Super Fly Honey Tutorials | Pole Diaries

Hello my lovely pole dancers! Ten weeks ago I partnered with Super Fly Honey to create 10 tutorial videos for you. As crazy as it sounds, I chose TEN moves that I’ve always wanted to learn (aka. moves I haven’t even mastered) and practised them every week to make these tutorials.

It’s been a busy 10 weeks for me as you know my style of teaching is a little different than most online instructors where I share the trial and errors of the moves. There are times I wondered why I chose moves I can’t even do yet, and thought… “Hmm… maybe I should just teach a move I’m good at already”. I stuck through it despite a shoulder injury, technical difficulties (all my raw videos were deleted by accident!😭), and challenged myself to keep making better tutorials for you!

While we called it the #SuperFlyHoneyChallenge on our Instagram (PoleAsana | SuperFlyHoney) and Facebook (PoleAsana | SuperFlyHoneypages, it was truly a challenge for myself. 

I am so grateful for this opportunity to work with Sheena from SuperFlyHoney. It was really a dream come true for me when we began this partnership since I’ve always adored this brand since her very first collection. She’s an amazing woman to work with, a social media whiz, and a new friend with whom I can have a heartfelt conversation.

I also want to thank everyone that have been so supportive of me! I can never stress enough how much your comments, likes and shares on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook mean to me. Your DM’s remind me why it’s important to publish these embarrassing fail videos in an online world of perfection.

Sorry for the long post and sappy message. I just wanted to share how much I love you all!

Here are the 10 tutorials all in one post! Don’t forget to bookmark it 🙂

Rose Gold and Unicorn Heels by Ellie Shoes | Unboxing and Product Review

Unboxing video of my first pole heels! Rose Gold Chrome and Unicorn Heels from Ellie shoes 😍😍

Why I never poled in heels…

I started pole dancing in 2011, which makes it almost seven years! Friends have casually asked me, ‘Oh, you must be really good at walking in those super high heels right?’. No, I actually can’t even walk in normal heels.

I’ve seen girls at studios with 7 inch heels or higher and they seriously looked so elegant in them. I knew being able to invert with straight legs while there’s extra weight on your ankles is no easy feat either. Now the question is, will I look like those girls? Or would I look like bambi?

I wasn’t going to take any chances. Nope.

What changed my mind about pole heels?

One word: Instagram.

When you follow a ton of pole dancers and your feed is graced with elegant spins and combos showing off beautifully coloured pole heels, you want some too! I’ve seen sparkly glitter heels, light up heels, glow-in-the-dark heels, ombre heels… the list goes on.

Now choosing a pair was the hard part!

Ellie Shoes just released two versions of these rose gold chrome ✨✨ heels and they are absolutely gorgeous! Then they also had these super duper cute unicorn 🦄🦄 heels. Then I thought, “Well, even if I can’t wear them, at least I can stare at them?”

709-BRIA Rose Gold Chrome in Clear & 777-DASHING Unicorn Heels in Clear
Ellie Shoes

First Impression

Quality (5/5)

Upon unboxing the shoes, I noticed both pairs of heels are very well-made! The plastic used in the heels were sturdy and high quality. The padding on the shoes were comfortable and slightly grippy to prevent your feet from sliding forward too much, which is so important when wearing heels! The plastic straps were a little harder than expected but I believe they do soften over time with wear.

709-BRIA Rose Gold Chrome by Ellie Shoes

Style (5/5)

I’m definitely biased here! I got them mainly for how they looked, so of course I’m in love with them!

The rose gold chrome is super shiny and I can’t stop admiring the beautiful shade. Because of the chrome finish, the platforms are a huge fingerprint magnet. It’s not noticeable but I did have to wipe them clean for the pictures.

The unicorn heels look really cute and I feel like a fairy/princess when I wear them. The clear heels don’t really show up in my videos (they’re clear, obviously!), but you do see this unicorn horn which looks funny/cool at the same time. If I ever feel creative, I think I can also cover the clear parts with glitter!

777-DASHING Unicorn Heels in Clear by Ellie Shoes

Fit (4/5)

I’ve never ordered from Ellie Shoes before and I didn’t know any shops/studios that carried them so I did a bit of research on sizing. A lot of people have recommended to size up from their regular shoe size because Ellie Shoes do fit tight and narrow. They also only carry whole sizes.

I normally wear a size 7, sometimes 7.5 to accommodate for my slightly wider feet. I’ve never had to size up to an 8 before so was slightly hesitant. But chances are, it’s better to have slightly bigger shoes than shoes you can’t even wear right? I also chose the clear straps because they are more flexible than the patent coloured straps, so they can fit better over time.

709-BRIA Rose Gold Chrome by Ellie Shoes

Luckily, the 709-BRIA fit perfectly! The clear straps at the front are a little hard and tight to fit in at first. With PVC plastic, they can be warmed up with a hair dryer to fit better on the feet.

Unfortunately, the 777-DASHING did not fit as well. It was a bit bigger than the 709-BRIA (I ordered both in size 8). The front straps were more comfortable and looser, but the front tip of the shoe extended much beyond my toes did. So, for the 777-DASHING, I would recommend ordering your true size.

Overall Impression (4.5/5)

Walking and poling in these high heels weren’t as bad as I would have thought! I practiced walking around the pole and used the pole for support if I needed it, but turns out I was OK! Like wearing any new shoes, my feet did hurt slightly after walking around the house for an hour in them. I also noticed my calves ached a little too which meant I was working those muscles out! Yes!

