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Oona Kivelä | Pressure, Pancakes & Being a Pro Poler | Episode #016


Super excited to bring you this informative interview with the one and only Oona Kivelä. We went through the highs and lows of being a professional pole dancer, her process for competing and what’s in her famous pancakes. Enjoy!

Sarah:                      We’re back! You’re back on my podcast again, Oona, this is take two. For everybody listening, we recorded probably the greatest podcast episode that ever was-

Oona:                       No, it didn’t.

Sarah:                      … but the audio didn’t work, so we had to do it again. That was a few weeks ago, so we’ve given this a little bit of time so we don’t probably remember exactly what we were talking about, but you’re back, much appreciated that you’re doing this again and looking so glamorous as well, we’ve got a half naked Oona this time, which is fabulous.

Oona:                       I was like planning all day what I would wear for this podcast.

Sarah:                      Well, again, if people are listening, then they’ll have to go and look at the YouTube video because it’s fabulous. And we’ve already talked about, you’ve got … you’re sat in front of a big chalkboard wall. You’re doing Skype lessons, now? Online Skype lessons?

Oona:                       Yeah, actually I thought this was one of them, and then I was like, “Oh, nevermind. It’s not.”

Sarah:                      You can totally teach me stuff, that’s-

Oona:                       Skype is new to me-

Sarah:                      … you can teach me all of your things.

Oona:                       … so, I just literally like started working or using Skype because of the Skype lessons, and then i was like, “What button? Where? What?”

Sarah:                      You’re a pro now. So, if people wanna have Skype lessons for you, let’s do some promo. How does one get a Skype lesson with the famous Oona Kivelä?

Oona:                       It was literally like from day one, people had been asking for it, and since I am now a full-time pole dancer, so obviously, now I have the time. But like, way back, when I was a kids’ gym owner for 10 years, it wasn’t exactly on top of my mind when you come home after like a 15 hour work day and you’re like-

Sarah:                      Yeah.

Oona:                       But now, thankfully, I do have the time. So basically, it’s just like people can … we have first like a planning … we go through people’s wishes and goals, and a little bit like what they would want to achieve or very specifically what they want out of the classes, and after we’ve sort of gone through the plan, then we then start going with the actual classes depending on how-

Sarah:                      When was the switch? When did you stop your kids’ gymnastics and start just being full-time pole? How recently?

Oona:                       I think it was one year ago, I made the decision, it was exactly one year ago last summer last I sold my part of the business to my business partner, but I still kept on working for like six months, and then pretty much the first seven months, eight months that I’ve only been doing pole related stuff.

Sarah:                      Nice. And how are you finding it? How’s the transition been? Have you been feeling like you’ve had more training time? Or are you actually finding that you’re ending up doing more of other stuff and not putting in as much training ’cause you’re less pressured to do so? How have you found the transition?

Oona:                       Well, if the people who has been maybe gone through similar, they understand, it’s probably like people are having kids and I’m doing this, and I’m like, this is the biggest thing in my life ever, you know? So, it almost feels like you gave a huge … I think it was like the times when I started thinking about it, I thought I could never do it. It’s like you’re already so burned out and tired that you know, it’s such a burden to even think of a change that big, and that’s actually what’s really dragging you into the biggest sort of burnout is because it is like on an ideal level, it’s such a huge thing that you’re just tired that you can’t even think about it. You’re just like, I could never, or you just keep on going, and always after like a vacation you’re like, no, no, no, no, now I have the energy. I’m gonna make up for all the mistakes I’ve done. I’m gonna do it so much better this time, and after the three months you’re again, in the same spot, like, no, something has to change.

Oona:                       So basically, for me, this is as big as like, some people are having kids.

Sarah:                      Everyone’s on their own journey. Everyone’s got different priorities.

Oona:                       But to me, it feels like a life change sort of like that big. But in the sort of like, you would have a kid all the time, and then you don’t have it anymore, but in a positive way.

Sarah:                      I speak like that about my dog, it’s fine. It’s like … I’m like, my dog was sick and now he’s not, it just affected my life so much, you know, and people are actually talking about their children in the same way.

Oona:                       Biggest burden has stepped off from my mind and like-

Sarah:                      And did you do it so that you could compete more or just because you could spend more time teaching workshops or travelling? What was the motivation for the big change?

