Monday, April 30, 2012

Lessons in Levitation

Physics was never my strong suit, to be sure, but I at least could understand that one law about opposite and equal actions and reactions. Or I thought I did, until I tried to apply it in pole dancing class. Our insanely fit instructor was effortlessly gliding down the pole from a standing position (who knew there was even anywhere to go?), telling us to “levitate” as we slid down. Ok, fine! I’ve totally got this. I gripped the pole and extended my legs into a side split, but quickly found myself on the ground before I knew what was happening. How did I get there so quickly? She had taken at least four counts to glide down to the floor, and here I was, my super long legs stuck in a side split and unable to pick myself up to move and try again. Alright, no matter, we’ll try this again. I scrambled up to standing again, took a deep breath, grabbed the pole, and extended my legs, hoping this time the descent would be more graceful. No such luck. I found myself again, in a side split, confused and this time embarrassed. Sensing, and, no doubt, seeing my consternation, my instructor made her way over to where I was trying to pretend like the previous five minutes had never happened and showed me the grip I was to use in order to really push myself up the pole and not just slide down it like a sack of ungainly potatoes. The previous series of events repeated itself until she decided it was time to move on. My face was burning. What was wrong with me! How could I not get this one simple move, that was really just the opener to another fun combination of climbs, skater spins, and body rolls. The music filled the studio, and the counts “5,6,7, 8” snapped my body and my mind into that peculiar state of tense relaxation. My muscle memory took over as I went through the steps we had just learned, and to my infinite shock, the initial descend went perfectly once I stopped beating myself up about not being able to do it, and just did it. Once again, I was getting in my own way by focusing on what I could not do. Class over, filled with adrenaline and natural opiates (the best kind!), I made a mental note to be filled under “memoranda, to be thought of on a daily basis”- Focus on what you do want, not what you don’t want. Super simple, yes? Much easier said than done. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Back in the Saddle

After a 2-week hiatus during which I visited my friends and a very special friend in particular in the beautiful city of Los Angeles, I decided it was high time to get myself back into class. I was a little nervous to return after my vacation, not having done anything even remotely physical for so long. So it was that I found myself back in the familiar pink-and-black studio, surrounded by familiar faces and that warm, welcoming energy I so craved. The warm-up was uneventful, and then came the routine on the pole. From the minute I placed my hands on the pole and prepared to climb, I felt something was off. I couldn’t grip the pole as tightly as I used to before my vacation, and my attempts at climbing were almost as bad as they were that first day! I felt the frustration and embarrassment welling up within me. As I sat out waiting for the second group to learn the routine, I tried to comfort myself with thoughts of what it was like coming back to ballet class or even yoga after a hiatus. There were certainly plenty of times when I lifted my leg into what I felt was a lovely, perfectly extended arabesque, only to check my positioning in the mirror and see my leg a good six inches below where I had envisioned it! That disconnect was certainly nothing new, though this realization brought me only a small bit of comfort. But, as any dancer will tell you, not every class is a home run, and when you have a bad class, the only thing worse than staying is leaving. So I stuck it out until the end, and did what I could of the routine. The high that I was on throughout all of the other classes was notably, painfully absent during this one, but as a dancer friend of mine once said, “I will be brave. I will still dance, even though my tummy hurts.”