Modern pole vs Chinese pole

  • By Carla & Lisa Broughton
  • 11 Sep, 2017

Continuing on from last week's blog, this week will be a bit of a history lesson! 

Specifically, exploring the difference between Chinese pole and modern day pole dancing. There are huge similarities between these two art forms, and the former of the two actually dates back around two thousand years! As modern day pole dancing has evolved and developed, it's borrowed a lot of technique and moves from it's older ancestor due to the fact that the apparatus is very similar. Although at face value they may appear to be almost the same thing, they are actually very different!

Nowadays you are likely to see the Chinese pole being performed at shows like Cirque Du Soleil, where groups of performers will climb, drop and even somersault around on an apparatus made up of several vertical poles, but there is also a long and interesting history behind it.

As you may have noticed, the two practices have a lot in common, but also a lot of notable differences, such as the fact that Chinese pole has been primarily practiced by men historically. In fact, many male athletes such as wrestlers and martial artists used pole as a way of training! We all know that pole is a great way of developing strength, flexibility and stamina and so it makes perfect sense. It's fascinating to discover that whilst pole today is often associated primarily with women and exotic dance, it's ancient roots are based with men and things like wrestling!

There are also finer differences in what is possible on each kind of pole. For example, the Chinese pole is often multiple times higher than a standard pole – often between 10 and 30 feet high! This is to allow for a wider range of moves such as drops and acrobatics which just aren't possible on shorter poles with less space. These kinds of poles are also coated in rubber to provide grip, and in order to prevent friction burns it is important to cover the skin and wear more clothes, the complete opposite of what you would wear pole dancing! Chinese pole routines are also often performed in groups, as the practice has also been adopted as a circus art in the modern day and is regularly included in circus performances.

So here was a quick history lesson about an ancient practice that has massively influenced what we do on the pole today! Both beautiful and fascinating in their own right, we are excited to see what other circus arts may go in to influence pole in the future. We are already seeing developments happening which merge together aspects of aerial dance, such as poles with silks attached to the top, or the “lollipop lyra” which is a pole with an aerial hoop attached to the top creating an interesting blend of the two. We can't wait to see what these developments will make possible!

By Carla & Lisa Broughton 18 Sep, 2017

Firstly we'd like to give a big warm welcome to our two new pole teachers Hannah and Lottie! We're so excited to be welcoming them into the Pole Twisters family after new teaching positions opening up with us recently, and can't wait for you guys to meet them! With all the recent changes we've been going through, we'd also love to thank all of our students for being to patient with us during this transitional time.

This week the two of us got to take part in a pole and floor-work workshop, followed by a pole tricks workshop taught by a talented instructor Miss Abby Claydon! We had an absolute blast as well as an amazing workout in which our strength, stamina and flexibility were put to the test in the most fun way possible!  KT Wild runs regular workshops so keep an eye on our Facebook group and page for regular workshop class updates.   

Also both Carla & Lisa occasionally like to pop into Pole Twisters classes to see how you students are getting along and always enjoy having a try of the moves and getting to experience what our students get up to! It makes us so proud to see the standard and quality of our teacher's work being so high and up to par with our expectations.

We're also on the look out for some fresh new faces to take part in our Stage 1 beginner courses and we're appealing to you guys to help by recommending us to your friends! With September bringing about the start of a new academic year and an influx of students moving to Cardiff, we think it would be amazing if you guys could suggest us to your student friends as a perfect way to meet new people and as a fun freshers activity!  Plus, did you know you receive 10% discount if you recommend a friend?  Even more reason to tell your friends about us and get them to book onto one of our fabulous courses. What better way to settle in to a new city than by making some like-minded friends while you work out and picking up a new skill and hobby whilst you're at it?

Our stage 1 beginners courses run throughout the week depending on demand and availability but there is the option to pick a time and day that suits you best on our website drop-down. Classes need a minimum of 4x students in order to go ahead, which means the more of your friends that you can rope in to come, the more likely it is for the sessions to run on your desired day! You can book your sessions quick and easy on the Pole Twisters website, and you even get a certificate and optional photo shoot on completion of the course!

We hope to see you guys there!

By Carla & Lisa Broughton 11 Sep, 2017

Specifically, exploring the difference between Chinese pole and modern day pole dancing. There are huge similarities between these two art forms, and the former of the two actually dates back around two thousand years! As modern day pole dancing has evolved and developed, it's borrowed a lot of technique and moves from it's older ancestor due to the fact that the apparatus is very similar. Although at face value they may appear to be almost the same thing, they are actually very different!

