Off the Pole focuses on non-pole exercises – so you can learn about different training methods to help strengthen and balance your body. Here you can find different tips and tricks for equipment and training.
Welcome to Episode 8 of the Off The Pole podcast, where I talk to people from the Pole industry to help you Train Smart so you can Dance More.
This week we have Charlotte Robertson, owner of Live, Love, Bend, which provides online flexibility training and apparel.
She’s a champion pole dancer, having competed and won titles in the U.K. and abroad and runs her successful pole studio, Charlotte Robertson’s Pole and Aerial Fitness as well as teaching workshops across the globe.
We discuss her pre- and post-pregnancy pole life, what she’s found harder to overcome and tips for mum’s to be. Hope you enjoy our chat and the cameo from her lovely son Arlo!
Really hope you guys enjoy the 8th 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 watch or read the transcript below.
Sarah: Welcome Charlotte Robertson to my podcast!
Sarah: Hello. Your internet is so good and clear and shiny. It’s actually nice to see someone for once. How are you doing my love? Thank you for taking some time. I know baby’s asleep so he might wake up but we’ll see.
Charlotte: Fingers crossed he won’t. That’s what I’m always hoping for, more sleep.
The Journey Back to Pole
Sarah: I just wanted to get you to describe a little bit about your journey so far through your pregnancy and kind of getting back to pole and things like that just so people understand the timeline of when things happened/when things went down.
Sarah: Not like literally everything. You can cut it off at like when …
Charlotte: There was this night … No, I’m kidding. So, it was kind of … I can’t actually remember exactly when I found out that I was pregnant last year. Some kind of time, end of February, March so similar to now. I found out that I was pregnant last year and I basically, one of my main goals while I was pregnant was to keep poling through my pregnancy. It was something I really, really wanted to try and achieve because I hadn’t seen loads of people polling but obviously like you it’s the main thing that we do so it was really important for me to try to keep up in whatever that I possibly could.
Charlotte: I wouldn’t go too deep into the ins and outs but unfortunately we had some complications so that meant that when I went for my 12 week scan, which is when they basically give you the A-okay, like you’re definitely pregnant and everything’s okay and you can kind of continue on until you’re 20 week scan. Unfortunately, yeah, we had some complications, which meant I could have continued training but emotionally and just generally I wasn’t in a place where I really wanted to in case it caused more problems. Not that it would have done but just in your head, you want to protect your baby.
Sarah: You wanna be safe and just mitigate any issues that could happen.
Charlotte: Exactly so I was quite … Obviously, I was upset because of the complications but also I then was really like, “Oh, I don’t wanna train, I don’t want to do anything,” ’cause I was really scared of hurting the baby. So I actually stopped training until I had a more in depth procedure. At 14 weeks I had that done but once I got the results from that and I got that really quickly back and everything was fine.
Charlotte: I then from about 16 weeks, then started getting that into my training so I actually had a bit of break, which was not intentional at all and all the way leading up to the 12 week scan, I trained like as normal and I was able to train as normal, like I didn’t feel pregnant, apart from my belly growing, everything was still achievable, which is quite nice to know because I think you think as soon as your pregnant that you’re not going to be able to do anything but it actually is a really gradual process and its obviously over a long period of time. So, I basically from 16 weeks began training again and then had the 20 week scan and then at the 20 weeks scan I got the definite everything was fine, the baby and from then I decided that I was performing and I did it at 26 weeks and then really from 26 weeks after I performed I decided to just kind of …
Sarah: Taper off?
Charlotte: Taper off a little bit. Just did the things that I kinda really wanted to do and things I really enjoyed. I didn’t have a structured training session every week. I just kind of went in as I went and yeah, kind of chilled out quite a lot from that point but continued eating and everything else. That was my pregnancy, basically.
Sarah: In a nutshell.
Charlotte: Yeah, so that was that. I carried on running until I was like 20 weeks but I got SPD, which is issues with the pelvis and pelvic pain and stuff and it definitely seemed that doing running and typically lunging. I fricking love a lunge.
