Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Flexibility Rollercoaster and A Few Surprises

Talk about a whirlwind!

This year I got my front splits!
And then illness hit and I lost flexibility and learned to deal with it.
Then I got my splits again!
But had to boycott them.

I stuck with what I am best at, backbends, of course.

As much as I love my splits, wherever they may be hiding, losing them twice was worth it. Yep, even worth not having pictures of splits in front of the tree after two years of trying for Xmas splits. That reason is sleeping as I type these words.

Meet my flexy little baby, here at one week of age and already too big for this newborn outfit. This was taken around November 19th and he's already a month and a half!

2013 was a chance for me to be inspired by some of the most amazing, strong women I have had the privilege to know (and a few awesome men too). In the Pole Dancing Bloggers Association we share ideas, critiques, frustrations and all together support and inspire one another. This blog post is part of our many #PDBloggers blog hops and our way of bridging the pole world and making it stronger--you can check out everyone's "Best of" posts at the bottom of this. Some of my best Weekend Crushes were my fellow bloggers for this very reason. The best surprise was that despite how awe-inspiring these ladies are they are also expremely helpful and humble.

Speaking of blog posts, one of my most popular posts surprised me--who knew so many people would find my little corner of flexibility and pole dance bliss searching "dog peed on yoga mat?" Err... good to know. A lot of people were also curious about pole dance.

As a site you may have noticed a few small adjustments but there has been so much percolating in the background, ideas that I hope to fully develop in the coming new year... but that is a post for tomorrow ;)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Weekend Crush: Ronda Rousey

Last night was one of those nights. I am the odd one out on betting days--in my family we bet imaginary money on boxing and MMA matches and yell at the screen--but last night was a little different. I actually got into the action because I wanted to see if pretty Ronda Rousey could kick butt. And I hoped for it.

I know nothing, absolutely nothing, about mixed martial arts but I love to see women follow their dreams, even if it means going outside traditional gender roles. You know those little face shots they show with the competitor stats? I loved seeing a lovely shot of Ronda Rousey vs. the aptly nicknamed "Girlrilla" Meisa Tate. Okay, so I was immediately biased against Tate for being... alardosa... One of those people that just has to call attention to herself and "act big."

Tate did, for her credit, start out well. But just look at how it ended.... my arm hurts just looking at that! I don't care how flexible your shoulders are, there is no surviving this kind of arm ripping fury. I'll let you guess who won this match.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Weekend Crush: Yuzuru Hanyu

Before last Wednesday I had no clue who Yuzuru Hanyu was. And I would not have cared. Typically, typically male figure skaters hold little interest for me. Oh there are some I love--especially the sort that skate on wet ice or that push the limits of sexy. Maybe it's the difference in body type but there is definitely a distinct flavor, something about the faster jumps and the silhoutte they create in spins. Yuzuru? Still difffent, but clearly his own brand of amazing amongst figure skaters.

He turns BBQ eating music into magic.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

When to Splurge on Fitness

This month I've been covering affordable fitness tips, however sometimes you just need to splurge. Certain pieces of fitness equipment are worth the investment and even getting something pretty can be a good reason. Considering a few guidelines can make your splurge feasible and rewarding.

How much does it really cost?

"I found a super cheap, cute pole for $100! I should buy this Peek-a-Boo, right?" If you can afford spending money on a decorative theme item go ahead--as pole dancers we've heard this one more than our fair share. The same applies to fitness clothing. For example, I bought some cute boyshort panties from Victoria's Secret because they were cheap with my reward coupon. If I was only going to wear them for pole it would have been money down the drain because I would have worn them just that first time and never again (they cover nothing, my pole friends would have been scarred for life). Will you get a lot of uses out of it? Think of it as cost per use. If you buy a $20 Walmart sports bra and wear it twice because it's itchy you paid $10 per use. If you buy a $100 brand name bra but wear it every weekend for a year it only costs $.64 per use.

What else do you get out of it?

Say you want a rhinestone yoga outfit that is way more than you normally spend. Can you use it for motivation? Maybe if you can get down to a certain waist measurement or lift 10 pounds more by your birthday you can "earn" it. Your fitness journey is worth a splurge, within reason. Sometimes equipment is useful for more than one activity. A pole is great for strength training, dance, and flexibility. A yoga mat doubles as a good "beach towel" and far less sand sticks to it than a real towel.