Nowadays you are likely to see the Chinese pole being performed at shows like Cirque Du Soleil, where groups of performers will climb, drop and even somersault around on an apparatus made up of several vertical poles, but there is also a long and interesting history behind it.

As you may have noticed, the two practices have a lot in common, but also a lot of notable differences, such as the fact that Chinese pole has been primarily practiced by men historically. In fact, many male athletes such as wrestlers and martial artists used pole as a way of training! We all know that pole is a great way of developing strength, flexibility and stamina and so it makes perfect sense. It's fascinating to discover that whilst pole today is often associated primarily with women and exotic dance, it's ancient roots are based with men and things like wrestling!

There are also finer differences in what is possible on each kind of pole. For example, the Chinese pole is often multiple times higher than a standard pole – often between 10 and 30 feet high! This is to allow for a wider range of moves such as drops and acrobatics which just aren't possible on shorter poles with less space. These kinds of poles are also coated in rubber to provide grip, and in order to prevent friction burns it is important to cover the skin and wear more clothes, the complete opposite of what you would wear pole dancing! Chinese pole routines are also often performed in groups, as the practice has also been adopted as a circus art in the modern day and is regularly included in circus performances.

So here was a quick history lesson about an ancient practice that has massively influenced what we do on the pole today! Both beautiful and fascinating in their own right, we are excited to see what other circus arts may go in to influence pole in the future. We are already seeing developments happening which merge together aspects of aerial dance, such as poles with silks attached to the top, or the “lollipop lyra” which is a pole with an aerial hoop attached to the top creating an interesting blend of the two. We can't wait to see what these developments will make possible!

By Carla & Lisa Broughton 05 Sep, 2017

Formally only ever seen in strip clubs, pole has transformed in recent years into a fitness phenomenon with it's own competitions and championships worldwide!

It's been interesting for us watching the way pole has developed in terms of its massive range of complex moves and the bar is constantly being set higher as dancers discover new and interesting ways of turning a simple metal pole into a piece of gymnastic apparatus. In the last ten years alone we have watched as pole slowly broke away from it's reputation as something only done by strippers and came into it's own as a sport. Pole practitioners went from being typically slim petite women to muscular athletes as more physically demanding moves were developed and more strength was required to keep up.

So much so has the discipline developed, that during the run up to the 2012 London Olympics there was even a petition for Pole Fitness to become part of the competition as a test event! Sadly, although the petition received thousands of signatures, the fact that it is still a relatively new sport and there is a lack of distinct and universal grading criteria for pole performances meant that we may have to wait a few more years until the dream of seeing pole at the Olympics is realised.

Despite that, the petition itself managed to bring a lot of attention to pole in a way that the public wasn't used to seeing, as a sport that requires strength, creativity, discipline, flexibility and co-ordination – just like every other Olympic category does. In fact, pole shares a lot in common with the gymnastic horizontal bar, so why should a vertical one so stigmatised?

Pole is also similar in a lot of circus skill disciplines, such as the Chinese Pole and Indian Pole which a lot of modern pole dance moves are borrowed from. It is strange in a sense that two very similar sports are viewed so differently by society! You'll be able to read more about the history and similarities between these art forms in next weeks blog, as it is such an interesting topic that it deserves a post of it's own.

Whilst we are in no way ashamed or embarrassed by our history and association with exotic dance, it is fantastic that pole is finally beginning to be recognised by society as a valid and challenging sport. We are incredibly proud to be part of such an exciting new movement and are proud of how the pole community has grown with the emergence of so many schools and competitions all over the world and have every confidence that one day we may very well achieve our place in the Olympics.

By Carla & Lisa Broughton 29 Aug, 2017

We hope you've all had a wonderful week and are settling in at our new location.

For this week's blog we wanted to address some changes to our timetable that a few of you have gotten in touch with us over.

At present our studio consists of only one room as opposed to the multiple rooms we had back at Templar Parc, and due to this we are currently unable to run our dance classes and non-pole workshops. This is due to the fact that if we did run them, it would require us to take down and re-fit all ten of the poles before and after every session which is incredibly time-consuming as each pole can take around 5-10 minutes to set up! We are really sorry to all the students who were enjoying our other dance classes and hope that you can find an alternative studio.

