Darkside Fitness Grand Opening

Opening Darkside was the largest project I have ever undertaken – the Grand Opening for me was like unveiling a masterpiece.  Opening a pole studio is not something I ever really planned on doing in my lifetime, but I felt that it was my calling and I embraced the challenge and opportunity.  I put my heart and soul into my studio and I think everyone who comes in can see that.

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I decided to break the ice and perform first.  I chose the song “Fight Song” because the entire opening process for my studio had been extremely difficult for me.  There were many times I did not think I would be able to open, and the Grand Opening for me was about overcoming so many obstacles to turn a dream into reality.  

I was thankful to have Flying Laura approach me just before my studio opened and she expressed interest in being involved with the opening.

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She had never choreographed group routines before and was excited about the opportunity to choreograph a couple routines for the show.  Here’s a routine she choreographed to I Got 5 On It.

I was also lucky to have my friend Tina performing at my Grand Opening.  She is very inspirational because she has made huge progress in her pole practice in a very short time.

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She performed this routine that won her USNPC 1st Place Level 4 in a LA pole competition just a couple months prior.

However, the routine that was my personal favorite was by Richy to the “The Hills.”  Richy comes from a background in many types of fitness including gymnastics and capoeira.  He approached me a few months ago to put together a routine.  This what we came up with.

Performance shows are a great way for beginners to really make progress with their pole practice as well as gain confidence.  Here is a routine I choreographed to “Do You Remember” by Jarryd James.  Some of these girls were brand new and had never performed before – props to them for getting up there – it takes a lot of courage!

At Darkside we don’t just offer pole dance – we provide a variety of alternative dance and fitness classes and workshops, one of which is belly dance.  Next up was Renelle Roxy – a good friend of mine and a talented bellydancer.  She has been professionally bellydancing for 5 years and embraces a fusion of traditional cabaret with modern tribal bellydance styles. Here is the first of two performances that she did. 

Overall the show was a huge success.

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I am looking forward to seeing what all our future shows have to offer.  Big thank you to Tina and Chris for the videos and pictures.

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Healing Your Body: Acupuncture

Taking care of your body is a huge part of health and fitness.  I believe strongly in herbal remedies, massage, and body work to help heal and prevent injury.  I had never tried acupuncture before so I was thrilled when my friend Pier offered me a session at her new acupuncture and massage clinic – Intuitive Healing Acupuncture in Del Mar, CA.  During my therapy training I had taken courses on myofascial release and other alternative medicine but I didn’t know much about acupuncture.

From the Intuitive Healing website, “Acupuncture is one of the oldest continuous systems of medicine in history, with recorded instances dating as far back as 2,000 years. In Traditional Chinese medicine, we recognize that a balance of qi (vital energy) is essential to health and harmony in the body. When the qi is blocked or stagnated in any way, the body’s lines of communication (meridians) are weakened and disease or pain results. With the gentle insertion and stimulation of thin, disposable sterile needles at strategic points near the surface of the body, acupuncture removes blockages or stagnation so that the flow of energy is restored and the body can heal itself. Acupuncture is an effective strategy to treat a wide variety of illnesses and conditions ranging from weight loss and smoking cessation to pain and infertility.”

When I started researching, I was surprised at how many benefits acupuncture has and that there does seem to be strong evidence to support the techniques.  According to Medical News Today, studies have show that acupuncture can help with:

  • Low back pain
  • Migraines
  • High blood pressure
  • Painful periods
  • Osteoporosis
  • Fibromyalgia

Here are a few benefits as listed by Prevention magazine:

Accupuncture

The session started with a very thorough assessment of my physical AND emotional health.  A huge part of my job as an occupational therapist is assessment so I believe strongly in a thorough assessment before any type of treatment is done.  It is important to have the whole picture.  I then laid face down on a massage table and she began to insert the needles.

I did not have any pain when the needles were inserted – in fact most of them I didn’t even feel.  The only one I did feel was in my left hip and it was a strange tickling sensation, no pain, but just ticklish.  I was seeing her for a low back/hip injury and pain so it felt like this needle was inserted into and helping to relieve pain in one of the sources of my pain.

Acupuncture

One of the things she used on me was moxabustion – “A treatment that involves burning of moxa, Artemesia Vulgaris (Mogwort) herb, to facilitate healing by stimulating the flow of Qi, strengthening the blood, alleviating pain and maintaining overall health. Moxabustion is especially effective in treatment of both acute and chronic disease, cold or deficient conditions, skin disorders and digestive discomfort.” (from the Intuitive Healing website)

Acupuncture2

After the session, I still had some pain but I felt very refreshed.  I went home and drank a lot of water.  The next day I noticed a significant decrease in my pain and I also had more range of motion in my hip.  It was a wonderful experience and I definitely plan on going back.