Oona:                       The thing is funny because I was still doing it, so I was literally like running my company full time, and I kept on doing the Instagram stuff for Oona K., I was still teaching a lot, I was competing a lot. So it’s weird that I’m still doing it the same way, of course now, more, but still it doesn’t feel like ’cause now I feel it … I’m working basically maybe like 20%, 30% what I did before, so in a way it feels weird that I’m now … I have more time for Oona K. but still I’m just working so much less, so it’s a weird controversy between that, but it was-

Sarah:                      Well, you seem very happy, you seem very happy about the change so that’s a good thing.

Oona:                       Yeah. It was very frightening, it was very … for the longest time, I was sure I could never do it. I would never have the courage to sort of just say no. It’s weird how people would think I’m this person who would be really straightforward, but then there was one thing for me that was the hardest thing, and it was really just saying, “No, I don’t want to,” or, “No, I can’t anymore.” But that became like the biggest sort of subject and the biggest problem of my life, and now it’s done.

Sarah:                      Now it’s done, and now you’re free to do what you like, which is awesome.

Oona:                       Yeah.

Sarah:                      To do Skype lessons in front of your big chalkboard, which is fabulous.

Oona:                       Or talk to you! Maybe you know, for the whole day, I’ve got time.

Sarah:                      I was like, “When are you free?” You’re like, “Anytime, I’m free now. Let’s just do it now, it’s fine.”

Oona:                       No, but the coolest little thing has been like, now during this summer, because I’ve really like … I haven’t had exactly long period of vacation, but still because I have so much free time, it’s like vacation every day, compared to the life before, so it’s like every time we just sort of walk with my friends or like, whatever, walk on the streets of Helsinki, I’m like, “Ah, I’m walking on the streets. Here I go, it’s the middle of the day,” like I haven’t seen sunlight for like 10 years. It feels [inaudible 00:08:19].

Sarah:                      Well, that’s awesome and I’m glad you made the change. It’s difficult to make such big changes, but if it’s positive, then that’s fabulous. I did post in the group many, many months ago when we originally did the podcast, a lot of people wrote in with questions, and I know you might’ve heard some of these questions before, but hopefully, you might have forgotten some of them because we did leave it a little bit.

Sarah:                      Tiffany, we started with this one before, last time. Tiffany asked, “When people pronounce your name wrong, what do you want us to do? A, punch them. B, bitch slap them. Or C, have a polite word?” So, can you remember what we said last time?

Oona:                       Yeah, it was basically like … that was like 10 years ago, it was number one, and then like five years ago, it was number two, and then now, 10 years after, now that I’m like a non-burned out, non-stressed out, more mature now, it’s just a polite word. And now it’s not even like, get back in here, I’m just like, “Hey, it’s Oona,” you know? No big deal, it’s Oona.

Sarah:                      Especially the English community I think is probably one of the worst for this, they pronounce it Oona because of the double O, so you get called Oona quite a lot and it’s Oona, and there’s a little song that you can sing, which will help. You wanna sing it?

Oona:                       “Ooh na na, what’s ma name, Ooh na na what’s ma name….” (singing?)

Sarah:                      See? Fixed it.

Oona:                       It’s really good, I mean, maybe Rihanna would like to come and sing it for me at some point-

Sarah:                      She should, she really should. I mean, she owes you that much.

Oona:                       I think so, ’cause I mean, obviously, she’s singing my name, so duh.

Sarah:                      Exactly, exactly.

Oona:                       Some credit.

Sarah:                      So now we all know. We know, Oona, how to pronounce your name properly.

Oona:                       I don’t even care. It happens so much, so it’s already like my second name.

Sarah:                      Yeah, it’s like a nickname.

Oona:                       Yeah, exactly.

Sarah:                      Yeah, which you probably prefer not to hear, but that’s fine. Anyway, everyone now is probably just gonna sing to you when they say, like, “Oona, nah, how do I do this trick?” Etc.

Sarah:                      So yeah, so that was Tiffany’s, very helpful. Thank you, Tiff. And Jenna Hammond, we spoke about a little bit last time, about Pole Theatre UK, ’cause you just recently won the drama category-

Oona:                       Yeah.

