Pole Fitness Mobility Exercise Guide for 2018 (UPDATED)

Since strength is only one of the attributes that all these acrobatics demand of us I decided to get to work on a blog about pole fitness mobility.

But our ranges of motion vary throughout our lives, be it during a spike in fitness, or a dip in form (either injury-related or otherwise), so so should our approach to training… solution? To make a vlog of the Off The Pole Community’s favourite mobility exercises!

I’d like to thank those of you who already contributed with footage!
Don’t get discouraged if you had/have an exercise in mind since I’ll be updating this guide frequently.

Bear in mind these are exercises are relevant not only for pole dance but also aerial, silk, hoops and even yoga!

Without further ado, here it goes:

13 pole fitness mobility exercises for 2018 (UPDATED):

“Disco Kitty” by Courtney Keller:

  • Start on all fours
  • Mobilise through the spine, shoulders and hips by using a circular motion

‘Jefferson Curls’ by Larry Wong

  • Start elevated on a block/box/chair with legs straight
  • Hold on to weights (start light) tuck your chin and slowly curl your spine towards the ground
  • Hold for a few breaths at the bottom before slowly curling back up
  • Start slow and light with the weight

“Pole Twirl” by Christy Guess Guggino

  • Use a Flagpole, stick or even broom handle
  • Helps to warm up and mobilize your wrists, elbows and shoulders

“90/90” Hips by Jazzy K

  • Start seated with legs open and feet on the floor
  • Rotate to one side and sit up, squeezing glutes
  • Works on strengthening and mobilizing external rotation

“Butt Walking” by Vanessa Sirois

  • Place hands on glutes, left foot forward and fire left glute
  • Keep right glute relaxed as you step that leg forward
  • Repeat for 2 min to wake up your glutes

“Wall Kiss” by Kayley Goode

  • Begin in a handstand position facing the wall
  • Keeping engaged through the shoulders – ‘kiss’ the wall
  • Maintain a strong core and don’t hyperextend shoulders

“Splits Slides” by Jay Aumua

  • Begin kneeling with one leg extended. Keep hips square as you slide leg in and out
  • Repeat to the front and side
  • Pair with leg lifts to the front and side for active flexibility and hip pre-hab

“Teddy Bear Japanas” by Anna Frost

  • Start in a straddle – but don’t start too wide
  • Lean forward, holding on to the inside of your legs
  • Slowly tip to the side and roll to your back, using your hands to gently stretch the straddle
  • Continue to roll until stead once more and repeat in a circle

“Imaginary Circles” by Cilia Sindt

  • Lift your leg to 90 degrees keeping kips square
  • Bring the leg inwards slightly, and circle the foot
  • Keeping knee in the same position, rotate both ways

“Coccyx Squat Flow” by Andrea Newell

      • Begin with legs wide, bend one leg and sit back into a coccyx squat
      • Sit on the floor and rotate towards the bent leg into a pidgeon position.
      • Lean forwards to increase the stretch
      • Return back the way you came and repeat the other side

“Straddle Pelvic Tilts” by Vicky Kierkegaard

  • Start in a straddle position
  • Try to rotate your pelvis forwards and back
  • Keep knees facing the ceiling
  • Slowly reach further forwards, keeping back straight

“Hip Mobility Flow” by Sarah Scott

Exercise #1 – Hip Rotations

  • begin in a crab position
  • point one toe to floor
  • rotate outwards like you’re trying to point your heel up
  • then rotate inwards

– repeat 5-10 on each leg

NOTE: Most people will find inwards more difficult

Exercise #2 – Shin Box Switches

  • begin seated with both legs bent
  • keeping feet still lift knees and switch to the other side
  • goal is to keep your spine straight while remaining in contact with the floor

– repeat 5-10 on each side

Exercise #3 – Fan Kick to Slide

  • begin with one leg out to the side
  • slide the foot out and back up again
  • roll on to your back
  • open into a fan kick
  • come to the other side

– do 5-10 on each side

Exercise #4 – Primal Squat

  • begin with feet at shoulder width
  • feet facing forward
  • squat while keeping heels on the floor
  • open chest, back flat

– Variations: Ido Portal

  • pushing knees away with elbows
  • reaching forward
  • rotating
  • easier if heels rise

– Hold for ca. 1 minute

“Resistance Band Shoulder Mobility Flow” by Sarah Scott

  • position band around shoulder height
  • bring your hand up and through
  • don’t pull – the band does the work

– Position #1

  • face away from the band
  • bring the arm up above your head in a bent position
  • elbow in
  • palm facing up
  • step out until you feel a stretch
  • don’t allow your back to arch – think about tucking your pelvis

– Position #2

  • turn to bring the band across the chest and lean over slightly
  • use the opposite hand to externally rotate the arm
  • step out and away until you feel a stretch on the outside and back of the shoulder

– Position #3

  • twist all the way around so the band crosses your back
  • turn into the band to increase the stretch
  • use the other hand to gently stretch the neck

– Position #4

  • turn to face the band
  • walk back and squat or lean down
  • try different positions to mobilize your muscles in as many directions as possible
  • remember not to pull the band
  • relax into letting the band pull you

– Position #5

  • hold the band in a punching position
  • keep the wrist aligned
  • the band should be running along your arm
  • place the other hand over your elbow to prevent it bending
  • step and drive forward
  • your arm should travel back
  • keep pressuring forwards so the shoulder capsule absorbs most of the strain

 

Take your pick and get to it!

Share this with your friends and vote on your favourite exercise in the facebook poll.

For more info on how you can improve your off the pole training, click here.

And remember, train smart – dance more.

Love,

Sarah

&

the OTP Community

Aisling Peberdy | Breaking records without breaking yourself | Episode #004

Episode #004 of the Off The Pole Podcast is a Group Member Feature – I hope to do many more of these as we have such a talented bunch in there! I got to sit down to chat with Aisling Peberdy, who’s been Pole Dancing for 6 years. She’s an Osteopath, qualified in clinical nutrition as well as being a champion powerlifter. If you love getting geeky about anatomy, you’re going to love this!

Really hope you guys enjoy the 4th episode in the podcast series – you can subscribe to our pole podcast on iTunes to keep updated with all the latest episodes and it would mean the world to me if you could leave a review!

Hit play above or read the transcript below.

 

Sarah:                   Well, welcome Aisling, thank you very much for doing my podcast, it’s lovely to have you.

Aisling:                That’s okay, nice to be here.

Sarah:             So for the people who don’t know you, can you give us just a little bit of an introduction. Tell us about yourself, your background, how you came to pole?

Aisling:                Sure, so yeah I’m Aisling and I’m an osteopath and I’ve been in private practice since July 2016, after completing a four-year masters degree. I came to pole six years ago, yeah six years ago when my mum, there was a class at my mum’s gym and she said, “Do you want to try?” I said, “Yeah okay.” So yeah; …

Sarah:             Your mum got you into it? That’s awesome.

Aisling:                My mum, she’s only had a go like twice, but yeah she’s like, “Do you want to do this?” So I did, and yeah I did regular classes for my final year of A-levels and then it was more kind of an ad-hoc basis, and then properly got back into classes in December, with Dan.

Sarah:             Oh nice.

