The human shoulder is incredible. It has tremendous flexibility, being able to rotate 360 degrees thanks to a ball-and-socket joint made of four muscles and a group of tendons. The construction of your shoulder gives you the greatest range of motion of any joint in your body: the tendons provide stability and the muscles allow your shoulders to rotate. Pole dancers make full use of that range of motion – you ask a lot of your shoulders when dancing – but it shouldn’t (and doesn’t have to) come at the expense of your body! It’s important to keep your entire core engaged during spins and tricks rather than relying on your rotator cuff to bear your weight . . . even during basic movements you should take care to support that wonderfully flexible shoulder joint. Please note that when I write about your “core,” I don’t just mean your abs. They’re part of your core, but you don’t want to neglect the rest of your core muscles! Your core includes every single muscle in your torso. Working on core strength adds stability to your spins and gives you the ability to keep your shoulders back, down, and engaged while spinning, allowing your strong core to take your body weight instead of your flexible-yet-sometimes-fickle shoulder. One exercise you can do to learn to isolate your core: contract and engage every muscle in your torso, imagining that someone is lacing a corset tighter and tighter on you. Feel your shoulder blades coming closer together, your ribs tightening, everything working together to make your torso more compact. Don’t forget to breathe! Feel how stable your body is? You want that same sense of stability when you’re spinning – otherwise your carousel will be wobbly, your chair spin will feel like it’s swinging out of control, even a simple foldover can feel like a face plant in the making when your core isn’t engaged! Engage your core every day, all the time . . . you’ll have better stability and better posture on and off the pole! Gina is a self-proclaimed “pole dork” who loves to scout out new music, dance in ridiculously high heels, and bench press more than many men at the gym. She’s been addicted to pole dancing since the first moment she laid eyes on a pole in 2008 and has been instructing since 2009.