Training Together: Your Guide to Being a Good Pole and Aerial Pal by Lottie Sanders

Things are finally starting to warm up over here in the UK (well, the weather is certainly warmer, but I can’t say there’s much less rain), so getting back into a full training regime is starting to feel a little more manageable. We love our pole and aerial studios for so many reasons – the wonderful equipment, our favourite instructors with their epic lesson plans, the thrill of getting a trick in class and the studio erupting with applause. The list could go on forever. But today, I’m focusing on another reason we love our home-away-from-home as much as we do: community and friendship. Ultimately, our pole and aerial training is a hobby, and a huge part of what keeps us coming back to our studios time and time again is the sense of community that comes with that. Even if our intention when we start out as an aerialist has nothing to do with making new friends, it’ll happen anyway, and there is something so magical about that.

All of this got me thinking – we talk an awful lot about how to be a good student, or how to be a good instructor, or studio owner, or all these other quite ‘official’ roles within pole and aerial, but when do we ever talk about how to be a good pole and aerial pal? I think it’s about time we chatted about just that: so this month’s XPERT blog is all about how to be a good training buddy in three straight-forward steps!

1. Support is a two way street – Every class has that student who is a natural born cheerleader. They clap, and ‘woop’, and celebrate the victories of others without so much as a prompt from the teacher. And doesn’t that feel great? When you finally master the elusive trick that you’ve desperately trained for weeks upon weeks, to be met with a hearty cheer from your classmate, a cheer filled with genuine happiness and warmth. The glorious reception makes your achievement that little bit sweeter. Now, it’s time to ask yourself – when your class cheerleader nails their trick, do you give them that same energy back? Or are you always relying on them to bring the noise? At first, it can feel a little bit awkward cheering for someone you don’t know very well, I get that, especially if you’re not a particularly extroverted person. But wouldn’t it be a little bit unfair if you only basked in the praise of others, and never dished that same praise back out?

If you’re reading this and thinking ‘oh no, I’ve been that person’, please don’t panic. We can forget these things easily. But take this blog right here as your reminder that support is a two way street, and it’s only right that if someone is giving you boundless backing in class that you dish some of that love to them in return. And honestly, if you feel a little self conscious dishing out that praise, I promise you no-one else will feel that awkward energy – they will be too busy smiling their head off at a compliment from one of their classmates.

2. The green-eyed monster isn’t welcome here – this might seem a little bit blunt but hear me out. Jealousy and envy are unfortunately an unavoidable part of life. Classes within our pole and aerial studios are often graded into level one, level two, and so on, but due to the nature of our wonderful artform, not everyone will have the exact same ability or skill set within those groups. There will be someone who is splittier than you, and there will be someone stronger than you, and there will be someone who seems to get things quicker than you, and it will be
frustrating. There will also be someone that looks at you and thinks ‘I wish I had what they had’. It’s a cycle. Very few things bring down the vibe of a group than someone being negative – this is true of life, not just pole and aerial classes. Inherently, jealousy and envy aren’t exactly positive emotions, so please just leave them at the door. We are only human, trust me I get it, but when you are in a group environment it’s important to remember that you are not the only person in the room. Stay grounded, and keep re-affirming to yourself that whilst there are things others are good at, there are plenty of things that you are also good at, and we are all on our own journey.

3. Be present in your practice – safe to say, we live in an age of distraction. Even as I write this blog today, the notifications pinging up in
the corner of my laptop have tempted me away from my typing more times than I’d care to admit. I would be remiss to not mention this fact of modern life when talking about being a supportive pole pal. We have all been there. For whatever reason, we aren’t quite engaging in our pole and aerial class like we usually are. Our mind is wandering, we’re not really concentrating, we may have even snuck a few looks at our phone under the guise of getting our camera out for a photo. I could talk forever about how this isn’t within the spirit of why we come to class, but I know no-one is intentionally self-sabotaging – we all know it's naughty to sit and scroll on Instagram when we are supposed to be training, and yet from time to time, we do it anyway. However, in a class scenario, it’s not just you who is facing the disruption of your wavering attention span.

When you are sharing equipment with somebody, it’s actually quite nice to have some back and forth whilst you’re training. A little ‘wow, that was amazing’, or ‘go on, you’ve nearly got it’ goes a long way and can make us feel much better in our practice. If the person we’re partnered up with isn’t really engaging, or scrolling on their phone, there’s a whole layer of support we’re missing out on – leading to our lesson feeling quite lonely. Next time you find your mind wandering in class, remind yourself of why it is you come to class. Yes, it’s to train, and yes it’s to progress, but it’s also to socialise and spend time with your pole and aerial pals – don’t neglect them by letting your mind wander too far elsewhere!

So there you have it, three ways to be the best pole and aerial pal you can be. We are only human, and it’s impossible to always be in our very best form, but keep these tips in mind and it’ll go a long way in helping to maintain those precious training buddy friendships!