I absolutely love them and these beauties are sitting on my shelf like a piece of art work right now!

777-DASHING Unicorn Heels in Clear by Ellie Shoes

Special Thank You to Ellie Shoes!

Thank you for designing such beautiful heels! They were definitely love at first sight and I just knew I wanted these ones for my first pole heels. The heels in this review and the videos are graciously gifted by Ellie Shoes, so please visit their website to view all the other beautiful designs, then follow their Instagram and their Facebook for daily doses of heels inspiration. 😍😍

How I Met My Videographer

I’ve been filming and posting on YouTube for years, so why does filming with a professional videographer make me so nervous?

I make YouTube videos as a hobby. I do pole tutorials/fail videos. I would barely call myself a professional – not in pole, and definitely not in film-making. But, ironically, I share pole tutorials on YouTube. So first and foremost, many thanks to YouTube for allowing an imposter like me to take a stab in this realm of the online world.

Why I decided to film with a videographer

What started as a side-hobby slowly became an integral part of my life. I’ve certainly gotten more comfortable with poling in front of other people but that also came gradually. Actually, let’s take a few steps back.

Years ago, it might have taken me many tries to get a move perfectly, worst part is, it might not even be replicable! By chance, I fooled the world into thinking I’ve got this! Well, if you filmed 1000+ hours of your fails, surely you will get one decent looking clip. I would never subject any photographer or videographer to that torture as they watch my horrific struggles.

Typical folder containing my raw footage for one pole move, ~5GB in size for an intermediate move.

However, as I improved, my repertoire of moves expanded, my stamina increased and my techniques are more refined. I have a few go-to moves that I know I can pull off effortlessly and still look nice on camera.

I envied YouTubers with beautifully filmed and professionally edited MV-quality promotional videos. I’ve always wanted one too! But being your own videographer while filming pole videos is next to impossible – I mean, I don’t think I can operate a camera, get it to pan, while spinning upside down on the pole.

Then one day, I finally thought, “Ok, I think I’m good enough to collaborate with a videographer for a promo video!” Who knew serendipity was actually spelled “c-r-a-i-g-s-l-i-s-t”?

Finding the right videographer

Ideally, the best avenue to find a videographer would be through friends or referrals. Depending on the type of video you are filming, it makes the whole process a lot more enjoyable when you can relate to the person you are working with. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not know the person who basically would have physical copies of me in every angle possible, including the most unflattering facial expressions! Oh god… yes, please be kind to your photographers/videographers, they hold more power than you think!

Unfortunately I didn’t know any videographers.

The Otion Pictures website looks very clean and professional. He also worked with a lot of different clients!
Sounds legit 😊

I’m sure we all heard the saying, “Don’t talk to strangers!” and maybe, “Don’t talk to strangers online“. I definitely am guilty of the latter! Did I mention I found Otion Pictures through Craigslist? (For those who don’t know, Craigslist is an online classified ads site.) Amongst the slew of sketchy ads, his stood out as the most legit. Maybe I can feature him in a blog post on ‘How to write legit ads’, because he definitely nailed that one.

To summarize, Ocean from Otion Pictures (such a clever name!) was looking for another Cantonese-speaking (✓) girl (✓) who is interested in filming (✓) or has an active YouTube channel (✓✓✓) to collaborate in film-making tutorials for his Ocean Video Tutorial channel. I’m like, “Hey, that’s totally me!” and promptly sent out a email to reach out. Seeing samples of his previous work and his current projects made me optimistic about our collaboration.
I watched a few of his YouTube tutorials and noticed how well-spoken he was.
Then I spent the next few days worrying that I might have to talk on camera if we collaborated.

Meeting Ocean, the videographer

As millennials, we exchanged our contact information through our online portfolios – website, our YouTube, Facebook and IG handles. I think that gives a pretty good summary of a person’s work, don’t you think?

We met up in-person to discuss the projects we could work on, and detailed the logistics of the most relevant one. We decided to do a promotional video for me, Pole Asana, to let my readers and subscribers put a face and voice to the nameless girl behind the tutorial videos.

Ocean’s main audience was on Facebook and YouTube, whereas mine is focused on YouTube and Instagram.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Since we are filming Kimmy/Pole Asana in her natural habitat (aka, my home), I needed to clean out my already-empty place. At the end of the clean up, it was only the pole and 4 walls! Since my place was tiny, every little bit of space was needed for all the equipment.

 

Selfie video with the equipment set-up

Ocean came and rolled out 3 boxes equivalent to over-sized checked baggages. He claimed these were already “top of the line, lightweight and compact versions”… 😒 I can’t imagine what the full-size would look like… With the full set up, I can’t help but feel nervous. Seriously, we set all this up for me? I felt overwhelmed!

Check out the gear in the bottom right hand corner!

For our video, we had 3 major components: the interview, the pole portion, and the yoga portion. One of the three are not like the others, can you guess which?

I absolutely dreaded the interview process, it took much much much longer than I anticipated. I was really hoping to do the pole/yoga parts first since it would help me open up more. Unfortunately because my make up and hair was ready, it made more sense to do the interview before my face starts melting…

The interview took around 2 hours, simply because I didn’t know what to say, I kept stumbling on my words, and laughing uncontrollably at how funny I sound on the camera. Nonetheless, it was definitely a learning experience and I can say I’m more comfortable with speaking on camera now. The pole and yoga portion was the most fun, and most relaxing part for me. Despite never having filmed pole/yoga videos before, I only had to show Ocean the move once to let him figure out how to film it, then execute it 1-2 more times for the actual clip.

