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Dancing in the heat

posted 1 Aug 2011, 07:36 by Natalie Watkins
Hey guys,

I don't know about anyone else, but I've been having a wonderful summer.  I haven't had to put the waterproofs on to ride to work (I ride a motorbike) at all and have spent quite a few relaxing afternoons in the back garden enjoying the sun.

But all this hot weather comes with a price.  Poling in the heat isn't easy.  You have little to no energy, you get tired easily and, worst of all, the sweaty hands issue becomes a complete show stopper.  You slide all too easily, the moves just aren't coming and there's a real temptation to just throw in the towel (at least for a while).  So here are my top tips for pole practice during the summer.

Don't expect miracles
I know we all want to progress constantly and master ever more difficult moves, but some days it's just not going to happen.  Accept that some days are just going to be a Bad Pole Day, whether because of the heat, the time of the month or even something as simple as a stressful day at work.  First and foremost, pole is fun.  If today's session is leaving you feeling frustrated and irritable, start to work on some simple, fun moves.  Remind yourself why you're doing this in the first place.
Stay hydrated
Make sure you drink at least 2 litres of water every day.  Note that this is in addition to any tea, coffee or soft drinks you may have.  I use a big mineral water bottle that I refill every day and then keep in the fridge.  As long as I finish that, I know I'm properly hydrated.  It's easy to miss when you're not drinking enough, but it can make you irritable, distracted and makes it harder to think.  All in all, not conducive to a good workout.
Take a shower
I'm not implying that anyone reading this has got a little stinky over the summer.  In fact, I'm certain that's not the case.  A cool shower (not cold, that could lead to muscle problems) just before training can help to get over that heat-related slipperiness.  And it can help bring back a little energy on those hot summer days.  Similarly, washing your hands with soap in the middle of a session can bring back your natural grippiness.
Vodka works wonders
With just a little orange juice over ice.  Ok, well maybe not so much with the juice and ice when we're training, but wiping your hands and pole with a towel with just a little vodka on it can also help to get rid of those oils.  Repeat as often as necessary.  Just, don't use the good stuff for this task!  :)
Factor in rest days
Nothing's going to ruin your enjoyment of pole more than having training sessions scheduled in every single day in this kind of heat.  I recommend students spend at least 2 days per week as rest days and do no pole or weightlifting whatsoever on those days.  That's true no matter what the weather, but if you're already prone to exhaustion it's even more important!
Use grip aids (sparingly)
I'm not a massive fan of using grip aids continuously.  I find that it slows students' development of unaided grip strength.  Having said that, I'd much rather you used a grip aid than got discouraged.  My personal favourite are mighty grip gloves, as they (obviously) don't leave any residue on the pole and come on and off within moments.  It might take a few tries, but find a grip aid that suits you and pole to your heart's content.
Change your plans based on your energy
I'm as guilty as anyone of having specific aims I must achieve during a workout but I'm learning.  It's far better to adapt to the day and do whatever seems right at the time.  Even in classes, it can be worth (politely) telling your instructor if you're finding it just too hot and slippy to be doing invert after invert.  Most instructors will recognise when the energy in the class isn't quite right, and try to do something about it.  Last week, one of my favourite classes was unusually quiet and subdued.  We chatted about it and it really was just the heat and the humidity getting to us all.  We came to the conclusion that we needed more silliness to raise the energy levels and our spirits so we ended up playing 'Simon Says' on the pole.  It worked a treat and I went from being slightly concerned about the mood of the class to bouncy and grinning in a matter of minutes.

Overall, just make sure you're still enjoying your pole and make allowances for the environmental difficulties you will sometimes encounter.

Much love

Natalie
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