Other considerations

Is it a limited time deal? If you know for sure you will use that flexibility DVD and it's on sale for the lowest price you have seen maybe you should get it. Make sure you can cover your other expenses and go for it. Also consider if it is a good company so you know you will be getting a good value and quality. Is the item returnable if it does not work out? Life is not perfect and of course you should splurge just because if you can.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fitness Shopping: Credit Cards are Your Friends

I get sick of hearing how evil credit cards are. Used wisely, credit cards can help you save money and get you some nice perks, especially when it comes to fitness.

There's my Angel Card, posing with my Xpert
My favorite perk? Freebies! Last month for my birthday Victoria's Secret sent me a $10 coupon to use online or in stores (read: free mini perfumes or dirt cheap panties). Menards gave me a coupon for a neat blade set with an LED light that I plan to use for crafting. VS is constantly sending me free panty coupons which incidentally work great for wearing under pole shorts and are comfortable for stretching.

Then there's special discounting. Stick with cards that give you free shipping and discounts at places you already shop. I always get free shipping on Target.com for using my RedCard plus 5% off. So when I find a good sports bra on clearance I don't have to worry about reaching $50 to get free shipping; I just buy that and whatever else I actually need. My Menards card gives me cash back so when I wanted a magnetic level or a set of mirrors to check my form I got an extra discount on those. If you have a regular cash back card that's a great way to get a discount on items that rarely go on sale, like Lululemon workout clothes.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Prepaid Cards to the Rescue: Card.com Review

My cute Garfield card from Card.com!
As a fitness fanatic I definitely find an outlet for my love of shopping--fitness gear! I am very excited to share my experiences using the Card.com prepaid debit card, which was provided as compensation for my review. All opinions are my own and I hope you find this review and prepaid card tips helpful in the upcoming shopping season!

Shopping an untested site...

For some reason the most awesome fitness gear is the most elusive. Remember my mad hunt for 36" legwarmers? I literally searched past the 15th page of search results before finding an awesome family owned shop that carried exactly what I needed: 36" legwarmers without a stirrup. Prepaid cards are the best solution for this; you only risk what you load. Card.com offers Visa fraud protection and 100% FDIC insurance on whatever money you do put on there.

Surviving fraud season

'Tis the season for... theft, unfortunately. Holidays are always the peak time for stolen credit card information so all that protection Card.com offers? Now is when you need it. This is one of the features of Card.com I was excited to share as it seemed a lot of my pole dancing friends were running into information--and consequently monetary--theft. Using cash or other forms of payment can sometimes be convenient but having a card with a solid backing makes a difference, at least in peace of mind and at most in terms of saving you from scams.

The "B" word

Sometimes it's a pretty dirty word especially with all the hype about spending big to keep up with our favorite sports and pole stars or to treat our families. Yup, budgeting. I can keep my personal spending under control--unless we're talking heels, ahem. My worst enemy? Shopping cute dance gear for my daughter. I like prepaid cards for loading a set amount and keeping to that card for an easy budgeting tool. I love that there are no fees to order, load, or use the Card.com prepaid card. There is a monthly fee of less than $6 that can be avoided by loading more than $800 and only applies after the first 30 days. My bank charges a $35 minimum for overdrafting... guess how I know? As much as I tend to be a stickler for tracking expenses it just is not possible for me around the holidays... I would rather spend money on dance tights and leotards than overdrafts. Plus I love that you can pick out of thousands of designs to add a little fun to your shopping.

I hope that these tips can give you a little more confidence in your shopping. Stay tuned for next week's post in the November Affordable Fitness Series on credit cards (yes, they can be your friends).

Monday, November 11, 2013

I Reserve the Right to Fangirl Out

Why is flattery always assumed to be fake? I was helping my husband study for his Business Interviewing class when I read that in an exchange you should not use a lot of flattery because it comes off as insincere and makes people feel uncomfortable. Well haul me off to flattery corrections! (Weekend Crush, anyone?)

Cape Flatter Trail (c) mlcastle
CC Attribution 2.0 License
I will concede that flattery can make people feel uncomfortable. I believe it should not. This is something conditioned in so many places to keep people from acting like arrogant snobs so I can understand the feeling. I liken it to the crippling need to qualify self-flattery. Women are very guilty of this--ask a woman about her best feature and you can bet she will also point out a flaw. Stop!!! You can take a compliment and you can boast about your best attributes without being snobby. It all comes down to tone and moderation. Sometimes it's okay to boast. I would even say as humans we have a need to do so.