While the shoot was physically exhausting, I’d much rather do 5 hours of pole/yoga than 2 minutes of interviewing! Of course, Ocean thought that comment was insane.

 

Overall, this experience was so fun, educational and rewarding! I have learned a few things and wish I could have prepared a bit more in advance. I’ll be writing a blog post soon on how to prepare for a videoshoot!

In the meantime, please take literally ONE minute to enjoy the video that we spent 5 hours filming! And if you haven’t already followed/subscribed, please do so as it means so much to us!

Pole Asana’s links: YouTube | Instagram | Facebook
Otion Pictures’ links: YouTube | Instagram | Facebook 

Hello, my name is Kimmy

Social media is a beautiful thing. It allows us to curate the best image of ourselves and portray it however we want, all in the comfort of our own home, behind an anonymous, perfected profile. Some people use it to live the life they want to live, for others, it becomes a journal of their everyday life. For me, social media became my safe haven to escape the judgement I may face if real people knew who I really was.

 

*In this rather sentimental post rant, I also wanted to pay tribute to all these beautiful strangers that left their kind words on my YouTube page. You’re the reason I do it! 

 

If you haven’t noticed…

For the longest time, I never used my real name in my blog posts, YouTube videos, Facebook and Instagram. In fact, you can’t really see my face in them either. I can’t really explain why, but I didn’t want people to know who I was.

A voice kept telling me, “You’re a pole dancer, you share pole videos online… when employers search your name and your YouTube page comes up, it’s not gonna end well.” At least that’s what I’ve managed to convince most people, but deep down, that wasn’t the reason. I just didn’t want to be known and made sure it stayed that way in the past 5 years.

What is Pole Asana?

When I first started writing and vlogging, I didn’t have a goal in mind. I grew up in an extremely conservative family and always maintained a ‘good girl’ image. Pole and me? No way. When I first started pole I felt empowered because I found something I loved, but at the same time I also felt very alone because I was afraid to tell anyone. In the first few years, I’ve recorded so many videos of my pole practices, videos I never thought I would share. Of course, there are days when it just feels like nothing is right – you feel weak, exhausted and defeated. On one of these days… I dug up my old videos. The ones where I can barely invert? What straight legs and pointed toes? You mean the ugly frog legs? Ya, those embarrassing videos. As I went through each of them, I saw so much improvement!

The first video I ever shared was my scorpio.
On the left: beautiful cocoon (super advanced pole move) – not me
On the right: a barely there closed inside-leg hang, while slowly sliding down the pole – me circa 2011

The uplifting effect these simple videos had on me made me wonder if someone else could benefit from this. I searched through YouTube and actually couldn’t find too many videos of people showing their fails. I mean, ya, I get it, it’s ugly and no one genuinely wants to see fail pole videos if they’re not funny (the world is pretty cruel sometimes!). I gathered up the small amounts of courage along with the non-existent video-editing knowledge I had, and uploaded my first Pole Diaries video on YouTube, ready for the world to judge. I clicked upload. I clicked published. And waited for something to happen… Of course, nothing happened! The world didn’t stop spinning because I decided to expose myself in the most vulnerable way. In fact, I think I got a record-breaking 20 views and 3 subscribers in 5 days! Good job Kimmy, job’s done.

My intent was never to gain any publicity for what I do. I only wanted to share and inspire others and so I just kept publishing more of these videos. I can’t say I get a lot of views or subscribers, but every comment that I got reminded me that if I can be a positive influence to anyone, it’s all worth it.

TL;DR version:
Pole Asana is my diary to document my pole and yoga journey. It’s meant to inspire other people and hopefully change the public perception and stigma associated with pole dancing.

Why are you so afraid to use your real name?

I didn’t want online people to know the real me, and I didn’t want people in real life to know what I do.

It took a few friends a very long time to convince me to start a Facebook page for Pole Asana. I hesitated because I knew it could eventually trace back to my personal account.*gasp* What if someone finds out??? Well, I finally did it, and it wasn’t so bad! I was happy to “come out” and let my friends know that this is what I do. Honestly, I think most people don’t really care and those who did were very supportive! All that worrying was for nothing! But for some reason, I still had a mini heart attack when my best friend left a comment on my photo: “Kimmy, you’re amazing!!” Irrationally, I deleted the comment in panic and apologized profusely to her. I could tell she was hurt and a little confused… To date, I still regret it (I’m so sorry, Estie!)

When I started teaching private lessons, I was still hesitant to share my name again (no surprise right?) and instead used a nickname, Kay. I love my students and I loved the connection I built with each of them. But a part of me still wanted to keep my pole life separate from my real life. But what’s to say pole is not already a big part of who I am already?

In this reflective time alone, I scrolled through all my past photos and videos on my blog. None of them clearly portrayed my face. At least, if anyone saw those photos/videos of me, they would never recognize me if they bumped into me on the street. Was that deliberate? Yes. I wanted to share a part of my life with the world, but only anonymously.