Aisling:                Lovely Dan, hi Dan.

Sarah:             Mr Rosen, yeah we love Mr Rosen, shout out to Dan.

Aisling:                And everyone at IFA who I miss ’cause I haven’t been for like a month now.

Sarah:             You’re going to get in trouble now, you’re going to get called out for representing pole and not going to pole class.

Aisling:                I’m going to be in trouble.

Sarah:             Sorry we won’t tell, it’s fine.

Aisling:                So yeah that’s it.

Sarah:             When we started chatting you sent me a message after I posted in Facebook group Off The Pole, so you’re obviously a member of that ’cause you saw it, hopefully…

Aisling:                I am.

Sarah:             You also said you’re into powerlifting as well, is that right?

Aisling:                Yeah, so I started powerlifting when I was at uni, and somebody in the year above me was powerlifting, a guy, ended up going to train with him a little bit. Originally I started lifting to help with pole actually and my PT at the time was like, “Oh you’re quite strong, you know let’s see how far we can push this.” Yeah, got chatting to this chap at uni, started training properly and entered my first competition, December 2014, and won, and then when onto … which is a cash competition and there aren’t very many of them, so that was also quite nice, ’cause being a student I needed to pay my rent. Then went to qualifiers, qualified for the British Nationals and in July 2015 I became British Champion, which is always quite nice.

Sarah:             Nice!

Aisling:                Then last year was my last, my most recent competition, and now that’s a lie, two years ago, oh God that’s bad isn’t it. Two years ago was my last proper competition and that was at Body Power just doing a deadlift only and I set a still-unbroken record for deadlifting, so that’s kind of nice.

Sarah:             Pole dancers represent!

Aisling:                Exactly, and it was a lot of it was like, I kind of when I tell people, especially my patients, they’re just like, “Oh but we never would have thought that you lift, because you’re not bulky, and you’re really slim.” I was like, “Well, woman don’t get big like men get big. We don’t have the right hormones. You’ll get strong, your shape will improve, you’ll just be so much more confident.” It’s a pretty good feeling when you walk into a gym and you warm up with whatever the guy was lifting as his working set, that’s quite nice.

Sarah:             Definitely 

Aisling:                So yeah, I really, and in my private practice as well I really promote weight lifting for women, just for everything really.

Sarah:             Do you feel like you, like how do you balance out your pole training and your powerlifting? Like do you have a set structure you do during the week? Or do you find that you tend to go more towards one if you’ve got a competition coming up?

Aisling:                Yeah so when I’m competing, powerlifting wise, pole training kind of takes a bit of a back set about a month before I compete. The biggest challenge is as soon as I get ready for a comp, or as soon as my lifts are really increasing in numbers, when I’m coming to like a peak week, or a really heavy week, my flexibility just goes totally rubbish. I mean it’s not great to start with, and so I have to really work at being flexible. But when I’m really lifting, and you need that stability within the muscles, you need that bracing, I can’t then go and work on my flexibility because my lift will significantly come down. Just ’cause you don’t have quite enough stability within the muscles. It can slightly bring your strength down, very slightly but for a competition that could be the difference between gold and silver.

Sarah:             Yeah, you’re working at an elite level so…

Aisling:                Then I’ve not done a pole competition so, if I did, if I ever did I can imagine powerlifting would take a bit of a back seat because I wouldn’t be in the best condition, and I wouldn’t be very flexible basically. So the main problem for me is balancing flexibility and stability as we do.

Sarah:             I think we struggle enough with that in pole as well, it’s like how you split your training between conditioning and learning new tricks, and then flexibility training and floor work, and choreography. There’s so many pieces just for pole, and then to add in like another discipline on top of that especially at such a high level it must be difficult to find the balance. But you’ve obviously done extremely well to already had that kind of foundation strength from pole dancing, a lot of bodywork stuff, and then you’ve managed to kind of layer on the weight lifting on top of that.

Aisling:                Yeah absolutely, and I think the fact that I’m not at an elite level in pole kind of helps me a bit, if I was trying to do both at the same time that would be more challenging. I’m sure there’s other people that do kind of two really high kind of levels at the same time, and that’s … in pole it’s a really kind of gymnastic, flowy kind of a thing and powerlifting really, really isn’t. So two ends of the spectrum, which is nice, ’cause it’s nice to have completely different things to work to.

Sarah:             Yeah, I would agree with that too. So you do, you’re an osteopath, and you’ve been doing that since 2016. Do you find you’ve had an influx of pole dancers coming to you? Or do you stay away from pole dancers ’cause you know what we’re like!

Aisling:                So that’s an interesting one, so in my first clinic, so I was self-employed initially, and I worked in somebody else’s clinic and I had one clinic that were basically didn’t want anyone to know that I did pole. So it was really quite tough for me and I just thought, oh my goodness me, I’ve just gone back about 20 years or something. It was quite tricky because I think poles a great exercise, and I don’t care who knows that I do it. They said, “Oh no, it’s not professional.” Which was quite annoying because we’re not in like 19th century anymore. My other clinic were fairly open about it and since I’ve started representing the Back and Body clinic in Northampton – I’m really lucky, so at the clinic I’m in now, they really love all kind of the pole stuff and they’re like, “Oh that’s awesome.” Actually, we’re kind of doing a big workshop all together, and I’m going to get the whole clinic involved in pole dancing. In terms of kind of patients that are pole dancers, I’ve had a couple kind of, that I treat privately. But I don’t tend to get many of them into my clinic, in fact I think I’ve had a couple, who do it, or have done it before a couple of times, and they’re like, “Oh no, but you have to be really strong.” I said, “Yeah but it builds up.”

 

Sarah:             Yeah, that’s the point of going, getting easier!

Aisling:                The majority of people are like, “Oh yeah I think I’d really like to give that a go.” Yeah so I’ve had a few.

Sarah:             Are there common issues that you come across? Like is there any kind of stand out things that you’re like, “Ah you’re a pole dancer, you have this issue.”?

Aisling:                So shoulders, we love our shoulders…Shoulders are great because they’re really mobile and we sacrifice stability of the shoulders so we can have that mobility. Which is obviously really useful in putting our clothes on for example, or just general day to day activities. But because it’s less stable, kind of the structure, the capsule that holds the shoulder together, you can actually see it when you look at a dissected body, you can see; …

Sarah:             Oh I do that all the time, yeah, just next time I see one I’ll be sure to look out for it yeah…I’m joking.

Aisling:                You can actually see kind of the front part of the shoulder is visibly a bit saggy, compared to the back. So things like dislocations will often happen, it comes forward and down, so your humerus, your arm bone, comes forward and down and that’s … I mean I haven’t seen any of those myself but it’s quite a common one, either a dislocation or partial dislocation in pole, also in gymnastics sports as well. So obviously preventable to a degree, with a certain amount of conditioning, but not always completely preventable, unfortunately, these things do happen.

Sarah:             Yeah do you get pounced in your class when people have got shoulder problems and they know what you do, so they’ll, “Quick take a look at my shoulder and diagnose me.”

Aisling:                We have been asked a few times.

Sarah:             You’re like, “Come to my clinic.”

