‘Love is in the Air – Why Pole and Aerial Should Be Your Valentine’ by Lottie Adore

All my life, exercising has been difficult. I was never prompted to hit the gym, or try my hand at a sport for any positive reason. Often, these attempts to ‘get fit’ stemmed from a general dislike for my physique. Getting myself to these different activities was challenging simply because I didn’t really enjoy them. After a few minutes on the treadmill, my mind would wander and wish I was anywhere else. The gym instructor barking orders to ‘work harder’ and ‘feel the burn’ did not motivate, only affirmed just how little enjoyment the class gave me. Much like a failing relationship, the more I tried desperately to change myself to fit the mould of this approach, the worse everything seemed to get, and the less I wanted to bother.

This is of course, not to be scathing towards different forms of exercise. I still do my fair share of cardio, and totally concede that there are many who swear by their weekly HIIT style classes. But discovering pole and aerial back in 2018 enlightened my disillusioned, and
mistrusting attitude toward exercise. There was indeed a different way to workout – a way that tricked me into forgetting I was even doing so. I wanted to give love of exercise a second chance.

Not long into my journey, I soon disregarded how awkward I felt in my body, and focused instead on what my body was doing for me in a trick. My worries about fitting in melted away amongst the sea of different humans in each class I attended – we may not have anything in common on the outside world, but in our glorious studio bubble, we all wanted to achieve that new and exciting move. Once upon a time, I loudly proclaimed ‘I can’t dance’. Now, my favourite thing to do (and teach) is flow around the pole, or a gliding floor routine.

I could gush on forever about the benefits of pole and aerial. But the simple truth is, my love for this art form isn’t simply just because it’s a hidden exercise, or because it’s good for the mind and soul, or for the friends made (although these, of course, are absolutely wonderful reasons too). Pole and aerial teased out parts of me I never even knew existed. Undergoing the transformation from newbie through the studio doors, to the dancer and instructor I am today is living, breathing proof of the benefits of forging this bond with my favourite apparatus, and how in a way, this is one of the best relationships I’ve ever had.

This February, I’ve decided love really is in the air – and that pole and aerial is my Valentine. Here’s three reasons it should be yours, too.

No Judgements Here, Come As You Are – Whatever your past relationships with exercise are, it doesn’t matter. Our studios open you with open arms, and a genuine want to encourage you on your journey whatever that may be. Had a bad day? No problem, forget your troubles for an hour or two and focus instead on the class your instructor has lovingly curated for you. All of your favourite outfits are in the wash, and you’ve only got your mismatched and well-loved kit for class? No problem – it’s not about what you look like, we’re just happy to have you here. You don’t have to start out your relationship with aerial pretending to be someone you’re not.
You are not expected to know all the lingo or be super strong. That’s why you’re here, to learn. Often, you will step foot through those studio doors to a totally new world full of things you’ve not seen before – and isn’t that so exciting?

Keeping Your Self-Love Date Night Fresh – There are so many different types of classes on offer, it’s impossible for things to get stale in your pole and aerial romance. Conditioning, flow, tricks, contemporary, sexy style, heels, open training sessions. Think of your weekly class as your self-love date night – pick your favourite, and spend some time with yourself learning a new skill. And remember, you can change it up any time you like! Trying a variety of disciplines and styles will only make you a better aerialist, and has the added bonus of keeping you engaged and interested, too.

Pole and Aerial is Always Waiting For You – Life getting on top of you a bit, and you’ve got no time for your classes anymore? That’s okay, we understand. No really, we do. Pole and aerial studios aren’t built on foundations of guilting people into coming, it’s about creating a community of glorious, like minded individuals who find flinging themselves around a X-Pole or dangling mid-air off a bar or silk is their kind of fun. So don’t sweat it, if you need a break, take a step back. Most top level professionals have had to have some time off for one reason or another and returned with a renewed love for the art form.

So there you have it! Three excellent reasons on why you should save yourself some money on a card on the 14th of February and proclaim pole and aerial as your Valentine instead. I hope you have an excellent month, and look forward to chatting with you again soon – where I will be sharing some exclusive behind the scenes from XPERT HQ!