It’s been a long journey since those days when I still hid from the world. Competing in my first pole competition was an item off my milestone checklist. My parents’ perception of pole changed when they knew I was training to compete on stage. They also became super supportive of me when I finally showed them my YouTube videos. Oh ya, they shared it with their friends and family on Whatsapp too! When you’re Asian and your parents praise you in front of their friends, rejoice because that definitely doesn’t happen often!

 

Hey Kimmy, what’s next?

I always thought being personable and professional is mutual exclusive. I didn’t know if it was appropriate to show those silly happy dances at the end of my videos (ya, I cut those out), since that’s the real me but not the professional me. There was a clip where I smiled after getting one of the moves and someone actually commented on how they loved my smile. I literally basked in that comment for days!

I also decided to post a few selfies on Instagram – which is not very me at all! In case you haven’t noticed by now, I’m very self-conscious and would be happy just being a wallflower. But I loved seeing the occasional non-yoga or non-pole selfies my role models share on their IG feed since I can really put a face to the amazingly flexible and strong bodies.

Lastly, I’ve been slacking off on updating my YouTube channel but I promise I will start posting more videos soon! It’s been on my agenda to start doing voiceovers but I just lacked the confidence to do it. An exciting collaboration is coming up and that was just the little motivation I needed to step out of my comfort zone.

Thank you again for everyone, virtually and in real life, who had been so supportive of what I do. A small comment really goes a long way! Hopefully, you will all like the new me. Okay, it’s not really ‘new’, but more the real me. It’s hard to just throw myself out there waiting to be judged, but I’ll do it anyway! Just be nice 😉

Travel Immunizations for India

Traveling to India? What immunizations do I need?

Travelling is SO exciting. You’ve booked your flights and accommodations, scouted out some amazing sites and activities, perhaps your bags are already packed weeks in advance (more like months for me!). While we patiently wait for our departure date to come, it’s also important to tend to the not so exciting stuff. Yes, travel immunizations and medications.

Let me be honest here. I hate needles, I hate taking medication, but I’m very risk adverse when it comes to my physical health. The thought of having to go to a health clinic (or hospital, yikes!) in a foreign place with language barriers is the last thing on my mind. So if I can bring myself to a travel clinic to poke my arm a few times, I think you can too!

When should I get my travel immunizations?

With most travel immunizations, it’s best to visit a travel clinic at least 4-6 weeks before your departure. Of course, if you’re leaving in less than 6 weeks, it is still useful to visit a clinic since there are some vaccines or medications you can get just before you leave.

Does insurance cover travel immunizations?

In Ontario, Canada, visits to a travel clinic and immunizations are not covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). If you have an insurance plan from your employer, you may want to check to see what your coverage entails.

Since travel vaccines are not covered by OHIP, the prices are determined by the private clinic and may vary. The prices I listed below are prices I was charged at Passport Health. The cost of all immunizations and medications were surprisingly expensive! Of course, you do not have to get immunized for everything they suggest, but ask them what the top priorities are and get those. As for the breakdown of cost, I’ll explain this in detail later in this post.

Where do I find a travel clinic?

I did a quick Google search on ‘travel clinics’ and went with the one with the highest rating in my area – Passport Health. I thought they were pretty good, even though I really have no other travel clinic experience to compare them against. If there are ones you highly recommend, let me know and I’ll visit them next time I need to travel!

Many years ago, I visited a walk-in clinic to get travel immunizations for my trip to Costa Rica. The experience was definitely not as thorough as a travel clinic and they did not have some of the vaccines in stock. Family doctors may be able to help with travel immunizations, but I personally thought getting a specialist would be more suitable for a longer trip.

Passport Health Travel Clinic in Toronto

What’s the process like?

With Passport Health, I booked an appointment with them through their website and filled in their electronic patient intake form. The form was very straightforward, namely asking where you’re travelling to, your travel dates, previous medical history, allergies and immunization record. I’ll be travelling to multiple locations and they give consultations for all those destinations.

For the appointment, make sure to bring your immunization record. For Ontarians, this is the little yellow immunization card you carried around when you were a kid. Having complete record of your immunizations expedites the process and eliminates burden of potentially getting vaccinated for something you’ve already been vaccinated for.

I met with a registered nurse for my consultation. She went through my immunization history and recommended a list of vaccinations specific to my locations and time of travel. Given the list was pretty long and would have cost an arm and a leg, I asked her what is a MUST, and what is a NICE TO HAVE. She kindly circled 2 important ones.

During this time, I asked her to give me a moment as I checked whether my insurance covered the vaccines and medication. Luckily, my coverage was very generous and all the recommended vaccines were covered so I decided to get them all. Throughout the whole consultation, she was very patient with me and explained everything I had doubts on.

As for prescription drugs and the oral vaccines, I asked them to forward this directly to my pharmacy so I would not have to pay out of pocket. All other subcutaneous vaccines were administered at the same appointment and paid up front. Unfortunately, they do not do direct insurance billing so you would need to submit the receipts on your own. If booster shots are required, you can book your appointments as well. I walked out that day with 4 shots in total, 2 on each arm.

There can be quite a few needles involved! I got 7 shots just for this trip 🙁

What immunizations & medications do I need for India?