Aisling:                Yeah, have wrists as well, because obviously, we put quite a lot of strain to our wrists, and wrists are quite a vulnerable area and also a bugger to treat so please don’t damage them. But yeah shoulders, so not just kind of dislocations, but rotator cuff tears and labrum tears. I’ll into these in a second, but … so if we think about how unstable, how mobile the shoulder is because of that ligament capsule is pretty weak, there’s got to be like a second sort of line of defence in terms of its stability and that is our rotator cuff.

So they kind of wrap around nicely giving a little bit of a cuddle to your shoulder effectively. We do in pole, we abuse our shoulders a little bit and we put the tendons under strain. One of the most common ways of straining our tendons are things like handsprings, especially twisty grip but that’s kind of a slightly different, we’ll go into that one in a second. But anything where we’re basically putting the whole weight of our body through our shoulder. You can get a traction injury, so if the humerous coming along, basically you’re making the joint a little bit bigger than it is, and you’re putting a lot of strain through not only the rotator cuff but also then the ligaments and then also this little thing called the labrum. Which is this bit of cartilage on the socket part of the ball and socket joint. When that happens, when you kind of traction it away, you get a tear through there, and they’re not so great. You do need surgery for them, but thankfully they’re pretty rare in terms of pole injuries.

Again it’s all about being sensible and not doing too much too soon. When it comes to twisty grip, you’re putting that shoulder right into this internally rotated position, and when it’s there one specific tendon, your supraspinatus tendon, so it comes across the top of your shoulder blade, and it goes through a little tunnel, and through that tunnel and it attaches onto the back of the humorous, so our arm bone again. Now when we internally rotate the shoulder, you really close down that tunnel, so it’s not much space anyway inside the tunnel, but then you close it down even more and then you ask the muscles to kind of start working and to lift you up and do all sorts of things, and then to stabilise you. At that point, it’s like, I’m not a miracle worker.

Sarah:             It’s had enough!

Aisling:                It’s cross with you at this point. So best case scenario it becomes a bit inflamed and you get tendonitis and worst case is it completely rips. But haven’t seen one yet, but again if we can condition our bodies before doing twisty grip, if we can do cup grip, true grip, it’s such a more biomechanically advantageous position to put our body in, to put our shoulders in, to preserve the life of our shoulder and the life of our pole dance career.

Sarah:             Yes I would, I think there’s many instructors like shouting, “Hallelujah” down the phone at you for sure. I think the issue comes when it feels easier so people think because they’re locking the joint out, they can then hang on that joint but, just yeah as you say taking the time to condition, do the other grips first is going to pay off so much more in the long run. In fact, you don’t need the twisty grip anything like as much as you think you do, it’s a great transition but it’s not, it shouldn’t really be seen as a strength move and I think, it’s moving more towards that now in the pole industry that’s good.

Aisling:                Absolutely.

Sarah:             I think as more people are being more vocal about the shoulder surgeries they are getting and people are realising that it isn’t necessarily just, it’s not just easier, it’s potentially a lot more dangerous. It’s nice to like get the breakdown of the anatomy, visually I think when you start learning about the shoulder it freaks you out enough to start looking after it. I was like, “Oh that’s what in there.”

Aisling:                “That’s what’s happening, oh God!”

Sarah:             For sure.

Ashleigh:                Yeah and like obviously when you’re doing other grips you’re actively contracting those muscles, so you’re doing active stability, whereas when your kind of like this, nothing can contract properly so you’re really relying on the passive stability of the tendon, of going through that little tunnel. Then also of all those really weak ligaments, and when you think about you’re like, “What am I doing that for? Why am I trusting my whole body in this kind of crappy not very strong shoulder.”

Sarah:             Yeah, I suppose that kind of leads me on to my next little point of like, what areas of training do you think that pole dancers don’t necessarily spend enough time on it? What could they be improving so that they could be reinforcing all the points that you’ve been saying?

Aisling:                So we really, really need to do functional and relatable conditioning exercises. So if you start, as much as I love overhead pressing, you’re not really going to be able to translate that directly onto a pole. So I love things like pull ups, pull ups I love because you’re using that grip element, which is also kind of important for what we do. Anything that involves a wall bar, for kind of the same reason because you’ve got to really lock in the shoulders. Let’s say you’re doing just leg raises off the wall bar, but if you’re holding onto the wall bar and you just gently kind of pull your shoulder down, just so you can feel it contracting, and then do your leg raises from there. You’re improving the stability of the shoulder under load, coming from your legs and also helping with your abdominal strength.

What else? So I really love anything that involves a single arm exercise. So obviously being in the gym quite a lot, single arm dumbbell presses, literally kind of sitting but also being really aware of contracting the shoulder and really nice and slowly controlled, not kind of going for 100 reps as quickly as you can, but really feeling and focusing on the stability within the shoulder. Really slowly lowering it down, it’s that slow lowering in the centric phase that’s going to really help with the tendon strength itself. Tendons love to be loaded basically, so this centric phase is so important.

Things like that to support the rotator cuff, and to kind of support the stability of the shoulder from a neurological point of view as well. So your kind of training these motor patterns, so your body and your brains like, “Yeah we’ve done this before, I know, which muscle to switch on when I’m gripping and when I’m doing x, y or z.” Then it just becomes second nature to your body. So the kind of neural training is as important as the muscular training.

Sarah:             Yeah and sometimes it the smaller things that actually, they might be not be as fun for our training ’cause we’re used to like mucking around and flying around a pole, but if you want kind of I guess that’s what I’ve been trying to promote with the Off The Pole group. Is that, if we can train a little bit of things that we need to do, then we can train what we want to do for longer. Because we all want to pole dance, that’s why we go into pole dancing.

Aisling:                That’s why we do it.

Sarah:             Because it’s fun, we don’t necessarily want to be at the gym all the time. But some of these exercises can be massively beneficial for stabilising it, and then pole gets better and then you can pole more, you’re not relying on the wrong muscles and tendons.

Aisling:                Absolutely, yeah so a lot more shoulder stuff, but also something that I think that can be easily neglected is the glutes. Now loads of people are really good at training their glutes but from what I see in the majority we just kind of forget about it in pole, we think, “Well what’s my bum got to do with anything.” Basically, that could be a quote.

Sarah:             Looking good in hot pants?

Aisling:                Well exactly!

Sarah:             We try…

Aisling:                Yeah for good Sunday bum day pictures! So when we talk, and this kind of leads me onto like the core and things. So in the 1990’s one guy wrote one paper on core stability, which was based on not very good research and all of a sudden the fitness industry picked little bits from it and it kind of … It was like right, everyone’s got to do this, and so did kind of the rehabilitation industry as well, they were like, “Yeah this is amazing and it’s going to do all these magical things and nobody will ever need treatment ever again if they do three things, three times a day.” But unfortunately kind of over time people have taken the core, so it can be really misinterpreted quite a lot of the time, and “I’m going to train my core today” and I said, “Right, what do you mean by that?”

Sarah:             “Crunches”

Aisling:                Yeah, “I’m going to do some crunches.” I thought, “Oh God.” Like first of all; …

Sarah:             Well that’s kind of what we have been told, the fitness industry does say you know, lots of core exercises, ab exercises, it’s all about kind of the ‘six-pack’ why wouldn’t we necessarily think anything else?

