Mindfulness & Pole Dancing


Last year I talked on this blog about how and why most of our New Year resolutions don’t work. You can read it here, if you’re interested, but what it all came down to was this: resolutions suggest a change needs to be made and that you are somehow not good enough.

This year I want to offer you a different resolution to implement not only in your pole classes, but your everyday. To start the year off right and set yourself up for success, I want to talk about how including mindfulness practices into your pole work will help you get the most out of each session.


Mindfulness in its most technical form is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” More plainly, mindfulness is being fully aware of what is happening in the present moment.

But Emily, aren’t we always aware of what’s happening in the present moment? Well yes, but there is a little more to it than that.  

Mindfulness is typically known as a form of meditation but can be practiced literally anywhere at anytime. Among its theorized benefits are “self-control, objectivity, affect tolerance, better memory retention, enhanced flexibility, equanimity, improved concentration and mental clarity, emotional intelligence and the ability to relate to others and one's self with kindness, acceptance and compassion” according to the American Psychological Association.

As well, inn recent years, scientists have found associations between mindfulness and physical health, especially in terms of weight control, as people who are mindful during meals tending to be less likely to gain weight. A few studies also have suggested that people who deliberately immerse themselves in the feeling of moving and in their environment are more likely to exercise again.  

For me, I can see these things benefitting my pole training in several positive ways. Besides the obvious potential of better flexibility, thinking more kindly about myself means less insecurity about my bodys’ looks and abilities. It means fully appreciating the difficult things my body is achieving each time I go to class and increased focus means I am more likely to remember what I have been taught, future corrections, names of tricks and more.  Focussing on your body will help prevent injury or overworking, and will help keep you safer while completing tricks and in recovery. By being fully present, I can enjoy every moment of each class and feel more fulfilled with each workout.

How do I practice mindfulness during class?


1.    Breathe

Your breath is key in not only practicing mindfulness but your pole workouts in general. Steady and even breathing efficiently fuels your body with the oxygen it needs to complete the physical tasks required for pole and to keep your muscles moving. The repetitive inflow and outflow of your breath creates a rhythm that can help anchor you into the present moment and help you push through some of poles more difficult tricks.


2.    Feel your body

Before starting class, take inventory of how you’re feeling. Do you have pain or discomfort? How is your energy level? Have you eaten recently? By doing this, you’re connecting yourself to your body and you’re then able to make the right choices for yourself at that moment. By being fully aware of your body, you’ll better be able to prevent injury and strain and you’ll start to feel all the muscles hard at work and realize how strong you really are.


3.    Notice your environment

Studio Chic offers a relaxing and bright environment to enjoy your workout, so use this to your advantage! Enjoy the lights, warmth, colours and the people around you by taking note of what you see, feel and smell. By grounding yourself to your surroundings, it’s easier to remain in the moment.


4.    Slow down

I know you are super excited about pulling off this move (and I am too!) but sometimes its important to slow down during your class. Take a moment to breathe between each trick attempt. Remember that you set this time aside specifically for YOU, so give yourself permission to enjoy it. Use this moment to remember why you are here. Take your time with each movement, particularly strength training exercises. Focus on your form and your posture which will improve your pole technique over the long term.


5.    Correct your posture

Posture affects every move you make. Through correct posture you create the optimal spinal alignment for any physical activity. Posture is especially key in pole for all the back and shoulder work required. Remember, shoulders down and back! (You'll thank me later)

6.    Think kindly about yourself

Studio Chic is already a judgement-free zone, but the worst culprit of body shaming is always ourselves! Make the studio your safe space from your own head and leave the self criticisms at the door. Make it a goal to no longer shame your body for what it can’t do and doesn’t look like, and instead celebrate it. If you nail a trick, give yourself a pat on the back. If you fail at something, give yourself a pat on the back for trying and go again! Your body and mind are accomplishing some pretty amazing things and you should be proud. If you wouldn't say it to your friend, don't say it to yourself.


7.    Talk to your instructor

Struggling with a move in class? Having an off day?  Thinking too much about negative things? Talk to your instructor! Studio Chic instructors are a wealth of knowledge and motivation when it comes to getting the most out of your pole class. They are there for you, never judge and want to see you succeed but they are not mind-readers. Speak up!


8.    Set a goal or intention

Setting an intention or goal at the beginning of your workout will set you up for success by helping you focus on what you’re doing. By breaking down your large goals into smaller ones, you are more likely to accomplish them. For example, instead of saying “I want to be more flexible this year”, say “I am going to challenge myself during our stretch today.” Your goal can even be as simple as “finish this class”, it’s totally up to you!