As of right now, we are running our courses and mixed ability classes on a new timetable with altered times - please refer to our website for more information. Our studio is also available to rent for one-to-one/group lessons or private hire. We hope to gradually re-introduce more of our old classes such as tricks and pole jam as and when we have enough space and teachers to run them because as well as being a little short on space, we are also on the look out to hire some new pole teachers to join our family! We are taking applications, and anyone who is interested and has relevant experience in pole can email us at: info@poletwisters.co.uk

We greatly appreciate your patience and continued support during these minor teething problems with the new location. We are working hard to get things back to normal and offer you all a broad range of classes to suit everybody’s tastes. You can keep up to date with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates, and for any enquiries about specific classes that may have been affected by these changes, please do drop us an email.

As there have been some adjustments to the sessions we have on offer, as well as the running times we realise that some students may not be able to accommodate these changes around work or other commitments. It can be difficult to fit hobbies around a busy schedule, but in situations like these a private session may be just the thing - as you can arrange these at a time and date to suit you (subject to teacher availability!).

There are a wealth of benefits to taking private classes both alongside or as a substitute to regular group classes. Many aspiring pole students may find themselves feeling too self-conscious or shy to train with strangers watching. Others also simply don't like being in groups and whilst the environments in our classes are always supportive and we all strive to encourage each other, some just feel more at ease when it's just them and the teacher.

Also, those who wish to progress quicker to more advanced levels will benefit greatly from paying a bit extra in order to have an hour of undivided attention from the teacher in which they can work on whatever areas they wish to improve. Be it nailing a certain pose, developing flow or focusing on creating routines, private sessions are perfect for students looking to take their skills to the next level. We would especially encourage any students aspiring to compete to consider taking private classes, as well as newbies who are hoping to improve quicker!

Although private lessons do cost more, we believe the benefits definitely make it worth it. At Pole Twisters, our private classes are priced at £30 per hour or you can book a 6 week private course for £170. If sharing your time with a friend you pay only half each and you can also decide where the lessons take place, be it our studio or even your own home. As an optional bonus if you don't have your own pole at home, we can bring one of ours and set it up for the lesson for a small fee!

If you would like to arrange private Pole Twisters sessions, please visit our website to inquire and we'll see you all soon!

By Carla & Lisa Broughton 14 Aug, 2017
After our big move to our new venue we are finally done and settling in, and feeling finally back to normal. There have been some slight changes to our weekly class timetables, so please be sure to take a look at that on our website.

This weeks blog is dedicated to dispelling a common myth that puts a lot of people off taking pole lessons – the myth that you need to be strong in order to start (and that if you're not, then there's no point) and also we're going to list a few tips and tricks for increasing your strength.

Whilst pole does require strength - particularly in the arms and core – you will find during you six week beginners course that you build strength rather quickly as your body adjusts to using muscles in new ways. This muscle memory helps greatly as you learn more beginner moves, and many of our students are surprised by how much they are capable of after just a few classes. The truth is, our bodies are much more powerful than we realise, and a lot of the initial difficulty is down to the fact that we are simply not used to using certain muscles in our day to day lives. As we train and develop these muscles, we develop faster and tricks that once seemed impossible, become easy. That's not to say there's no effort required if you want to become strong enough to progress to higher stages – you will need dedication and regular training in order to build the strength needed for advanced moves. Strength is also essential in ensuring your safety when inverting or climbing higher up on the pole, and also in creating a solid foundation of posture and body positioning awareness to prevent injury further down the line.

Here we've listed some advice on how to get started with this.

1. Consider getting a home pole to practice with!
If you have a space to spin in, why not invest in your very own pole for home training? We recommend the X-Pole which is the industry standard, and are the same poles used in most
competitions. Their range carries static poles and static poles with the option to spin, both of which you can purchase directly from us! For just £20 extra we also offer a fitting service where we will come and set the pole up for you. If you don't have the space for a home pole, there is always the option to attend our Mixed Ability sessions which are suitable for anyone with basic experience and cost only £8! Either of these options are a great way of getting extra practice in
between classes, and allow for quicker progression.

2. Pilates
Pilates is a perfect way of achieving a stable core, strong but bulk-free arms, and lean, elongated legs – perfect for pole! You can learn pilates exercises either in a class, or even online! YouTubers such as Bloglilates provide free home workouts designed to be done with no equipment and in minimal space – perfect for those on a budget and those who live in apartments and don't want to annoy their neighbours by jumping around! Even better, YouTube is full of mini workouts as short as 5 minutes for those of us who have a busy day ahead and need a super quick way to train whilst on the go.

