How to choose a pole dance instructor

Everyone learns in different ways, and finding the right instructor for you can have an enormous impact on both your enjoyment and also your safety when learning pole dance. Poor quality instruction can delay progress and lead to lasting injuries. So it's important to choose your instructor carefully.

A good instructor understands how the body works

Pole dance uses a lot of muscles that you're probably not used to using. It certainly involves lifting more of your body weight than most people have done before, and it requires you to do that in all kinds of different combinations and variations. As a result, it's absolutely essential that your instructor understand how the different muscles, tendons and ligaments work together to provide strength and flexibility. Rote learning (without understanding) moves WILL NOT enable an instructor to correct subtle posture mistakes accurately, or to adapt to pre-existing medical conditions or temporary injuries.With over 10 years of martial arts experience, I understand the principles behind the various aspects of physical training and am able to explain these to you. Understanding your body is the first step to making it do what you want.

A good instructor understands how the mind works

It's not enough to be able to perform really impressive moves. It's not even enough to understand how you perform those moves. A good instructor has to be able to communicate with their students. Otherwise, you're not being taught. You're watching a demonstration.I have been a practitioner of NLP since 1997 and helped to teach courses in communication skills at the Academy of Chief Executives and the Houses of Parliament and have a degree in Experimental Psychology from Oxford University. I believe that good communication is my responsibility and adapt my teaching styles to suit each student.

A good instructor cares about your safety

As an aerial art, pole dance is more dangerous than other forms of dance, particularly at advanced levels. A good instructor will have a well designed syllabus to ensure that you develop sufficient strength before attempting advanced moves. A good instructor will also ensure that they have the best safety equipment and be able to explain the precautions they're taking on your behalf.At Pole Cats Dance, we use r-pole equipment. These are 38mm poles, which have been shown to cause less stress to the body than 50mm poles. They are also the only pole to come with safety mats as standard. I believe that this is the best equipment available for teaching students, particularly at beginner levels.

In addition to investing in the best equipment for student safety, I have also invested heavily in training, to ensure that I provide the most effective and safe environment for my students. I believe that an ETM (Exercise to Music) qualification, some form of instructor training and obviously first aid qualifications are essential for all pole dance instructors. My syllabus has been carefully constructed to include conditioning work to build strength in the body, as well as a structured progression from easier moves to more advanced ones.

A good instructor cares about what you want

As mentioned elsewhere, pole dance means different things to different people. A good instructor is one who accepts all aspects of pole dance as equally valid, and will modify their teaching to suit your goals and preferences.

In common with every other performer and instructor, I have my own preferred style. I don't believe that this should influence my teaching. Although my preference is for a very 'dancy' style of pole dance, I enjoy teaching the complete range of options, including vertical gymnastics and pole fitness. The feedback I provide to students is always tailored to their needs and their goals.

A good instructor never stops learning

Our understanding of health, fitness and good practice is always developing. Much of the advice given to world class athletes in the 80s would horrify any school PE teacher today. A good instructor understands that they need to continue studying and developing their own practice, both on the pole and in terms of teaching skills, if they are to provide the best they can for their students.

I take every opportunity to learn new skills. I have trained with Maxine Betts (Miss Pole Dance UK) and Becca Butcher as well as travelling around the country for workshops and lessons. I attend pole jams, and talk regularly with pole performers and instructors from around the world.My continued learning is not confined to pole, either. I'm always on the lookout for new activities which can expand my understanding. I have taken classes in bellydance, trapeze, aerial silks and aerial hoop, as well as continuing my martial arts.

Not only does this allow me to recommend instructors for students interested in trying out new and exciting arts, but it helps me to inspire my students. And that's what any good instructor wants to do.If you're interested in further discussion on the qualities of a good instructor, have a look at

Jennifer's suggestions

And some more from Jennifer