9.    End on a good note

Remember all the good things about the workout you just did and take note of how good it feels when you’re done, either physically, emotionally or both! Give yourself time to cool down and take time to stretch the muscles you worked. If you can, take a moment to lie down at the end of the workout for one last deep breath; you earned it.


10.  Write in your pole journal

Write in your pole journal noting things you learned, challenges you faced, goals for next class or even just that you had a fun class! It is very satisfying to review your journal later and see all the progress you’ve made. Writing is also a mindfulness activity in itself. By writing down your experience from that day, you are remembering and valuing each moment and being present during the time you're writing.


In conclusion, on top of all your wonderful pole and personal goals, I challenge you to give yourself the gift of presence this year and be in the moment. Happy New Year #polefam!


Until next time,



GWN Pole Competition: My First Competition


Exactly one week ago today I hit the stage at my very first pole dancing competition, the Vertical Love Great White North Pole Competition (GWN). Myself, along with 16 others from Studio Chic, performed and placed in a variety of categories from pole, to chair and groups. I think I speak for most of us when I say that the main inspiration for signing up for this competition came from SC Instructor Suzy and I think a quick thank you is in order for that! Thanks for pushing us all to sign up, it was a great learning experience and so much fun!

My motivation for signing up mainly comes from the fact that I love performing. Though I do not have a dance background, I love putting together my own pieces and executing my vision on stage. My main goal was to make it through my entire routine without forgetting any of my choreography. This is something I have always struggled with and I am happy to report that I accomplished that goal at GWN!


Competition preparation started for me around four months ago when I began narrowing down my songs. I listened to my choices intently and created themes/storylines for all of them. Once I finally decided which one I loved the most, I started to think about which tricks I wanted to feature in my routine. When I started doing this I began to realize that I had not learned any new tricks in a long time and wanted to challenge myself further by adding a few new ones to my repertoire. I proceeded to book a few private lessons to clean up old tricks and learn a few more. By doing this, I was able to add a few tricks such as the Shooting Star, Thigh Hold, and Knee Hang, and put new combos together that I’d never done before such as Bow & Arrow to Butterfly. If you can spare the extra cash or catch a Studio Chic Sale, I would highly recommend signing up for a few private lessons every now and then. The special attention and corrections you get are so helpful in furthering you in your pole journey and giving you lots of things to work on during practices whether you are preparing for a performance or not.

Two months out from the big day, I sort of fell off the competition train and became highly un-motivated to continue training and finish my choreography. August’s SC Blog post covered that exact topic and discusses some of the tactics I used to get myself back on track. What really helped was a concerned phone call from a friend to get me to finish that choreography and I was off to the races. Due to my lack of motivation, I had lost a little strength and flexibility, as well as time, for the competition. I refocused on my main goal of completing and memorizing my choreography and spent the majority of my effort focussing on that. I work best using choreography sheets such as the ones I made for this competition. Lyrics, time markers, spin/static pole marks and trick notes all help keep my vision on track along with video recording my choreography over and over. I would recommend choreo sheets to anyone who is an organization snob like me. 




Tuesday before the competition I did my final run through so that I could rest in the days leading up to the competition and finish my preparation on a high note. I tried my best to eat well, stretch and go to bed early for the rest of the week. On competition day, I packed my bag with essentials like my costume, dry hands, headphones and a few extras like safety pins, a snack and double sided tape. My hubby and I hopped in the car to head to the early rehearsals at the venue Bay City Music Hall in Hamilton, ON. The organizer of the competition, Fran, allowed time for each performer to run their routine on stage before the show to get a feel for the poles and the size of the stage. To save my energy (and my best performance for last!) I opted to just mark my choreography out, instead of performing each trick. I would recommend this going forward to anyone who performs in the future as I really think it makes a difference. We spent the rest of the day applying makeup in our cars and killing time until stage time!



For the record, I competed in the Entry/Amateur category at GWN and there was a three points of contact minimum requirement for everyone in our category. I learned that there would be five judges critiquing our performances who came from a variety of different backgrounds ranging from ballet to pole. Scoring would be done based on the Benchmark System meaning the first person to perform in each category would be the “benchmark” and each performer thereafter would have points added or deducted based on the benchmark score.

Being the second category on stage, I chose to stay in the green room until my stage time. I tried to stay warm, stretch a little and not freak out. The time seemed to drag on forever! I listened to my song, “Human (Acoustic)” by Jon Bellion over and over, running the choreography in my head. I tried to stay hydrated, but not too hydrated (haha!) and before I knew it, it was my turn to hit the stage. Here's a picture of my beautiful costume on stage!