So I try to limit my flattery. The truth of the matter is that if I tell I love how you dance or that your hair color is absolutely gorgeous, I mean it. There are certain people that I would have made my Weekend Crush several times over and mentioned in more posts if I did not hesitate to make them feel uncomfortable (like this magical goddess or my continual source of inspiration). Besides, I have a feeling I might seem like a bit of a stalker after the umpteenth time of saying how their posts light up my day. Just a little. 

I reserve the right to fangirl out

The magic of fitness and pole dance in particular is that everyday people make the best idols. People that have real jobs and real commitments to family on a real budget that manage to change to a healthy lifestyle inspire me. People with no dance background who learn lyrical pole dance inspire me. Being an everyday person is not an excuse I will ever let you use to get out of being one of my inspirations--it's part of the reason any one person would be.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Basic Money Tips for Fitness Fanatics

I find so much cool fitness swag I cannot afford. Pretty poles, cute workout clothes, and all sorts of fitness gear are out there tempting yet out of reach. This month I am sharing some of my strategies for making fitness work with a limited budget starting with a few basic tips in time for the holiday shopping season.

Do you need it?

Money (c) 401 (K) 2012
CC Attribution 2.0 License
There is always a new thing. There's Taebo, Zumba, the Fly Gym, Pole Sleeves, and so much fitness craze gear. Can you work up a sweat without a Taebo DVD? Sure, if you love running or walking. If you absolutely need Taebo to get you motivated then go for it--your health is certainly worth it. Do you need a Fly Gym to get flexible. Odds are you can get good results from following techniques in a yoga video from the library or YouTube videos. Maybe buying yoga blocks instead would help you more. Consider all your options.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Why I am Boycotting Pregnancy Front Splits

Alma & AnyFer 72 (c) Edgarholgin
CC Attribution 2.0 License
The splits are my holy grail. I made it a point to get back my splits when I lost flexibility despite recovering from anemia, being in school, and balancing all sorts of craziness in my life. Being pregnant didn't stop flexibility from being a part of my life. In fact, I made more progress in all areas of flexibility while expecting than ever before.

But I still am quitting my front splits.

The problem with front splits snuck up on me. With so much that I'm doing right now it was hard to pin point what was causing gradually progressing pain. Groin pain. I considered all the textbooks I carry from taking classes and tutoring. It could also be my light strength training because even though last pregnancy I did a lot more it is possible for my body's tolerance to change. Sex of course was another worry--I sure did not want it to be that. haha

Try getting out of bed with crotch pain. Yeah.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Weekend Crush: Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilar (c) Raffaele Fiorillo
CC Attribution 2.0 License
Yes, Christina Aguilera is pretty much the epitome of sexy song bird--but that's not the part of her I love. Her "Dirrty" days still make me cringe even if I am learning to love her over-the-top sexy boudoir look. But that's Christina Aguilera--always doing exactly what she loves and staying true to herself. That and belting out some ultra powerful songs. You know those songs that help you make it? The ones that keep you from falling the last few degrees down into insanity? Those are what make me adore her. Music and running kept me sane in the hardest times of my life. There is something pretty irresitistable about listening to songs that rebel against the things that make us "work a little bit harder" and gasping out "Fighter" while pounding the pavement. You just can't help but to believe in her as she belts it out--and to believe in yourself. Songs that make the best quotations like this are the ones sung as if the singer's life was poured out in them. Considering how passionate Christina is, I suspect that is exactly the case. As a fellow Latina, I love that she's representing with strength and individuality. It also helps that I got to play this song as one of the first flutes ahem... Proud band geek here. There is nothing like seeing the scoring that goes into the song for understanding it's depth.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: Gabrialla Maternity Support Belt

Gabrialla Maternity Belt, Side View
Side view, taken at 38 weeks
I hate having to slow down for pregnancy. With my first baby I took a full twelve credit load, worked as a full-time retail slave, and balanced family life. That class load? I was taking classes including Chemistry and Personal Fitness with alternating running days and strength training. I kept it up the fitness class until a couple weeks before my due date and then came back a couple weeks after to do a mile run and tie up a few other lose ends.

Sure, there were a few obstacles.

