POLE DANCING AND PREGNANCY
MY STORY

A strange title you may say, and indeed if you are not a pole dancing enthusiast the idea of a pregnant pole-dancer may seem almost laughable.  You may visualize a heavily pregnant lady, with swollen ankles, waddling rather than gyrating around a pole.  However for many of us this has become a reality!

There are many styles of pole dancing and we don’t have to be talking about the sexy style here; we could be athletic, we could be theatrical, but the general image is the same…a lady with a bump working the pole; be it on her feet or upside down.  Why has this become a reality?  And if you are from a non-pole dancing background you may be scratching your head wondering where this reality has come from!  In order to answer these questions and plenty more I would like to share my experiences in pregnancy with you.  Please remember that these are my experiences and do not represent the whole of the pregnant population!

I am a pole dance instructor, and I run my own school and studio.  My school is only small and therefore it is only myself teaching classes; I had one student whom had been trained up and qualified to teach but my turn over did not allow for the employment of anyone else. At the time I had 3 children and a partner in the armed services, working away often.  As many of you would appreciate, working full time with kids on your own is hard work, a real juggling act!

I had been pole dancing for several years and Instructing the majority of these.  When my partner first suggested the idea of another child my heart plummeted.  Not because I don’t like children, but because we have had a few difficult and negative experiences previously, with 2 Miscarriages and 1 Ectopic pregnancy.  My doctors and midwives had assured me that it was unlikely pole dancing had been the cause of my miscarriages; however having experienced 3 healthy pregnancies prior to my pole career I was dubious.

I fell pregnant in 2012 during training for my video entry to the UK Professional Pole Championships (UKPPC).  I had been training hard and felt amazing, both physically and mentally.  My routine was almost complete and I felt happy with how it was all coming together.  I made the decision to stop the intensive training and submit the routine immediately using the choreography I had completed and with a ‘rough’ freestyle ending.  You can see this video on http://www.paganspole.com/videos

During the early days of this pregnancy I was on edge constantly, worrying about how much I should do, and if what I was doing would cause any damage.  I also felt stressed that the tricks I had worked so hard to achieve would be lost forever if I couldn’t practice

 

16 weeks preggers on Fright Night

16 weeks preggers on Fright Night

them regularly.  I chatted to my midwife who assured me that I could continue poling; however she advised with my medical history that I should quit any high impact or strenuous abdominal work.  Pole dancing involves quite a lot of abdominal work, but I reduced this to a minimum where possible.  Cutting out the impact exercises became necessary almost immediately…pregnancy and jumping jacks can only lead to one thing in my opinion…that is the need to stack up on Tena ladies and to carry clean underwear!  I continued to teach as I normally would, even performing at a Halloween event.

As time progressed I began to accept that this pregnancy was going to go full term, and therefore I needed to address my teaching techniques.  I am a very descriptive instructor, and will demonstrate and explain hand positioning, body movements, twists, turns etc before I allow my students to try a move.  I soon realized that this was my strength and began to use verbal and visual explanations as much as possible, using a full physical demonstration only when completely necessary.

As my body began to change and my center of gravity altered certain moves became increasingly difficult.  My arms began to ache having to hold the extra weight, my knees couldn’t tuck up to my chest as the bump was in the way, something as simple as a crucifix became awkward due to the belly!  However throughout all of this I felt comfortable on the pole, it was and still is the one piece of equipment I feel totally safe on.

Hooded Ornament at 21 weeks pregnant

Hooded Ornament at 21 weeks pregnant

At 4/5 months pregnant I restricted myself from doing any strenuous abdominal moves, such as shoulder mounts.  At 6 months pregnant I restricted myself from doing any handspring type moves, as I struggled to hold my growing weight.  The whole time I was listening to my body.  If something felt uncomfortable I stopped.  If something felt unsafe I stopped.   My growing size did not stop me from poling altogether; infact I enjoyed the challenge!  The inverts and spins that I felt confident and comfortable in I continued to perform.  Not because I had to, because I wanted to!

I continued to teach until I was 37 weeks pregnant.   My Substitute Instructor was prepared and waiting to take over my classes but I just didn’t want to hand them over, I may have been waddling but I felt great!  I was also concerned that financially my business would struggle to pay her wages; pay my bills and the studio outgoings.   This was a very real stressor and did influence the duration of my maternity leave.