I learned a lot from my performance. Firstly, my mom makes great costumes.  I came to her with a vision for a Monarch and she made it come to life. You do not have to pay hundreds for a costume with a little imagination and some time. I paid around $75 for everything to make my costume

As for my scoresheets, I learned that Theme + Musicality are my strong points, the biggest thing I need to work on is my Flexibility. Though I did not place, I am so proud of myself for remembering all of my choreography and delivering a performance that was truly me. I learned that keeping myself motivated is really important when preparing for a competition and that practicing by myself is not always the best solution. Most importantly, it may be a competition, but I am really only competing against myself. As for what’s next? I will definitely be performing again and I have a lot to improve on in my pole journey.

Over the weekend, our Studio took home a number of awards. Not surprisingly, every single winner from SC is an Instructor!


First Place - Christie
2nd Place - Kelly

2nd Place - Suzy

1st Place - Sam

1st Place - Suzy

3rd Place - Heather

Heather - Essentials
Sam - Group Division

I wanted to say congratulations to the entire pole family on a fantastic competition! To all those that performed, won, attended, and cheered us on from a far, I am so thankful to have a support system like Studio Chic. I think I can confidently say that our Studio Chic #polefamily won the Spirit Award over the weekend! A special shout out to our pole mamas, Andrea and Tracey, who brought a stemmed rose for every single performer. We all felt so much love <3 Congratulations to all!




Pole Expo 2016: A Review

Hi there #PoleFamily!

Recently I had the opportunity to go to sunny (and hot!) Las Vegas, Nevada to photograph my first wedding for Studio Chic Instructor Suzy! (shameless self promotion) When I was booking my ticket I discovered that the annual Pole Expo would be taking place the same weekend and I decided the universe was sending me a message. I had to take this opportunity! For September's blog post, I am going to share my experience and thoughts about the Pole Expo with you all.

If I had more $$$, there would have been many pole idols I would have loved to have learned from such as Amy Hazel, Zoraya Judd, Dakota Fox, Lux ATL, Natasha Wang, Pink Puma, and those are just names that I recognized! Click here if you want to know who else was in attendance. After looking through the workshop schedule, I had decided to take two Michelle Shimmy workshops on the first day of the Expo. I chose them for two reasons. The timing was the most convenient for me as the workshops were back to back, and I ADORE Michelle Shimmy.

A little more about Shimmy from her website, "Shimmy is a Sydney-based pole dancer and pole instructor. Along with her sister Maddie Sparkle, Shimmy is a co-owner of the Pole Dance Academy, in Bondi, Australia [...] Shimmy is passionate about teaching pole. She loves to guide and see the improvement in her students from week to week. For Shimmy, the true magic of pole dance is the transformative effect it has on people, in the way that it increases confidence and body awareness." 
Jump to September 8th, when I trekked through the blistering heat to get to the beautiful Hardrock Hotel and Casino located just off the Vegas strip. 


When I arrived I got myself registered and had planned to kill time until my workshops shopping in the vendors alley. Sadly, when I arrived most booths had not even been set up yet and many were not planning to sell merchandise until the next day. This was a bummer for me, who only had a Day Pass to the weekend long event. I didn't read anything online warning me it would be closed or day one of the expo was essentially paid workshops only.  This was my only real complaint about my experience. 
What I loved about the pole expo was seeing the uniqueness of our community (and how much I clearly had in common with so many!). Everywhere I looked there was confident people with huge smiles on their faces. Coloured hair, sparkly shoes, pole outfits, people of all shapes and sizes, everything was truly a beautiful sight to see. The positive energy was undeniable and I knew I was going to have a good time.


"Dirty, Sexy, Floorwork."
The time for my first workshop came around and I quickly realized I was vastly un-prepared. With only my pole clothes in hand, I realized I would be doing Michelle Shimmy's "Dirty, Sexy Floorwork" Workshop on a beautiful, velvety carpet. (OUCH!) With no leg warmers, kneepads or socks, I decided I had to tough it out. By the end of the workshop, my feet and knees were covered in rug burn. Learn from me.

Michelle entered the room with her pole/real sister Maddie Sparkles and with their beautiful Australian accents explained to us how the class was going to go, put the music on and immediately began teaching us our choreography. Here's a short clip: 

Even though I do not pick up on choreography as quickly as I would like, (I am the one in the polka dot crop top!) Michelle was an excellent teacher and I was surprised at the number of moves I already knew from my classes at Studio Chic. I was also pleased to add a few more moves to my repertoire. Everyone in the class was really friendly; we all laughed together and applauded each other. This was a very fun and supportive class that I would highly recommend to any poler/dancer of any experience level. 