Aisling:                Yeah, exactly, so crunches is like my worst nightmare first of all because the majority of people just doing like a normal crunch on the floor, they’re going to use their hip flexes more than their abs anyway. Actually you’re going to decrease the strength of your abs and probably injure your back in the process. But there’s lots of other things that you can really focus on for oblique strength and for ab strength. But when we talk about the core, lots of people think, “That’s my abs.” And you think, “No, no, it’s so much more than that.” The core in itself is all the trunk muscles together, so all the muscles of your back, all the muscles in your tummy, and your glutes as well. Everyone kind of forgets about the glutes generally. So it’s just like, “Well let’s start doing,” I’ll say, “Okay so you want to train your core? This is what you’re going to do.” But these are hip thrusts, these are glute bridges, these are squats, how’s this going to help, and I said, “Well actually” ; …

Sarah:             “I’m magic and you’ll see!” 

Aisling:                Yeah, so much better, no, if you think about it, it’s just on your pelvis, if you think about your whole kind of trunk, why wouldn’t you include your glutes? Why would you leave them out? They’re such a good, often forgotten muscle, when we, the majority of people work at desks nowadays have really, really weak glutes, just ’cause you don’t use them. That has been linked to things like lower back pain, and in some case’s disc prolapses, not to scare anyone. Disc prolapses happen a lot by the way, very, very common. You’ve probably got one without knowing. It’s a very common thing.

Sarah:             Go see an osteo, get yourself checked out, yeah?

Aisling:                But just because you have a disc prolapse doesn’t mean you won’t ever be able to do nothing again. They’re so common, we see them all the time. Yeah, you might have one and not know about it, which is also fine by the way. But yeah so I think glutes training is something that we need to improve on as a whole community, like in classes we should have, when we do continuing, a bit on glutes whether it just be glute bridges, low range squats, so you’re actually targeting the glutes not just your quads. Dead lifts, doesn’t have to be like a dead lift with a massive barbell. You can do a dead lift with a dumbbell, you can do a dead lift unweighted. What other sorts of things? Split squats, I love split squats, Bulgarian split squats they’re awesome and they leave you with like a really, really good pump as well, which is quite nice.

Speaker 2:             That’s where the hot pants come in.

Aisling:                Exactly, and like; …

Speaker 2:             You’ve got to drop that into people, otherwise they won’t do them.

Aisling:                It will make your bum look good in hot pants.

Speaker 2:             There we go.

Ashleigh:                Amazing. Have you heard of Brett Contreras?

Speaker 2:             No, I haven’t.

Aisling:                Okay you need to look him up, he is literally he’s made his business on glute training. He is the glute guy.

Speaker 2:             He sounds like my kind of guy.

Aisling:                He’s awesome.

Speaker 2:             I like him already.

Aisling:                He’s amazing and he has a PhD so he’s a properly researched scientist who has put his research into getting you a better bum for hot pants, basically. I highly recommend everyone goes and follows him. He’s wicked. But there’s a really cool move called the Froggy Pump, so that’s your homework.

Sarah:             Okay. We will try and find a link to that and put it in the links below, yeah. We will have a look at that, that sounds very intriguing.

Aisling:                It is.

Sarah:             I’m definitely a big fan of glute training, I think it’s massively overlooked, I do a lot of glute bridges, hip bridges and things like that in my training. A lot of the time it’s also, I actually did a PoleWOD it will be released by the time this comes out. It’s all about fixing the anterior pelvic tilt and kind of strengthening like, squeezing the glutes, getting those switched on, stretching out the hip flexes and strengthening that position, because we all tend to arch our back and stick our booty out and we’re sat down all the time our hip flexes are getting shorter, tighter. We go to pole and do those leg lifts and only make it worse so, yeah just having a little bit of time to undo those and balance out your training can be so beneficial plus make your bum look good. I mean this is the best, this is a good tag line.

Aisling:               Absolutely, yeah, but I definitely agree. Yeah like if anyone panicking about core, so you hear the words core stability a lot and actually there’s not a huge amount of research behind it. For pole dancers we need to work on core strength, but people go on, “Oh core stability, I’ve got to do this or I’ll get back pain.” That’s rubbish just to let you all know. It’s been completely disproven, but that’s kind of my own issue with the buzz words of core stability, core strength yes, remember your glutes. Core stability…

Sarah:             She’s (Aisling) making a cross.

Aisling:                Just no, just no.

Sarah:             No core stability, okay.

Aisling:                I link you to a really good paper if anyone’s interested.

Sarah:             We’d love that yeah. We collectively, I speak for everyone. Yeah definitely we will post that in the Off The Pole group.

Aisling:                We’ll all be academics.

Sarah:             Yeah, well I think it’s nice to know, the more you know about your body, even though you do feel like you might learn at school, or you might do it for a job now, learning a little bit about anatomy can be hugely beneficial for your own training. Just helps with your body awareness, helps with if somethings not working, or not necessarily feeling that right. Not that you should be diagnosing yourself, but I know that if I’ve got lower back pain, I can at least try and roll out my piriformis, stretch out my hip flexes, at least start to try and find what I can release before I then go see a sport’s therapist, or an osteo.

Aisling:                Absolutely.

Sarah:             That’s just once you know what the muscles do, you can be like, “Well I was doing a lot of this yesterday so that’s why that’s tight.”

Aisling:                “Maybe I’ve done this”, yeah.

Sarah             Yeah, normally I’m just sat in a car training, and then sat in a car and then training or teaching for long periods of time then I get super tight.

Ashleigh:                Yeah, no, I think education is so important and we put our bodies through a lot so kind of knowing what we’re doing is always kind of a good idea. I think, I know a lot of the instructor courses obviously you do cover anatomy and physiology to a degree, which is absolutely brilliant now. Because I know at one point it just didn’t happen.

Sarah:             “This is a pole trick, just get on with it you’ll be fine!”

Aisling:                Yeah, and yeah I’m really pleased. But I think, yeah I am pleased. I’m really pleased that people know more about anatomy and I think we could all do with learning a bit more anatomy.

Sarah:             Yeah, we’re helping to spread the word.

Aisling:                It’s quite fun.

 

Sarah:             Well that seems to be a good time to wrap it up on that nice little kind of positive note. Really, really appreciate you coming on and sharing all of your awesome knowledge. I’m sure that you’re going to get pounced on in the group for lots of advice now, but yeah thanks very much for coming in and we’ll maybe get you back again.

Aisling:                Thank you for having me. Thanks very much, I hope it was helpful?

Sarah:             Super, super helpful!

 

Samantha Star Interview | Strength, Flexibility and Handstands | Episode #003

Episode #3 of the Off The Pole Podcast features the immensely talented Samantha Star:  cat-whisperer, handstand extraordinaire and lover of avocado art…
This interview was recorded back in July 2017, so some of the events mentioned have already occurred.

Really hope you guys enjoy the 3rd episode in the podcast series – you can subscribe to our pole podcast on iTunes to keep updated with all the latest episodes and it would mean the world to me if you could leave a review!

Hit play above or read the transcript below. You can also check out the video version at the Off The Pole Youtube channel.

 

Sarah:  Welcome, Samantha, thank you for you doing my podcast!

Samantha: Hi. Yay, I’m excited.