Regardless of where you travel, not specific to India, it’s a good idea to get your routine immunizations up-to-date. If you work or volunteer in a hospital, you probably had to prove you’re immunized before you started. Here are the vaccinations that are covered by OHIP if you haven’t had them, or if they need to be updated (alphabetically ordered):

  • Hepatitis B (Hep B)
  • Haemophilus influenzae B (meningitis)
  • HPV (human papillomavirus)
  • Influenza (Flu shot)
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
  • Pertussis (whopping cough)
  • Pneumococcal
  • Poliomyelitis (Polio)
  • Tetanus/diphtheria (Td)
  • Tuberculosis test (Tb)
  • Varicella (Chicken pox)
The following are immunizations recommended in addition to the routine vaccinations for travel to INDIA and their prices:
Vaccines (in order of priority):
  • Hepatitis A ($90/dose)
  • Typhoid Fever ($60/dose)
  • *Dukoral (oral vaccine) (~ $90, taken 14 and 7 days before departure)
  • Rabies ($240/dose, 3 doses at 0, 7 and 28 days)
  • Japanese Encephalitis ($290/dose, 2 doses at 0 and 28 days)
Medications:
  • *Malarone for malaria prevention ($3-4/pill, one daily starting 2 days before arriving until 7 days after departing malaria zones)
  • *Azithromycin for general antibiotic (~$15 for 6 pills, 2/day for 3 days at onset of traveler’s diarrhea)
* Items listed with an asterisk can be filled at the pharmacy so prices may vary.
The total cost for all my immunizations, medication and consultation fee ($60) was around $2400. Wow. I definitely took our comprehensive healthcare system for granted! I never knew the cost of vaccines before this.

The Passport Health website also provides a lot of information on travelling to specific regions. Here’s the link for India.

Travel medication kit: Dukoral (taken before the trip), Malaria tablets, antibiotics, multivitamins (doctor suggested prenatal vitamins for me), anti-diarrhea pills, Pepto bismol pills, vitamin C supplements, electrolytes. Not shown: polysporin, TUMS, pain killers, allergy pills.

What other over-the-counter things should I bring?

Over-the-counter medication should be easy to purchase abroad. I’ve read some travel bloggers recommend just buying these items as you need them. However, I admit I’m not a very avid traveller and I personally would not want to be running to a pharmacy or corner store when I’m not feeling well, especially in a foreign place. More importantly, I do have concerns as to the quality of the medication and the expiration dates on these items. I’ll be bringing the following things in my emergency/medical kit:

  • Anti-diarrhea pills
  • Electrolyte packets
  • Vitamin C packets/tablets
  • Pepto-bismol tablet
  • TUMS
  • Pain killers
  • Allergy pills
  • Multivitamin
  • Polysporin & bandaids
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Summary

I know this is a lot of information to read through and I definitely was overwhelmed at my consultation. From the list of immunizations, booster shots required, different dosage and schedule of each medication, prices and deciding if I really needed each vaccine, I really wished I could have read a bit more about this before my first visit. So what do you think? Am I overly prepared or am I still missing some things? Please share!

DISCLAIMER: Please do not substitute the information from this post for professional medical advice. I wrote this post for the purpose of sharing my experience as I wasn’t able to find such information online. I do highly recommend visiting a travel clinic before you leave on your trip. Have a safe and healthy trip!

Free Women’s Self-Defence Class from Wen Do


As a woman, you can never be too prepared to protect yourself. Learning self-defence is a great way to boost our confidence and empowering ourselves in difficult situations.

I took my first Wen Do class during my university years when one of my roommates asked me if I was interested in taking the class with her. Being extremely busy with school, taking time out of my schedule was difficult and I admit was not on my list of priorities. The weekly classes went by really quickly, I recall feeling silly practicing these moves on cushions and rolled up yoga mats pretending them to be our attacker. Being naive and oblivious to the dangers the world can bring, I admit I didn’t take the class seriously enough. In the back of my mind, I just thought, Oh, I’ll never need to use it! 

It’s been many years since I took that class (yes, I’m getting old!). Not surprisingly I don’t remember everything I learned but I recall 2-3 skills should I ever need to use it. So this story doesn’t unfold into a success story of how learning Wen Do got me out of a life-and-death situation. Sorry! (Actually I’m thankful I don’t have one to share!) With plans to travel alone next month, learning self-defence became a necessity. I did a quick Google search on ‘self-defence‘ classes in Toronto and got a few hits for martial arts and MMA type of training — close, but not exactly what I’m looking for. Then I searched ‘women’s self-defence‘ and www.wendo.ca was among the first few hits. At first, it sounded familiar but I wasn’t sure if this was the same class I took before.
Wen Do classes featured on CBC news! The instructor here demonstrates the choke-hold release.

What is Wen Do?

From their website:

 

Wen Do is the longest running Women’s Self Defence organization in Canada. It all began in 1964, when Anne and Dr. Ned Paige saw a story in the media that had widespread coverage in Canada and the U.S.A about a woman named Kitty Genovese. She was murdered in New York City by a stranger with a weapon as she walked home from work. Anne and Ned were impacted in particular by the news reports that suggested neighbours heard Kitty screaming for help. Some of those neighbours said they saw through their windows the actual attack and thought that ‘everyone else would be calling the police.’ This lack of support from witnesses was named the ‘bystander effect’ because of this situation. The Paige family decided to take their martial arts expertise to begin developing physical self defence techniques based on the concept of that women never have to use strength against strength to successfully defend themselves.

In summary, Wen Do is a women’s self-defence organization that began in 1964 to empower women mentally and physically to protect themselves. They have taught over 5,000 courses and 100,000 women and girls in the past 40 years!

What do they teach?

