Don’t moisturise
The most basic rule of pole, known by everyone who has taken a pole class: moisturiser is the enemy – you will slide straight off the pole. Say goodbye to soft hands, glossy skin and strokeable thighs. You won’t be needing those anyway. Welcome to a world of calloused hands, rhino skin and flaky shins. Believe me, you’ll be thankful for those tough thighs when you come to learn superman. 

Do respect the times of your class
You might not like the warm up. You might not be a fan of cardio work, or stretching, but the warm up is there for a reason. Turning up late means your body is not ready for the class, putting you at risk of injury. It’s also a distraction for everyone else as you rush in, all fabulous and fashionably late, trailing legwarmers and autograph hunters, or at least issuing explanations about vomiting children or collapsing cats. Of course everyone is late sometimes, and of course it’s not a problem and your instructor should, time permitting, be able to manage your safe warm up, but if it’s a regular thing it might be worth investing in a really big, accurate clock. Like Big Ben, for example. 

Flav is always on time to pole class

Similarly, don’t turn up unannounced 45 minutes early, when your instructor may be holding a private lesson, having a meeting, catching up with paperwork or preparing the studio for your class – unless you are happy to get on the rubber gloves and help. Studios take a lot of work to run smoothly, and there is more admin than you can possibly imagine. If you are going to be early, drop your instructor a text. More often than not, she or he will be happy to hang out and chat, but it’s best just to check.

Don’t adjust the heating or air conditioning 
If you are too hot, or cold, please ask your instructor to adjust the temperature – please don’t do it yourself! If you turn off the heating and we don’t know, then in the classes following yours the studio will be cold. It is important to maintain the correct temperature from a safety point of view – muscles respond to temperature, and cold muscles are more prone to damage. Also, even though you may be too hot, the rest of the class may be cold. You wouldn’t adjust the thermostat in your friends’ house unless you are a weirdo. Ask your instructor.

Do make sure you are paid up or have your money
“Hello barman, I’d like a bottle of Bollinger, a Grey Goose and a packet of cheese and onion crisps please. Only can I pay you next week because I left my purse in the car and I don’t get paid until next week”.
“Why yes! After all I don’t have bills to pay and I’m not offering any sort of skilled expertise or quality product”.
Do I need to say anything else?
Listen: As with all of these points, if you communicate with your instructor, depending on your school’s policy, more often than not an arrangement can be reached. But if you regularly turn up without money, make me chase you for weeks or in the case of one notorious non-payer I once had, actually go to the cash point and “accidentally” only withdraw half the money and then suddenly forget the PIN you entered not 30 seconds ago, you make yourself look untrustworthy, and you are insulting the majority of students who pay on time, promptly and without being chased. That shows respect. And respect gets you a long way. 

Don’t use spray tan
Or should this be “don’t lie about using spray tan”.
Picture the scene: strangely orange student with muddy looking knees, elbows and tell tale tide marks around the ankles is slipping all over the place. 
“Why am I so slippy today?!” she wails. 
“Your spray tan has made your skin slippy, in much the same way moisturiser would. No big deal, let’s work on something that doesn’t require so much grip this week”
“But I’m not wearing fake tan!” she protests.
Oh sweetie. We can see it. We can smell it. It smells like biscuits and wafers. You may have had it done several days ago and your skin may be squeaky clean, but when you work up a sweat, your spray tan comes out of your pores and makes you slip. It’s possible to get a fantastically flawless spray tan rather than a dodgy, speckled, neapolitan ice cream combo of white, brown and furiously scrubbed pink bits, but even the flawless ones won’t help your grip. If you must tan, it’s going to happen. So maybe this should be: Don’t be surprised if you use fake tan and slip.

I don’t use spray tan, this is my natural colour, I can’t even with the fake look

Do share the space
Two to a pole can be great fun. You get to hang out with your pole buddy, learn from each other, share tips, take photos, have a breather in between moves and enjoy all sorts of awesomeness. But no one likes a pole hogger. Respect the space, take turns, but don’t panic about taking your time either. Don’t feel you have to rush through the move so your partner can have their turn. With any luck you’ll fall into a natural rhythm that suits you both. As a rule of thumb, having 2 or 3 goes at a move is about right before swapping. And don’t forget to share any tips you might have with your partner as you learn… but…

Don’t teach
You are paying a not insignificant amount of money for someone’s expertise. That fee is justified by extensive qualifications and training, masterclasses, workshops, experience, training and insurance (amongst other things – for more on the value of good pole classes, read my blog on Pole Doesn’t Grow On Trees here). If you have some helpful tips, please share them, and offer support to your fellow students. But there is a fine line between this and instructing someone based on something you have done before or have seen on YouTube. Your pole buddy may not be ready for it, or may have an injury or an issue which your instructor knows about but you don’t. Don’t be scared to offer help, or spot moves if your instructor has shown you how to do this safely, but remember that you are paying your instructor for a reason. Leave the teaching to them.