Sarah: All the way from New York. You’re actually at home for once!

Samantha: I am, I know. For ten minutes…

Sarah:  Have you just come back from anywhere? Or are you going off somewhere?

Samantha: I was just in Ireland for the Power to the Pole Camp with Terry and Michael. It was so much fun. I’m actually going to go be a student at Nadia’s Insight Movement camp in Seoul, in Korea, next month. I’m really excited.

Sarah: Nice. Yes. It’s rare that we get to be students, though.

Samantha: I know. This is one of the new things for me this year is that I’m trying to find more time to go to workshops, go to classes, and soak in more information.

Sarah: I need to do that also. I want to do the Bali camps and things. I want to go somewhere hot as an excuse to just go learn stuff. That sounds awesome.

I normally post (in the OTP Facebook Group) who I’m going to have on the podcast, and then I get an influx of questions. A lot of people just want to know what an average training week looks like for you, because you post a lot of videos, a lot of them are conditioning videos and at CrossFit gyms and handstands and all that stuff. Do you have a split of your training? Do you structure it? Or is it just freestyle?

Samantha: I am kind of a hot mess… I actually don’t structure anything or have any real set goals. For me, it depends on what’s going on in my life. Right now, this year, I am not competing at all because I kinda needed a break from it, so I’ve kinda just had more time to play and continue to do things that I find enjoyable and fun, and kind of just maintain what I’ve gained as far as strength and skillsets go.

 

It depends I feel like on what’s going on in my week at the studio, and then I kind of, depending on how much energy I have left, will depend on how much I end up working out. Also, who’s in town and what’s going on, and things like that.

I generally work at Body and Pole Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday are when my classes are. But then depending on if I pick up a shift, or if a training is happening, or something like that goes on, I may end up having to be there more. I recently, oh, it’s probably been actually almost a year. I’m the department head for cross-training and flexibility there, so sometimes I have to do more admin type work. This week we’re doing a ring thing, a power monkey ring thing certification training for a class that we teach at the studio called Ring Thing, which is a gymnastics apparatus that is a harness waist belt that’s connected to pulley systems and gymnastic rings so it takes half your body weight so you can learn how to do pull-ups or muscles ups or front levers.

Sarah: Oh, nice.

Samantha: It’s a really, really fun cross-training class, so there goes my Wednesday and Thursday to do this training, which is awesome, but then I don’t get to do my own personal training based on that. But I try to move and do something probably seven days a week. My rest days tend to look more like a restorative yoga class or a lighter handstand training. I have a hard time sitting still.

Sarah: Do you have any of the specific recovery techniques that you do, or do you find that you do that through the movement that you’ve just said, like through the restorative yoga and things like that?

Samantha: Honestly, sleep. I think sleep is so important, and a lot of people I feel like don’t take the time to make time for their sleep properly, so instead of having a rest day where I don’t physically do something, I would rather get a solid seven or eight hours on a regular basis, and for me, that seems to help maintain my body and give myself the time that it needs to repair.

Sarah: Do you have to have specific sleep ‘brain shut off’ systems, because I know some people, they ban themselves from their phone for a specific amount of time or they read or they do meditation or they have a hot bath, or do you find that you can just sleep pretty well once your head hits the pillow?

Samantha: I wear earplugs even when I’m home. Everywhere I travel I always wear earplugs when I sleep, so kind of one of those things where I put them in, I am one of those people that does play on their phone a little bit too long…

Sarah: I think we all are to be honest…

Samantha: When I finally put it down, usually I can fall asleep pretty quickly because of all of the physical activity I’ve done throughout the day. My body knows that it’s time for some rest, but for whatever reason earbuds seem to help kind of zone it out a little bit more.

Sarah: Yeah. Put you in your own little bubble that shuts the whole world out. I can see that.

Samantha: Yeah.

Sarah:  Obviously, travelling you take those with you. You seem to be all over the world most of the time. Is there anything you find that you need to do specifically to keep up with your health and fitness as you travel because it must be very difficult to keep up with the amount of conditioning that you do and to keep it at such a high level? Is there anything that you find that you really try and stick to, like make it a consistent in your life, or is it, again, travel just mucks it up and you have to deal with it?

Samantha: Yes, and no. Travel definitely mucks it up a little bit because you’re kind of at the whim of other people that you’re staying with, locations, time that things are happening. I have, besides getting sleep I have a movement morning practice every day, and it’s changed throughout the years, but it’s definitely something that I find keeps me at least doing something consistent, and I find that consistency is almost better than me trying to kill myself four hours one day a week. I’d rather do a little bit every day.

My morning practice tends to be from like 10 to 30 minutes depending on where I am and how much time I have and how long I might need to roll on a lacrosse ball that morning or sometimes just breathing and sitting. If I get stuck, sometimes I’ll be in a double pigeon stretch on my phone and I’ll be like, “I’ve been here for too long. I should probably switch sides,” but yeah. I think my morning practice is probably something that helps at least keep my feeling like I kind of have an understanding of where my body is that day and how to continue. Handstands are a really good way also and you can train anywhere, so if I can’t find a gym to hang and do strength/conditioning stuff or a pole to train pole on, you can always find ground or something random to try to handstand on.

Sarah: Yeah, and you’re definitely known as the handstand queen. Many, many videos of yours include handstands, normally at airports and stuff like that.

Samantha: Yes.

Sarah: We had a couple of questions from my Facebook group. They were asking about is there any tips that you can give for kind of, especially the fear from moving from a wall handstand to a free standing handstand? I know it’s very physical and a lot of it’s you have to be somewhere…

Samantha: Cartwheels. Do cartwheels! Honestly, every time you do a handstand, you’re falling. It’s how you control your fall and if you can understand where your body’s going to go in space to then allow you to stay up for longer, slow your fall down, and make it look like you can do something. But a lot of it is this brain fear. I think the wall can be a really amazing tool for learning and strengthening with handstands, but most people use it as a crutch with the brain’s fear of “Oh, gosh, I can only use the wall if I’m balancing.” Some of it is really learning how to fall and playing with it. There’s so many different entrances into cartwheels and I think people sometimes get stuck with one and then just continue to try that same thing over and over again expecting a different result. So yes, you can definitely train stuff on your own, but it’s good to go and get some information from a handstand workshop or class every once in a while if not on a regular basis so that way you can glean a little bit more information and then practise, and then the next time you go to a class you’ll hear the exact same thing but you’ll realise something different from it.

But playing around in the middle of the room and just attempting some kick ups and cartwheeling and understanding how the feel of the cartwheel happens and then where you can go too far in your handstand and you end up in a cartwheel and you fall out and it’s safe and it’s fine and you can nail your dismount.

Sarah: Definitely.

Samantha: A lot of it really is though just trial and error to some degree. Handstands are a lot, if you watch kids learning how to walk. At first, they get up, they fall over. They’re limbs, their legs are literally not strong enough to hold them, and their brainpower doesn’t compute to what happens with their legs. It’s one of those things where you get up, you fall over, you try again. During this process you start to notice little nuances of, okay, that worked, that didn’t work. If you start to pay attention to those you can start to really hone in on why it didn’t work, why does it work, and then as you’re doing this you build enough strength that you’re actually able to start holding stuff.