Inspired to take your relationship with pole and aerial to the next level? Look no further than XPERT for a wonderful range of courses; perfect for those starting out on
their instructor journey, or those looking to expand their pre-existing knowledge. Head to xpertfitness.com to find a variety of disciplines available all over the world – both in studios and online.

New Year, New Students, New Mindset – Your Guide to Navigating the New Year Changes at your Studio with Lottie Adore

2023 is well and truly upon us, and as new year tradition often dictates, people are filled with vigour, and an urge to try something different. New looks, new habits, new hobbies. Any frequent gym goers amongst you will know first-hand that the fresh faces eagerly bursting through the doors can be frustrating. Even with the best intentions, suddenly having a waitlist for your regular gym class, or the inability to jump on that equipment whenever you want due to a sudden influx of newbies is enough to fan the flames of micro-resentments.

At pole and aerial studios, we are often cut from a different cloth. Brand new faces are not something to be avoided, but celebrated. Each new person indoctrinated into the aerialist way of life is a thing of beauty, a joy to behold. Our guild is a special one – you don’t need to already be a superhuman to get involved, we just require to have an open mind, a thirst for learning and willingness to try. The passion for pole and enthusiasm for aerial exudes from our spaces, and beguiles all those who join – a one-session-a-week hobbyist or self-certified aerial obsessive are welcome unequivocally. We are always thrilled to see you in class.

In spite of this, embracing new things can be challenging. For many of us, our studio is not only the place we train, but a safe space to escape to and forget our stress from the day. Whether you have trained for years and mastered your craft (if that ever truly happens), or are six months along in your journey, we are ultimately creatures of habit. At the start of my personal pole voyage, you would only ever catch me using one specific pole in the corner of the room, next to the mirror. Flashforward to present day Lottie, and you will still find me gravitating towards that same brass X-POLE, enjoying my ‘prime location’ within the studio space. We all have a trusty pair of leggings that are perfect for everything aerial and will ultimately break out hearts when they are eventually un-wearable. That coveted parking space outside the studio that it is easy to reverse out of. The list could continue forever – the point is, familiarity and consistency is just yet another reason we love our studios, and adore our studio owners for providing that space for us, so much. Even with changes and instability in our own lives, the studio can be our place of reliability, our personal paradise.

January can bring on a lot of changes to your home-from-home. Taster sessions, students daring to try a new discipline, the return of familiar faces who just needed that new-year-
nudge to come back into the fold. With the arrival of these differences, our regular studio habits may have to alter (at least for a little while). So, welcome to my top tips for navigating your way through the new year changes – students AND instructors, stay tuned, there are hints and pointers for you both!

Tips for Students
1 – If you arrive and someone is on ‘your’ pole or aerial apparatus – remember, they don’t know it’s ‘yours’! So, we all know that we don’t actually own our favourite equipment
spot at the studio (although we’d probably pay a couple of quid extra to reserve a space from time to time if we could). If you arrive at your class and a newbie has popped their water bottle down by your favourite hoop, try to remember they more than likely don’t know that that hoop is your proverbial soul-mate. Don’t panic, take a breath.

There will be more than enough apparatus to go around. Jumping on a different hoop, trapeze, silk or pole may even help you on your journey – if you were to ever perform, you
couldn’t bring that same bit of kit along with you.

Alternatively, approach this from a totally different angle – if your class has more than one person to a piece of equipment – why not ask if you can share with them? That new student will feel so much more welcome if you take the first friendship step yourself, and you get to still enjoy your favourite spot. Everyone wins! Either way, these solutions are better than spoiling your own training session by dedicating your time to quietly resenting someone else in the room – especially when that person absolutely has no idea that is happening.