Sarah:                      … and now, recently, you’ve just done the world pole sport competition as well, and they’re like complete polar opposite kind of competitions, so, Jenna’s question was, “Your piece is always so interesting, it would be great to know the process of how you put them together.” And I suppose it’d be quite nice to hear like, is there a big difference between putting a drama or art piece versus a pole sport piece, is there a difference in mindset obviously, is the training different? How would you compare?

Oona:                       Yeah, so definitely, yes. I think it’s sort of like … what could I explain? Like, just in a quick sort of sentences, I would feel like the art process it can be forced, and a sports comp process can be very forced, and not in a bad way, but I can force myself to go train a sports piece, I’m gonna write down, I’m gonna be like, “Okay, Oona, you’re gonna do this combination five times, then you’re gonna do this, and this, and this, and this.” But then, when you need to go and create, and you can just create something you really … all you basically … what I need for a creative process, is air. So I have a very creative mind, all I need to take care is my mind. So, I basically cannot … I can force a little bit. Let’s put it this way, I can force transitions, I can force myself to work on, let’s say, Oona, now you need to work on that beginning, or now you need to work on that ending position and I can try different things and all that, but then when we need to work x factor, I can’t force it. I need to take time and take time and take time and again, do a little bit of training here and there, but that’s really the difference.

Oona:                       Also, what I need … I need to be inspired. So, a perfect example of me being inspired is, I was in … it was PoleArt Cyprus I think 2014, and I saw Olga Trifonova’s piece there live, and I got so hyped about it. I went home, I was working on my IPC … no, maybe it was 2015, sorry. It was 2015 PoleArt Cyprus. So, I went home, I had, because it was like PoleArt Cyprus came pretty close to IPC in Singapore, Hong Kong, whatever, somewhere there, and I came home, and I was so full of energy, I was so full of inspiration, that I changed everything in my choreo and combinations just came to me.

Oona:                       And I think the biggest difference if people are seeing let’s say, creative minds, if they get inspired, they don’t copy what they saw, they just get highly inspired, and they do what they can best. So sometimes, you can get really inspired and just like, “Oh, I’m gonna take that, that, that move,” and just like, you know? But it was a perfect example of getting life from a piece and going home to work on your own piece and just kill it at the training. Like completely killing it at the training, and I went to IPC and I won. But that moment I remember really clearly, I just had maybe like … could it be couple weeks just to go, or maybe a month? Something like that to go to IPC, I changed everything. I was just like, “Now I get it.” And it’s not a combination that you will get, it’s a mood.

Sarah:                      Yeah.

Oona:                       And that’s, well, that could already go onto a next subject, but when people are like … well, maybe it does go a little bit with this one too, like, how do you come up with like original, and how do you keep on winning, but when I hit that mood, then we’re good.

Sarah:                      And I suppose that kind of ties back into your mindset, like if you’re looking after your mind, if you’re giving yourself enough time to be creative, then you’re more likely gonna get into that mood to then allow yourself to create.

Oona:                       Exactly, yeah. And it’s really hard to talk about the mood, but it’s a mood when anything is possible-

Sarah:                      Like a flow?

Oona:                       Literally, everything is possible, and I’m like, more than a superhuman. It’s like it’s not me going, “Hey, let me come and try my best here.” No, no, no, no. It’s like, you completely just exploding, basically. But it’s a very … actually, it’s a very … it doesn’t look out as very energetic sort of mood, it’s very calm for me-

Sarah:                      Internal.

Oona:                       … because I’m never calm, but when I can do my art, that’s when I’m calm. And that’s when in confident and I don’t all the time have to talk and try to make people understand what I’m trying to say, I could just shut the fuck up and do what I can do best.

Sarah:                      Yeah, it’s that flow state, isn’t it? Which is really hard, like it takes a lot of practice just get into that flow state, but if something can switch you into that flow state then you’re like, “Why isn’t it always this easy? Why am I suddenly being so like, everything’s just coming into line?”

Sarah:                      Do you give yourself a specific amount of time to do a routine, or is it really dependent on what you’ve got going on? I know some people need at least three months to create a piece-

Oona:                       Three months is like a minimum, I can make a performance in three months. It’s not gonna be necessarily best unless I’m highly inspired. I can literally … sometimes I can do almost like a masterpiece just free styling if I know the song really well and I get into the mood, then we’re good. Then we’re really good. But that happens like once in a lifetime, it’s not like, “Hey, let me start doing this every weekend.”