Each class is a nice balance of theory and physical skills. We spend about half the class learning and practicing physical techniques, and half the time on discussion. The instructor shares many many success stories about how girls as young as 6 years old, to women as old as 60+ were able to survive harassment and attacks from perpetrators. There are so many more successes shared here, but each of them had a very positive effect on me personally because it shows we don’t need to be physically strong to survive, but techniques really make a difference!

Over the course of 6 weeks, we focused on a new set of physical techniques and discussed different themes. Many girls and women in the course openly shared how they’re skeptical about their own abilities and some even shared their own experiences. Each class empowered me as we focused on positive reinforcement and reminding ourselves we’re worth fighting for.

Where can you take the courses?

I hope by now I’ve convinced you that this is such a great course and you’re maybe intrigued to enroll in a class! The Wen Do courses are offered at many different institutions throughout Ontario, Canada. The first one I took many years ago was at McMaster University, Hamilton and the most recent one was offered by the Women’s College Hospital, Toronto.

The link here shows an updated list of what’s being offered and I think you can also request to get them to teach at a location closer to you if they don’t have that already.

Women’s College Hospital kindly hosts free Wen Do courses for women.

How much does it cost?

The cost for the course varies depending on whether the fees are sponsored/subsidized. Navigating through the current offerings, there are basic 15-hr courses ranging from $0 to $150.

If I recall correctly, the course I took back in McMaster University was around $50 and the rest was subsidized by the University. The recent course I took was completely free and was graciously sponsored by the Women’s College Hospital. The hospital offered a venue for the group, covered the course fees and even reimbursed participants with TTC tokens. WCH also offered sign language interpreters for those who have difficulty hearing and/or speaking. I really can’t thank the hospital enough for such a wonderful gesture to help protect women.

Regardless if the course fees were covered, I think the cost is very reasonable and so worth it. You can feel the instructors’ contagious passion about their work and desire to help empower you.

Key take-away from the course

  • Unlike martial arts, self-defence has no rules. The course instructors remind us everything is situational and there will always be a time certain techniques are favoured over others. She said she won’t tell us ‘never do this, never do that…’
  • Breathe. Breathing prevents us from freezing in stressful situation. On top of that. yelling forces us to breath and empowers us and draws attention to us. If in doubt, yell!
  • Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, trust that instinct and be prepared.
  • Sometimes it’s easier to stand up for someone else, or a loved one than ourselves. But remember you’re also worth fighting for!
In case you’re wondering, yes, I broke the board with my bare hands!!!
Ladies, I highly recommend this course! It was really fun and most importantly educational. Whether you live in the city or plan to travel, I can’t stress how useful it is to learn a potentially life-saving skill. Please share this with your girl friends, sisters, mother, or any ladies in your life! Take the course together or go alone and walk out with new friends 🙂

Em-bracing my decision :D

Adulting is hard! Adulting is even harder when you still look like an undergrad. Throw in some dorky glasses and braces and I’m back to being a highschooler. Funny thing is I never had braces as a teen and I would have really liked having them when I was younger!

So why did I choose to get them when I’m an adult? Well, my parents never thought I needed them and I also understood the cost was astronomical for them to afford braces if my teeth weren’t that bad. Yes, they looked straight enough, but my overbite always bothered me! Now that I’m working, I feel it’s a financial and time investment I’m willing to make.

I started my braces journey on November 11, 2015 and was told it would take around 18 months. I do have to say I’m a very compliant patient! I go to all my appointments, brush my teeth after every meal and wear my elastics diligently. Exactly one year after, I was told I might be able to get them off 3 months early! Wow! That hard work paid off!

I marked my calendar for Feb 15th for my de-bracing day and started my countdown. I also had a scholarship to a yoga teacher training course in India waiting for me and all I had to do was pick a date to go. So I decided to book for March 2017. I couldn’t wait! I’ll be on this exciting 2 month journey with a brand new smile!

Today is Feb 8th, just one week shy of this epic day I’ve been waiting for. But I’m not happy 🙁

My teeth look straight at a glance but there are a few things I’m not completely satisfied with. Long story short, things weren’t quite right yet and I didn’t know what to do. I called up my orthodontist and told her my concerns and she asked me to come in if I had time.

During the commute there, I debated what I really wanted. Sure it sucks to still have braces when I’m on my trip, making new friends, visiting family I haven’t seen in a decade, and taking vacation pictures to forever immortalize my face with braces. But did I really want to remove the braces when my teeth weren’t perfect just because we set an arbitrary date?

After my appointment, I left slightly disappointed but relieved at the same time. And here I am blogging about my feelings to hopefully convince myself it’s not the end of the world!

In the end, I figured I’ve already spent so much time and money on these braces, it’s stupid to remove them with a less than perfect smile. Not to mention all that pain for nothing! Going two extra months without adjustments also sound wasteful but it may actually work to my advantage! I’m so close to the end of my treatment and these two months would be like a headstart on my retainers! With the removable retainers I might actually lose it on my trip, with braces I don’t really have to worry about anything. Finally, as weird as it sounds, I felt a little sad and missed my braces knowing the braces will come off!