3. Strength train with weights
A lot of women are afraid of touching weights, out of fear of “bulking” up or looking unfeminine. The truth is, that rarely happens. Most women will just develop leaner, harder muscles as opposed to the muscles becoming huge (and even if that does happen, strong is sexy!). Weight lifting is actually incredibly beneficial for pole dancers, as working the muscles will in turn increase stamina and allow you to train and hold moves for even longer. We recommend starting with a small set of dumbbells, either at a gym or at home.

4. Body weight exercises
Another that you can do at home, training with you body weight is a great alternative to weight lifting, or can be done alongside. As pole requires a lot of lifting your entire body weight exercises like planks and side-planks, pull ups/chin ups, tricep dips and even burpees are a fantastic way of working the exact same muscles you'll be using on the pole. Most of these are equipment-free, but you can also purchase pull-up bars to use at home that fit over your door
frame.

We hope that this post will encourage more people to take a pole class, because whether you're strong or not anyone can start as long as they're willing to work hard! Do you have any favourite strength training tips or tricks? Be sure to let us know!

Have a wonderful week, and we'll see you in class!
By Carla & Lisa Broughton 09 Aug, 2017

This week we closed the doors of our studios in Templar Parc.  Cardiff Dance Studios has been our home now for many years but as many of you know, the time has come for us to downsize and move to a new location. Our new studio is at Dance Fitness on Broadway and we love it, we hope you do too!

It has been emotional to say the least, painting over all the artwork we made ourselves when we first moved in, taking the poles down and transporting everything.  It's a long process, but we're confident it will all be worth it.  We are so proud to have been the first dance studios in Cardiff to be created within an industrial unit and over the years we've been lucky enough to have built up an amazing community of students.  We've shared joy, laughter, success and our fair share of set backs, but we hope our students and supporters will continue to support us in this new chapter of our journey.

In other news, entries are now open for the Welsh Aerial and Pole Championships which this year will be held in Cardiff on the 17th November! We are in no way directly associated with the competition, but we would highly recommend our students to enter and give it a go. The different categories range from beginners all the way up to pole professionals, and the competition is open to performers all over Wales.

Competitions are such a fun way of meeting other pole artists, showing off your skills and even getting feedback from industry experts. It was at a competition that we ourselves were first inspired to take up pole, and so they will always hold a special place for us. We are always thrilled to see the bar get raised higher and higher each year as the pole community continues to innovate and develop.

You can visit the official website for The Welsh Aerial and Pole Championships to find out how to enter, along with information on the categories, sponsors and judges.

We hope you all have a wonderful week, and we'll see you at our new location.

By Carla & Lisa Broughton 01 Aug, 2017
Happy Birthday, Pole Twisters!

This week has been very special for us, as we celebrated 10 years since Pole Twisters first opened our doors and we embarked on the journey of a lifetime!  But now its time to close Cardiff Dance Studios.  Our classes are still running but at a new venue.

We have posted the full story of how our business came about in a previous blog post, but we really wanted to celebrate this landmark by looking back at how the two of us managed to create our business and community from the ground up against all odds!

We remember seeing our first ever pole performance many years ago, way before it was recognised as a sport and whilst it was still very new as an art form. We simply knew we HAD to learn and knew one day we would both love to go into teaching. Nobody in Cardiff was teaching at the time but we were determined and so we had to learn from a DVD we ordered online!  We were able to eventually start teaching our own classes, renting out several small dance studios around Cardiff but after a couple of years more and more classes started popping up and we knew we needed to expand and open our own studio in order to survive – so we took the biggest risk of our lives and that's exactly what we did! We were in the midst of recession at the time, and we were also dealing with motherhood, both having young children to provide for.  It felt like the odds were stacked against us but we were resilient and knew that if we worked hard enough this would all work out and we would achieve the dream we had set out for.

The rest is history! 10 years, over 300 members of staff, and a countless amount of students after we remain Cardiff's premier pole dance studio, with more classes, courses and workshops available than anywhere else. Our studios have hosted dance teachers of all different styles, burlesque, twerk, Dancehall, street dance, hip hop and have become the regular home to a massive range of weekly lessons. We've even branched out into our own Hen and Stag party business, which has helped us keep our studios open.

Nothing makes us prouder than seeing students of all ages, genders and walks of life leave our studio with massive smiles on their faces, and watching them progress from their first ever class to advanced or even professional levels.

We could like to give our thanks to all of our supporters, students and staff past and present and also to Templar Parc for providing us with our Pole Twisters home for all these years but now is the time to move premises.  With too much space at the studios we have decided to downsize and begin renting another studio from next week.