Sarah:                      Yes, just chuck out a masterpiece.

Oona:                       Yeah, exactly.

Sarah:                      On the weekend.

Oona:                       But, yeah, I like a year-

Sarah:                      A year?

Oona:                       Half a year at least-

Sarah:                      I feel like this is probably where I’ve been going wrong, the only reason. I haven’t given myself enough time. I’m like, “Oh, I’ve got a few weeks. Should be all right.”

Oona:                       But it’s different, it is really different. For me, it’s like a hobby. For me, it’s like “Hm, okay, what should we do?” And then I’m like doing a little bit of a soul searching, and then I’m listening to some songs, and then I’m seeing some friends, and maybe having a really weird conversation. It actually, for me, I believe that everything goes in a way exactly like it’s planned, you just need to follow the line. If I just keep myself sort of on that track, we’ll go good, but basically, I love a long time to really have time and for the mind process. Not even so much the physical process, I get lazier and lazier now all the time, but I postpone all the time how much I need to … when I really need to work super hard on it, like on a full routine, I all the time, just like push them and push them.

Oona:                       But something for that particular question, some very specific difference would be my art pieces, sometimes I never run them fully because I want to keep the freshness and a little bit of room for freestyle. For example, IPC, the latest IPC 2015, there’s like this moment when I always do that, it actually became … I missed the pole, so it came off the pole, and I just … I was like, “Oh, maybe that works,” so I kept on doing it in the routine every time I do it, I was like, and lots of people were like, “Oh, I love that little element of the hands.” I was like, “Me too.”

Sarah:                      If only you knew, yeah.

Oona:                       I love these kinda things. These kind of small little elements has to happen on stage. It takes a little bit more from the performer, but it can be done, and I like it that way. Sports competitions, in a perfect world, I would love to run them a lot, but-

Sarah:                      They have to be a lot more precise though in the angles and things like that.

Oona:                       That’s the preciseness, it’s all, all about the angles, about how many seconds, all of that, and I honestly think that’s so much harder than any art. For me, it’s easy sort of to be in the mood and being artistic, but keeping everything like two seconds perfectly angled-

Sarah:                      Yeah, it’s complete other, like it’s a separate thing than pole dance, I really think that it’s just another … they’re just two completely different things. I don’t do pole sport, I can’t do pole sport. If you saw me on stage, you’d be like, she’s not doing pole sport.

Oona:                       My Skype training is maybe starting for you right tomorrow.

Sarah:                      FONGI!… no, no, not doing it.

Sarah:                      C Avery wants to know about your diet and how you manage to train so many things and be good at all of them. So, are you just one of those annoying people that’s good at everything?

Oona:                       I was that annoying kid that whatever they did, they would pretty much get it like very, very quickly. Also, I think it’s something to do with the mind. Well, let’s go back to my childhood, you can pretty much trace it down.

Oona:                       I had a dad who was constantly coming up with the weirdest little imaginary sports for us, it was like, me and my four cousins. We were pretty much all the same age when we were small and literally, ’cause we were super active … I come from a highly athletic family, both from mom and dad’s side. My dad would constantly come up with these weird games and we would be so hyped about it and it would be tennis, it would be anything from small little cars, to swimming, to fishing, to anything.

Oona:                       We got a really fun base in a way for all kinds of like … also the mind for competitions. We loved competitions, we didn’t think it was pressuring, we always thought it was fun.

Sarah:                      Yeah, and lots of hand-eye coordination, and just being really active, and lots of different activities and not getting just stuck on one thing. Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah, and that’s carried over, obviously, clearly into your … ’cause you do a lot of gymnastics training as well, and I’ve also seen recently, you’ve got into Wim Hof’s breathing techniques and the ice bath stuff, how have you found that? Has that affected your training? I know obviously it really affects breathing and the mind, and it’s fascinating if anyone wants to look him up after this podcast, I can try and link to it. It’s amazing stuff.