 

 

Madam Voyeur

A few months back I met Richy through a friend of a friend when Richy posted a sexy video of himself dancing with a broom on Facebook.  I immediately saw how talented he was and we arranged for him to start taking some pole lessons from me.   He was actually one of my first private students when I was teaching lessons out of my house before I opened my studio.  Shortly after, he asked me to choreograph this routine for him which he then performed at my studio Grand Opening party.  He then wanted to make a video of the routine, which I was happy to do.

As you can tell by the title, the idea is that I am in the background watching the routine, perving on Richy.  I love the role reversal in this video – usually men watch a girl pole dancing, but in this video it is the opposite – a woman seduced by a man pole dancing.  I had never tried acting before and it was so much fun!  It makes me laugh to think I may come across as a creepy voyeur/pervert/dominatrix type, because anyone who really knows me knows that I am actually a somewhat shy, introverted, and reserved person.  In real life I watch pole more from an artistic perspective than sexual, and it’s important to me to maintain professional and supportive relationships with my students, but it was definitely fun acting and playing the role of “Madam Voyeur.”  This video also made me realize just how much I enjoy watching pole dance and other types of dance and how that’s actually one of the main reasons I opened my studio – to provide a place where people with amazing talent could come to practice and train.  Enjoy.

 

Womack and Bowman’s FLYbody Launch Party

I had the pleasure of first seeing Womack and Bowman perform at The Girl Next Door show about a year ago.  I didn’t know much about aerial arts at that time and hadn’t really seen aerial silks put to music before.  I loved everything about this performance – the choreography, the music, and especially the artistic expression of the performers.  I became an immediate fan.

Rachel Bowman and Brett Womack own a beautiful studio in Hollywood called The Loft.  I recently heard about a new product they are launching called FLYbody.  They hosted a launch party at their studio for the equipment, including performances and a trial of the equipment.

 

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I even had the opportunity to learn a bit from Brett Womack too (ok so I’m kind of that creepy fan….)

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The equipment was really fun and the performances were absolutely stunning.  This is a piece from my favorite performance.

 

Another fun performance was by this advanced group of students.

 

 

I was thankful for the opportunity to make it to this party and had a great time.  The performances were amazing and the FLYbody equipment was awesome – I hope to be able to get the chance to play with it more some day!

 

Pole Studio Review: OC Pole Fitness AV

After seeing some videos and pictures from OC Pole Fitness online, I knew I wanted to check this studio out.  I had noted that the owner, Elizabeth, has a degree in kinesiology and I was really excited to see what classes were taught.  I had also seen that OC Pole Fitness had aerial AND pole, which isn’t very common around my area.

The first class I took was a Intro to Aerial – Basics with Elizabeth.  Her shoulder conditioning exercises were amazing and she taught us some really pretty poses on the lyra.  As someone who is more concerned with dance than tricks, I really enjoyed a short combo at the end that I was able to put with music and create a little flow.

 

The next one I took was a Cardio Twerkhop.   I’ve taken a few twerkshops before and they are actually really hard!  Especially if you have tight hips.  But the teacher was great about warming up our hips enough and we learned a fun little routine.

Monday night I returned for Climb and Invert Basics with Rea.  This class was pretty challenging for me mostly because I haven’t been doing pole on a regular basis enough.  Rea taught some poses and transitions I had never seen before so I definitely learned a lot from this class.

On Tuesday I took the Calisthenics Conditioning class and the Poleography class, both with Stacy.  Stacy was very friendly and easy to talk with.  She was super helpful and gave me a fantastic workout.

 

 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my week at OC Pole Fitness and wish I lived closer to be able to go more often.

Yoga for Hip Flexibiity

These videos are a yoga sequence designed to simultaneously strengthen and increase flexibility in the hips.  I go through the poses fairly quickly for the sake of time in the video, but you should hold each pose for 30 sec – 1 min.  In the poses where I am repeating a movement, such as knee in towards chest and out, perform that exercise 10 times on each side.  You can also add in splits before the resting poses at the end of the second video if you would really like to increase flexibility for splits.

1) Cat Forehead to Knee (do 10x each side) – to warm up the hip flexor and body

2) Downward Dog, jump to Forward Fold, inhale, halfway lift, exhale fold forward and pedal out the legs to loosen the hamstrings.  Step back to plank, lower to the ground, push up to Cobra.  Press back to Downward Facing Dog, step through to a lunge and then arms overhead for Warrior 1.  Push back to DD then step other foot forward for Warrior 1, second side.