There is the fatigue which is tolerable as much as it cuts into scheduling. The worst part, though, was the intense back pain. Stretching has resolved most of that this pregnancy. I consulted my doctor and she recommended a maternity support belt. She said it would also help with that uncomfortable feeling of pressure on my cervix during running. Now, don't be alarmed, the baby was not going to pop out because I was running. In fact, the amniotic fluid works very well as a cushion so it probably feels like being bounced on someone's knee, only in utero.

The first months - mixed benefits.

I bought my medium support Gabrialla belt (for a very reasonable price on Ebay) around month four. Immediately I noticed that it did do wonders for that pressure on my cervix. I bought a size L even though I was well within the range for a M; I read a review that said they run large. Mine was actually true to size so I just pulled the velcro a little past where it was supposed to attach. It is a bit scratchy so I wear it on top of a light shirt and slather on lotion so I don't scratch my weakening skin. Some days it felt like the belt helped more than others so I think your body's state at any given day affects how much running will or will not irritate your cervix.

The last months - total lifesaver!
Gabrialla Maternity Belt, Front View
Front view, 38 weeks

I am now almost nine months pregnant. Discomfort wakes me up in the middle of the night and I have trouble finding a good laying or sitting position. I was seriously contemplating what would happen if I could not tolerate the last month of pregnancy. Finally I decided to try my maternity belt. Up until now I have mostly used it for running, my light strength training, and the school days that require toting extra textbooks. After half an hour I stopped noticing what position I was in and a few hours later I realized I was actually... comfortable. I like going around in just my husbands shirt lately but I've been putting on *gasp* real clothes so I can wear my maternity belt comfortably. It also fits me now which makes it feel more secure.

The verdict: I would definitely recommend this to any mom and wish I would have had it for my first pregnancy. (Find it on Ebay.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ballet: Those Awful Chicken Feet

There is very little I admire more than the athleticism, dedication, and incomparable grace of a ballerina. But the chicken feet! Pointe remains one of the most torturous sounding activities in the world and it just does not make sense to me.

Enviable grace, amazing port de bras... and then the feet
Leah  (c) Melissa DooleyCC Attribution 2.0 License

Friday, October 11, 2013

Weekend Crush: Mirai Nagasu

Mirai Nagasu (c) The Skating Club of Boston
CC Attribution 2.0 License

There is something particularly serene about Mirai Nagasu.  Maybe that's why she tends to skate a pretty clean program, well at least compared to my first love in figure skating. Her laybacks are very elegant--there is definitely some flexy to love there! (See clip below from the 2013 Finlandia Trophy.)

Monday, October 7, 2013

3 Ingredient Vivid Orange Carrot Smoothie

I'm not a fan of cooking. Better put, my partner does all the cooking. Coming up with snacks for myself is a pain but when he's not around I have to survive on something, lol. One of my favorite snacks is this easy three ingredient smoothie.


  • About 2 medium carrots
  • One small orange
  • About 3/4 cups of sugar to taste

  1. Wash everything; peel and chop the carrots.
  2. Cut the orange into wedges and peel off the skin.
  3. Put about a cup and a half to two cups of ice cubes in a blender. Better yet, if you have the refrigerator setting, add ground ice.
  4. Add the sugar; you can start out by adding half of it before blending, taste it, and add more if needed.
  5. Blend & enjoy!


Every time I make this it comes out a little different based on how much of any ingredient I have. 
  • If you want it a bit less sweet or lower in calories reduce the sugar or start with 1/4 cup of sugar, taste it after it's blended, and add sugar bit by bit until you have just enough.
  • Hate pulp? Go with less orange. I recommend against straining this because you will lose a lot of the nutritional content. 
  • Want to add benefits? You can include omega-3's by adding a teaspoon of ground flax or chia seeds. Throw in a tiny bunch of a deep green veggie for an added mix of nutrients.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Weekend Crush: Michelle Stanek

I think after having Michelle Stanek's All the Time routine stuck in my head all this week it's time to make her my Weekend Crush! If you haven't seen it yet you are way overdue. And if you have seen it, I think you could use another look at her effortless standing splits at about 1:28. Just saying.


I know I just said sexy dance is not my style but this is really making me want to put in the work to dance like this. Michelle nails some crazy impressive and sultry moves. Of the sexy pole dancers out there she's the first to make me want to become her. Maybe that has a bit to do with said standing split.