Oona:                       Yeah, that was definitely … because a lot of people also ask me about how can I control the nerves, and literally, not just nerves, but you know when you’re in a situation, let’s say that you would get so angry that it’s almost unbearable, or you would get so hurt that it’s almost unbearable, so these sort of moments … lots of people get that confused, that you shouldn’t be feeling them. No, that’s wrong. That’s completely normal to be feeling them, but then we come to the next step which is can we control them? And if we can control them, it doesn’t mean that it’s just one moment, it’s just that one moment when your boyfriend dumps you and you’re like, “okay, so,” but it goes to everything. It just applies to the fact that you can control yourself, which does a lot of good for me obviously, ’cause I’m sometimes a little bit uncontrollable.

Oona:                       So, let’s say, now I’ve been more scared actually going on stage than I have before. Before it was like, I was so hungry to get on stage and nowadays, it’s a little bit like, maybe it’s also-

Sarah:                      Like pressure? Like people almost expect a certain thing from you now, so you’ve almost got to like live up to that expectation and be on to improving yourself-

Oona:                       Yeah, yeah. That’s one thing, but then I sort of … it’s a little bit like when people say I have these people are expecting me, but actually, it is only you. I don’t think-

Sarah:                      It’s you putting that on to other people.

Oona:                       You don’t feel what other peoples are expecting, I think it’s only you expecting from you. I think the only one that actually hits you, even though you might say that it is the fact that what other people, but if they are expecting and you’re not expecting anything, perfect, you know? You’re not feeling it then. So, anyways, whatever I was saying. Just staying in control.

Oona:                       Wim Hof, definitely, well not him specifically, but the method, ’cause I went to his seminar, or took his two day course, so going to the ice water, ’cause even though I’m from Finland, I haven’t done ice bathing a lot, literally like two times maybe five seconds, and going into the ice water, and understanding that the ice water won’t kill you, right? But you get this reaction that, “Hey, get out! Get out! This is not good, this is not good.”

Oona:                       Okay, but it’s just a reaction. But what if you could control that reaction? And I felt like if I can control that reaction, I could, in a perfect world, control a whole lot of other things that are causing me a lot of pain in a way, like pain in my head, or pressure, or whatever it is. If I can go to that ice water and stay there, I can do anything. And I went into that ice water for like two and a half minutes, and I was like, “Okay, from now on guys, I can do anything.”

Sarah:                      Yes, I have conquered the ice water. I can go on stage and do a pole performance, it’s all good.

Oona:                       Yeah, exactly. No, exactly. Like, dude, the ice water. That was, in a way, the hardest thing ever and being completely inside of you, just breathing, that was amazing.

Sarah:                      Yeah. No, it does look incredible. And there’s the first part of that question that we-

Oona:                       Yeah.

Sarah:                      … back to her diet, yeah. This is very broad, people always wonder of me, like, “What’s your diet?” And that can be a hugely broad and ever-changing subject. But if you have anything that you’d like to share with the listeners?

Oona:                       In a way, my diet is super simple. I always have the same breakfast pretty much. I don’t know-

Sarah:                      Pancakes?

Oona:                       I don’t know where it actually started, of people thinking that you should eat very diverse during the mornings. I’m not sure, I think I heard somewhere that actually it isn’t, like actually it’s really good if your stomach knows exactly what’s happening in the morning, so that’s banana pancakes.

Sarah:                      Banana pancakes, yeah.

Oona:                       It’s just eggs, bananas, and a whole lot of butter. I feel like it’s really good to bring in the fat in the morning, like full hardcore on protein. That works like a charm for me. For my lunch, I eat probably a salad with like chicken and a good full salad. I stop when I’m full. That’s good for me. Sometimes, when I have been eating a bit too much, I start to again, look at my portions, so that I wouldn’t just like eat, eat, eat because if I eat really fast, I will probably overeat myself because I didn’t even-

Sarah:                      Register that you’re full, yeah.

Oona:                       Yeah. And then, in the evening, I will probably eat like sweet potato, rice, meat, veggies, that’s it. That’s all I eat. Every day. Same thing.

Sarah:                      Yep. I’m quite similar in the fact I like eating quite similar stuff. I don’t need a lot of different food, I find stuff that works and just stick to it, and then you know what’s coming, you can prep for it, you can plan for it. I know how my body reacts to it. That’s the best way sometimes.