Sarah: Is it something that you feel like you, even though you’ve got a very high level of handstands, is it something that you feel like you have to continually work at, or is it something you once you have it it’s kind of like standing but upside down.

Samantha: No, that’s the thing I love about handstands. There’s always something more. You can kind of get good at one section of a skill, but then there’s different nuances of even that specific skill. Having a straight body handstand is something that I feel like I will continuously be working on because my line can always be readjusted. Also depending on who you’re with, teachers, different practitioners and things like that, everybody has a different thought and variation of what they think is correct. There’s so many different nuances of things, and it’s something that I think never ends, which is why it’s exciting and why you can always continue practising and have a good time. My cat right now is just chilling….

Sarah: She’s like, “What are you doing mom? I need some attention.”

Samantha: She’s like, “But hang out with me.” Animals are great handstand helpers, so you do handstands near them and you try not to fall on them. It’s a great learning tool. When you get better they get real trusting and you’re like, uh.

Sarah: My dog’s try and do that but they have much bigger tongues than cats. Like if you get hit with a mastiff tongue it’s pretty off-putting.

Samantha: Yeah. Knock you right over, right?

Sarah: Exactly.

Samantha: But yeah, I think with handstands it’s a lot of trial and error. I don’t know if anybody actually masters it, which is why it’s so cool. There are definitely people that are really un-fucking-believable at what they can do, but there’s always something else, variations or options or different things or different lengths of time that you can go for.

Sarah: There’s a lot of parallels with pole in a sense. It’s a bodyweight exercise. There’s so many variations for it. I think most of us have seen your Instagram videos of your handstands and you play a lot with very active flexible splits. Are there any kind of common mistakes that you see with pole dancers that so many people are kind of pushing, pushing for their splits and trying to get more flexible, but a lot of time I feel like people miss that kind of functional flexibility that then you can do something with anti-gravity. We can push ourselves into a split on the floor but how can you then translate that to a split? Is there anything that you see, common mistakes people might do?

Samantha: I think the biggest common mistake, there’s two in my mind. One is comparing yourself to other people, and the other is giving up because things aren’t happening fast enough. Flexibility and strength, both of them, take time and patience. A lot of times you’ll be practising and you won’t even realise that you’re gaining anything and you’ll get frustrated, you’ll be at that plateau, and then one day you’re like, “Oh, shit. I can do this stuff now that I couldn’t do before.” I teach flexibility classes and I practise a lot of yoga. I’m a little bit more into the crazier, hardcore yoga.

Sarah: Shocking. Shocking that you would say that…

Samantha: That goes into some of the deeper postures. All handstands and all crazy stuff, but it’s something that my splits, honestly, I had okay splits. I did gymnastics as a kid and then I didn’t do anything for a very long time and then I got back into pole and trying to realise that I was like, “Oh, I should use this now.” It’s a process. It takes time. Gravity splits, I think are super important. Yeah, if you don’t have a flat split on the floor it’s not going to magically happen in the air, but if you only train sitting in a split, you’re not going to be very good at doing them in a handstand or doing them on an apparatus and getting that flat line that you want. There’s a stretch that I do in my classes where you put a yoga block underneath your back when you’re laying on the ground, and you try to get your knee to your chest and your extended leg heel to the floor. That extension and lengthen is something that you can’t get from sitting in a split.

It’s something too that I think two things that made me kind of obsessed with my splits. One, I love jade splits on the pole and my early competition years I used to do jade to jade switches in almost every competition, and none of them were ever flat. I would watch the videos back and be like, “No!” The same thing for my handstand. I’d pop into a handstand split and somebody would take a photo and I’d look at it and be like, “Oh no.”

Sarah:  “It felt flat when I did it.”

Samantha:  Yeah. It’s something that I kind of got really obsessed with because I was like, “You know what? If I’m doing this stuff I want to be able to do it when I want it anytime,” so I also train cold flexibility and what I would call range of motion. It’s something that has taken me I would say five or six years to accomplish to where I am today doing something every day to make this achievable. I do flexing forward and some standing split stuff every day, not to where it hurts or where it’s difficult, but literally where my range of motion is, and on top of that I do other flexibility and things like this, but throughout the years my starting point range of motion has changed. It started with maybe my split was like this, and now I can do a standing oversplit without trying.

Sarah: Just putting your body in those positions as just a day to day thing rather than a specific training session to build up to it. It’s like, just try and get there, try and improve it every day little by little it kind of accumulates.

Samantha: Yeah. The training sessions in between are still just as important.

Sarah: For sure, yeah.

Samantha: But I found, again for me, that say I did two deep flexibility days a week. If I didn’t do anything in between I would almost go backwards. My body would seize up on me. What I found that if I can put myself through, and this is part of my morning practice, just deciding that I wanted five moves to just put my body through to see where they were every day has changed where my body can get to without making too much of an effort. It’s kind of funny because my cold range of motion flexibility is not to far off from if I warm up for an hour of flexibility. Yes, there’s definitely a difference, but it’s something that I work on and I really focus in on trying to figure out how to activate my muscles to lengthen my body, and I like to think about it as some people are just naturally flexible and they jump into things. I’m fairly flexible, but I try to muscle my flexibility, which makes me feel better about it. I’m like I can strength this and turn it into something that involves activating and using muscles and strengthening to be able to get into flexibility positions.

Sarah: I think a lot of pole dancers can relate to that because we’re all kind of ‘doing’ people. I think we quite like the whole process of achieving and the challenge and movement, so trying to incorporate that into stretching rather than just sitting in a position on the floor I think makes it a lot more functional for pole. I like the idea of trying the cold positions, just putting your body into it every day rather than having to rely on that one stretch session a week, which most the time isn’t actually going to do enough for what we need.

Samantha: Yeah. Something else to be said about that just so people don’t try to cram themselves into positions that they’re not ready for. When I say range of motion and cold range of motion flexibility, I’m not doing it to where it feels like anything difficult is happening. It’s literally just like where my body wants to go naturally and doesn’t feel like anything.

Sarah: You’re not drop splitting in the kitchen while you’re waiting for your …

Samantha: Well, now I am.

Sarah: Oh, showoff…

Samantha:  But, no, it’s something too that sometimes, and this is me personally. I don’t think flexibility should be painful or miserable.

Sarah: I agree.

Samantha: I think sometimes that some people think that they need to be so uncomfortable when they’re doing flexibility training and be in positions that don’t feel good to their body because they need to achieve something that somebody else is doing. For me, don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some stretchy feels when I’m going into deeper postures and getting myself warm and into things, but there’s a difference between pain and stretchy feels. It’s something that I think a lot of people don’t rely on enough and that’s where people get injured and/or don’t continue their training because they don’t enjoy what they’re doing. It’s something that I think is, I love stretching. Like, I think it feels good, but I’m not going to push myself into a place where it doesn’t feel good. Yeah, that may take me a little bit longer to achieve end goals, but I feel like in the long run it’s going to be better for my body and I’m going to be able to do them whenever I want and as much as I want.

Sarah: I think a lot of people find that pole dancers have quite high pain threshold and sometimes will train through more than what hey should do really. Do you have any kind of indicators that you think, “Okay, maybe I’ve pushed it too far, or this is just natural kind of muscle tightness for my training.” How do you gauge when it’s over-training versus just everyday pain from training?