Then, too--doesn't she look exactly like JJ from Criminal Minds here? My brain just jumped to JJ and Prentiss doing pole doubles. This needs to happen!

I am going to have my work cut out to nail any one of her moves. The standing split is going on my wishlist yesterday along with whatever that black magic is at :34. This may just be the motivation I need to get to my ab work after I have my baby. At least I can keep working on my splits in the meantime! I'm sure it helps that she has been dancing since she was a child. She definitely has great timing in all her performances and beautiful artistry from dance. Then on top of that all the sexy? An absolute dream.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why I will always defend the "Sexy Side"

I don't own a single pair of clear heels. The stilettos I have are babied and would never come near my treadmill so they would never be part of my pole workouts or dancing either. Yet when I read about certain organizations trying to strip the sexy side away from pole I speak out. Go sanitize anything else you want but pole--there are so many reasons not to.

Monday, September 30, 2013

What are menstrual cups made out of?

One of my biggest concerns when I first considered menstrual cups was what in the world are they made of? My interest was peaked when I learned they save a lot of money and are reusable. Being a poor college student and always without tampons or pads right when I needed them I was all for it that! But would they be safe? Comfortable? Leak-free?

Lunette cup in a "c fold"
Used with permission
Most of the brands out there are made of silicone. This is generally the same type of silicone used to make breast implants and with medical devices like pacemakers. They are relatively soft yet will mostly hold their shape. Silicone cups can be boiled to disinfect them and come in a few different colors that vary by brand (blue, orange, pink...). These are all manufacturered outside of the US.

Care: Rinse/wipe down when you empty it and wash with soap between uses; can be boiled.

Brands: Lunette, DivaCup, MoonCup UK

TPE - thermoplastic elastomers

Assortment of Meluna cups
Used with permission
TPE is a fancy name for a plastic blend used in everything from baby bottle nipples to medical devices. There is currently only one brand that makes cups with TPE: Meluna. I am partial to their extra sturdy cup, Meluna Sport, made to work with the stronger pelvic floor muscles of athletic women. They are medically approved in Europe and are currently unavailable in the US during the lengthy FDA approval process. 

Care: Rinse/wipe down when you empty it and wash with soap between uses; can be immersed in hot water to disinfect.

Brands: Meluna

Latex Rubber
Rubber Tree (c) Ken Doerr
CC Attribution 2.0 License
Rubber menstrual cups look like little toy plungers to me. Natural rubber tends to have a rubber smell so they are not for everyone. They are brown so they do not discolor and are the only cups made from a non-synthetic material. Of course anyone allergic to latex should choose a different material. The only cup actually manufactured in the US is the latex rubber Keeper.

Care: Rinse/wipe down when you empty it and wash with soap between uses; can be boiled.

Brands: Keeper

All cup types are made of medically approved materials and most are also FDA approved. (The FDA requires separate approval for the cups themselves. All menstrual products including tampons, pads, and menstrual cups are considered "medical devices.") If you are worried about trying out a menstrual cup based on material remember that many menstrual cup users end up with multiple cups for convenience.

Still have questions? Check out this particularly informative post by Aerial Hoopla.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Weekend Crush: Kenneth Kao, DC

He teaches Kung Fu, practices chiropractic medicine, and oh yeah, there's that bit where he jumped from one pole to another at this year's Pole Expo. If you are a pole dancer you have definitely heard the litany: Do NOT jump into moves! This is true for those of us that are risking injury by compensating a lack of strength with momentum--in his case his strength gives him the control to pull off such an insane move. Don't blink, it happens around 0:45. And yes, this is one of those video I recommend clicking the gear and choosing HD!

I found this awesome video on NinaReed.com. Coolest part? He's actually one of her pole instructors! Dr. Kenneth Kao is an instructor at Vertical Fusion Boulder. I can't imagine taking instruction from him, wow! Or even better, following the recommendation on his practice's site, "Anyone is welcome to fly him out to location for specialized care or instruction, or just for fun!" I'm adding that to my list of ways to spend my money when I win the lottery. I can dream!

As if that wasn't enough Kenneth Kao is also a published writer and loves to learn about the human condition. The English nerd in me is all sorts of happy knowing this. It seems to me that pole dance tends to go with intellectual awesomenes; there must be something to that. In fact, I am certain of it and will be posting some of my findings to that effect soon! Check out links to his Dr. Kao's published works on his personal blog, The Chaos of Balance.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Define the splits

When I started my flexibility journey I would have been overjoyed with open front splits but as my flexibility increased I wasn't as thrilled as I thought I would be. Yes, I posted excitedly to my friends and was pretty pleased but then I thought when do you really have the splits?