" Signature Tricks and Combos"
For my second workshop, I was pretty tired from the first to be honest. I was also worried about this one because I wasn't sure if I had the skill level required. I couldn't find any pre-requisite lists or detailed class descriptions on the website, so I was going in blind. Michelle entered and once again got started right away, wasting no minute of our time together. She began by teaching us what she called the "Baby Valentine" which begins with an outside leg hang (or Gemini). Here's a clip of me doing it on my dominant side. Pretty good if I do say so myself! 

Next, Michelle taught us two extensions of the "Baby Valentine" which I definitely could not do...I can't even post a video because my attempt did not resemble the moves at all. To be fair, Michelle stated that only a handful in the room would be able to pull the second off. So here is a clip of Michelle doing it instead.


Michelle also demonstrated a split combo for us, which, you guessed it, I couldn't do. It was such a cool move and I hope I can pull it off one day.


Finally, Michelle by request demonstrated her signature move that she INVENTED named the Seahorse. It's a beautiful move that starts from the Genie and Side Saddle Superman. Again, I cannot do this move yet but it is one I will definitely be working towards. Here's what it looks like from Michelle:


Needless to say, I was pretty tired and sore after my workshops. I learned a lot and really enjoyed my time with Michelle. She is a serious poler and an effective teacher, while still allowing for fun during the workshop. I approached her after the class to thank her and let her know I was only doing one day at the Expo, she then offered to take a picture with me (after telling everyone else no, haha). Aren't we cute?


All in all, I had a fabulous time at the Pole Expo. I would definitely consider going again in the future, but next time with friends and I would stay the whole weekend. By only going on Thursday, I missed out on a lot of performances, free workshops, meet and greets, fabulous merchandise, as well as getting to hangout with all my favourite polers during expo down times by the pool. I would recommend going if you love pole as much as I do, plus, Vegas is pretty fun on it's own.

So you wanna go to the Expo?

Things to note:
• Website/class bookings are not that user friendly.
• You must pay for an expo pass to attend the workshops, no discount. 
• No pre-requisite lists or detailed class descriptions online.
• Bring all your pole stuff! 
• It seems more worth it to stay the whole weekend, not just one day.
• Consider going with other polers, but you'll still have fun if you go solo.

Thanks for reading!

- Emily

Day at the Beach (July 2016)

For this month's blog post, we wanted to share some great shots and photo highlights from our recent trip to the beach with our pole family! We had a fantastic day in Port Stanley, ON with the sun shining bright. We partnered with our friends at Sport in Port and spent the day poling, hooping, paddle boarding and having fun!

Enjoy a few of our favourite shots from the day!



Instructor Spotlight - Kelly

We are so excited to share our first Instructor Spotlight with you all, featuring SC Instructor Kelly! Kelly teaches pole, chair fit and cardio hoop at Studio Chic and has been pole dancing for over eight years. Watch our video to learn more about the FABULOUS Kelly!

The Benefits of Cross Training for Pole with BootyBarre

Hey there Pole Fam, 

As I sit here with a heat pack on my thighs, I can’t help but think about something that Studio Chic instructor Heather said in class the other day; “BootyBarre is a great way to cross train for pole.”

Clearly she's right! My workout was a few days ago already and I can still feel that wonderful burn in my leg muscles. But what exactly makes Barre so efficient for cross training for pole fitness?


It’s the total package

The hour long class consists of a warm up and upper body work with free weights followed by approximately 30 minutes at the barre with cardio blasts to keep the heart rate elevated. The class concludes with abdominal and back work, followed by a wonderful stretch. If you attend Barre on a regular basis you’ll see physical improvements in everything from flexibility, to endurance, core, balance and coordination. The combination of strength, cardio, and stretching means you can pack in a full body workout in only an hour.

As you move on in your pole journey, there is less of a focus during class time on strength foundation training and Barre is a fantastic way to supplement this (Combine it with TRX classes and you won’t know what to do with all that strength!). This is especially true for building core and lower body muscles which is something we often miss in pole classes as we tend to focus on upper body strength development.


Shoulders DOWN and BACK

Have you been having shoulder or back problems during your pole classes? As the foundations of Barre are rooted in Pilates, Yoga, Fitness, Ballet, and Dance, regular attendance can have a significant impact on your overall posture and the elongation of your muscles. This will help you with everything from spirals to inverts and making sure you are bringing your shoulders down and back. Say it with me, DOWN and BACK. Another benefit for polers is that Barre helps you with lines and extension which are some of the more technical aspects of dance. "Long lines" will help you take your spins and poses to the next level.