Sarah:                      Meghan wants to know if you think there’s a dark side to the professional pole world and what are some of the struggles that no one necessarily talks about that you might’ve experienced, and how … this is quite a long question. And how your attitude towards pole has changed over the years.

Sarah:                      So, I can say that again if you need it, ’cause it’s quite long.

Oona:                       No, I remember.

Sarah:                      All right.

Oona:                       In a way, I gotta say, so, I’ve been just following a little bit of some other sports, let’s say … not like fully, bit just like getting a little glimpse here and there, let’s say like the dance world or fitness. So I have to say, I think pole is doing pretty damn good.

Sarah:                      Yeah, I would agree. Everyone’s like, oh, there’s definitely gonna be some bitchiness and we’re gonna have some like pole drama, but considering how many big personalities are in the pole industry, I think we’re doing pretty good.

Oona:                       I think we’re doing surprisingly good, probably ’cause I’ve matured-

Sarah:                      Or we just miss all the drama and no one thinks to bring us in on anything and we’re just out of the loop. We’re just not in with the cool kids, so we don’t know any of the gossip.

Oona:                       Okay. Maybe, dude, I almost have to like start to come up with shit but I wouldn’t … also, I have to say, I don’t know so much about the dark sides, maybe … they seem so ridiculous. It would be somebody copying here or there a little bit. I don’t see a big damage done. Maybe the only thing is that … but I wouldn’t call it a dark side, I literally have to think about what would be the downsides at the moment in the industry, because I’m not feeling it that-

Sarah:                      It was probably the wrong question for you right now, ’cause you’re in your bubble of change and happiness where you’ve just got all this freedom and you’re working so much less. You’re like, “It’s fine. Everything’s cool. Just eating my pancakes. I can Skype all day. I’m happy.”

Oona:                       Yeah, yeah.

Sarah:                      No, that’s good. There doesn’t have to be a dark side, and I think a lot of people, they might want there to be drama, and there doesn’t always need to be. I think sometimes it’s like, there’s a lot of pressure on … people might feel more pressure, or people might feel like there’s a lot on their body is they’re having to compete a lot, or working too hard, like there’s a lot of overtraining potential, and some people do take it too far, but if you’ve matured into the industry like you have, and you’ve got to a point where you know your body and you know what you want from it, then you’re not gonna feel those dark side things-

Oona:                       No, it’s actually true. It’s because you are actually feeling it too when you actually want to feel something. It’s a bit like people getting hurt because maybe they want to get hurt in a way and now I’m saying like, emotionally, more than actually getting physically hurt.

Sarah:                      Like going and starting fights on the street. We’re not saying that.

Oona:                       Yeah, but I gotta say, maybe the only thing, like what I actually was saying the last time too, is like, I feel like we have this sometimes even a bit over, but I don’t think you could ever be over [inaudible 00:33:06] in a way. That’s always a good thing. But what I’m saying, like, if we want to find solutions and if we want to sort of, I don’t know, go forward with some stuff, I think because the people who are running certain organisations or pole schools or whatever, they’re also big personalities in a way. They’re very sort of-

Sarah:                      Passionate.

Oona:                       … very seriously what they do and so on. So it’s like, there’s kind of like constructive criticism. I think, let’s say just an example, this girl wrote to me on Instagram, and she was like, “Oona, I gotta ask you, why on earth are your Skype lessons so damn expensive?” And I was like, “Oh, okay. Here we go” and we had this really nice chat because I could genuinely see that she really wanted to have them, but she was so bummed because she’s not from here, so it’s like a completely different-

Sarah:                      Currency?

Oona:                       … so, it’s like she really just wanted to understand where does that payment come together, and I explained to her that this what I do nowadays, and I have to pay this bill, and this bill, and this bill, and my employees, stuff like that. But I found it really nice that somebody came so straightforward, and it was also like I wanted to talk to her. It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, here I am with this service, and take it or leave it.” She actually, in a way, like if you would have read the message maybe you wouldn’t be like, “Hey, hold up.” But no, you know, I think it’s great that people are telling, like giving feedback. I feel like lots of these … we have a lot of organisations that I think, I hope they are taking in feedback. I mean, at least they’re sending, after like, for example, IPSF, they send in the feedback sheets so that everybody could file in all the … whatever they were thinking about it. But I feel like it’s always those people that would have the best feedback, they’re already so angry about a certain thing, that it’s definitely not … nobody’s listening to you if you’re like-

Sarah:                      Shouting.

