Why Are You Letting Your Students Kick Into Inversions?
I recently came across an article about a woman who suffered a concussion after attempting to invert on a pole in a beginner’s class. The woman, Elizabeth Pierce, is now blogging about her experience and spreading awareness about pole fitness safety.
Injuries from pole dancing have happened before and they will happen again. There are countless injuries that go unreported which we will never hear of. We all complain about bruises and strained muscles but the worst type of injuries are ones sustained to the head, neck and spine. These types of accidents almost exclusively happen when a student is in an inverted position.
Now I think it’s time to reveal a dirty little secret to you…. I didn’t learn to invert until well after a year of pole dancing. The studio I took classes at did not allow kicking into inversions so students had to build core strength and a foundation before being able to go upside down. We had to pass tests before moving on to higher levels. This may sound extreme but it is a much better option than the one far too many pole studios and gyms across the world give of allowing beginners to throw themselves upside down. I’m not sure what the exact case was for Ms. Pierce but it’s clear she was in a beginner’s class and nowhere near ready to invert.
|My first student recital as a beginner.|
How can it possibly be safe for students without body awareness, without core strength, without developed upper body muscles to try and flip upside down? This is a recipe for disaster. If a student cannot lift his or her body weight into an inverted position with control, he or she will most definitely not have the ability to support the momentum generated from all that kicking. To top it off, students will never develop the strength needed to properly execute moves if they are always cheating when attempting them.
Most students ask me on their first day when they will be able to go upside down. The answer to that question varies depending on the background of the student and their commitment to training. I just smile and tell them to keep coming to class.
I don’t allow students to kick into inversions in my classes. I know this rule is not popular with some students who so desperately want to advance and learn tricks. But I explain to them that without proper training they will never be able to progress. You must be able to do a slow and controlled crunch before you chopper. You must chopper before you learn a leg hang. You must learn strong inside and outside leg hangs before you learn any other advanced moves. It is a pyramid that must be built from the foundation or it will crumble and fall apart.
|I can now cleanly invert into a chopper!|
The article about the woman who suffered a concussion talked a lot about crash mats and barely grazed the subject of the quality of instructors. What good is a mountain of crash mats without an experienced pole fitness instructor certified from a reputable training organization along with them? Pole dancing is not just swinging around a pole as some may believe. It is highly athletic. It requires careful training and body awareness under the supervision of professionals.
Can we as a community of instructors and pole studio owners commit to putting an end to this dangerous practice of kicking into inversions and allowing beginners to go upside down? If we ignore these warning signs, more accidents will pop up and more people will be wary of ever attempting a pole fitness class. The author of this particular article used this accident as a cautionary tale to avoid pole dancing altogether. We need to use incidents such as these to wake us up to mandating safer procedures, training and education in our studios. Pole dancing is a serious athletic activity. We should start treating it that way.