I still can't do the splits cold. I can't do them squared either, except for a few painful seconds after a long stretching session. Said few seconds usually entailing a whole lot of whining, lol. What you don't see when people post pictures of themselves in the splits is how warmed up they were, how much stretching they did to get in them, and how long they've been working on flexibility. It isn't just about being able to pose for a awesome splits shot, it's about being able to use them.

So when do you really have the splits?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Weekend Crush: Eliana Girard

Normally I don't get into So You Think You Can Dance. I know, I know, this has to be some sort of cardinal sin for a pole dancer. This lady right here? She's getting added to the very few that are on my playlist. She has done everything from contemporary dance on SYTYCD to Cirque du Soleil to some very polerina style contemporary pole. Did you know that existed? I just found out from a friend and I think we need much, much more of this!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Staying fit for a wedding: pitfalls and solutions

With quite a few of my friends getting married with a huge emphasis on the wedding ceremony I have observed lots of great habits... and lots that could be done better. Members of the bridal party are definitely not excluded in this! There are so many days in between to "slip up," so much food to sample, and such a packed schedule it's no wonder this is a big pre-wedding stressor. I have come up with a few practices to avoid and ideas on what could make your life easier and happier.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Why your workout should be sexy

Petra's Yoga Poses around the world
Petra's Yoga Poses (c) Lululemon Athletica
CC Attribution 2.0 License
Regardless of whether you pursue fitness to wear a teeny polka dot bikini or to improve your heart health, your workout should be sexy. I'm not talking about necessarily wearing a midriff-bearing sports tank or doing oh-so-sexy hot yoga. For some people their workout includes these things, sometimes mine does, but day one of a fitness routine does not entail great abs and defined legs which makes this tricky. Mine sure didn't!

For people like us feeling great about our bodies while working out makes all the difference. It should not be all about the after picture--no matter where you are at there will always be an after in your future. Your focus needs to be on what you are doing today or you will easily burn out. This is so important to me that when I first started the idea of this blog under a different url I called it "Working out becomes sexy fun." Go ahead, laugh, I still do! Silly as that name is, the "dash of sexy" in Flexines comes from the idea of transforming the idea of working out from a journey to becoming sexy to a journey that is sexy. Don't focus on how hot you will look in your swim suit, focus on how sexy your workout makes you feel. You know that experiment where Pavlov rang a bell when he feed some dogs, then afterward the dogs would salivate at the sound of a bell? Getting ready to workout should make you salivate (not literally lol) rather than be some torturous chore.

How do you make your workout sexy?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Weekend Crush: Steven Retchless

I have adored Steven Retchless since very early in my pole fitness journey--and how could you not? There's the fact that he's all sorts of flexy, makes shoulder mounts look like child's play, and well, he's not so hard on the eyes. I have watched his Boston Ballroom performance countless times and the reason why comes down to how beautifully expressive he is. Yes, he has amazing flexibility and strength and that draws you in but it is the story that keeps you coming back for more. Oh and if you think I'm going to confess to how many times I've rewatched his videos... let's just say "a lot." lol

Take his remi layback, for one. The remi sit/layback is a move that can look so simple you think you can nail it, then try five million times and still be swinging belly first towards the pole. (Which is why I have reluctantly shelfed it for now). Is that just me? Maybe it's just me, lol. Anyways for those of you who have watched his

Friday, August 30, 2013

Weekend Crush: Johnny Weir

Johnny Weir
Johnny Weir (c) VancityAllie
CC Attribution 2.0 License
I almost have to look away when I see Johnny Weir oozing pure sex on the ice. Almost. Except that this is completely impossible through an awesome combination of glitter, sequins, and crazy jumps. Then there's the flexy, oh wow is he flexible!

He's unapologetically himself. Period. I bet there are judges out there that wish they could nab him on an infraction--wardrobe malfunction, anything!--and scrape his sexy self off the ice. Even though he's typically covered head to toe, sometimes with a little extra as a showy collar cuff, he may as well be naked. This tickles me so much because figure skating has a history of being a bit dry. See the Debi Thomas rule for reference. (This banned unitards until 2005 because Debi was "showing too much" in her sexy little number.) I have to say Johnny far out-sexies her within 10 seconds of any given performance. As we pole dancers know wearing sparse fabric does not make the sexy--

Monday, August 26, 2013

Can you machine wash a yoga mat?