Oona:                       Yeah, or if you really want to give in the feedback, like if you really want to, then there is definitely ways to give it, and I hope people would always ask for feedback. Nowadays, I want to ask feedback from everything. Feedback is the best thing. It is literally the gold that I can get in a way for free from the customers or workshop clients or whatever. That people would sort of … they would be welcome to give feedback-

Sarah:                      They’re offering you like, free advice on how to improve yourself, then that’s, in turn, gonna make your service better or your performances better if you’re getting feedback from judges. I know a lot of people relish feedback from judges and there’s been some talk about competitions and what feedback judges give, and I know obviously, we’re always hoping that it’s gonna be, as you say, constructive criticism can only be, even if it’s negative, can be very, very useful and should be welcomed rather than taken personally, so-

Oona:                       Exactly.

Sarah:                      Yeah, that’s a really good point. Do you feel like social media in general, people tend to get quite elevated over certain points because they’re more hidden behind a keyboard, or do you feel like it’s just given us more opportunity to share feedback within each other. There’s been some talk about some people setting up … or not certain people, but if you could have almost like a yelp thing for studios and workshops where people could share their reviews and experiences, so people could see, and then there’s like a bit of a backlash on that ’cause people are like, “But then you’re only gonna get people who are already angry about something or emotional about a negative that would write the review,” but then as you say, as long as it’s constructive and it could be formulated in a constructive way, then it would be good.

Sarah:                      It would be nice to be … I love getting feedback, as I say, same as you. It can only be used to help you get better. Obviously, no one likes hearing like, “That was shit,” but hopefully you’re not giving a shit service, so, if you were then-

Oona:                       Yeah, exactly. Yeah, and maybe like another … only the one other thing is like, ’cause we’re talking about the sport itself, ’cause I come from competition level of gymnastics, like artistic gymnastics, so we’re talking about like pole is still very acrobatic and it basically, when we’re going to let’s say, if it’s anything else, then step arounds and basic spins on the floor, but when we actually start getting on the pole, getting upside down, maybe I’m just a little bit worried, I mean in a good way worried how pole has been taught everywhere in the world, so I, in a way, of course from my side, I’m trying to do my very best to … well, also give like free tutorials or just talk to people about how to practise safely, because more and more advanced we’re going, it’s gonna be evident that there will be more injuries.

Oona:                       This is something that I would really want pole studios, maybe just more discussion about good teaching and bad teaching, but more like, so that they … like studio owners also … ’cause now it’s like you have a studio, all the teachers are just teaching whatever, right? Basically. It’s not like, “Hey, you have now level three here is your material,” and we’re gonna go on this material, and we have this full-on teacher schooling, where we’re gonna do exactly the way we’re supposed. Pretty rarely you see … I don’t even know if there is … how would you call that the classes are already made like a full-on material and teach by the book-

Sarah:                      I’ve definitely been to some studios and they have that, like a syllabus. They’ll teach like very specific stuff, and you have to show that you can do these moves before you move up to the next level, and other studios it’s more free, like mixed levels, it’s like come along, we’ll just teach whatever we’re teaching that week. I think it’s nice in a way that studios have that freedom to teach what they like because you have so many different styles. But then as you say, when you start getting into like contortion, flexibility, and backflips, and things like that, where it’s more specialised, I think more training and more education is only gonna benefit the industry as a whole. There’s definitely some things that I wouldn’t teach because I don’t have the background in that area. Like I wouldn’t be teaching contortion, I’m not a contortionist. I don’t have that background of experience, so I stay away from that. A lot of the stuff I like to teach looks difficult but is very achievable because it’s stuff that I can do by myself.

Sarah:                      Yeah, I think it’s hard for studios though when there’s a lot of pressure from their students coming in with all these crazy Instagram videos like, “Let’s learn this, it looks really easy because Oona did it,” so you’re part of the problem basically.

Oona:                       Yeah, so maybe that’s like literally the … now we’re coming to the dark side.

Sarah:                      Now we’ve found it, we dug in a little bit, and now we’ve found it.

Oona:                       Now I found it, after this like … how long have we been talking, yeah, after 45 minutes, I’ve found the dark side.