2) Repeat #1 vinyasa flow above, but open up to Warrior 2 after Warrior 1.

3) Repeat #2 vinyasa flow, but step the back foot in for Triangle pose after Warrior 2.

4) After Triangle pose from above, move into Downward Dog Lunge (in lunge pose, walk hands over to the right and forward).

5) Monkey Lunge – After Downward Dog Lunge, come into a lunge pose with back knee on the ground, arms facing eachother, 5x on each side.

6) Come into a seated position and get ready for Part 2.

 

Part 2

1) Hip Raises – start seated with both legs together in front of you.  Place your hands behind you and lean back onto your hands.  Keeping your legs straight, lift one leg at a time (in the video I lift both legs at the same time, but start with one).  Repeat 10x each side.

2) Boat – lift both legs together in front of you and keep your arms parallel to the ground.  Hold for 30 sec to 1 min.

3) Twisted Monkey – after Boat, press back into Downward Facing Dog and then step forward into a lunge pose and prepare for Twisted Monkey. (1:19)

4) Plank Forehead to Knee – next shift from Downward Facing Dog with one leg up to Plank Forehead to Knee pose 10x each side. (1:38)  Open up to Wild Thing.  (1:45)

5) Camel – kneel at the front of the mat and come into Camel, modified version with hands on hips (2:17), advanced version with hands to heels (2:24).

6) Gatekeeper – from Camel, stick one leg out to the side, inhale both arms overhead, and exhale as you drop one hand to the same knee and reach up and over with the opposite arm. (2:49 in video)

7)  Tabletop Taps – come onto hands and knees, then straighten one leg behind you and alternate tapping it as far in as possible, up, and then out as far as possible.  Repeat 10x on each side.  Warms up the adductors. (2:55)

8) Elevated Bow – after the 10th repetitions of the Tabletop Tap, reach back and grab the foot with the opposite hand. Balance is difficult.  Stretches the hip flexor. (3:12)

9) West Hero Stretch – have a seat on one foot or sit to the side of the foot, whatever is comfortable for you.  Straighten the other leg out in front.  Inhale and sit tall, and as you exhale bend over the front leg, keeping your back as straight as possible as you go down.  Flex the foot, and then pull back on the toes if you are able to. (3:55)

10) Head to Knee – Sit with one leg out to the side and one leg bent in.  Inhale arms up, turn to the straight leg side and fold over that leg. (4:37)

11) Twisted Head to Knee (4:46)

12) Star Pose (5:26)

13)  Seated Angle (5:46)

14) Reverse West Stretch (6:14)

15) Reclined Lunge (6:25)

16) Endless Pose (6:57)

17)  Reclined Revolved Sage (7:03)

18) Reclined Pigeon Prep (7:45)

19) Needle’s Eye (8:12)

20) Happy Baby (8:30)

21) Savasana (8:40)

Pole Tutorial: How to Invert

When people first start pole, one of the main goals is to be able to get upside down.  People that have been doing pole for a while make it look easy, but when you’re first starting out, inverting can be pretty hard! Inverting can also be dangerous – please be sure you work up to inverting and try it very low to the ground and/or have a spotter if you are ready to try.

It is important to start with some strength building before trying to invert.  If you don’t have the strength to invert correctly, you can easily pull a muscle or fall.  In the video above, I go over some strength building exercises that you should try before you invert.

When you are ready to invert, here are some key things to remember:

1)  Warmup before you invert.

2) Engage your shoulders – squeeze your shoulderblades together and down your spine.  Keep your shoulders away from your ears.

3) Do not jump.  Use your muscles to control the movement up and down.

 

Tight Hips? How to Keep Your Hip Flexors Happy

Most of us have heard of the hip flexors before, but what exactly are they?  How do they contribute to tight hips?

The hip flexors are a group of muscles that bring the knee towards the chest, also known as hip flexion.  This group of muscles is used in any activity where the knees are brought towards the chest such as during running, high knees, or abdominal exercises, but can also get tight if a person is in a sitting position for any length of time (such as sitting at a desk or driving).  In pole dance, inverting, especially straight leg inverts, take a lot of hip flexor strength and can cause the hip flexors to shorten over time.  Tight hip flexors can make flexibility, especially splits, very frustrating.  The hip flexors also impact the position of the pelvis so it is important to keep them strong but flexible to prevent a variety of painful issues.

The hip flexor actually consists of several primary and secondary muscles and tendons that connect to the lower back, femur, and pelvis.

Primary Hip Flexors

The primary hip flexors are the psoas muscles (psoas major and psoas minor) and ilacus – both of which attach to the femur and do the majority of the work to flex the hip.