With that, I’m going to embrace this decision, embrace my dorky highschool look and capture my amazing vacation with this teenage face 🙂

Studio Fitness in Victoria, BC | Studio Review

Studio Fitness in Victoria, BC


On this brilliant New Year’s Day, I visited Studio Fitness which specialized in barre, pilates and dance. I felt especially happy since the sun was shining, there was no traffic on the drive to the studio, everything was off to a perfect start. The studio is located inside the Quadra Sports & Fitness with plenty of free parking in the back. There were no clearly marked signs indicating where the studio was but to quote Justina Bailey, the owner of Studio Fitness, ‘Just follow the women in legging and you’ll find us!’. Surely enough, I found it!

Mirrors in the studio
Having only taken 1 barre class before, I consider myself a complete novice! Justina recommended I jump right in a try the Essentrics Barre class:

The Essentrics exercise program offered at STUDIO FITNESS is the same program that has been aired on PBS as ‘Classical Stretch’ since 1999. It has been rated the #1 fitness show on the network for over 10 years. Essentrics is used by numerous business professionals, Olympic athletes and celebrities. Performing the STUDIO FITNESS Essentrics stretch class will help slow down the aging process while keeping the body young, attractive, strong and healthy. Participants will notice an immediate increase in flexibility and a release of tension in their muscles after each class – improving their posture and range of motion. Stress is released and aches and pains are soothed through the gradual unlocking of the entire body. Justina Bailey has learned the methods directly from Miranda Esmonde-White at her facility in Montreal. More info about the brand here: Essentrics.com

Even with the amazing class description, I wasn’t sure what to expect. In the back of my mind, I thought it would be like a pilates-barre type of class. Sore legs and butt? Sure, I need to work off all the food I ate over the holiday anyway! The class was surprisingly full (around 20+ students) for new years. Perhaps everyone had the same thoughts as me (eg. holiday guilt, new years resolution, etc).
The barre is actually a bamboo stick!
The essentrics barre class began with the students in the middle of the room facing the mirror as we began doing warm up exercises similar to those you do in dance classes. The warm up exercises were dynamic and flowed well with the playlist Justina picked. As we progressed through the warm up exercises, the music also seamlessly picked up in pace to match!
As we transitioned towards the barre, we completed series of workouts for the legs, butt, core and arms, balanced with active stretches to strengthen and lengthen our muscles. While at times the class felt challenging and our muscles shook relentlessly, the atmosphere was light-hearted and we laughed at ourselves while we acknowledge the shaking legs. In the different poses or reps we did, Justina would make sure to come by, offer encouragement and adjustments.
Storage cubbies and banana leaf plant
My favourite part of the class was the last portion. No, not because it was coming to an end, quite the contrary! I actually loved the class and didn’t want it to end. But the last portion of it was dancing in slow motion, while stretching and strengthening. Again, all the movements worked soooo well with the music she is playing (I really want her playlist now!) I’ve never really done something like that but the way Justina led the class to flow with the music while being strong, graceful and confident was beautifully unique.
At the end of the class, I just had to ask what this whole dancing/stretching/flowing thing we did was! She said essentrics is ‘tai-chi to music’! On hind sight, it was exactly that! The movements in the class were so fluid like water and air that it felt like a dance class, but also strong and powerful martial art. Truly the best of both worlds.
Registration area
I really want to thank Justina for introducing me to Essentrics. It was a great work out that disguised itself as a fluid and graceful dance. The moves were super simple to follow along, even for someone uncoordinated like me and have trouble memorizing dance steps! Justina was so sweet and beamed with positive energy. She is such a strong and graceful instructor role model that it’s no wonder women are drawn to the class, even on a holiday!
Now that I’ve fallen in love with essentrics, where else can I find classes? According to Justina, there is only 1 other studio in Victoria that offers essentrics, but is very popular out in the West.  On the Essentrics website, there are two offerings in Toronto from Framewrk and MisFitStudio, so I might visit them some time soon!

Setting the Barre High! ft. Alive Mindbody | Studio Review

Alive Mindbody Studio
A very chic studio for all your barre, pilates, yoga and pole needs! 

Welcome to this special series where I take you along my adventure of scouting out some yoga studios in Victoria, BC. Yesterday I visited Yew Tree Yoga, for a warm welcoming yoga session and today I wanted to try something completely new!

Kristen, the owner of the beautiful Alive Mindbody studio invited me to try a barre class – something I’ve never done before. I joined her this morning in a Barre Flow class and the description sounded perfect for a beginner like me:

Soulful music challenges your body in a different way when we hold poses longer and complete deeper stretching throughout this Barre class. It’s like a Yoga class on ginseng..and upright. You’ll feel like a zenned warrior at the end.

Before we begin, I also wanted to share their beautiful website with you! I absolutely love the colours and the Easter egg is really the class descriptions where there are the most adorable stick figures. They also offer quite a fair number of classes throughout the day, everyday of the week. With some many classes available, the unlimited monthly membership is quite a steal, so make sure to check it out!

Reception desk and waiting lounge

Since I’m new in Victoria, I wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to find parking. Luckily, the website had parking information listed out here and details which streets offer free parking and for how long.

Let’s take a look inside! The studio is located on the third floor of the plaza complex. Once you enter the clearly marked doors, there are plenty of signs directing you to the right place. Everything is colour coordinated with their business logo so you won’t get lost!

Spacious lounge area for catching up with friends before and after class.

The receptionist greeted me and checking in was a breeze. I was given a quick tour of the place and I asked if I could take pictures for this review.

Little locally crafted potions and jewelry with a beautiful mirror.

