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What I Wish I’d Known As A Beginner Pole Dancer and Aerialist

Updated: Jan 18

#gettingstartedinpoledance #poledance #beginningpoledancer #beginningaerialist #danceforbeginners

Dear Beginner Poler / Aerialist:

First of all, congratulations on making the commitment to study pole and aerial arts! Signing up for your first class/membership is often the scariest part of getting started in the discipline.

You have a lot to look forward to as you begin your pole and aerial journey. You will gain more strength, flexibility, and grace than you ever imagined and frequently amaze yourself with what your body is capable of doing as you progress. In the beginning, getting used to the way an apparatus feels, the seemingly endless number of moves to learn, and the sensation of spinning upside down in the air can be daunting, but know that by showing up to class each week, you will overcome these struggles and ultimately reflect back on your progress with pride.

I’ve learned a lot about both myself and pole/aerial over the four years I’ve been taking classes. In reflecting on my own journey as a pole dancer and aerialist, there are a few pieces of advice I wish someone had given me when I was just getting started. I’d like to share these things with you today.

Take Foundational Strength Movements Seriously

When you envision an aerialist, what images come to mind? Do you imagine a woman moving through stunning postures with strength and fluidity or fearlessly executing dynamic movements? Or, do you imagine a person spending HOURS refining their technique on knee tucks and pull ups?

Many beginners are excited to jump right in learning the tricks of their apparatus. Teachers, equally excited to keep their students engaged/coming back, may treat the conditioning exercise section of class much like a warm up--or as something to be gotten through so that the “real” and “fun” stuff can start being worked on.

While strength and awareness can definitely be learned while working on apparatus-specific moves and combinations, I would strongly advise beginning students to consider training foundational strength and technique as just as important a part of their training as learning the moves themselves.

One of my first aerial arts teachers had a philosophy which has stuck with me to this day:

Beginner level classes should provide you with the technical foundations and strength so that when you move to intermediate and advanced classes, you are able to work on the technical challenges of moves instead of fighting to do the climb/invert/shouldermount/footlocks/eggbeaters/etc to get into or out of them correctly.

Choosing to prioritize strength and technique early on may lead to you spending

more time on fundamental movements within beginner classes,

but will ultimately allow you to progress more quickly and safely in later classes.

Given the importance of building strong foundational strength in pole and aerial, what specific things should beginners focus on while training?

First, it is important to build strong technique early on as movement patterns which you consistently perform will become ingrained in your brain/body and stay with you as you progress.

Listen to your teacher’s feedback and ask questions:

What is the proper structure/alignment to hold yourself in? Should your shoulders be fully engaged pulling in holding you in the air or should they be partially engaged when rotating through a transition? What muscle groups should be firing, and in what order?

Second, work to execute movements slowly and with control.

Some teachers will encourage beginners to swing or jump into positions so th