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***The following post expresses my personal views and opinions … it does not in any way represent the views or opinions of UPA, its employees, or its affiliates.***
A few months ago, Irmingard Mayer posted a blog entry titled “Why are you letting your students kick into inversions?” here on the Pole’r Bear blog. It went kinda viral and got a lot of both support and criticism. I’ve been on record as being 100% on the support side of her argument. Simply put, kicking into inverts and other moves is a dangerous practice, both for dancer and spotter. 
Irmingard’s post represented what I think is a growing problem in the pole community: bad or unsafe instruction. This includes self-taught pole dancers (who act as their own instructors). 
I’ve heard from students who inverted at a bachelorette party, or on their first or second lesson. I’ve heard from students who were taught to invert by kicking up — hard — and then were taught to wrap both legs to the front of the pole.  I’ve watched YouTube videos titled “LOOK I NAILED THE [insert move here]” that show frighteningly wobbly control. No one is perfect at every move right away, but seeing the words “nailed this move!” as it is accompanied by dangerous, incorrect form, being done by someone who clearly isn’t ready for it, scares me. 
Don’t be the pole dance equivalent of these dudes! Photo from  
Pole has been a tremendously positive part of my life since 2008, and because of that I want pole dancing to be a safe, fun way for all women and men to work out and express their sexuality in a supportive environment. 
When you’re a new pole dancer, it’s impossible to know the difference between good instruction and bad. The following isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but it may help you get on the right track. A good instructor should be able to do all of the following without breaking a sweat:
  • give you points of contact/grip points for any move.
  • tell you what muscles are being used, where you need to engage, how to feel if you’re using the right parts of your body. If they can’t name them, they should at least be able to point them out. 
  • know how to spot you.
  • have access to a mat. A real mat. Not pillows or cushions, which will shoot out from under you across a slippery floor faster than you can say “Hey, I just fell on my head.” 
  • know the appropriate “emergency exit” from a given move/pose. “Just slide down” is not an appropriate emergency exit, unless you are told precisely how to slide down. Where to put your arms. What should still be gripping the pole. All of that. 
  • help you condition your body for future moves.
  • always encourage you to do moves with muscular control
  • tell you honestly when you are not physically ready for a move. Good instructors won’t put you in physical danger just because they’re trying to spare you a few hurt feelings. 
This may make me an unpopular blogger … but I’m going to say it anyway. For those of you who are self-taught, I strongly recommend that you find a way to get professional instruction semi-regularly (there are reputable online options, or maybe grab a private lesson here and there at your local studio). Also, find a way to get eyes on the ground. When you’re learning new moves pay close attention to hand and foot placement, try to figure out grip points. If you can’t figure them out, don’t try the move until you find out what they are! Engaging the right muscles, controlling transitions into/out of moves, and using the proper grip points is what makes the difference between doing a move safely and not.

I’m part of a Facebook group to #trainsafe #teachsafe #polesafe, who has this statement on their group page: 
“It is becoming increasingly apparent that this industry is being driven by the desire to get that next trick and not by safety and fun.
With this shift in student and instructors’ desires to move quickly through tricks, skip some ‘boring’ ones and move to the hardest as quick as possible, the industry is being damaged and safety disregarded.

We, as a collective of industry respected instructors have created the #trainsafe #polesafe #teachsafe campaign.

To highlight the concerns of this collective we have asked our spokeswomen Bendy Kate to make a statement on our behalf.
Please read, absorb and take on board our campaign and Bendy’s advice.
The entire industry needs to all work hard to keep this industry safe and keep the risk of injuries to students and instructors to the minimum. If we don’t, it will affect all of us. Insurances will increase and there will be tighter regulations.
Please #trainsafe #polesafe and #teachsafe”

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