The pole-tarded’s guide to going upside down

Ah, the pole inversion.

It’s the definitive move that says you’re serious about learning some skills and not just shimmying round the pole like a bored Bangkok go-go dancer. It’s the move every novice pole dancer wants to nail so she can move up the ranks from pure newbie-dom.

Oh wait, no they don’t? That’s just me? Ah. Right!

I always envy girls who take to new moves like ducklings to water. For them, learning to invert is just a matter of 3 simple steps:

Step 1: Place both hands on pole beside head and step in front of pole
Step 2: Swing left leg up above head and hook ankle onto pole
Step 3: Bring right leg up to meet left leg and squeeze together

Voila! You are now upside down on your pole.

…Unless you’re like me and have trust issues with gravity, plus a general fear of throwing your body backwards in the air head-first. In which case, it goes more like this:

Step 1: Place both hands on pole at head level and step in front of pole.
Step 2: “WTF do you mean hook ankle on pole above head?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?”
Step 3: “I’m swinging my leg as much as I bloody can!!!!!”
Step 4: Once toe touches the pole above head, feel vertigo closing in, panic, and flop back to the ground.
Step 5: Clutch pole with both hands, gasp for breath
Step 6: (Optional) Observe classmates who are all currently hanging upside down from their poles
Step 7: (Not recommended) Feel like loser cos inverting on a pole feels freaking anatomically impossible
Step 8: Repeat process for 2 weeks until finally able to invert

(image source)

The disclaimer is that you do of course need enough strength and control to do this without injuring yourself. I’ve heard of everything from fractured toes to cracked ribs on girls who tried to force their way up with brute force when they weren’t ready yet.

But what nobody mentioned is that you might also need a little courage and faith, which I was severely lacking at the time when I first learned.

What I did have an abundance of was fear! Fear of flipping over backwards and cracking my skull open, fear of slipping out of place and snapping my spine in half, and just fear of being upside down in the first place.

In reality, the likelihood of those mishaps occurring is pretty low because both hands need to hold the pole firmly at all times.Β But fear is never rational, which is why my fear of the giant monsterΒ squid who lives at the bottom of the ocean next to Sponge Bob makes it hard for me to swim far out at sea without anxiety, but that’s another story.

Anyway like they say, “What goes down, must eventually come up”: After 2 long weeks of swinging, sweating, dropping, flopping, flailing, cursing and swearing, I finally managed to hook that damned left ankle onto the pole above my head and made it through my first term of intermediate 1 in bare feet.

Then I had to learn how to do it with my heels on, which shifts your centre of gravity, and it felt like starting all over again right from scratch. Aaargh!

So now,Β three whole months after my first lesson in the upside-down, my basic ankle-grab invert with heels on is still a work-in-progress: Though I can rather un-gracefully hoist my legs up and haul my ass onto the pole, it’s not exactly pretty yet.

But upside down is upside down! And at least I haven’t fractured any toes or cracked any ribs, and last I checked, my skull is still in one piece. I do still feel a twinge of fear before every invert, but with each successful one I also feel a tiny bit more empowered. Performance week is 2 weeks away, so hopefully it looks better by then.

No pressure, right?

About Chwenny

Body, soul, and pole!
This entry was posted in Gimme some Dancing!, Silly whining and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The pole-tarded’s guide to going upside down

  1. Lori says:

    LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hey, I’m over a year in, and I am not fully inverting. I flail around like a fat, dying bird until my spotters push my legs up for me. I’m working on my core strength to help with that. But I did invert last night…put the evidence on my FB page this morning. πŸ˜€

  2. OMG!!! LMAO!! Love ihis, I’m a year in and I finally love my invert and feel solid, like a bat hanging upside down. thank you for this!

  3. KS says:

    I read this knowing exactly what you mean cuz that’s how I feel. I still cannot do a full invert on my own yet and it’s damn discouraging and frustrating when almost everyone else is doing it with ease. I’ve read the rest of your blog and know that you’re now pretty accomplished. So thanks for being an inspiration and encouragement!! πŸ˜‰ I will juz have to practice and push towards hooking my ankle around the damn pole!

  4. Adele says:

    So true! Been there – Any tips for holding on with just your legs (i.e crucifix)…I’ve done it a few times but just can’t seem to get the grip and stickiness right – long skinny legs don’t help either. Think I am just thinking about it too much maybe…;-)

  5. That really made me laugh, totally captured my upside-downy reservations! I’m usually pretty fearless about falling off but the inversion gives me trouble (got no faith in my grip strength- I’d swear my hands and wrists are made from a mixture of paper and poorly-set jelly). I make up for it with freaky-strong legs usually but when I’m trying to swing my right leg up it feels like I’m wearing a rollerskate on the end of it. Not even managed to graze the pole with a toe yet. Ah well, practice, practice, practice…

  6. Adele says:

    I’m here at half past one in the morning cos I can’t stop thinking about the invert! I totally relate to your post. Can’t wait to go back to the studio and try again and again

  7. Valerie says:

    I’m still trying to learn how to get into an invert 😦 Maybe I should try it without heels …. (Just started/finished my first Int 1 term)

  8. JOYA says:

    Hi…you guys just made me feel so much better! 4 weeks into my 1st inter 1 and thought I’d never get to invert till my 4th Inter1…Managed to do it last week and still wondering how I did…no my issues are holding on confidently with my legs to to the hand stand and go down…..I’m guessing practise makes perfect…I SHALL conquer it πŸ™‚

  9. Brianna says:

    I just came back from my pole class and thank you for the relatable post. You see, I started pole classes together with a friend, but she’s now in advanced level while I’m struggling with inverting because I’m DEADLY SCARED of being upside down. I could do it, but for most of the classes now I was struggling with inverted crucifix because it demands I take my hands of the pole. Well, long story short, I’m a very competitive girl and because I felt the need to push myself to do something I was not ready for, I fell face first and broke my two front teeth. I should have see this post before so I wouldn’t feel dejected that I couldn’t do what people around me were doing, because I’m not them: I have different insecurities, fears, self-knowledge and strength. You must push yourself to do things you’ve never done before but be patient with your own body. If you are insecure you are able to do it, ask for help from friends and instructor. What holds you up there is mostly your courage and focus, so use them to the max so you won’t hesitate and fall. I’m crying here over my teeth because they were the only ones in my mouth that weren’t crooked in any way (I’m also vain, yes, horrible personality altogether). But I’ll go to pole classes next week again and I’ll try again, thanks to your motivation. But this time, I won’t rush nor think I’m a failure when I can’t do things perfectly. Because well, I’m going back there instead of giving up on the first fall. That makes the difference.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s