Watch this space!
By Carla & Lisa Broughton 25 Jul, 2017
Flexibility At Pole Twisters

Our Flexy & Stretch class is a brilliant way of pushing that little bit further and training harder. Flexibility and correct stretching is so very important in pole, especially for improving and advancing students where certain moves can be
quite demanding on the body - as our Tricks class found out this week!

Our classes aid in improving your range of motion which in turn makes getting into moves easier as well as putting less stress on other areas of your body, but there are many more benefits to flexibility training! Some of the most important benefits to regular stretching include:

  • Posture - Whether you practice pole or not, correct stretching techniques are also known to improve posture and release tension in areas where we carry a lot of stress, like our lower backs. Due to the sedentary lifestyles many of us live today, we spend a lot of time sitting down, which often results in poor posture that can lead to health problems later in life, and so improving posture and training our bodies into the correct alignment is not only beneficial to our well-being, it can also make us appear and feel more confident.
  • Recovery - It's also a perfect way to end a workout or pole training session, as our classes are gentle and can even be a relaxing wind down. Plus, stretching helps to clear out the lactic acid that builds up around our muscles and makes us ache the next day! It's always important to cool down after exercise but you can also use this cool down to continue your training in a more gentle way by working on those splits or back bends!
  • Injury Prevention – Being more flexible can also help prevent injury by limbering up the joints and enabling us to recover from any falls or mistakes without pulling muscles. It is proven that regular stretching aids in developing our muscle memory, enabling faster progression on the pole as our bodies adjust quickly to new techniques, and it also helps to develop our kin-aesthetic sense, meaning we have a greater awareness of our bodies and how they are moving through the space around us.
So whether you practice pole or not, there are so many benefits to getting flexy! Our classes are open to anyone of any level and ability and run at 8pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays (subject to change so check out our website calendar before you head out that evening) – occasionally on Saturdays for the cost of £5. Check out our website for info how to book!

Hope you all have an amazing week, we'll see you at the studio!
By Carla & Lisa Broughton 13 Jul, 2017

Some of our lovely students completed their Stage 2 pole course and we couldn't be prouder! We also ran our ever popular mixed ability sessions where some of our more experienced twisters got to show off their super strength with some new and challenging moves.

Some lovely ladies popped around for a Dancehall session with our professional dance teacher. It's always so great to see our students feel confident, sexy and powerful while they're dancing and having fun!

Coming up in the next seven days, we have a six week beginners course due to start where some brand new students will be starting their pole journey!

Our Flexy & Stretch sessions are back and available to book for Mon, Tues & Wednesday at 8pm. No pole experience needed! Come get stretchy with us as we spend an hour going through some flexibility training and yoga moves – perfect for training those annoying splits!

Have a great week everyone, and hopefully we'll see you at the studio!

By Carla & Lisa Broughton 10 Jul, 2017

Pole Dance

If you haven't already, why not try out our pole classes? Pole is a fantastic way to get strong and toned, whilst also gaining confidence and feeling sexy. You don't need to be strong or super fit to start classes either! We teach absolute beginners all the way up to stage 10 through our structured program.

If you fancy taking the plunge and trying out a new skill, you can book into our 1 hour taster class which runs Monday to Wednesdays at 6pm, 7pm or 8pm.

Street Dance

We also offer street dance classes designed for adults! Learn a new routine each week with styles ranging from hip-hop, shuffle, and commercial in these weekly 1 hour classes. A perfect way of getting some cardio in and burning fat whilst having fun, and also suitable for beginners as the moves will all be broken down and explained or modified for more experienced dancers.  Wednesdays 7-8pm.

Twerk and Dancehall

If you'd like to try a different style of dance, why not try our twerk and dancehall class? These hip-rocking, booty-popping, crowd-stopping, up & coming new weekly fitness/dance classes will introduce you to using your body in ways you may not be used to, and muscles you may not have known you even had. You'll be surprised by how much of a work out this class is! (You can read about our experience taking the class in last week's blog post!)

You can come and shake yo thing with us on Wednesdays 6-7, right before our street dance classes. Wanna do both classes back to back? Double your fun for an extra £2.50

Burlesque

Lastly but not least, another alternative way of getting fit and gaining confidence is through our burlesque private lessons! Taught by Flossie Smalls or another great performer, this lesson will guide you through the basics of burlesque and the art of tease. Come channel your inner showgirl, gain body confidence and learn a routine with us! Props are provided, but why not dress up too?

For information on booking your workshop, contact us or refer to our website.

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