"The class starts by using one-inch incremental movements called isometric movements. Isometric movements can help strengthen muscles without straining tendons or ligaments, so there is less risk of injury in comparison to traditional strength training methods, such as heavy weight lifting. The class then moves into compound movements that help in increasing flexibility, such as long, sweeping Grande Battements (kicks). They are put in right after all the tight squeezing of the iso's to help lengthen and stretch the muscles out. If you’re prone to injury, this may be the perfect class for you."


Barre is for everyone

Anyone—no matter their age, weight, or fitness level—can get results and there is ZERO dance experience required. One of my favourite parts about Barre is the ability to customize your workout. Increasing the weight of your hand weights, going into relevé or tree pose, or simply squeezing your muscles harder allows you to create and control your own resistance. This will help keep you from plateauing during your Barre workouts and encourages you to listen to your own body. Not feeling strong today? No problem, stay flat footed. Do you feel like superman today? Awesome, use the 3lb weights instead and squeeze like crazy. And of course, you can always further challenge yourself by focussing on your form and posture, there is always room for improvement in this category.

Other Benefits:
  • It will force you to practice “pointing your f***ing toes!”
  • You. Will. Sweat. (There’s a reason that Studio Chic provides all its barre students with sweat towels!)
  • Your legs will shake too.
  • The high-energy music will help you get through your workout and put you in a happy mood for the rest of your day.
  • Another opportunity to work on your splits
  • Endurance building
  • No dance experience required
  • Anyone—no matter their age, weight, or fitness level—can hit the bar and get results

Bottom line: If you’re seriously in love with pole you should sign up for a Barre class right now, I promise you’ll love it!

- Emily 

NYE Resolutions vs. Goals

Hey there Pole Fam!

Along with being the warmest holiday since 1957, it was probably one of the busiest in my life. I made it through, though, with a little help from some cake and wine. (But that is totally okay, remember?)

Today I want to talk about our next hurdle in the obstacle course we call the holidays - New Year's Eve. While the same suggestions apply in regards to eating habits from my previous post (which you can find here), I want to explore the idea of the New Years Resolutions

However, I don't want you to look at the subject in the stereotypical "resolutions-will-change-my-life-forever" lens because in my opinion, resolutions are kind of useless. Instead, I want you to think of them as New Years Goals.

Here's why:

1) "Resolutions" suggest that you should CHANGE something about yourself, whereas;

2) A "goal" is something that you WORK towards. (see what I did there?)

Resolutions get a bad rep, that's for sure. There is a lot of negativity surrounding the concept because most efforts at resolutions end up bearing zero results. There is a lot of pressure when you say "resolutions " and in my opinion, this is because many people commit to  "resolutions" are very vague - for example, I want to "lose weight" or "read more" or "be happier."

These statements are a great start, but they don’t outline the desired result that the individual will be working to accomplish – thus creating more room for disappointment.. Once again the aforementioned “resolutions” all suggest that you need to change something about yourself, which you shouldn’t- I promise. (No matter what others say, for what it's worth, I truly think you're fabulous just the way you are!). Instead, you should be setting realistic and specific goals. For example, "I want to make it to the studio at least twice per week, and stretch at home once a week." By doing this you are keeping your expectations for yourself in check, and you are more likely to be successful. Try to be as consistent as possible and these goals could become great healthy habits. By setting specific and realistic goals, you will be able to hold yourself accountable for completing your goals, you will be able to assess your progress throughout the upcoming year, and you are more likely to be successful.

You should also aim to set both short term and long-term goals. Short-term goals are wonderful ego boosts and can help you to better tackle your bigger, long-term goals by breaking them down into more manageable pieces and tasks.

Another great tool to help you reach your goals is to get your friends involved. You’d be surprised at how many of us share similar desires for the future and we can be more successful by working together! Friends can help motivate, solve problems, and assist in completing your desired tasks and in return, you can reciprocate and help them to achieve their goal! There is strength in numbers!

Most importantly, don't forget to reward yourself. Positive reinforcement is an effective method for creating healthy habits and it doesn't have to be anything crazy or expensive. Consider taking a walk in the park, taking a special workshop at the studio, a night at the movie theatre, buy a new nail polish or even a hot bubble bath. But also keep in mind healthy eating when choosing food as your reward. Healthy eating promotes a healthy mind and body!

Whatever your goals are, always remember to believe in yourself and work hard. I believe in you! I wish you luck and the best in the New Year.


 - Emily


What are your goals for 2016? Is there any way we can help? Do you have any other suggestions? Let us know what you think in the comments!



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