Most of us have a hard time being bad.
I’m not referring to breaking rules or being unpleasant, but to outright sucking at something. Unfortunately for our ego, being bad at something and knowing it, is an essential step to learning along the endless road to perfection. This concept applies to life overall, but it is especially pertinent to movement-based activities such as pole dancing or dancing in general.
You probably do not remember learning your mother tongue, but most likely recall hours spent practicing your first second language. Moving, and therefore dancing is our bodies’ way of expressing itself. If motions which occur daily are the mother tongue, then any extra movement patterns are second, third, fourth, fifth and so on languages. Our bodies are learning these new languages, to be able to better communicate in different situations.
Thankfully, the more languages you have already learned, the stronger the necessary neural pathways in the brain and easier it is to pick up new ones. Especially if the languages you know are closely related. Hence, students with a background in other dance or movement styles seem to excel more quickly when learning pole dancing compared to people who have been mostly physically inactive or individuals who have spent time practicing activities with little carry over to pole dancing (like volleyball for example).
Every time we try something new, it feels awkward.
This used to put me off going back to the new thing. Because obviously it was not for me, right? It felt weird, so I concluded I was not good at it.
This thought changed when I attended a workshop with Marlo Fisken who told us that ‘feeling awkward is great. It means that your body is going through a new movement pattern. You are not familiar with it, you don’t know where it’s going and you feel a bit unsafe.’
Guess what? Just like practicing those exotic sounding French words made it easier to pronounce them, doing that awkward thing again and again makes it progressively more natural. (Side note: awkward does not equal pain. If you are in pain do not repeat whatever caused it. See our next Blog Post – Good Pain vs Bad Pain)
So, we recognized we suck at something and it is not the end of the world. In fact allowing ourselves to suck at something new is actually an important part of the learning process.
Practice brings improvement. Importantly, practicing properly will help make us be better permanently, while practicing sloppily will make us sloppy permanently.
Repetition creates habit. Since habits are challenging to break the wiser choice is to create good habits from the start.
Recognizing that a new skill is above your current level can be a bitter pill to swallow.
Even more bitter is having to relearn that skill because you have created a habit of doing it incorrectly (which is often unsafe).
Sometimes we need to regress temporarily and work on strength or technique to support a specific trick or skill in order to progress. Knowing this takes experience. If you do not yet have the knowledge yourself, trust a qualified and experienced instructor to make the right choices for you.
If we get better at being bad at something and save time by practicing at the right level, we have the chance to be bad at more stuff.
So allow yourself to suck at stuff! It’s one of the best ways to improve.
Many a times we look at the top pole dancers, see their flat tummies, their ripped abs, their beautiful hair, spotless skin… and we think: what do I need to do and eat to get there?! We think: They must just have a salad leaf a day and live off air, pole dancing and the highs of their achievements.
However, these achievements, beauty and artistic performance, may demand something much simpler and different than expected: the health of your gut!
Why you may ask? Isn’t it the muscles, nerve fibres and a restrictive diet that will plaster my road to success?
My answer to that would be: “And which organ in your body supplies your muscles and nerve fibres with the right nutrients to deliver the performance required?”. “And which organ supplies your hair and your skin with nutrients to look as delicious as possible?”
Your gut! Exactly!
If your digestive tract is not healthy and you are constantly bloated, feel wind/gas, suffer frequent changes of diarrhoea and constipation or you experience a lot of indigestion or heartburn, the chances are that your intestines are not in top shape.
What would it mean for them to be in top shape?
To answer this question, we have to go a little bit into the anatomy of your intestines: see picture
The wall of your intestines under the microscope looks something like this picture to the right. The so called “villi” are like tiny little hairs that stand up straight and move when food passes by.
Now by the point food passes through the intestines, it has been broken down small enough to be absorbed by the cells of the villi and enter the capillary network, aka blood stream.
If all is running well, then you’re smiling because you’re fit as a fiddle in the morning, jumping out of bed, feel energetic enough to pole dance all day and life is just so much joy!
However, often enough it’s not like that. We eat junk food, we are stressed and daily life is hectic. We celebrate every occasion with alcohol, we also overeat regularly and many of us use food as an emotional band-aid as well. As if that’s not enough, we may have had to take antibiotics which kill good and bad bacteria in your gut.
What does that mean for our digestive tract?
- Our hydrochloric acid in our stomach reduces with stress which means food is not broken down enough
- Our digestive enzymes may not be enough to cover the overeating part (more food not properly broken down)
- The alcohol and junk food have irritated our gut lining and our poor little villi are not upright anymore, they lie down flat like us on a Sunday morning after a massive night out
- On top of that some of our good gut bacteria are seriously struggling to stay alive
In a nutshell, our digestive tract from top to bottom (literally) is compromised, and we feel not energetic, not alert, not beautiful and heeellll no, don’t feel motivated to do much.
Now – you may have heard of many different diets that you potentially could follow: Keto-diet, Paleo-diet, FODMAP-diet, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Acid-Base Balance diet, and so on and so on… bla bla bla… confused yet? Yes, most likely!
The answer is as easy as it is frustrating: the best diet for you is the one that fits your individual needs!
This is also valid for the question around food intake prior and after meals! It is very different from person to person as each individual has different health goals, even in pole dancing! Some want to lose weight, some want to gain muscle weight, some want to maintain weight etc. So, having carbohydrates before training and a protein shake after training is not working for everyone. Furthermore, different people digest different macro-nutrients differently, so your nutrition really needs to be tailored to your individual needs.