In the waiting area, there are two large benches and merchandise for sale on the walls. The decor with the mirror and little succulents are so cute! Lots of the little bottles of potions are also made locally.

Lots of merchandise and local crafts available for sale!

The change rooms are a very simple room with a partition for some privacy, a large mirror and wall hooks. Just like the cute stick figures on the website, there are cute logos on the doors for the ‘chicks’ and ‘dudes’. There’s a few other stick figures throughout the studio but I’ll keep that a surprise for you when you visit 🙂

Minimalistic change rooms with adorable stick figure labels on the door.

As this was a barre class, I figured we won’t be using a yoga mat much. I didn’t bring my own and that’s alright since all the props you would need for class are stored in these cubbies and free to use. Again, most studios in Toronto charge rental fees for yoga mats so this is a very nice change I can get use to.

Yoga mats, blocks, bolsters, blankets, free weights, toning balls, and anything you need for class.

There are two studio rooms at Alive Mindbody. The smaller room is relatively bare, featuring clean white walls, floor-to-ceiling mirrors on two sides of the room and a storage shelf for pole classes. The studio just looked so clean and well-kept!

Beautiful and spacious studio.

The main studio had large windows on one side of the wall and mirrors at the front and back of the room. I really loved the different chandeliers and plants they hung from the ceiling!

As this was my first class, I wanted to find a place to hide and not draw attention to myself. Some of the other girls looked super well prepared with their special grippy socks, hair tied in a perfect bun (I still don’t know how to tie my hair in a bun!). I wasn’t sure where the front or back of the room was, so I just picked a corner and hoped for the best. Yes I was super nervous and worried I won’t be able to keep up. Well, I soon found out there is no ‘front’ or ‘back’ since we change direction quite often! So much for trying to hide!

Main studio with barres along the walls and oh-so-cute chandeliers!

For my first barre class, I think I did pretty well and survived! I could feel my legs were a little wobbly when I was driving home after class. Coming from a yoga background, barre was quite different. There is a lot more emphasis on leg work and some shoulder. I would say it’s almost like a pilates class due to the repetition, with the exception of mostly standing up and having a horizontal barre for balance. The exercises we did was perfect! They were simple enough for beginners to follow, but the challenge really comes from the repetitions. Any ‘easy’ movement becomes so much harder when you have to repeat it ~8 times! With the relatively small movements in barre, I was able to discover groups of muscles that I’ve never really thought about. Yes, you will sweat a little, your muscles will feel a burn and shake but you also feel so accomplished after! I’m pretty sure I’m gonna be sore the next morning.

Candles by the window add to the holiday spirit.

I was really glad I got to try a barre class at the Alive Mindbody studio. The instructor and owner Kristen was so energetic, friendly and encouraging. These qualities are so important especially for a more dynamic flow type of class to keep students motivated! If it wasn’t for Kristen’s reassurance that we’re all doing fantastic, I might have taken a few more water breaks 😛

Have you tried a barre class before? If so, please let me know where you practice and what you like about the studio and the classes!

Exciting news for 2017!


I want to thank everyone for being so supportive of my adventures in 2016! This year, I began practicing pole and yoga more seriously, dedicated much more time into creating YouTube tutorials and publishing blog posts, reviewing yoga studios and products, started my online shop, and finally, began teaching private pole lessons. Throughout all this, I realized this is what I realllllly enjoy doing. Despite having a very stressful day at my 9-5 work, coming home to teach classes, editing videos or doing anything related to my business immediately makes me so happy!

Two exciting news I want to share:

1. Rebranding: From Kaybbt to Pole Asana

Kaybbt (pronounced Kay-B-B-T) was a username I picked for my blog back when I first started writing. Kay is my nickname and since that username was taken already, I chose to add something else I really liked: yes, bubble tea (BBT). Back in 2013, I didn’t think anyone would read my blog so I regrettably did not spend too much time thinking of a better name! To date, a few people have asked me what the name meant or how it’s pronounced. When you start feeling embarrassed having to explain your nonsensical branding, that’s when you know it’s time for a change!

I spent a few weeks thinking of names I want to call my pole and yoga business, and bounced ideas off a few close friends. The ideal was a memorable name that conveyed the marriage between pole and yoga. We came up with a few that I liked (I even started designing a logo for it!) but I had to admit I didn’t love them. Out of nowhere, I had an eureka moment and the name ‘Pole Asana’ came to mind.

Pole Asana was the perfect name for me! In yoga, ‘asana’ generally refers to poses or postures such that Pole Asana literally translates to ‘pole poses’ with allusions to my love for yoga. Whether it is for blogging, social media, online business or teaching, I already feel so much more confident with this new brand!

2. Next Stop: 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training in India!

The previous news might have foreshadowed this announcement since I’m trying to rebrand to a pole and yoga business. I’ve been doing yoga for almost 7 years now and have always wanted to become an instructor. Timing, costs and all sorts of excuses got in the way but I finally decided to just do it! I got a scholarship from the yoga school, paid my deposit, booked my flight, and will be spending 4 weeks in Rishikesh, India in March 2017 for my 200YTT! This will be a very exciting journey for me and I look forward to sharing this experience with you in my blog!

I’ve been trying to find more information on what it’s like to do a YTT in India but haven’t been able to find a super detailed blog for it. If you or you know any friends/family who have gone, please let me know! Also, this will be my first time visiting India so any tips would be super helpful!

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I really want to thank each and every one of you for supporting me! Wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday!