I have been practicing pole dance more or less two years now, out of which the last 1,5 years in Barcelona. Until now pole dance has been a sport that I do just for me; a motivator to keep myself fit and healthy, a channel to express myself through movement and a continuously inspiring sport to watch. This fall though, I decided to try participating in a competition for the first time.
Pole Arnold Spain is an open international competition that is organized yearly together with the Arnold Classic- fitness event. After not too much of hesitation, but a lot of procrastination, I managed to send a video and was accepted to compete in the category of Pole Sport Amateur 2!
For me, this was a big challenge and step forward, since one year ago I could hardly do spinning pole! The journey really proved itself more important than the destination on this physically tiring and emotionally challenging project on mine.
Training for the competition
The first weeks after getting the acceptance letter were so exciting! Everyone started to talk about their costumes and choreography and as I was completely new to this, I was mostly just following what others were doing. I had about two months to come up with a choreography, practice and become fit! I started increasing my practicing and this made me quite sore in the beginning, but surprisingly I did build up strength quite fast.
Diet performed an important role in the time of getting ready for the competition. I wanted to get a bit leaner and lose the excess weight from the waist just to look better on the stage, but at the same time I needed to keep up good energy levels and recovering. I concentrated on eating clean foods low is sodium, sugar and empty carbs. I did a week of low carbs, and it did make me feel more fit, but I lost my energy, so I added rice and sweet potato back into my diet and it helped.
Needless to say, after the competition I’ve returned to a normal diet. I don’t think it’s good to live constantly under too much restrictions and control on the diet. But the correct diet is an important tool for short period targets. However as I eat gluten-free and clean food all year-around, the change was not that drastic for me (except leaving out my Friday-night’s nachos).
We had an amazing team of 21 participants in different categories from my pole dance studio Feeling Woman. I didn’t know many of them before, but during this experience we became friends as we went through this emotional time together. All these people were there from the first practices to cheering each other when getting on the stage.
How did I get over my stage fright?
One year ago I had not have believed I would be able to compete in pole dance. I was very nervous, afraid of making a fool out of myself, afraid of failure basically. I tried to calm myself down by different methods that I’d read from self-awareness books.
- Stop wasting your energy of thinking about the worst-case scenario– What was the worst thing that could happen? I was afraid I’d fall from the pole, look stupid, people would talk bad about me and the judges would question why I’m even up on the stage. Well, in the beginning I spent most of my energy in worrying about all the possible things that could go wrong. Then, I realized I needed to change my thinking.
- The feeling that you focus on is the one that becomes stronger. My pessimistic thoughts had taken too much energy of my time of preparation. That’s when I decided to stop thinking about failing and focus on how I could succeed! I started focusing my energy in a positive way and I noticed, that the change in my attitude set my development on to a positive course and calmed me down as well.
- Concentrate on the message that you want to deliver to the audience. Concentrating on the message you want to deliver to the audience instead of focusing on you, you become more aware of the audience’s reactions, and take away the attention of yourself. In my pole dance performance, I decided to concentrate on delivering the happiness, playfulness and joy of doing this sport. I would see myself as an instrument that is delivering a message.
- Take nervousness as a positive thing! Often when being nervous we tend to become more nervous because we’re actually afraid of being too nervous. However, we’re rarely reminded of how important and useful it is to be nervous. When you’re nervous, your body becomes more focused, more aware, and you have all your energy in your usage. Without being nervous, you would feel lazy. I felt this rush of energy when waiting for my performance and going up on the stage!
- Practise. Repeating the choreography and practising was the best way to make sure that the performance goes well. Good experiences from training lifted up my self-confidence and then again failures in practise revealed what parts I still needed to practise on or change in the coreography.
The day before the performance and just before my turn, I was definitely not relaxed. In fact, I was freaking out! I did fall into a few mistakes and I forgot to do a few moves (which nobody noticed, because they didn’t know they were supposed to be there). I was a bit late in the end of my music, so I had to rush the last moves. However, nothing major happened.
I didn’t die, choke or black out. Instead, I was so excited! I had won my fear and overcome this challenge! It definitely wasn’t perfect, but I was happy to still hear encouraging and positive comments from the audience.
I hope that next time that I perform I can already concentrate more on the interpretation and expression, because I now know there’s nothing to be scared about.
So was it worth all the effort even I didn’t win?
It took me a week to be able to watch my performance video without feeling embarrassment. I didn’t even want to see the photos. However, after getting some perspective and time to recover my nerves, I was already able to face it.
To be my first performance, I did quite well in the end. I learned so much, that I went from a complete “know-nothing” to a “now I know how to do better next time”! For example, I had not realized the importance of the artistic effort that is needed when making a performance, but now I know!
I didn’t step on the podium, but I did win anyway. I got new friends and realized that most of the people are positive and supportive. The participation opened my eyes to the world of pole competitions. It requires an insane amount of hours of training and dedication. It’s not just a few classes in a week, but it’s a life-style! It’s a hard sport that takes a lot of commitment, but also gives so much.
I won the fear of performing alone on the stage and putting myself put there open to criticism. I made myself vulnerable. It was great to learn that there is not only failure or winning, but many places in between. My place was 13th out of 26 competitors in my category. Although it didn’t really matter, because in the end the worth of this journey was in something else than the placement.
Why should you face your fears?
Most of all I learned that in life we need to take on challenges that are scary to us. The process of getting ready makes us grow and develop our skills but also builds our character. You learn to know yourself and to find ways to calm down under pressure, or push yourself when you’re tired. You learn integrity. You find the people to support you and create relationships.
As afraid as you are of going after your dreams, it should not be left undone! We leave so many wonderful things undone because of a fear, that is not even realistic! Fear of failure. Who decides a failure anyway? It’s only in your head, so don’t let it hold you back from life. Start from small challenges and build your courage- when you go through the challenges, you train yourself to not be afraid and that opens the world of possibilities to you!
My main goal in participating was that at least one girl in the audience would look at me and think, that if I could do it, then she can do it too and be encouraged to participate next year. I hope to see that person to compete with me next year, and then I will be there to support her since I know exactly how she feels.
I hope my experience also inspires you to go on a journey of winning your fear and doing something you’ve never dared to do! Maybe next year your name will be on this board of participants..?!
Thank you Feeling Woman, Pole Arnold Spain and all my fellow pole dancers for creating these wonderful experiences. ❤