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From the Park Bench – An Interview with Cassandra

What to Expect From Your First Pole Dance Competition

By Erica Cosentino

After taking their first few classes and becoming hooked to the sport, a lot of new pole dancers decide that they have their sights set on participating in a competition someday. Some train hard to be the absolute master of tricks, while many others simply want to compete for the experience.

Whatever the motivation, pole dance competitions are an exciting and fun way to showcase your strength and grace to friends, family members, and complete strangers. Maybe you want to see how your trick repertoire stacks up to other dancers, or maybe you just want to know what the judges have to say about your technique. Competitions are a great way to figure out how to improve your daily or weekly pole practice.

The thing is, the idea of competing for the very first time is scary! Maybe you’re considering signing up, or maybe you’ve just signed up and are already freaking out.

You will, at some point or another, feel intimidated, and that’s okay!

Maybe it’s right after filling out that competition sign up form. Maybe it’s when you can’t figure out why you’re suddenly unable to nail that trick you wanted to have in your routine. Maybe it’s the day of competition when you feel like everyone else is more put together than you.

At some point leading up to your competition performance, you will probably be hit by a wave of “ohmigod why did I decide to do this I can’t do this I’m not good enough!”. That’s normal.

The very nature of competition is intimidating. It’s intimidating to think of being up there on stage, not only being watched by a crowd, but being judged by the people sitting in the front row. Make sure you push through these negative feelings.

At one point, you did think you were good enough to compete. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have even considered signing up. Channel those feelings. Remember why you decided to do this in the first place.

Choreo is hard – don’t be afraid to ask for help

Choreographing a piece for a competition is both an art and a science. Your movements need to flow between tricks and transitions while telling a story, but also focusing on musicality. You need to showcase your favourite tricks and spins by making them look effortless and always remembering to point your toes.

There is so much that goes into choreographing a routine for a competition, and if you’re new to creating choreography for pole dance, it’s enough to make your head spin. It’s okay to ask for help!

Book a private lesson with your favourite instructor for the most hands-on assistance, but don’t underestimate the opinion of your fellow students! Ask them if they mind watching your piece at the beginning or the end of open practice time and find out what they think. As an added bonus, practicing in front of others will help you get used to having spectators for when competition day comes!

Costumes can be expensive, but they don’t have to be

Maybe your piece has a strong storyline to it, and you’ve envisioned the perfect costume to help tell your story to the audience. You’ve met with a costume designer to talk about bringing your vision to life, and you’re so excited…until you find out that it will cost you upwards of two or three hundred dollars!

Your costume is absolutely a valuable asset to earning high marks on your score sheet, but not everyone has the budget to drop hundreds of dollars on a costume as an amateur competitor. So what do you do if your dream costume is completely out of your budget?

To bring your costs down, don’t go for something completely bespoke. See if you can find a basic pair of shorts and a sports bra at a store, or see if your costume designer has some catalog outfits that they sell. Then, chat with your costume designer to see if they can add some crystals or extra fabrics to help spruce the outfit up.

Don’t forget to breathe on competition day

When you’re backstage, waiting for your name to be called, the butterflies in your stomach will be going crazy. Your thoughts may be all over the place too, and you may start experiencing those feelings of intimidation and self-doubt that we talked about earlier. Don’t forget to breathe.

Focus on your breath while you’re waiting to take the stage. When you’re called out to start performing, remember to breathe. Show the judges how confident you are, even if you have to fake it. Make eye contact with the audience and don’t forget to smile (if it makes sense with your routine’s story and theme).

While you’re running your routine for the audience and the judges, remember to breathe. You’ve practiced this dozens of times before. Your brain and your body know the moves. Keep breathing. You’ve got this.

Sleep & Fitness by Lucy Wyndham

Why Sleep and Fitness Go Hand In Hand

With a reported 55% of Canadian women aged 18 to 64 struggling to fall or stay asleep, lack of rest is a factor that cannot be ignored in relation to health. Substandard sleep can contribute to obesity, depression and type 2 diabetes among other health issues, but it can also negatively affect your exercise. So, whether you are working out for fun, for a positive body image or for health reasons, then don’t underestimate the importance of sleep in your quest for the ultimate workout and how in return exercise can benefit your sleep.

Why is sleep important?

Sleep is vital for a variety of health reasons, and while there is little evidence to suggest that a lack of sleep will significantly affect our physical abilities such as maximum anaerobic power or our muscle strength, there is research to confirm that it may impact our perceived exertion levels, meaning that we feel like we’ve done enough when we actually haven’t. It may also reduce our ability to perform maximal exercise. Mentally, a lack of sleep can negatively affect exercise because if you feel tired you are less likely to be motivated to exercise. Sleep deprivation can trigger depression, which may also prevent the desire to exercise.

What can affect quality sleep?

You don’t have to ditch caffeine completely, but it’s important to monitor when and how much you drink as caffeine can be sleep’s enemy. Caffeine laden foods and drinks may also be high in sugar or artificial sugar, which are again not conducive with a satisfying slumber. In addition, don’t forget to stock up on fluids because dehydration can lead to leg cramps and causes dryness in the nasal passages and mouth which can lead to snoring and a potentially disrupted sleep. Don’t forget to invest in a comfy and suitable mattress as this can also impact how well you sleep.

The impact of exercise on sleep

A workout can improve sleep duration and quality as exercise makes us tired and can aid stress reduction leading to a more relaxed sleep. Exercising outdoors is particularly beneficial as it allows the body to absorb natural sunlight and the time of day you exercise will depend on each individual. It’s reported that early morning exercise leads to deeper sleep at night allowing individuals 75% more time in the most beneficial stages of sleep compared to those who exercise later in the day. For some people exercising late at night can disrupt sleep due to the stimulation and the rise in body temperature.

Sleep is essential for our health and although a few bad nights may not ruin your workouts completely, a lack of sleep can affect our mental state and our motivation which will not lead to optimal performance. It is apparent that exercise and sleep go neatly hand and hand as good sleep should lead to a more efficient workout and exercise should result in a longer and deeper sleep. That’s not to say you can never have a late night, but it’s worth considering how many you have before you see the negative effects on your fitness levels.


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