Samantha: Again, I don’t think there should be pain. I think there should be soreness. I think there can be new feelings, but if I’m in pain, it defeats the entire purpose of what I’m doing, because then I’m not going to be able to do what I love doing for the rest of the week. If I push myself to a place where I physically can’t do anything, then I waste an entire week, whereas if I had maybe done a couple less reps or taken it one notch lower, by the end of the week if I continue doing whatever that is, then I can achieve it. But I think sometimes it too. Don’t get me wrong, I have injured myself. I have pushed too far, and sometimes doing that is how you learn what your body can do and what your body can’t do, unfortunately. If you don’t listen to, and that’s one of the things, everybody’s “Listen to your body,” but it’s hard to understand what your body is saying if you haven’t experienced something too far, which is unfortunate.

Now I try to, I don’t know, listen a little bit more. Actually, I would say maybe three months ago I was doing some really deep handstand chest down past where you should go pushups in a handstand with a spot, and I was tired and I probably should have stopped and I didn’t, and I jacked up my shoulder. I kind of went around it, and it was one of those things where I could still pull, I could still do a lot of my movements, I could still do handstands, but I couldn’t hang from one arm. For me that’s miserable, so what I ended up having to do was slowly rehab myself back into that. While I was doing this, it’s something that I could still do most of the stuff that I could do on a regular basis. I would say 90% back to action now. There’s only maybe one thing that I’m still kind of babying a little bit.

Sarah: Cautious about, yeah.

Samantha: Yeah, because I know that if I push it too far and too fast too soon, then it’s going to take me more time to get back to where I want it to be, and if I take it just that little bit slower it’s going to be okay. But yeah, sometimes it sucks and it’s frustrating when you have an injury or something and you want to do all the things that you know you can do, but at that moment you can’t and you have to kind of retract a little bit. I’m not saying don’t do anything, because I think, again, for me that’s worse if I completely don’t move or don’t do anything, but what I can do is I can put my feet on the ground and hang with both my arms up with my feet on the ground without weight, and then as it starts to-

Sarah: Adapting the training to suit your body, again listening to it and building it back up so you can be stronger again.

Samantha: Yeah.

Sarah:  Do you feel like diet has a big effect on your training as well, and do you change it depending on what you’ve got coming up? I know you had last year, you were just competing everywhere and touring everywhere and you’ve just said you are taking a bit more time this year for yourself, so does your diet change or do you stay quiet, “this is my system and this is what I like to eat.”

Samantha: I think it depends. It definitely changes based on seasons I think to some degree. Where I’m travelling, what I’m doing, and how I’m feeling. I try to eat things that make me feel good, so I don’t really do diets or counting macros or whatever and I don’t do supplements. I do eat vitamins and things like that, but not protein powder supplements and things. It’s just something I never really understood enough to do. I haven’t done the research on it enough, so that’s just not something I do for me, but again I kind of have, I guess a boring routine of food.

I think my staples now I’m on a, I wouldn’t say a rut, but my system right now, I eat half an avocado and a couple slices of white Monterey Jack cheese or something in the morning after I drink a big glass of lemon water. That’s my breakfast.

Sarah: You send me some wonderful pictures. We have mutual avocado love. She sends me these pictures. I’ll link them underneath the podcast, but she sends me these intricately carved (avocados), not that she’s done… unless you’ve got a secret talent?

Samantha: No, no. On the internet.

Sarah: These intricately carved avocado pictures that you find on Instagram and then she sends them to me. You came to stay with me for five days and we just lived on avocado. Yeah. Did pull-ups all week. It was a good time.

Samantha: Yeah, it’s finding foods that give you energy and make you feel good. If I eat stuff that makes me feel heavy, it’s harder to do the stuff I want to do. I, again, change things up when I travel, so I eat a fairly regular diet when I’m here, which is avocados. I always carry around cashews and almonds a bag.

 

I have peanut butter packets with me most days. That’s what I eat during the day. I don’t really eat meals, I just snack in between doing things. I eat little snack bar protein bar things. I’ve been on a dried mango kick lately because I need some candy sugar so that’s my sugar, but as odd as it sounds I tend not to eat a lot of sugar except for ice cream.

Sarah: Well, if you’re going to do it you might as well do it properly.

Samantha: I feel like ice cream is probably a pretty, especially in the summer when it’s warm, is a pretty staple part of my diet, but I don’t eat a tonne of carbs unless it’s again in fruit or things. I eat a lot of salmon. I do eat a lot of sushi, so I do have some carbs with sushi rice, but I tend to eat pretty minimal and not big portions. Just because for me if I’m, again, doing things non-stop all day, if I’m full I can’t press handstand because I’m too full and it feels not as great.

Sarah: That’s where I’ve been going wrong. That’s why I can’t press it.

Samantha: You’ve got to snack more.

Sarah: Just got to get my portions down then I can press handstand just like Samantha Star!

Samantha: Everything’s going to be different and work differently for different people.

Sarah:  Exactly, yeah. I just meant that a lot of people are just more interesting in how other people do it. It’s not necessarily like they’re going to go off and emulate what you do. They don’t know your full training schedule, everyone’s body type’s different. I think it’s more curiousness that people like to just see how other people’s bodies work.

Samantha: Lemon water. A big glass of lemon water in the morning I think is super key, also because then it forces you to make sure that you actually drink some water, and then I eat a bigger-ish dinner meal, usually, and then I can’t train or do anything. I’m like, “Okay, I’m ready for bed.” When I’m getting ready for competitions and things like that, I’ll definitely one of my big exciting carb meals that I do, I’ll make a big bowl of pasta and do fried eggs and goat cheese and just mash it all up. Usually, I’ll do that once or twice a month on my days where I really do rest a little bit more and then immediately after I have to take a nap.

Sarah: Have a little food coma.

Samantha: Yeah. It makes me feel heavier. It’s just one of those things. Start to pay attention to how food makes you feel, and I’m not talking about, “Oh, I ate chocolate, so it makes me happy.” Not that kind of feelings, which dark chocolate I do eat sometimes.

Sarah: More energy levels rather than the emotion feedback from you, yeah.

Samantha: Testing. There was actually, I went for two months without eating sugar just to see what it would do. I didn’t eat ice cream and it was really depressing because I’m like, “But ice cream!”

Sarah: Good for the soul. A few people have said you need to have a glass of red wine, or this is my food that I like. Everyone’s got to have that thing that you can still enjoy so it’s not too regimented.

Samantha: There you go. I don’t drink, so there is that. That’s a lot of places that people do waste, I feel like, carbs and sugars and things like that to some degree if you’re really working on trying to balance it out, but mostly too, I stopped drinking when I started doing fitness for a living and having to invert every day.

Sarah: You don’t want to do that hungover.

Samantha: It made my body feel different and it’s one of those things where it’s like, what would I rather? Feel like shit and have it take me a couple extra hours to pull my shit together and get my life going, or do I want to handstand first thing in the morning. I want to handstand first thing in the morning.

Sarah:  I was going to put my hand up and try and guess, but I think I get it. I know that one! She wants to handstand.

