Doing those drop-in classes in Manila was a blast! I think I’m definitely going to start making it a point to check out pole studios whenever I travel from now on.
On Saturday, I arrived at Polecats almost 30 minutes early for the 11 a.m mixed class, so I sat in to watch the beginners class.
There were about ten girls in the class, all working on a 45mm chrome static pole each. They did the basics: spinning, climbing, …and then near the end of their class, totally stunned me by working on Supermans from the ground!
*Beginners here work on Superman??! Whoa.. best to increase that pain tolerance right at the start I guess!*
After the Beginners class ended, one or two of them stayed to join the mixed class but it was much smaller, with almost half the number of people. Amaya, the instructor, put me right at ease with her friendliness and directed me to the one 40mm skinny pole in the room. Phew! At least that made things slightly more manageable.
After warmup, we started off with some spins, and of course I had to again re-learn how to use momentum to swing myself into them ..which on spin-mode usually translates into a fast trip to barf-land.
My Rockstar spin was a sad mess, and my Chair spins were only making it about halfway around the pole in slowww motion… until Amaya said to sweep my leg out the way I would to re-gain aerial momentum on spinny. And it finally clicked! I could spin myself a few rounds decently after that.
At Pole Cats, they practice everything equally on both sides. I was worried about not being able to do anything on the left but ironically, I actually spin on static better on my left side. I think its cos I tend to grip more tightly with my right hand, and my muscle memory is stronger on the dominant right side where I do everything spinny, so my body just keeps wanting to do things spin-style… which is super frustrating!
Then came time to move on to more challenging stuff.
Since inverting on static wasn’t that much of a challenge for me, I joined another girl in learning the Side Climb, (something we almost never do at Bobbi’s… at least, I haven’t learned it yet.) while the other girls worked on inversions and leg switches.
The poles at Pole Cats are at least a foot taller than the highest ones at Bobbi’s, so Side-Climbing to the top was a proper workout. Especially on chrome with no shaving gel! Thankfully I’d brought along my Dry Hands, or I might never have made it past the first climb because chrome is super slippery compared to brass. And this was already on a slim 40mm… I can’t even imagine doing this on a 45mm!
So we practiced climbing all the way up, and then extending out into a Figurehead pose down to the floor. It’s a very graceful spinning descent when done right, but I just kept slipping down half way. And I have to admit that the extra pole height made me quite nervous as I looked down from right at the top!
Because I’m so used to mostly doing things on my dominant side, my left leg grip is much stronger and more controlled than my right, so side-climbing on the left was actually also easier.
And as if I needed proof of how much weaker my right leg grip is, I developed this super massive bruise behind my right knee, but just a tiny little one behind my left.
So apart from my non-dominant side saving me, (I say ‘saving’ because after a certain point, my right knee pit hurt so much that I had to switch to my left. Thank goodness they do things on both sides!) my left upper body definitely got an equal workout that day, which is great. And so did my abs, which still ache when I cough now!
After the class, I had just enough time before meeting my husband and our friends for lunch to thank Amaya and take a couple of photos. Turns out, she’s friends with one of the instructors from Bobbi’s. What a small world!
Later that same day, I headed over to Pole Academy Philippines (PAP) for my second drop-in class at 430pm. The studio is located at Arts in The City, which is a charming little dance-hub-cum-mini-community-centre. There was a hula hooping dance class going on in the middle of the open area when I arrived, and another dance class going on when I left.
The Pole Academy class was 90 minutes, and quite intimate. It was taught by the very hot Annie, whose dad is the founder of PAP.
The first thing I noticed was that most of the poles in the studio looked like huge 50mm’s! Fortunately, I spotted a 45mm Platinum Stages stand alone pole in the corner of the room and made a bee-line for it.
There were about 6 or 7 students in total with everyone working on their own poles, and was a truly mixed class as some of the girls were at basic Beginner level.
We started with spins again, and this time my Chair spin was much better thanks to the practice I’d had earlier at Polecats.
The teaching style at PAP is to go through a series of different moves in one lesson that are tailored for each student’s ability, so we went through Spins, then pole sits & planks, then inversions. There’s also more of a dance element and an emphasis on ending all moves in a sexy pose, which I love!
For the pole sit/plank portion, Annie showed me a ‘diva drop’ sequence: Double climb, Sit, basic Plank Layout, Advanced Plank layout, Layback (CAR), Sit-up, then slide down to land.
I had trouble with the Advanced Plank, which I’ve only tried on my own a few times before and not very successfully. And I found myself in a slight pickle: The stronger hand needs to be the one supporting you below on the pole, which is my right. But I’m more secure crossing my right leg over my left, which means I’m tilted to the left and so it would be natural for my (weaker) left hand to reach down and support me on the pole instead.
So I tried it both ways and found that I could hold the Advanced Plank better in the stronger arm / weaker leg combo, but couldn’t transition to the Layback because I never do them with my legs crossed the other way, and nearly slipped off the pole trying to! Luckily Annie’s a good spotter!
So I definitely have new motivation to practice everything on the other side. You never know when you might need that other arm or leg to be the important one in a new move!
When the lesson moved onto the inversion part, Annie asked me to demonstrate a Gemini to Scorpio and back to Gemini switch (which isn’t too bad) and I promptly forgot all about the gigantic bruise behind my right knee and tried it on the other side, immediately landing on the fresh bruise behind my right knee.
So I decided to skip the leg switches and asked if she could walk me through a Superman transition instead. One huge benefit of using fat chrome poles is that it pinches the skin far more gently than skinny brass does! (Ok, it still pinches but the intensity feels more like 7/10 instead of 11/10…)
The sequence she showed me was: Chopper invert, Gemini, Foldover into pike thigh hold, Superman, then tucking in and landing.
I gave it my best shot, but kept getting stuck and sliding too low to the ground right before the Superman. Getting a firm hand grip on the slippy 45mm chrome was also a challenge, and I was starting to tire out by that point too.
Luckily, Annie announced that it was time to put on our heels and wrap up the class with a mini dance sequence where we put together simple combos of the moves we had all just learned, minus the inversions but complete with body rolls and head rolls!
After the class I thanked Annie and said goodbye, but in my anxiety at having to navigate my way back to the hotel by myself after sunset, (it turned out to be just a few buildings away) I forgot to take a photo with her. Doh!
But at least I managed to Google the above photo of her. Told you she was hot..
Anyway, I’m really glad I got to try pole classes in a different environment. Despite the frustration of not being used to the width, finish, and stillness of the poles, the experience has actually made me resolve to improve my static-fat-chrome skills because there is a whole world of studios that use static-fat-chromes out there, and I really want to explore it!
Oh and also, it’s actually quite a nice change to have done 2.5 hours worth of pole without developing a single blister on my hands!