Throughout my pregnancy my midwife took a huge interest in my activities; she approved and praised me for my continued pole activity; she was also amazed when I showed her the image that went viral and caused quite a stir in the pole dance world, taking a copy of it to show her midwife colleagues!  It was this image that has persuaded me to write this article, as once it had gone viral throughout Facebook I found myself inundated with messages from pregnant pole dancers across the globe, requested advice, information and tips.  I found myself being praised and saluted by some, whilst I received much negativity from others.  I found myself continually uttering the same words: ‘I am not qualified to advise you, all I will say is listen to your body’.  This is the sentiment I continue to say today.  I may be qualified to teach pole, I may be a qualified fitness instructor; but I am not trained to instruct pregnant ladies and I am no midwife or doctor.  Infact when my students have fallen pregnant I have advised the majority of them to stop pole dancing; the exception being those who have danced and exercised all their lives or are extremely experienced in pole.

37 weeks pregnant in a move I felt I could hold all day, forearm grip straight edge.

37 weeks pregnant in a move I felt I could hold all day, forearm grip straight edge.

Pregnancy is a gift; a real joy, and each precious bump ought to be cared for and nurtured.  This does not mean we wrap ourselves up in cotton wool and refrain from any activity that may cause harm as even negotiating stairs can be dangerous.  However there is no need to push boundaries; know your limits; know your body.  If you feel tired try and do as little as possible; if something hurts don’t do it; if you are struggling ask some-one else for assistance or refrain.

Pole dancing to a pole enthusiast is more than just an exercise regime.  It is more than a livelihood.  It becomes a way of life, a habit, a hobby, a love.   This is the reason why more pregnant women are now seen on poles . They are continuing to pursue their passion.  I just hope each and everyone remembers to pole safe and only do what feels right for them.

My own experience led to the birth of my beautiful full term baby boy, and gave me a pregnancy that is full of fond memories.

 

 

 

 

Tracy signed up for the International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) Judging Course in order to become a better Instructor and Competition Judge.  Tracy has always been a firm believer that ALL pole dancing competitions should be judged in a fair, ethical, non-biased way; and was keen to see how the IPSF felt they could achieve this.  The training weekend was held in Aimee Lawson’s School in Newcastle, Northern Pole Dance, way up North!

The course was extremely intense, infact the application form to attend the course was intense! There was  a huge amount of information to absorb, with both practical and written aspects to learn, remember and then sit exams.

However despite the amount of work involved, the course was extremely enjoyable and informative.  It was great to be able to sit and exchange views and information with fellow pole enthusiasts, all keen to learn.

After sitting both exams and travelling the long journey home, it was a long 3 weeks before the results were released.  However it was to some relief that Tracy was informed she had passed the course, obtaining 76% on the written exam and 78% on the practical exam; giving an average of 77%.  Tracy has stated that she is ecstatic to receive these results and looks forward to putting her new skills as a certified judge to practice!

For more information on IPSF Judging Certification please see:

International Pole Sports Federation

LoveSpin recently hosted the Fabulous Deb Riley at their Mold studio, and Tracy and Nikki decided they attend and be
S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D by Deb!

The course consisted of learning basic biology, how to stretch safely, how to strengthen those stretched muscles, massaging and of course being stretched!

We had a fabulous day, and were well and truly stretched pout by the end of it; having learned a lot about our own bodies and how to stretch to our maximum.

The Pagan’s Pole ladies took a road trip to the British Pole Dance Academy in Stoke; where the lovely Deb Riley was hosting Felicity Logan.

We joined in on all 3 masterclasses, firstly we worked on our sexier, sensual side, learning how to incorporate these moves into our pole routines.  We then worked on some amazing advanced tricks, that left us all slightly bruised and battered :)

The last class was contortion, and literally had us screaming simultaneously in laughter and pain!

We all agreed that the 3 masterclasses were fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable.  However, just as enjoyable was meeting new people and catching up with friends of old.  It was also a real treat to watch Felicity perform in her slinky, sexy, snakey way!

Pagan's Pole attend Felicity Logan MasterClass at The British Pole Dance Academy in Stoke

Pagan’s Pole attend Felicity Logan MasterClass at The British Pole Dance Academy in Stoke

The All Wales Pole Championships (AWPC) 2013 was held March 9th In Venue Cymru, Llandudno and saw individuals from across Wales travel to compete for the welsh title.  The AWPC is the only professional pole dancing competition run exclusively for residents of Wales; and 2013 saw the highest standard of dancers/performers we have seen so far in the competitions history.

With 4 categories from beginners through to professionals, there was a massive variety in theme and dance throughout the whole of the competition.  We saw Michael Jackson themed, Irish Dancing, Charleston Styles, Eastern and Oriental themes, these are just to mention a few!  There were stories told through dance, mimes acted and comical moments.  Indeed it is fair to say that the AWPC 2013 really demonstrated a multi-cultural spectacular competition, that had the audience enthralled from the moment it opened with a burlesque style performaNce to the finishing act which comprised of some amazing BIG tricks!