2 – Take the chance to try something new, too. All those taster sessions that have appeared on the studio schedule are not just for totally new faces (unless your studio has
specified otherwise), why not give something else a go? Cross training is not only good for the body, progression and injury prevention – it’s fun too. Having many strings to your bow is a good thing, and you may just surprise yourself with how transferable your existing skills are. And even if those skills don’t quite carry over, being a total newbie can be exhilarating. We don’t do pole and aerial because they are easy (because they’re not, if we wanted ‘easy’ we would have never taken our first steps through the studio door), we do it because we love a challenge – so embrace that. Your studio owner will also be so grateful for your support. Having lovely full classes, with pre-existing students present as a living, breathing positive testament to how good the studio is, is an instructor's dream!

3 – Be kind to yourself. We all know comparison is the thief of joy – but as a practice, much easier to say than put into positive action. There are so many factors that will affect a persons’ progression in pole and aerial, and that new student who seems to be effortlessly busting out those moves you’ve spent months struggling with is not doing it to slight you, or make you feel bad. Your journey is just as valid and individual as anyone else’s, and even the most self-perceived ‘disastrous’ training sessions will have something useful to take away. Sometimes, what can feel like a bad performance could be made even worse when there are new faces in the room, an additional pressure to always ‘be good’ because you’ve been attending for longer. Remember it is okay to feel that way, but you are there for YOU, not to try and impress others. A very wise person said to me that even when you are feeling rubbish, think of one thing that makes you happy. Do this with your classes too – maybe you did a particularly strong straddle, or your teacher complimented your lines, or you got to see an aerial friend you’d not seen in a while. Sometimes, even just turning up to class in the first place is a triumphant win, and worth celebrating.

Tips for Instructors
1 – Value your new and pre-existing students equally. This may seem like an obvious point, but hear me out. Nothing is worse than when we’re renewing insurance and they keep
their best deals for new customers only – seemingly, you can wind up paying more for remaining loyal. Our regular students that keep coming back through the good and bad times need to be championed and prioritised just as much as newbies encouraged through the door. A happy group of regulars are a living, breathing, positive review for you and your
studio. Even if your priorities are temporarily averted due to an influx of new students, there are lots of ways to keep your current learners happy. If you have a student Facebook group, or newsletter – let them know you’re expecting new faces for the start of the year (just because you know this, they may not). Invite them to the taster classes too (if you’re able to facilitate this). Assure them their favourite sessions will still be running even if there are temporary timetable changes. Communication is so key, and your current student-base will be glad to hear from, and be reassured by you.

There is also an importance in making sure things don’t become clique-y. You never want new students to feel your classes are inaccessible because everyone in attendance is
already friends. This is a point that is delved into on your XPERT training – but in essence, your job as an instructor is to facilitate a nice, welcoming environment for all, and not to prioritise anyone unfairly for any reason (including if they’ve been coming for longer). If in doubt, chat to your fellow instructors or studio owner, start a conversation. Your peers will want to help you, and your student base, as best they can.

2 – Remember how being new feels. As a follow on from my last tip – remember that starting a new hobby can be absolutely terrifying. Of course, you do not need to coddle every person who comes through the door – your job is to focus on the whole class, not just an individual, but remain mindful of how it feels. My best advice for this is to actually TRY
being a new person once in a while. I recently went to a hot yoga studio for the first time, and it was a great personal reminder of how awkward, and embarrassing (this is a weird one isn’t it, it really shouldn’t be) walking into a new space is.

3 – You are important too. All these new faces at the studio can increase your workload significantly, especially after what can be a quiet Christmas period. You’re only human, and
you cannot be available every second of the day – especially if you have other commitments outside of pole and aerial. Set clear boundaries with your students and factor in specific lesson planning time for yourself during your training sessions – and make sure you train for yourself too where you can. Your wellbeing is always a top priority, regardless of how many new starters you may have coming to your studio. That’s a wrap! I hope you’ve found some helpful hints and tricks in there to better navigate what can be a very busy time at your studio. Students, new and old – enjoy a brand new year of learning new tricks and finding your identity as a poler or aerialist. Instructors and studio
owners – good luck for a brand new year. May your classes be full and private lessons be many!

If your new year’s resolution is to smash that CPD, or even start your journey to being a pole and aerial instructor – XPERT has the course for you. Head to xpertfitness.com to find a variety of disciplines available all over the world – both in studios and online.