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Competing? Tips to Make your Performance Stand Out!

I thought it would be timely to write a quick blog from a judge’s point of view to help our students that are competing focus on the finer points of their performances. Competitions will often provide training and detailed rules and guidelines for the panel. These are also usually provided to the competitors, but sometimes only a day in advance, while other competitions are very transparent with judging guidelines.

Pole fitness judge certification course.

File Photo – Deviant Optiks Photography: CPFA judging certification course that both Demetra and Monika, owners of Aradia Fitness Calgary, have attended.

Judging at CPFA competitions has given me an understanding of what you can do as a performer to stand out. We can all appreciate that technique is beyond important but what can you do to showcase that as well as add to it?

Pole Fitness Competition judge

File Photo – Deviant Optiks Photography: Demetra ready to Judge a local pole competition.

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS:  Select moves and tricks that work best for your capabilities.  If you are flexible, incorporate combinations that will highlight that.  If you are a powerhouse, select strength moves that will show that off.  Don’t add moves or tricks that you can’t actually do cleanly and consistently yet.  Maybe by the next competition you will have mastered it!

DON’T RUSH:  Complete whatever you are doing and hold it long enough for the audience and judges to see that it is controlled and effortless.

DIFFICULTY:  Are you challenging yourself enough or are you playing it safe?  Push yourself when you are training to work towards a goal.  Given you will be spending weeks and months preparing, this is the time to work on a move that you’ve wanted to achieve for so long.  Before adding it to your routine, make sure you’ve got it down consistently.

ORIGINALITY:  Are you entering or exiting in the same fashion?  Are you doing the same move repeatedly throughout your routine?  Mix it up and keep the judges attention by including different moves, combinations and tricks.  We all love seeing things in your performance that other competitors are not doing 🙂  Also don’t forget to balance your time on static as well as spin and keep in mind that what you do off the poles is just as important as what you do on them.

POINT YOUR TOES and EXTEND YOUR LINES:  Need I say more?  There is nothing more beautiful than long lines and pointed toes in a performance.  It makes a huge difference!

BE ENGAGED:  Look at the audience, the judges.  We need to feel like we are a part of it and you can make that happen!  Show your confidence by keeping eye contact and smile if your performance is lighthearted and upbeat!

ARTISTRY:  Create your theme through costume, hair, makeup, music, character and movement.  Keep your theme fresh and different from other performances you’ve seen.  If this is not your first competition, be aware that judges notice if your themes are generally the same.  Step outside of your comfort zone by doing something out of the ordinary!

Pole fitness competitor on stage

Photo of Monika from PSO 2017 by Alloy Images.

We wish all the competitors the best of luck and we are rooting for our Aradia girls!




Student Spotlight – Alex

 At Aradia Fitness Calgary, we celebrate our students’ success on their pole journey.  We watch our students get stronger and more confident with every pole class.

Our beautiful student Alex Zabel has not only progressed in her fitness and pole skills, but she has brought with her a lovely positive attitude, solid commitment and dedication, and a sparkly spirit that lights up the studio.  Her enthusiasm is easily shared by the other students and we are always so happy to have her in class.

Alex in her apprentice.

Thank you for joining our Aradia family, Alex!!

1.  Where are you from?  Hometown?

I’m from the Calgary region, most of my life has been spent in High River and Okotoks.

2.  What is your favourite pastime (outside of pole), including any other dancing you do?

I figure skated for 12 years when I was younger, so it’ll always have a place in my heart. Now I dance any way I can – pole, country swing, belly dance, and I’m signing up for a hip hop class too!

3.  What do you love most about pole?

Oh my goodness! There are so many things! I love the way I feel when I’m in pole class most of all! I feel strong and confident, even when I’m pretty sure I look like a lunatic, I still feel amazing!

4.  What keeps you motivated to come to your pole classes consistently?

It’s like an addiction! Honestly I don’t have to search very hard to find the motivation – pole is one of my favourite parts of the day! Every day is a better day with pole.

5.  What surprised you about pole dance and fitness?

How good it would make me feel. I sought out pole because I wasn’t feeling good about myself, but I had no idea how significant of a difference it would make!

6.  Why should someone join Aradia Fitness Calgary and start pole today?

It’ll change your whole life! Learning how to move your body and recognizing how strong you are is an extraordinary feeling. You’ll not only see the changes in yourself when you’re at pole, but you’ll also see them every day in so many different ways.

Remember the Love

While listening to a sportscaster talk about how a hockey player, 10 years into his career seemed to have lost his love of the game, I started thinking about this in relation to pole.  I still love pole but I do see some major differences in it since my humble beginnings.  Believe it or not, back in 2007 when I started as a student, Instagram did not exist!  There was no comparing myself to another pole dancer half way across the world and wondering if I would ever be that good or how many hours I would need to train to get there.  It was a simpler time and it really kept you focused on your own development.  It was a blessing of sorts as it kept me working on proper technique and not just doing something once and moving on to the next big trick.  The pole climate feels very different from those days but there are some benefits to it as well such as a larger community and more and more friends around the world that you connect with.

“I’ve got to take flexibility, gymnastics, dance and 6 or more pole classes to keep up!”

“I’m not progressing fast enough to continue on with classes”

“I’ll never be able to compete or be as good as I want to be”

Any of these sound like something you’ve said to yourself?  We’ve all been there and felt that way at some point.  Are you getting discouraged or are you losing balance in your life?  When I started, the only measuring stick I had were my friends in class.  It was pretty great given that we all had our different strengths and we all excelled at different things.  I believe our class environment still feels that way…  we all cheer each other on, we are excited for one another but what happens when we see a competition or a crazy trick on Instagram?  Do we start feeling bad about where we are in pole or are we still proud of our achievements?

When I got back after almost 2 months off this year, I had those feelings of insecurity as my strength had diminished and I felt bad about where I was at.  At Pole Expo, I struggled to keep up at workshops where previously, I would have rocked it.  I got back from Vegas feeling a bit down on myself.  I over did it trying to keep up and I could barely lift my carry on luggage into the overhead bin.  I had those feelings of “why bother” but I decided to dust myself off and I called Erica a few weeks later.  I talked about getting back to loving pole so we decided to meet up, just play and do a poleflow from Magnus Labbe that I had learned in his workshop over a month before.  We spent a Sunday hanging out, laughing and just having a good time.  We learned the flow in about 40 minutes and stayed for another hour taking videos of us doing it in tandem.  It became FUN again and I had an epiphany.  I had lost the fun in it all.  I forgot about laughing until I cried when I fell out of a move, enjoying just learning and not taking myself so seriously.

Pole should help self confidence and self esteem.  If it is developing insecurities, you need a reset and remember the love.  Pole should make you happy and be FUN.  It did when you started and you can get back there trust me!  We support you in your journey and anything we can do to help, just know we are there for you!!

Lots of POLE LOVE!