You may have been wondering what was up with the card board in my Day in the Life post. Well, my dog peed in my pole room, again. I tried hand washing it at least three times plus soaked it with a tiny bit of bleach and it still smells. Nothing like a whiff of dog urine as you lean into a stretch, ugh.

I wondered if you could machine wash a yoga mat so I saved it as a last, desperate option. I figured if it gets horribly disfigured, it was smelly garbage anyways. It actually worked! Here's what you need to do:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Weekend Crush: Kurt Browning

That Skate 2013 / Figure Skating
That Skate 2013 (c) Queen Yuna
CC Attribution 2.0 License
Kurt Browning has been one of my favorite figure skaters ever since I saw an early video of him skating along to Singing in the Rain (we'll check it out  in a bit). It's impossible to watch him at it and not be drawn right in and uplifted; he has such a sunny personality on the ice. Even with my limited figure skating knowledge the level of difficulty of his moves are apparent, and yet all he seems to care about is entertaining.

He's dressed up as everything from the classic, elegant Gene Kelly to a circus clown. No matter what the look you really can't miss his awesome footwork. One of his videos and I'm off on a hours-long jag of video searches touching on my favorite from Sasha Cohen and back again to my pole loves like Anastasia Skukhtorova. In one word: inspirational. I don't care if you love figure skating, dance, pole, ballet, or anything else athletic and expressive; you can find something to love about Kurt Browning.

Then there are his many competitive accolades including being the first man to land a quadruple jump in competition. What I personally love the most

Monday, August 19, 2013

Heel use and pointing toes

Lately I've been trying to improve my stretching form and dismal toe pointing. My problem comes from my high heel addiction--except for the past few months I've worn high heels daily for a few years now (although I don't pole in heels). That's not to say I regret anything. I actually love the shape of my feet complete with the little side bump I've always had before "heeling" that some people call that funny word--bunion.

Barefoot on beach
My toes pop up in a neutral position
It is, however, a problem for me when I stretch. Namely, foot cramps. Ow. I asked around in High Heel Place, a forum I love, and a friend confirmed what I suspected. The neutral position of my feet has gone from toes-to-the-floor to slightly raised. Very pretty, if you ask me, although I know a lot of you probably obsess over super pointes. I'm a little blasphemous--super pointed toes look like chicken feet to me, lol. I love the shape of feet in heels.

If you have this problem: Make extra sure you've warmed up very well, then ease into stretching. If you cramp up, go slower with your stretches and hold them for shorter periods of time and work back up. A great tip I received is to stand on the front of your foot to put pressure on the cramped spot. This also works great for late night foot cramps during pregnancy too.

From where I feel the stretch when I point my toes I think this is less of a problem related to the seemingly horrific shortened calves people always seem to be warning heel wearers about. It's actually localized to the middle top of my feet. Without pointing the rest of my foot I can feel a stretch when I point only my toes. Yeah, I really do wear heels that much. I actually only own one pair of non-heel shoes: my running shoes. High heel wearing has improved my balance to a degree that I can easily navigate lawns, escalators, and even the glare ice we get in the winter here. Curiously, I've always been a klutz barefoot or in flat shoes.

I'm not going to stop wearing heels, much to the chagrin of some, although I will wait until my balance is back to normal to go back to heels. Heels really are not the evil of the world and even have a bit of a power element to them--it's all in the height, the glamour, and the authoritative clicking. I will definitely keep on stretching!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Weekend Crush: Pole Dancing Professor, Lisa Faulkner

Pole Dancing Professor

Lisa Faulkner, PhD, embodies a lot of what Flexines is about. She definitely brings her dash of sexy to the pole world and has just the right touch of nerdy pole dancer. I love that there is a constant undertone of deep thought and empowerment to everything she writes on her site, poledancingprofessor.com. In fact, I think she is the perfect example of who pole dancers are. There is a recurring thread on StudioVeena about what we pole dancers do for a living and the responses are resoundingly both diverse and impressive. We are doctors, machinists, nurses, social workers, and yes, pole dancing professors.

