Posts Tagged ‘ fitness ’

“Look Out World, Here Comes Shannon and Her Golden Pole!”

This was my response to my instructor last night at my first “real” pole dancing class when, while teaching us a routine and realizing I was the only one in the class who was keeping up with her, she said to me, “Wow!  Shannon, you’re really getting this!”  After that week and a half hiatus from pole dancing to make a visit to see my family in the not-so-frozen tundra of Minnesota, my return to the sport (still trying to wrap my mind around pole dancing as a sport…but did you know that they’re thinking of putting it in the Olympics??  No joke!) was, at the beginning, a shaky one.  To be honest, I did not want to go back after the first beating I took.  However, as I walked down the long hall to the studio, voices resonated from behind the frosted glass door and I saw red glowing lights and heard a sultry voice crooning to a more sexy version of Christina Aguilera’s “Genie In A Bottle.”  At this point, I started getting a little excited to walk through that door, grab a pole, and beat my body into submission…once again.

I entered through the door to see the familiar face of an older female friend, whom I had no idea was interested in this sort of fitness.  We exchanged surprised glances at seeing each other, hugged, and talked about our experiences with the pole (she was just taking the “teaser” class, but wasn’t sure if she would sign up for anything additional).  After a brief chat, I left her to put my belongings in a cubby and remove my socks and sneakers.  Then off to find my pole!  A creature of habit, I used the same one I occupied in my teaser class.  We began with the usual warm up, using the pole to stretch our back, our sides, arms, legs, etc.  After the warm-up, we moved into learning a few different spins.  The instructor taught us three or four variations of the fireman spin…one of the easiest in my opinion (well, depending on which variation you do).  A straight-legged fireman spin is not so easy as it requires a lot of core strength that I do not have and happily blame that on having my second baby girl almost nine months ago 🙂  I used all of my ab strength to push her out of my hoo-ha, thank you very much…gimme some time to work on that.

A more complicated spin, in my opinion, is one where, depending on which side you’re using, you place your inner leg (closest to the pole) on the pole with your knee up and hook the arch of that foot onto the pole for a little stability.  Your other leg (the one furthest from the pole) is extended in the air as you circle around the pole, both hands are on the pole, and you “whip” your outer leg around bringing it straight out in front of you next to the pole (legs on opposite sides of the pole).  Whipping the leg into the leg extension gives you extra propulsion around the pole for a tighter, faster spin.  All well and good, if you have ab strength to hold that leg out straight in front of you as you spin down the pole (by the way, these poles are stationary…they do not spin on their own as their is a pin holding them stationary).  Our instructor, after teaching a move, will take a look around the room and watch each lady as they perform their spins and help them if needed.  The studio was full, every pole occupied, and everyone needed help with this spin!  So after my first few failed attempts, I decided to just get the formation on the pole down as she was helping others.  I suspended myself on the pole with my legs positioned the way they should be and held there for a little while hoping to cement it in my brain.  The instructor said, “There you go, Shannon!  That’s how you should be on the pole as you’re spinning down!”  I replied, “Great!  Could you come over here then and give me a little spin??”  The room broke out in laughter and I even earned some applause on that one (I felt a little like the funny fat girl…minus the fat).  Listen, it’s pole dancing and we’re beginners, if you can’t laugh at yourself while you’re learning then give it up.  Everyone in there seemed to be taking things a little too seriously.  One girl kept shaking her head each time she couldn’t get something.  She was looking so frustrated and disappointed in herself.  I’m thinking…lighten up, sweetie!  It’s pole dancing!!

After an ultra-sweaty 45 minutes of spinning on the pole, we ended with one last go at the routine (hell to the yes, I’m a pro…ha!), then pulled out the yoga mats for a cool down.  It was a great return experience for me and I’m feeling every bit of it…especially on my inner thighs!  While reading to my 2 1/2 year old daughter last night, she insisted upon sitting on my indian-style crossed lap.  I told her she had to sit still because mommy’s legs were sore, but she ignored my cries of pain as she used her bony little elbows to shift her weight from time to time.