Do take care of personal hygiene
This is an obvious one you would think wouldn’t you. And I would like to thank all my lovely sweet smelling students who endlessly apologise when they start sweating in class (that’s what you are meant to do!) and warn me when I approach them to spot them in a move, despite the fact that they don’t smell unpleasant at all.
Let’s get this straight: fresh sweat doesn’t smell bad.  It’s the sign of a hard workout, of determination, the smell of a thousand gyms and studios throughout the land. As a fitness instructor, I’m used to it. It’s normal and acceptable. Here’s what’s not: cheesy feet, bad breath, body odour, a basic lack of hygiene. Honestly? These students are few and far between. But for those few, a quick shower once a day is enough to take care of all these issues. It’s not hard guys. 

Don’t talk when your instructor is teaching
Talking over your teacher makes it difficult for the other students to hear, distracts the instructor and means that you won’t hear what you are being taught either. When the instructor is supposed to be spotting other students in the move they just taught and supervising their technique, you’ll find yourself asking him or her to go through everything again because you missed it, which is disrespectful to those who were listening and who need your instructor’s attention. And if you have just arrived for your class and are waiting for the class before yours to finish, don’t chat all through their lesson and cool down. There are only three acceptable reasons to interrupt your instructor: to ask for further explanation, if it’s snowing, or if a celebrity has just died.  

Do tidy up after yourself 
Drinks bottles, sweet wrappers, used plasters, liquid chalk, cigarette butts outside… students, I love you dearly but I am not your mother. Please use the bins provided and leave the space as you found it. This blog is making me sound like a nagging old bag now. I don’t mean to. Things that are acceptable to leave at the studio: heels, glittery things, sexy shorts, sequins, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, your dignity, naked photos of Justin Timberlake. 

Don’t worry about what you, or anyone else, looks like
I don’t care that you have borrowed your boyfriend’s boxers, or the only shorts you have are pyjama bottoms. I don’t care that your T shirt isn’t from Bad Kitty. I don’t care if you are carrying a few extra pounds, or have had eating disorders in the past, or issues with self harming, or stretch marks or scars or any of the things you might be worried about. I just care that you are there. I think that’s an amazing step to take and I will provide you with a safe and non judgmental environment to continue taking those steps. Think about it – are you looking at everyone else and judging them? No. And they are not judging you either, I promise. 

Do take photos 
Taking photos is a great learning tool. It’s the easiest way to track progress, to see how your gemini now varies from your very first one, how much your flexibility has improved, or how much that old hair colour absolutely did not suit you. Photos are also a great communication tool – when you are upside down clinging on for dear life, your instructor’s cry of “leg down! leg down!” is likely to make less sense than those websites helping you with HTML. But with a photo in front of you, your teacher can point to the leg in question, and explain where she would like to see it instead. Ahhhh it makes sense now! Photos are also great when you want to revisit a move but can’t remember the name. “Can we do that one where you’re upside down and your leg is on the pole and the pole is here… or is it there… and the arm is up here somewhere and oh I can’t even remember it now…” A photo here saves everyone’s time and sanity. Plus, it’s always amusing to look at what people are doing in the background. Just don’t get distracted by text messages, Snapchat and Facebook. 


Do listen to your body

If you are ill, stay at home. If you are injured, communicate with your instructor so he or she knows your limitations. If you hurt yourself in class, let your teacher know, but listen to your body. Pole does hurt, it burns and it’s tough, but there’s a normal amount of healthy struggle, and there’s harming yourself. That whole “pain is failure leaving the body” stuff is crap. Your instructor is not a doctor. They can help and advise you, but only you know how something truly feels, and if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Nothing is worth risking injury, not even conquering that nemesis move.

Don’t rush to get ahead 
Pole is a journey. A wonderful journey built on a foundation of core moves. If I had one piece of advice for students it would be this: slow down. Spend time nailing each move, perfecting it and holding it, not rushing onto the next one. I know it’s tempting to want to invert on week one and handspring on week two but there is no rush – you are in competition with nobody. You have the rest of your life to spend on this journey. Savour it, enjoy it, and you will be a far better poler for it.


BEXIITA ACKLAND

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