Here's what caught my attention: the call of the Siren. I first noticed Lisa's celebration of herself and this playful, sensual spirit in the images she shares on her Facebook page. What is a siren? What is the call of a siren? I think this image

Monday, August 12, 2013

YouTube: worst and best in pole social media

I found out about pole dancing through YouTube, yet I think YouTube is the worst social media platform for pole. There are a lot of really great aspects of pole that YouTube promotes but what currently stands out most are the ones that make me click away as fast as I can. It's a great resource (more on this in a bit) but it reflects heavily on what society thinks of pole and perpetuates a lot of the stereotypes out there.

The worst? The title "Stripper dance" in so many pole videos. It is so often tacked on regardless of whether they explore the sexy side of pole, the acrobatic, or pole art. Stripping has its own raw beauty and sticking it like a cheap label all over anything with a pole is really sad. Also, not everyone that pole dances would ever strip for whatever personal reasons. Hardly any of the polers are taking off any clothing, is that not part of what stripping is?

Then there are the comments, oh the comments! Every wack job out there seems to think s/he has the most authoritative take on pole, from criticizing it as too sexual to letting the dancer know "I want to eat your socks." Seriously? First of all, when did we become so afraid of sex? Secondly, other work out videos like yoga or lifting do not get this same treatment and yet they use the same clothing coverage. When I see comments like this I just shudder to think of the impression it gives of pole. Monkey see, monkey do. The more people see pole disparaged, the more they will do it themselves.

So what can we do?

The fact of the matter is that the pole community is completely different from the rubbish you have to plow through to watch a pole video. We praise each other, focus on triumphs and progress, and we uplift. It's what keeps me involved in pole even with how uncoordinated I am slowly I'm progressing. This is what we need to present, and yet it so often gets drowned out in social and mass media.

I challenge all of you to promote videos that really represent pole. Subscribe to fellow pole dancers videos and share them. If you're friend/coworker/partner is concerned that pole will make you "look bad" inbox them a video that showcases what you love about pole. One of my favorite videos is Jenyne Butterfly's dance to the Dog Days are Over by Florence and the Machine. Every time I would search for it a few of the top posts on YouTube included "stripper dance" in the title. While I've seen some really wonderful videos with strip elements, for example by Felix Cane or Alethea Austin, the video I'm talking about seems to be about childish fun. You can't call that a "stripper dance"--you're doing strip (like taking off clothes is all there is to stripping) and Jenyne's dance an injustice. It's just a tactic to boost their appearance in search results... yawn. I checked it out and we must have been doing a good job because the top results I found this time described it completely.

The good

I love that YouTube is such a great resource for pole inspiration, tutorials, and introducing people to pole. I found out about StudioVeena through Emotioncatcher's videos, which I found after a search on pole. The only reason I was searching YouTube for pole videos was that I saw a recommended video of Anastasia Skukhtorova and loved it. You definitely have to wade through a lot of crappy comments and pole stereotypes to view them, but you can find a lot of good out there. For instance, a lot of home polers can progress by watching tutorials on all sorts of moves from beginner to advanced. Then there are pole related moves like Aerial Amy's awesome booty bounce tutorial. Maybe with enough posting and sharing this will be the main thing we see.

So vote with your clicks. Share what the sexy side of pole means to you--or the acrobatic, or pole art, or you own style. The more we get our voices out there the better social media will reflect that pole includes so many styles and how valuable each one is.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Weekend Crush: Missy Franklin

I normally do not get into the Olympics, other than my love of figure skating, so this week's Weekend Crush is a little different for me. What's so special about Missy Franklin? For one her awesome performance in the 100 m dash even though she started out behind. Also, how cute is she in the US Olympic swimming team's Call Me Maybe parody? (below)

Monday, August 5, 2013

How to Choose Music for Stretching

"Music" (c) thomselomsen
CC Attribution 2.0 License
This might be a no-brainer for some people, but choosing stretching music is a little more involved for me. There are a few things I consider: tempo, what it reminds me of, and mood. The main goal is to choose music that will help you keep your motivation to stay in your stretches long enough and to keep working on them until you've finished them all.

Some days this is the biggest factor in how music affects me personally. It's harder to want to hold a stretch when the music is crazy fast so after my normal warmup (running) I tend to switch to slower music. Try to pick something you enjoy but can still zone out to, maybe some old favorites (80's for me) or something soothing like classical or country. After a super powerhouse workout I might just leave my current playlist running since I'll be too spent to care.