All in all, it was another fun, exciting pole dancing experience at Apple Jelly Studios and I’m really looking forward to going back again next week to learn more!  I have decided that, if at the end of my six weeks of beginner classes I’m still really into it, I will sign up for the beginner II level and purchase a pole for my home (they’re portable, so I can assemble and disassemble as I wish) in order to get more practice.  Check out the video link at the end of this post to get more of an idea of what a fireman spin looks like (one variation of it anyway) as well as the martini spin.  The martini spin is similar to the spin I was describing earlier, except in the martini spin, you wrap your outer leg around the pole, wrapping with the back of your knee  (for the leg whip spin, your inner leg is placed on the pole, knee up, and the arch of your foot, not the back of your knee, is “wrapped” on the pole), then extend your other leg in front of you on the other side of the pole as you spin.  In the leg whip spin, your outer leg would whip around the pole and extend in front of you in order to propel you around the pole.  When I have my own pole I’ll be able to post my own videos…maybe.

That’s all for now…Shannon

VIDEO:  Basic Pole Dancing Spins


Training for a Marathon

Alright, so I don’t pretend to be the most active person on the face of the planet nor am I in the best of shape.  That being said, I’m spending the next year preparing for a full marathon.  Not a half marathon.  A full marathon…a full 26.2 miles of running…and running…and running.  I have signed up myself and my husband for the ING Miami Marathon to take place on January 30th, 2011.  Registration costs $85/ runner for the full marathon and $60/ runner for the half marathon.  If it’s something you’re interested in, head on over to ING Miami Marathon and Register for 2011.

I’m going to be as diligent as I can in keeping up with my training adventures through this blog (hopefully more diligent than I am say with reporting on Sophie or Addison and my guitar lessons) because I want something besides my ambition and my drive to successfully complete the full marathon in six hours to hold me accountable.  I’m a pretty dedicated person when I set my mind to something and I know I can do this and I’m gonna bust my ASS to succeed!!  I want that medal 🙂  Obviously, that’s not my primary purpose for choosing to run this marathon.  I dug deep…waaaaaay deep down to find out what was truly motivating me to do this and here it is:  I want to successfully complete the ING Miami Marathon because I have put my children, motherhood, a career, and my husband before myself for quite some time now, so this is where I begin to focus on me again and work towards goals I have in mind for my life.  I have accomplished motherhood.  I love my two daughters more than anything and nothing will ever come before them…ever.  I have a career…a great career in fact.  At 28 years old, I finally feel like I am in a field where I just seem to “fit.”  I enjoy going to work every day (yeah, it’s still hard to get out of bed sometimes, but that’s cuz I love to sleep, who doesn’t?) and putting my best foot forward.  I enjoy the people I work with.  We’re a tightly knit group of individuals, each with our own strengths and weaknesses.  We work together to compliment one another and we genuinely enjoy being around each other and seeing everyone succeed.  Then there’s my husband.  What can I say about my husband?  He’s great.  He annoys me at times, yes, but he’s dedicated to me and very supportive.  We work well together.  We have to, because we work at the same place.  Even though we’re around each other day and night, we are still able to get along and work as a team to accomplish our goals for ourselves individually and as a couple, as well as for our family.  We’ve come a long way in a very short amount of time and we’re committed to one another until the end.  He’s my partner in every aspect of the word.

But now is the time to come back to me.  To become healthy, to get back to my roots of who I am as a woman & a member of society.  Somewhere along the road of motherhood, marriage, and work I lost who I was.  I became someone unrecognizable to even myself and I couldn’t live that way anymore.  I grew weary of feeling depressed and like the world and all its inhabitants were out to get me.  I was done with that.  Who wants to live the rest of their lives with such paranoia and anger?  Not me.  So I took control.  I prayed.  I told God I didn’t know who I was anymore and I didn’t want to be unrecognizable to myself.  When I stepped out and put forth effort into regaining that sense of happiness, God met me and snapped me out of my slump.  Suddenly, I wasn’t angry anymore.  I felt more relaxed and not so stressed out.   One of the best pieces of advice I could have received during that slump came from, who other than, my mother.  She said to me, “Shannon, you have to realize that you will not be able to change your husband [or others around you], but you can change your attitude towards him [them].”  Hard lesson to learn, but one that I think changed my life and, quite possibly, saved my life.  I changed my attitude in the way I viewed my relationship with my husband (God bless him for sticking by me throughout those months I was a train wreck).  That was a huge step for me!  Are we perfect?  Far from it!  Do we get along every day?  Even further from that!  But we love each other and we are committed to our love and to one another.