There were several students from Pagan’s Pole competing this year, and they all performed amazingly! Mandy Owen, a beginner,  performed a Michael Jackson Thriller routine, demonstrating great dance moves off the pole and some great pole work; and our very own Rebekah Newstead won this category with her beautiful Paloma Faith routine; putting all those ballet moves to great use.

Within the Intermediate category Lisa Capper had the audience cheering, clapping and smiling away with her LMFAO routine, while Elena Neophytou swung her way through to 3rd place with her swing routine.  Elena was also the proud victor of the ‘something special’ award, avery privileged title to win indeed.

H9

Advanced category saw our students Tegan Penton perform a beautiful slow routine to Soft Shock, demonstrating her amazing strength and trick range; while our Beth Fegan won 3rd place with her ‘New Shoes’ routine; smiling that beautiful smile the whole way through her routine.

The professionals are always the highlight of the competition; as there is such a high level of performance and trickery to be experienced.  This year was no disappointment, each professional bought something different and unique to the stage; but we are very proud and pleased to announce that it was our very own Heather Walker who won the ultimate title of “AWPC PROFESSIONAL CHAMPION 2013′, with her beautiful, strong and flexi performance to Kelly Clarkson’s ‘cry’.

As this will be Heather’s final year in Wales we really are incredibly proud and so pleased that she will be leaving us with such a great title under her belt, and now look forward to watching her as she takes the UK by storm :)

 

Our very own Heather ‘Aerial” Walker took to the stage of The UK Professional Pole Championships (UKPPC) last Sunday at Telfords International Centre.

The UKPPC is recognised at the UK’s biggest pole competition, and competitors were performing in front of some 800 people.

Heather decided to ditch the slow contemporary theme she is renowned for and took a risk with a much faster, livelier Samba Routine, shaking maracas and ensuring the audience cheered and clapped along.  This colourful routine was both technical and energetic; catching the attention of the judges and led to Heather successfully being placed.

The standard of the performances was extremely high, and this makes us all the more prouder that Heather has done so well.  Huge Congratulations!

Pagan’s Pole were pleased to be able to entertain the crowds at Hendre Hall’s famous Fright Night.

The theme of the night was angels and devils, heaven versus hell; and the girls were dressed to impress.  The ladies awed the audience with amazing skills and fluent performances.

Pagan’s Pole Performing at Hendre Halls fright night

Pagan’s Pole would like to invite you ALL to an open evening filled with fantastic dance and fitness classes.

This evening will be held on Thursday 5th July at 6pm and is FREE OF CHARGE!

You will have an opportunity to sample as many dance and fitness classes as you wish throughout the evening, along with being able to meet all our instructors and also fellow students and participants.

If you have ever considered dance or fitness this is the ideal time for you to come and try them, find out the classes that are for you.  Please feel free to bring as many family/friends as you wish!

3 perform on pole

Pagan’s Pole athletes perform at The Olympic Torch Relay in Bangor 2012

Pagan’s Pole were very privileged to be asked to perform for the Olympic Torch Relay as it passed through Bangor city centre on May 28th. There were 9 students and Instructors performing on the pole that day: Pagan, Mz KT, Liberty, Elena, Tegan, Beth, Loopy Liza, Heather aka Aerial, and Seren.  It was one of the most beautifully sunny and warm days Bangor has seen this year, and all ladies were grateful for the cool breeze that blew across the city centre.

Liberty performs a Jade split for the Olympic Torch Relay 2012

At precisely 12.30pm our performances began and the crowds soon gathered to watch pole dancing.  It soon became apparent that our audience was appreciating our efforts, not only as performers but also as athletes, sportswomen…indeed what better way to demonstrate our sport than by performing for the Olympic Torch?!!

The whole event was marvellous and we would all like to thank the organisers for allowing us the opportunity to be part of such a unique, one-off and special event.  We LOVED every second!

Heather Walker made us all so proud when she entered Miss Pole Dance UK 2012 with her winning AWPC routine, and was selected as a finalist.

The MPD finals were held in Brighton in May and we travelled down with great excitement.

Heather’s routine for MPD was both entrancing and dark, dancing to a Jesse J track: ‘big white room’, Heather portrayed a woman on the edge, a slightly crazy routine, that was filled with Heather’s well recognised elegance and grace; yet some amazing strength (the phoenix!!) was demonstrated along with awe-inspiring flexibility.

Heather has now taken the first step in her professional career as a pole athlete and we are now excited about her future plans!