do our toning for our chest, back, our arms and shoulders. Toning is followed by push ups and sit ups. And when you leave Slimmons you feel happier, younger and filled with so much energy you won’t know how to use it all." I am going as soon as I can schedule a class, now I finally have somewhere to wear the "chocolate" wrist/sweat bands my husband bought me.
  • Sweaty Sunday's at LA's The Sweat Shop.  Did you ever want to be a Solid Gold Dancer, come on you know you did. If so you should check out Sweaty Sundays.  Think American Apparel ad with a bit of Jane Fonda and the Solid Gold Dancers all coming together to dance off the previous night’s debauchery to a soundtrack of disco, indie rock, techno, and 1980s new wave hits. Your are taught a choreographed routine and the room is packed. BIG FUN!
  • Sometimes you just don't want to leave the house to do your cardio. On those days there are a bunch of fun retro videos to reach back to. Jazzercise is one. They have classes but also have videos. Their web site describes it as "one fun and powerfully effective 60-minute total body workout. Every Jazzercise group fitness class combines dance-based cardio with strength training and stretching to sculpt, tone and lengthen muscles for maximum fat burn. Choreographed to today's hottest music, Jazzercise is a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing. Start dancing yourself fit and change the shape of your body today!" It really is fun and if you sport a leotard and headband it brings you right back to that 80's feel, or better yet go to Amazon and find an actual vintage Jazzercise video for sale.
  • Callenetics - yes the same Callenetics as the 80's but I am looking specifically at CardioCallenetics. Their web site describes it as " an energizing rhythmic workout that integrates ballet and yoga into a fluid and continuous low impact session. Consistent with the principles of The Callanetics Method developed by Callan Pinckney over twenty years ago, CardioCallanetics represents a non-traditional approach to aerobics. By using larger and more controlled ranges of motion your body recruits more muscle fibers causing more calories and fat to be burned." This is a great alternative to some of the other "barre" classes out there.
  • Water & Aqua Aerobics. Lot's of gyms with pools offer it as well as most YMCA's. If you like the water its great. The water makes things seem easier but you still get a great work out. Depending on where you take your classes they may utilize kick boards, weights and floaties. Classes also tend to have older students as it is a very "joint" friendly aerobic activity, it is extremely low to no impact.

Regardless of what your regular workout consists of everyone knows cardio is a necessary component. I still hate cardio but at least I have some new ideas. I'm going to force myself to think out of the box and at least try shake it up from time to time. If any of you have any great, fun, unique cardio routines please let me know!

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