The bottom line is that I’m ready to move forward in my journey to taking back control of my life.  I’m ready to start living again!  I have been faithfully working out for a little over three weeks and it has brought me to new levels in my life!  I feel better!  I look better (heck yes!)!  I eat better!  I live better!  Life is just….better.  Not perfect…better.  And it’s only going to keep getting better.  I know it in my heart.  I know what God has brought me through and I know what His promises to me are.  I know that I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.  I know He’s at the core of who I am and I trust Him.  I thoroughly and completely trust Him.  He does what He says He’s gonna do.  He carries me when I’m weak, but I know when to move with Him to get things done.

So, I’m running this marathon.  Nothing’s going to stop me.  Like I said, I have accomplished many things in my life; however, when I cross that finish line it’ll be a whole new level of accomplishment. I know that my life is not measured by what I accomplish, but I know that accomplishing things in life brings feelings of excitement and energy; therefore, it increases the desire to do more, accomplish (there’s that word again) more, and live more!  And I want to live…live for God, live for my husband & my children, and live for myself.

“When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.”


“Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.”

-Thomas Carlyle (Scottish Historian and Essayist)

Until next time…


Pole Dancing-101

Tonight marked my first step into the world of pole dancing and I have one thing to say, ouch ouch friggin’ ouch!!  It hurts…and not because I feel like I worked my muscles to the core, but because you’re gripping a pole and spinning around on it and it beats you up!  Tomorrow, I’m going to have bruises in places I don’t think one should have bruises in (inner thighs…hello…damn!). 

We learned three different spins and a few dance moves to go in between those spins to put together a sultry sequence of sorts.  The first step we learned was the basic way to hold the pole, walk around it, and “lose your balance” so you effortlessly spin around the pole.  Once we mastered that, we moved on to a spin.  The first spin we learned was the fireman’s spin.  For this spin, you are gripping the pole with your right hand as you step one foot at a time around the pole (as seductively as you can muster under the pressure of doing your first spin), opposite hand on your hip.  On the fourth step you lift your left leg into the air and fall into the spin while you bring that leg to the pole and raise the right leg to join it as you spin around and down.  The momentum you build up from letting go of your balance and falling into the spin enables you to go around the pole several times with both knees up with minimal effort (poles do spin, but ours were stationary).  I say minimal cuz it is still hard, but in no where NEAR as difficult as some of the stuff I’ve seen these girls do.  She made us do each spin on each side (it is a fitness class as well, so the importance of incorporating both sides of the body is stressed), so after the right side we always switched to the left. 

The next spin we learned was a switch kick spin.  Same concept as the fireman spin.  You walk around the pole, one hand on at first and then you grab the pole with the other hand on the fourth step while you lift and spin your leg around and fall into the spin.  This spin is a little difficult to explain, so just imagine standing still and kicking your legs straight out in front of you, one at a time.  It’s kind of like that, only you’re holding onto and spinning around a pole 🙂 

At this point, our instructor has given myself and the other girl (yeah, there were only two of us daring souls in this teaser class) how great we’re doing and how “excited” she is that we’re doing so well, so she gets all excited to get to teach us a third spin, “You guys are doing so great!  You’re naturals,” she says!  Not sure how I feel about being called a natural on the pole.  So, the last spin she decides to teach us is a wrap around spin.  Again, you walk around the pole with your right hand on it, on your tip toes, other hand on your hip.  On the fourth step, you wrap your right leg around the pole and grab on with your other hand.  You then “lose your balance” into the spin and you position your other leg just below the leg wrapped around the pole.  You spin a couple of times and plant your feet on the floor and raise your booty in the air to stand up. 

That’s it!  Then we did a little cool down and we were done.    At this point, I’m noticing that I’m actually sweating, which makes me think I did get something of a workout.  It is difficult, I will say that.  I have a newfound…ummm, respect…for pole professionals.  Oh, I forgot to mention how dizzy you get!!  We even took “dizzy” breaks.  I remember when I used to dance in high school, you learned how to spot when you did turns…guess I’ve forgotten all those techniques.  I did end up signing up for additional classes…six weeks to be exact.  So we’ll see how it goes!  I wondered on my way home how I was supposed to get any better or practice with no pole at home…but I guess you can buy poles that don’t have to be mounted into your ceiling…portable poles.  Take ’em to the beach!  Maybe some day…