Sarah: Love the lunge. #lovealungewednesday Of all the things! Cruel! What a cruel turn of events.
Charlotte: So, that kind of stuff was aggravating it so, again, with stretching and stuff I just had to kind of hold back a little bit and like I say, I was doing stuff and that’s where my social media kept saying, “I am doing this but I’m not really training as I was.” ‘Cause I didn’t want to give the impression that I was still going for it hardcore ’cause I really, really wasn’t. And yeah so that was the pregnancy and then he arrived at the end of October. So, yeah.
Sarah: Focused on the little man.
Charlotte: Yeah. So, he arrived earlier than we had expected, earlier than planned. ‘Cause he was a big boy so they suggested …
Sarah: Oh, Luke…(Charlotte’s husband)
Charlotte: So, yeah they suggested that it would be better for me to be induced. Again, I won’t go into the ins and outs but basically they induced labour so that he came a little bit earlier, otherwise, he probably would have been ginormous. Yeah, had an amazing birth experience. I found it very empowering and I thought it was just amazing, just amazing the way that your body works and the way that it all happens. That was really cool but the recovery was way harder than I imagined it would be. I actually saw you, didn’t I? Like a few weeks after he was born?
Sarah: Yeah. We came to your pole camp at your studio, me and Leah (Rose)
Charlotte: Yeah, you guys stepped in amazingly ’cause I was in no fit state to do anything like that and yeah, so that side of it was really … I found that much harder. I imagined that I would be tired and I imagined that I would be a bit sore but I really was so sofa bound for at least two weeks. I found just anything … Like walking was really tough, just generally. I’m really tall in the body, so that was a bit of a shock to my system to be honest because I think with what we do, we’re used to pushing our bodies. We also bounce back quite quickly. I think if we are ever injured or we’ve got a nickel, it really doesn’t take that long to kind of get over it.
Charlotte: I think most of us I’d say.
Sarah: We just generally expect a lot from our bodies, if it’s pain, we’re like, “Get over it.” A lot of mentality with pole dancers I think, is pushing through, would you say. And when you do have something like an injury you see when people post about it online, if they’re injured or like yourself. Not saying pregnancy’s like being injured but you do have … You have to take a step back and you see people’s post like they’re in shock, “What do I do now? Like I don’t know. My body hasn’t done this to me before.”
Charlotte: Yeah. Exactly. And it was just the fact that I thought that I would be perhaps a few weeks later being up to do a bit of Pilates maybe going for a few power walks and all of that kind of … But I literally, it was just a shock to my body and I think it’s a combination of everything like you’ve given birth, which is the hardest workout of your life, like 10 marathons and then you’ve also got the after …
Sarah: It doesn’t just stop there. You have to kind of look after a human.
Charlotte: Yeah. Exactly. The recovery and then you’re trying to also look after a baby and then just all of it is just … Yeah, it’s overwhelming, probably is a good word. But yeah. That was a big shock and I kind of prepared myself I thought. I was like, “I’m not going to train for a while. I’m gonna have three months of work. I’m gonna go back to training in January and just gradually build up so I can go back to work in February. And that was all in my plan and then before I knew it, it was December and I was like, so, so far I’ve just eaten hob knobs and better baby and that’s what I’m doing right now. And so it was quite a big shock to me definitely. And especially with the fact that my husband is massively supportive of everything I do and even with all that support, it was still really, really tough so yeah that was quite a shock. Yeah.
Sarah: Do feel like there’s a lot of pressure with social media and stuff, not necessarily from pole dancers and I mean, kind of in general with the whole fitness industry as well with people like bouncing back from pregnancy and to these ridiculously good figures, that it’s putting a lot of pressure on people to feel like they have to do it in a couple of weeks and people are posting back in bikinis and things. Do you think that was in your mind? Even though we say like it’s not going to affect us and we will push past and listen to ourselves, do you still think that played a role in you wanting to get back quicker? You thought people would expect you to get quicker? Or is it more for yourself, you wanted to get back training for your own kind of mindset and health.
Charlotte: Yeah, I think I wanted to get back training because I didn’t want to let myself go. I know that sounds really funny but I didn’t want to get into a situation where I was six months down the line and then hating my body because I hadn’t done anything about it in the early stages, probably the most where it stemmed from I suppose. I didn’t want to just sit on the sofa and eat hob knobs.
Sarah: There’s a part of all of us that wants to do that so don’t worry, you’re not alone there.
Charlotte: So I didn’t want to be lazy, I guess is the point. I didn’t want to be lazy with it but I don’t think I was lazy. I think I definitely listened to my body and I gave myself the time that I needed and it wasn’t even until January that I was like, “Okay, I’m ready to get back to doing something.” I really need to add though that I did … One thing I really do and I stuck by the day after that he was born, was I started doing all my core engagement stuff. So, I was trying to engage my core, do all my pelvic floor exercises, that they tell you to do but do all of that every single day.
Sarah: I think I saw some videos of you doing that, like on all fours, and you’re kind of just breathing in and out through the stomach and things. I saw you post that really, really early.
Charlotte: Yeah so I was making sure I was doing stuff like that basically right from day one. So, yes I was doing my core engagement exercises every day and then I was trying to incorporate 5, 10 minutes in the evening when we were able to stop putting him down because that’s the other thing. They literally rule your life. Especially when they’re tiny and I know that’s obvious because it’s gonna change your life but you can’t do anything. You can’t even brush your hair. You can’t even find two minutes to use those five minutes to do something that’s quite selfish for yourself. Core engagement stuff is actually really hard to do because there are a million other things you haven’t done that day that you could do with … Like doing in that time. So, it’s really … We had a conversation quickly before about prioritising things and also making sure you count yourself as a priority.
Charlotte: Not just the washing and the hoovering and all the other stuff. I think that’s really important. So, yes I think it’s really important I was back to training as soon as I expected to be. I definitely was really trying to do that kind of stuff so that … And it was more about getting the feeling back because it was big shock to my system that when he was born I literally felt like a slinky so I felt like my ribcage was sitting on my hips and I had nothing the centre so it was just like wobbling around all the time.
Charlotte: It’s the weirdest feeling because even when you’re pregnant and you don’t have the core engagement the same as when you’re not pregnant, it’s like tight. It’s still tight, and you’re able to use it and I could do burpees at pretty much the day before he was born, I could still do all of those kind of things. Planks, all of that kind of stuff but I was literally like a slinky.
Sarah: You didn’t look like a slinky when I came to see you. You looked radiant when we came around, we were like, “You look really good.” Like, what? That’s not fair. You’re giving us hope though.
Charlotte: I definitely think those first few weeks though it’s just like you’re on adrenalin. So, like when I saw you guys, I was definitely like in the moment, you’ve had your baby. You’re bursting with love. The sleepless nights, you can still manage them at that point. Everything is still really exciting and you’re definitely running on adrenalin and then I think it’s like now that it hits you, when you’re still getting up in the night, you’re like, “Shit.”
Sarah: This baby just won’t grow up quick enough!
(Charlotte went to get Arlo as he woke up)
Sarah: Oh, hi!.
Charlotte: Who’s that? Say, “Hi, Sarah.”
Sarah: We can do it. I believe in you Arlo, come on. First podcast
Charlotte: Let’s do it.
Sarah: Honestly, how do you get anything done because I would just sit and look at him all day.
Charlotte: Okay, so where were we? January.
Sarah: January. January, doing exercises, getting back to it.
Charlotte: Yeah. So, yeah. So, then I started going to some classes.
Charlotte: I’m trying to think of where I am.
Sarah: Which classes did you start off with?
Charlotte: So, I started with Pilates, which was really frickin’ hard. So, I’ve been teaching Pilates now for nearly 10 years and Pilates has been the hardest thing to get back to because it is just so focused on the area that is obviously the weakest after having a baby ’cause it’s all about engaging your deep core muscles. So boring isn’t it? So yeah, at first and that was really hard and again that was a big shock to the system because I was thinking Pilates would be a nice way to get back into everything but actually, that was harder than some of the pole stuff, not all of the pole stuff but some of the pole stuff. Yeah, so I certainly ran some classes and it was really just to ease me in and so that’s how I got back in to work basically. So, I started going to Pilates and then to a pole class on a Thursday morning and etc and then I’ve eventually taken over these classes ’cause they were originally mine.
Sarah: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Charlotte: So, I’ve now gone back to teaching those classes so yeah that was like the way that I kind of eased back into it. I did my first pole training session at about six weeks and that was … I posted a big post about that but that was really hard and really interesting. The stuff that … Muscle memory that I’ve been able to do during my pregnancy, so things like crazy, like iron x and lifting to a handstand and those kinds of things they came back. I was still doing those but knee lifts, because you don’t do it while you’re pregnant because your belly is in the way, to actually then perform that post-natally when there is no longer a belly but there’s also no engagement there.
Charlotte: It was really, really, hard. Like I said, I did post because it was just a reality of it was that things that I could do.
Sarah: I guess the order of stuff is a little odd, like you think, “Oh, you should get her to do the easiest stuff first and build it up to the hard stuff.” But if your shoulders are still really strong but your core is weak then you’re going to be able to do quite a lot of arm only handspring type stuff. But then the actual knee lifts and the more beginner stuff is actually gonna be pretty difficult.
Charlotte: Definitely. And climbing without … It’s funny but without making too much of a joke of it, climbing like lifting your knees up is like core but then also squeezing your legs together …
Sarah: All right, so when you were posting pictures on your Instagram, ‘Cause you did Iron-X pretty much throughout your pregnancy.
Sarah: Did you get any backlash from people? ‘Cause some people get funny about people poling when they’re pregnant and things like that. Did you get any comments or was it all fairly positive, where people are like, yes fair play, you’re still going.
Charlotte: Maybe behind my back but no, nothing on the social media. Nobody was negative. I think everybody … I really tried to make it clear the whole way through that I was only doing things I felt comfortable to do and also doing … Like I said a minute ago, but it is muscle memory rather than … It’s a technique obviously but now it’s more muscle memory, of being able to do that trick, I think. ‘Cause like I said, I could do that as soon as I walked back in the studio like I could lift a handstand as soon as I walked back in the studio. Those aren’t things that someone else post-natally, obviously is gonna be able to do. The only negative thing I had actually, was when the paper, I got a call from the paper. I don’t remember, there was a story that they posted. It was all online, it wasn’t in the paper but one guy, random man, I can’t remember what his name was, he commented some link but I can’t remember.
Sarah: Did he mansplain you about how you should be looking after yourself more?
Charlotte: Probably. I think it was more his kind of … I mean, whatever he wrote was more like not everyone would be able to do that pregnant. It was almost like he was saying, “So, if you’re pregnant you can do that,” which wasn’t the case, obviously.
Sarah: Everyone’s obviously different and everyone … I think what a lot of people … ‘Cause a lot of people have posted along your journey and they’ve been very inspired, you’ve given a lot of us hope to be like … We use our bodies so much so it can be a scary thing to go through pregnancy and that was the big break away but also I think it’s been really positive for people to see that you can’t just jump back into things, you can obviously do some things that are incredibly difficult to some people post-natally but I think you’ve listened to your body so well and actually given a very realistic timeframe for people to follow, or not to follow themselves but it’s a realistic timeframe to see someone else go through it and actually see you don’t have to rush, you can listen to your body, do the exercises properly. It’s good to kind of taper yourself back into training and your body will remember stuff. You just got to give it time to catch up with your brain about what it wants to do.
Charlotte: Yeah definitely, and I think also without playing a mini violin, you are also … When you’re feeding … So, I was feeding him up until really recently, when you’re feeding, your body still isn’t recovering fully because you’ve got all those hormones going through your body to be able to that for your baby. Also, just the sleep deprivation, it plays a massive part. If you ask anybody to go in and train after having four hours sleep, they’re going to be pretty crap as well.
Sarah: It’s not the easiest thing to do on a day to day basis ’cause it’s multiple days in a row, isn’t it? It’s not just like, oh, I had the odd day where I didn’t sleep that well, it’s like a week, a month, six months of sleep deprivation that people have to deal with.
Charlotte: Exactly and I think also when you’re pregnant, I didn’t sleep for the last few months of my pregnancy because you’re just so massive. Moving around in bed is such an issue. I was hungry all the time and I will say a combination of all those things. It’s been like you say, it’s been months and months of not sleeping, not just a couple of nights. And I think what I find really funny is I’ve obviously followed holistic lifestyle coaching for a long, long time now and that’s all to do with getting your eight hours, going to bed at 10, waking at 6, 7, only eating your carbs before the evening and all that kind of stuff and it literally just goes out the window.
Sarah: Yeah. Like throws it on its head.
Charlotte: Whatever gets you through. And I think that’s fine for a while. I think it’s good to do that actually and to just, like you say, listen to what your body wants and I think it’s one time and I think I felt it with being pregnant, it’s the one time where I could just do whatever I wanted, like train for what I wanted to train for, not because I felt like I had to train to keep my workshop content or I felt like I’m going to train to enjoy training. And if I don’t wanna train then I won’t train today.
Charlotte: Well, I’m sure you feel the same, as much as we love what we do there are points where you just think, “Oh, I could do without that today or I could do with having a little bit of a rest or whatever.” So, I think it’s been a good opportunity to kind of step back and see the bigger picture.
Sarah: Evaluate why you wanna do it and what you enjoy doing.
Charlotte: Yeah, and even now, going back to it, feeling like when I go in I just do the things I wanna do. I haven’t got any expectation of myself and that’s really cool. I go in and I [inaudible 00:22:24] and limber and I’m like, “Whoo-hoo! winning.” Whereas before, you want to get that new trick or you wanna …
Sarah: Yeah, the pressure of always trying to post new stuff and keep up with everybody.
Sarah: I think everyone needs to take a step back sometimes regardless if you’re gonna get preggers or not. I think we all need to remember that sometimes.
Charlotte: And I think it does really help you see the bigger picture, remind yourself why you’re doing it and remember how much you love it. Yeah, so, I think that’s really, really nice and I’m loving training and just … ‘Cause everything feels like a win. It’s like when you first pole and you do a five-minute spin and it does a massive win and you feel amazing when you leave and now I feel like that too and that feels really nice not to have any expectation of myself.
Sarah: That’s cool.
Charlotte: But I also really wanted to add, sorry I know I’m rambling but …
Sarah: No, no, you carry on.
Charlotte: But I think it’s really important to say and obviously all the mums out there are going to totally know this but it changes daily. So, if we did this podcast tomorrow I’d probably say completely different things because things change so quickly. By tomorrow he might have slept through the night and I’d be feeling like a new woman or … It just changes so quickly, they change so quickly. You okay? They change so quickly but just the way you feel about things and the way that you feel about your body. ‘Scuse you. You all right?
Sarah: He’s smiling now.
Charlotte: Are you burpin’? One day you could feel amazing about it because it’s amazing that you’ve grown a baby and you’ve managed to get this far and then the next day you could feel rubbish about it because it’s not how it used to be or whatever. So, yeah. It’s ever-changing.
Sarah: Ever changing. We’re just on the last couple of things then I’ll let you go ’cause I know you’ve got babies to look after and stuff. I did post in the group and asked if anyone had any questions for you … Really trying not to be distracted. Emma Temple said your one of her biggest inspirations, she’s 22 weeks pregnant and says it’s thanks to you that she’s actually carried on training through this pregnancy and she’d like to know if you any tips of maintaining core strength or is that something that, as you said, you’re just gonna have to wait and see what happens and then just get back to the exercises quickly when you finally get back.
Charlotte: Yeah, so I think that abdominal core engagement stuff I did quite soon after I did also throughout my pregnancy as well so I posted a video. I think I posted a video before and it was me really heavily pregnant and I was able to draw my tummy in. Although I might not have posted it. I should post it one day and it’s almost like there’s no bump there. So, you’re actually being able to draw in your core muscles so I did it all the way through my pregnancy and it’s also really safe because it’s just diaphragmatic breathing. It’s not crazy core or anything. So it’s just focusing on breathing and engaging. Zipping up through your pelvic floor and then wrapping around with your ribcage and thinking about lifting your ribcage together.
Charlotte: So I would highly recommend doing that, and although it seems very simple and really like you’re not doing anything, I think that went a long way for them being able to do that afterwards and quite soon afterwards because you speak to a lot of people and you aren’t necessarily as fit as some of us who pole but they can’t feel their pelvic after at all, whereas I didn’t have that issue. Nothing worked quite as well as it probably should, it still was there and I could still feel and I could still apply that exercise. So I do think that went a really long way. Pilates as well, I’m a big, big fan of Pilates and I think, in fact, you’re core endurance programme … Lot’s of good stuff in there. It’s very similar to the Pilates training and stuff like that.
Sarah: Yeah, it’s very Pilates based.
Charlotte: Yeah. And it just goes … You know, such a long way to just prevent [inaudible 00:26:46] as well as rehabilitative exercises so I think Pilates I would say alongside poling for someone who feels comfortable to do so. So, yeah, that’s what I’d say.
Sarah: Nice. And we’ll let you go because I know he probably wants your attention now and you’ve already given me plenty of your time. That was really, really informative. I think a lot of people just wanted to know kinda of … They wanna know if it’s gonna be okay if they come back from having a baby and it’s just so nice to hear your side of the story and to see how you’ve gone through it and how you’ve produced this little creature whose just gorgeous.
Charlotte: His crazy hair.
Sarah: I know. I love it. It’s so cute but yeah, I’ll let you get on!
Charlotte: Thank you. Yeah, one thing I just wanted to add ’cause I did admit there are certain things that I really wanted to get across as well but with flexibility, the regression of flexibility I think is something that you expect because you’re not training as much ’cause you need to protect your body but that definitely now, even now, is so hard and I’m so far away from where I was even when I was pregnant. That’s something that’s definitely not come back easily whereas the strengthening I think every week you get stronger with or without exercise. You start to really … Your body starts to build itself back up again. But the flexibility, it’s just a reminder of how hard you’ve worked to stay flexible. It’s not something that sticks around unfortunately and I think I probably will do a post on it soon because it’s quite a dramatic change. So, that’s something that I really, really loved training. But, yeah, so.
Sarah: Well, got to have you back on for a part two, ’cause I know you’re just getting really back into teaching and training properly now so can’t wait to kind of check in again in a … Well, whenever you feel ready. And then we’ll see how you get on then so we can document your journey. I’m gonna link everything with this. This will be on youtube but also the podcasts will be on my website and I’ll link to the blog transcript some of the videos you’ve mentioned, a link to your website. They can check you out. Live, Love, Bend, has got a spanking new website and also your Facebook group, which is all online flexibility, which is really, really informative. I’m one of the members on there and the weekly classes are awesome. And yeah, and so, you’ve done some blogs yourself from your journey back to pole as well so I’ll put those in the transcript as well for people to go and read. So, thank you very much gorgeous. Bye baby Arlo.
Charlotte: Say, “Bye!”
That’s it! I think it’s such an important message to listen to your body as much as she has and I love how honest and realistic she’s been about getting back to pole dancing.
Hope you guys are enjoying these podcasts. You can hit subscribe in Itunes to keep up to date with the latest episodes and please feel free to always drop me a message and let me know what you think.
TRAIN SMART – DANCE MORE