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Secondary Hip Flexors

The secondary hip flexors consist of the TFL muscle (tensor fascia latae) – attaches to the front and side of the pelvis and to the IT band, sartorius – attaches to the front rim of the pelvis, crosses the thigh, and then inserts on the inside of the knee, and the rectus femoris – attaches to the front rim of the pelvis and inserts at the center of the knee.  These muscles assist with hip flexion.

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When the hip flexor muscles become tight, the pelvis becomes tilted forward, which can increase the lumbar curvature of the spine.  This can cause pain and puts the spine at risk for compression, nerve impingement, slipped discs, and arthritis later in life.

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Ideally the pelvis should be in a neutral position, so if a person has tight hip flexors, it’s important to try to get the pelvis back into a neutral position to avoid the issues noted above.

Hip Flexor Stretches

If the hip flexors become shortened, it is important to gently and gradually stretch and lengthen them.  The type of stretches that should be done depend on how tight the hip flexors are and how much pain the person has when stretching them.  Stretches should be held 30 sec to 1 minute and it helps to do a gentle warmup of the hip flexors before stretching them.  Here are some good hip flexor stretches:

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HIP FLEXOR STRETCH MET SIDELYING

 

Glute Strenghtening

In addition to stretching the tight hip flexors, it is also important to strengthen the opposing muscles – the glutes.  Here’s some of my favorite glute exercises.

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Glute exercise 3

 

Good luck – your hips will thank you!  Thanks for reading!

The Basics of Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is beneficial for many reasons.  Here are a few:

– Loosen tight muscles after a workout

– Increase circulation and flexibility in ligaments and tendons

– Release constrictions in connective tissue

 

Basic foam rolling techniques covered in the video include:

1) Upper back – massages out the extensors of the upper back.  Good if you have been doing a lot of backbends or back strengthening exercises.

2) Glutes – massages out the gluteal muscles and piriformus.  Good for people who do a lot of squats and lunges or running.

3) Hamstrings – massage out the back of the upper leg.  Beneficial for those who sit all day (driving or sitting at a computer or desk).

4) IT band (iliotibial band) – located on the outer edge of the upper leg.

5) Quadriceps – massages out the front of the upper leg.  Beneficial for those who do a lot of squats and  lunges.

6) Hip Flexor – the secondary hip flexors are located just above the quadricep, towards the outer edge of the hip.   These are good to foam roll if you sit a lot or do a lot of running.  The primary hip flexors are located internally and are best accessed by stretching.  Blog post on hip flexors coming later this week!

7) Pectoralis – massage out if you do a lot of pullups or pole fitness, focus on insertion near humerus.

 

 

 

Couldn’t Ask For More Workout

 

After warming up, set your interval timer for 12 rounds of 50/10.  Do two rounds of the following 6 exercises.  Write down your scores during the 10 second rest interval if you wish.

 

1) Dropback

Stand with feet shoulderwidth apart.  Lift you arms overhead, squeeze your butt, bend your knees slightly.  Reach up for the ceiling and slowly and controlled bend backwards.  Keep your head in line with your upper arms and only go as far is as comfortable.  Use your abs to come back to standing.  Repeat. Do as many reps as you can do safely and while maintaining good alignment.

 

2) Shoulder Flexion

Using a resistance band, hold one arm straight in front of you.  Straighten both arms and pull one hand up towards the ceiling at a time.  Make sure your thumb is pointing up to keep your shoulder in a safe position.  Control the movement up and down.  One set equals 10 reps on each side.  Complete as many sets in 50 seconds as possible.

 

3) Shoulder Abduction

Using band again, star with one hand resting on same upper thigh, arm straight.  With the other arm, reach up to the side at a diagonal.  Make sure thumb faces outward, away from your body.  Keep shoulders low, away from ears.  Control the movement up and down.

 

4) Crocodile Lifts

Lay on your stomach, interlace your fingers behind your head.  Squeeze your butt, squeeze ankles together, keep feet on ground.  Looking up, lift chest off ground as high as possible and then lower down.  Control the movement up and down.

 

5) Handstand Pressup

Using dipstation, put both hands on dipstation, wide end further from your body.  Straighten arms, stand on stepstool as needed, and shift your weight over your wrists, keeping arms straight.  Attempt to lift hips overhead, but only go as far as tolerated.  Control the movement up and down.  Only repeat as many times as you can maintain alignment and muscle engagement.

 

6) Shouldermount Lever

Stand facing away from the pole.  Grasp pole with cupped hands above head.  Engage shoulders and chest to lift feet off ground.  DO NOT JUMP.  Use muscles of shoulders to lift body and support weight, even if you can’t get your feet off the ground.  Only repeat as many times as you are able to maintain alignment.

 

 

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