Thinking about competing? Here’s 5 reasons why you should

On August 11, 2017, our pole troupe from Redefine Fit competed at the Great White North Pole Competition 2017 in Hamilton, ON and we placed 2nd! I’m so proud of us!

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Whether you’ve just started pole or have been practicing for years, there is no doubt video footage of jaw-dropping pole performances have at least inspired your decision to pole! With pole fitness becoming so popular, you’ve probably entertained the idea of performing or even competing when you found out a local event was coming up. So what’s stopping you? The nerves? The doubts? The oh-I’ll-do-it-when-I’m-better thoughts? You’re not alone!

I’ve been doing pole on and off for 6 years and have only recently ever so slightly wanted to experience what it feels to be on stage. During my one-month yoga teacher training course in India (review here), I received a newsletter from a pole studio regarding a pole troupe competition. Was this my calling? I’ve always wanted to perform and the choreographer is my pole idol LeeAnn Ball from DoublePoleTrouble (I fell in love with their IG page a few years ago!). Struggling with the intermittent internet in India, I managed to sign up – Poor Joanne from Redefine Fit probably received an email notification at 3:00am!

If you’re on the fence on whether you should sign up for the competition, I would say go for it! It’s my very first competition and I have so many positive reasons why you should. I’ve narrowed them down to FIVE reasons why you should perform or compete!

We were so lucky to have a photographer shoot and film our practice sessions.
Garon C. also does amazing portraits, so be sure to follow him on Instagram @photobygaron

1. Work towards a goal

No matter what got you interested in pole, a journey is always a journey. Remember when you first started and even a fireman spin left you with bruises? You’ve come a long way thanks to hours of practice and you even have numerous pole kisses (aka. unsightly internal blood clots) as proof of your hard work. But… is it enough just to share cool tricks on YouTube and social media?

Part of me needed more than just cool pics and video to show friends on my phone. I wanted to experience what it takes to prepare a routine for stage, I wanted to know what it feels to be on stage, with all eyes watching. Yes, it’s very daunting for an introvert! Once I committed, it felt invigorating to tell friends and family that I’m preparing for a competition. Coming from a very traditional family, it really changed my parents’ perspective of pole sport (they realized it’s actually a thing!) and their support for me meant everything!

Beautiful shot of our performance at Bay City Music Hall by Peter Y.
(Instagram: @peteryeungphotography)

2. Meet amazing people and be inspired

Whether you are performing solo, as a couple or in a troupe, you will likely need guidance from a choreographer or pole instructor. These are the people that will inspire you as you come up with your routine.

I already knew LeeAnn was talented from my daily IG-stalking therapeutic sessions, I didn’t know she was THAT amazing. There are probably many times during practice that I completely zoned out just from admiring how she moves, teaches and practices. As a choreographer, she is so creative and inspiring! Even when we as a group were terrible and out of sync (and we know it), she would throw in genuine words of encouragement.

Being part of a troupe was an amazing experience and it’s really the best way to ease yourself into a performance/competition! I got to meet 7 other incredibly talented girls of varying different personalities. The positive energy and encouragement is so contagious! I especially loved discussing costume ideas with them and doing each other’s hair and make up together. Meeting these girls and being able to share the stage and whole experience with them is a memory I won’t forget!

The Redefine Fit Pole Troupe and our choreographer LeeAnn Ball.
Photos by Garon C. (Instagram: @photobygaron)

3. Perfecting a routine

There may be some things you are particularly good at, and some that you sort of avoid… For me, I love being on the pole and nothing scares me. Floorwork and any dance component? Nope, somehow my arms and legs don’t connect to my brain for any choreography once I’m on the ground. Did I also mention I can’t count beats? Throw in a group dance and that instantly became the most stressful component for me.

For this particular routine, LeeAnn already had a magical vision in mind – Alice in Wonderland themed story/pole/group dance. With that being said, she gave us the freedom to design our own short 30s combo. As for me, I had two pole parts to work on: my doubles routine with my twin, and my solo combo. Since the doubles routine was already choreographed, I spent a long time figuring out what to include in my combo. Thirty seconds isn’t a long time!

By the 10th week of practice, I still didn’t have my combo perfected. I wanted to do too much with not enough time. LeeAnn only had to take a look once, gave me a few suggestions and voila! I had my combo! Which goes back to point #2, you meet the most amazing and inspirational people.

In the end, everything will always work out! You learn what you like and don’t like, you learn what you’re good at and what needs more attention.

My allegra on stage!
Photo by Peter Y. (Instagram: @peteryeungphotography)

4. Push your limits

Throughout your pole practice you might have learned countless number of tricks and have a few favourites. While you may be able to execute each move flawlessly, stringing them into a coherent combo may require some more work.

In pole practice, I always practice each move on both sides to balance things out or try another move to let certain parts of the body rest. However, when practicing for a routine, you subject your body to practice the same move, on the same side, repeatedly. For the 12 weeks, I’ve abused my thighs, shin, ankles and foot practicing the same moves repeatedly. Stock photo for domestic violence awareness poster? Check. I’ve never bruised this much in the past six years of poling. Does this mean it’s also the hardest I’ve ever practiced?

Had fun doing a mock up poster with my battered legs.
Who needs dresses, skirts and shorts for the summer anyway?

You will likely get nerves the few weeks leading up to the competition. For me, I had the most terrifying nightmare – succinctly put, let’s just say, half our troupe had stage fright and dropped out last minute, our choreographer wasn’t there when we performed, DJ played the wrong version of our song, we totally bombed our group dance (in the bad way)… Thank god it was only a dream!

Waking up early Sunday mornings for 12 weeks was no easy task, but practicing with these beautiful ladies made it worth it!
Photos by Garon C. (Instagram: @photobygaron)

5. You’ve been inspired, now it’s your turn to inspire

Time is ticking, you’re waiting for the previous contestants to finish their routine. You anxiously pace around, do some last minute stretching while waiting for the MC to call you onto the stage. You walk into the lights, and your nervousness becomes excitement. All the past few months of work boils down to this – 5 minutes.

You hear the music and your body just effortlessly moves. Your brain no longer needs to think because the movements and dance embodies you. As you go through the challenging parts of your routine and perfect it, you can’t help but smile. You smile as you enjoy the process, you smile because the audience is watching and you can hear their applause. The applause continue and you bow, grinning ear to ear. You did it! You earned these recognition so just enjoy it!

If anyone were to ask me what I felt while on stage, I think the correct term would be ‘euphoria’. I enjoyed every moment of it and really hope everyone can feel this way at least once! I can finally say, I’ve been on stage, and I’ve competed. Even if we didn’t win anything, we won!

Redefine Fit owner Joanne was so sweet in preparing these framed photos with signed plaques to commemorate our achievements. Such a thoughtful gift!

Final words

If you’re ever on the fence about it, find a studio that offers troupe performances/competition, it’s an amazing way to build up confidence to go up on the stage! In Toronto, ON, Redefine Fit constantly organizes troupes, so be sure to check them out!

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Still not sure? Let me know what’s stopping you!

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