Oona:                       So, I have a very specific also worry for … I come from the artistic gymnastics and I’ve seen the dark side of let’s say, a very old school gymnastic coaching, and I really, really do hope that this kind of aesthetic sport coaching is not coming for the youngsters. I know it’s not coming for the adults, but when we start seeing kids doing it, we start also seeing very motivated and energetic coaches, and I would hate to see pole going in the same way, let’s say like contortion wise, or flexibility wise, what we see … what they do in for example, artistic gymnastics, or in rhythmic gymnastics, or any of that, so that’s definitely a huge worry for me and I hope that we’re gonna get role models and also sort of all the new knowledge we have about let’s say, flexibility training on pole like in acrobatics, in anything that will involve our sport that we will not get the same kind of … how would I say … mentality to coach kids as in putting them down both physically and mentally.

Sarah:                      Yeah. No, I think that’s a very good point, and it is something that yeah, you can definitely see the potential for it to creep in because it is getting too popular and it’s spreading so wide, and there’s a lot more kids getting involved nowadays, and their bodies are just so supple, they make everything look so easy, and you’ve got these kids doing crazy, crazy stuff. I just look at them and think like, yeah, it would’ve been great to start that young, but also, are you gonna still have the same love for it if you’ve been drilled into doing pole from such a young age that it doesn’t become something that’s fun. It becomes something that’s just too competitive.

Oona:                       Yeah, and if we just look at the way kids have been put to … I mean, sort of any kind of sport that involves any kind of aesthetic flexibility, moves. I feel like because pole is such a new sport, I think we have all the possibilities to bring in the new knowledge from coaches sort of who have done that kind of training, because a lot of times, of course, these people who have done it, they wanna continue doing that, and they wanna go from that mentality ’cause they’re seeing how well it works and how effective it is, but I would really want to see the difference.

Oona:                       Also, it will be very much the different federation’s rules that will effect this matter because if we see that the kids don’t necessarily have to hit a full split, even though there are a lot of them who can, because they come already from these sports, so they’re already maybe you know, done that old school training, or I’m not saying you can’t do a split and haven’t broken a bone, but I feel like there’s so much new knowledge that could be used and sort of take it into this new modern acrobatic sport.

Sarah:                      Yeah. Yeah, just making sure that it’s not quite as extreme … making sure the rules aren’t quite as extreme for the kids, that they’re not encouraged to have to use those more old school techniques when really they’re outdated and there’s better ways of doing things. Yeah, I would concur. I would agree.

Sarah:                      Right. Well, we should probably … we could probably talk all day, but I do try and keep these podcasts fairly short, so we did 45 minutes, which I think is quite good for us, but I definitely want to have you back on because there’s still more questions we could talk about and there’s more darkness that we could uncover, if only we were given more time. Yeah, it’s just another excuse that I get to call you back, so, whatcha gonna do. But thank you so much for giving me some your day, have you got a lot more Skype lessons today?

Oona:                       No, not today. I’m free today and tomorrow.

Sarah:                      Well, I’ll have to have a Skype lesson with you myself one day. You can teach me your ways of organising my training.

Oona:                       We have to do it. We have to do it for your podcast.

Sarah:                      Yeah, we should do a podcast Skype lesson and everyone can laugh at me trying to learn stuff…

Oona:                       First we do like … so I needed to … like, first you’re gonna talk, like I had this little planning thingy, and I wrote down these things, and I really wanna see what she’s gonna you know, like-

Sarah:                      Okay, all right. You’re on. We will do it. I’ll take requests from the group to see what I should try to learn from you.

Oona:                       Yes! Good, that’s good. ‘Cause I had this question, it’s like, “What would you do if you could spend 60 minutes with me?” And then people would list all the things they would wanna learn. There was not one perverted comment.

Sarah:                      That good, good. That’s very good. Go internet. I like it when the internet proves us wrong and we don’t get the perverted stuff, it’s nice. Nice to be proved wrong. Awesome, well we will do that then. We’ll set it up. I’ll meet you in my pole studio when I’ve got my poles, ’cause I’m still waiting on my poles but Yeah. Awesome, thank you very much, ‘Ooh na na what’s ma name’. Right, catch you laters, lovely.

Oona:                       Bye!

Sarah:                      Bye!

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