Samantha: But yeah, it’s one of those things where if you’re interested in seeing what it actually does to your body, a couple years ago I wrote a food journal and I literally just wrote everything that I ate, not caring what it was just to see what I was actually eating. A lot of times you don’t realise what you’re eating or what the day goes. It was actually kind of interesting. It was actually while I was about to go into competition training, so I had started to pare down what I was eating too. It was a lot of salmon and avocados and eggs. Salmon, avocados, eggs, and nuts I think is what I primarily.

Sarah: Your staples.

 

Samantha: Yeah. When I travel if people ask when I stay with them what I want, I always say lemons and avocados as my main staples.

Sarah: Then you know you’re good.

Samantha: Then I’m good for a little bit. One of the things too, bread and I’m sure I can find good bread in the states, but it’s generally pretty processed and not that great, so one of the reasons also that I eat fairly well when I’m home is that when I travel, I can enjoy a little bit of wherever I am’s food and I don’t feel bad about it. When I’m in Paris I will eat a baguette and a wheel of cheese for breakfast, and croissants. I love croissants, but again it’s something that I don’t eat on a regular basis because I would like to appreciate them more when I’m travelling. It’s kind of like my treat.

Sarah: I think you deserve a treat with all the training you do.

Samantha: Absolutely. It’s also interesting because I train less when I travel and I eat more random foods, so when I get home it always take me about a week to get back into the right feeling system sometimes.

Sarah:  For sure. Cool, well, I’ve nearly taken up quite a lot of your time already. That went super, super quick.

Samantha: Yeah, it did.

Sarah: Do you have any last pieces of knowledge bomb advice that you can give for the Off the Pole group, so thinking strength conditioning or things that they could be doing off the pole that could strengthen their pole practice. Say they can only get onto a pole once a week. What could they be doing in between that could benefit their pole?

Samantha: Handstands! Honestly, I think bodyweight conditioning stuff, especially if you don’t have a gym or weights or stuff like that, I don’t really do a lot of weight stuff. It’s more body weight. If you can find a pull-up bar or a playground, hang. Hanging is so good, and playing around with shoulder activation and scap activation and lats and twisting around and monkeying. I think between hanging, pushups, and handstands, you’re pretty good. Maybe as you’re hanging do some tuck knee raises and toes to bar pike stuff. For me, that’s my staple.

Sarah: Awesome. That’s definitely something. I think most people can find some kind of access to a pull-up bar and at least they can. They have a floor, they could handstand.

Samantha:  Yeah.

Sarah: They can push-up.

Samantha: I think honestly the other thing too I think is most important for me and what’s worked best for me is consistency. I don’t necessarily need to do two or three hours every day, but I need to do at least five minutes of something every day, and by doing whatever that thing is every single day, I’ve found I’ve progressed more in the long run. Yes, I’m not saying that’s all you have to do. Still have your couple times a week training sessions of doing other things as well, but if there’s one thing that you’re like, “I really want this one skill or one buildup to a skill,” do it every day. Get obsessed.

Sarah: Get obsessed. Nice. If people want to follow you along and see some of these wonderful handstands themselves, give me a little rundown of where people can find you.

Samantha: On Instagram, because that’s probably my favourite platform, @lithiumkitten.

Sarah: I will spell everything and link everything below.

Samantha: I don’t know where she went. People always ask they’re like, “Lithiumkitten? What’s this?” It’s my cat’s name, so yay.

Sarah: We’ll Instagram it up. You’ve got some very good photos on Instagram.

Samantha: Yeah. Instagram, and then on Facebook I have my athlete page, which is just Samantha Star, and then my personal page which is pretty much just the same thing, which is Samantha Star Cuomo.

Sarah: Awesome. Well, thank you very much for coming on and giving us all of your advice. It’s been super helpful and really good insight into a little bit of how you train and what you eat. You’re going to have to start posting these intricate avocado designs for everyone to see.

Samantha: I know, right? They’re so good! This was fun.

Sarah: Thank you for coming on. Much appreciated. Bye!

6 tips for successful goal setting

2018 is here and as cliché as it may be, it’s a great time of year to re-evaluate what you’d like to focus on and set yourself some new challenges. But as many of us find, we start out with good intentions but then life gets in the way and priorities tend to shift in favour of old habits.

Setting goals and then achieving those goals can be hugely motivating and rewarding so here are some top tips to make sure this year those goals are smashed

1.Brain Dump

Grab a piece of paper and empty your thoughts. If you had no boundaries – what would make you happy? What would improve your life? What challenges would you like to conquer? Think short/medium and long-term and even if they seem far-fetched, write them down anyway! It’s a great exercise to visualise your thoughts and you can then start to see patterns or categories that you can start to delve into more detail.

2. Why?

Once you’ve started to narrow your list down, ask yourself ‘why’ you want to achieve that goal or goals. Imagine you are explaining the goal to someone and it will help you to realise the motivation behind it. To really make a change to our daily lives we need to be passionate about what we’re doing. If you’re only setting a goal because you think you ‘should’ you are far less likely to commit to it.

3. SMART

It’s easy to make a huge list of goals but in reality, we need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound

 

For example, your goal could be to improve your flexibility:

 

Specific – This goal is a little vague, define what the start and end point are.

Measurable– How will you determine success? What are the parameters?

Attainable – Success is hugely motivating. Setting smaller, yet still challenging goals will keep your motivation up rather than feeling unsatisfied or at the other end of the scale – overwhelmed

Relevant – You have to enjoy the process and work towards goals that will move you forwards.

Time-Bound – One of the most important steps is to give yourself a time-frame. If it’s a long goal – then give outlines of what should be achieved at the half-way point for example as a way to keep you accountable.

So putting our goal of improved flexibility through the ‘SMART’ system you could re-write it like this: Achieve a flat front split by June 2018 ready for a photoshoot in July.

This gives a clear end goal and a reason why as a reminder. Could can then measure your starting point and get advice from an instructor as to whether the time-frame is realistic based on how many sessions you can do within that time.

4. How?

Now you have your goal – how are you going to achieve it? What is your action plan? Again be specific and clear about how and when you will do things and how it will fit into your lifestyle. Making too many changes too quickly can be overwhelming – remember it has to be sustainable to ensure real change and success.

This could be anything from keeping a food diary, signing up for a new class or setting your alarm half an hour earlier to fit in a new daily meditation practice.

5. Accountability

Telling friends and family is a big motivator and can keep you going when the going gets tough or even just a little repetitive! Sending weekly updates to someone, or having a training buddy can really help to keep you moving forward. Some people like to declare it publicly or have an event like a photo shoot or competition to be the nudge they need to complete the goal. Try a few different options to cover all the bases. And remember, if your ‘why’ is strong, it will be easier to stay on track.

6. We’re human

This last point is to remember that things can change. The goal-setting process is not perfect and you may overlook factors that can affect the outcome. In this case – don’t get disheartened as you’ve already moved closer towards your goal, even if you don’t reach it within your time-frame. In this case – you can change it to a SMARTER goal – adding Evaluate and Re-do to the list

Some added things to think about:

Make your goal positive – so instead of ‘I won’t…..’ always frame it in positive language

 

Good luck with your goal setting! And from everyone at OTP – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Sarah

XO