Little Bird Pole Project

Traveling Poler

Last weekend I had the privilege of being in New York with my best friend!  This was an incredible trip that was much needed for my heart and soul.

I had the best time seeing the city, seeing the sun (Seattle was cloudy for the last 8 months), eating delicious food, and catching up with my wonderful friend.  
She took me to some incredible places like the Cloisters, Chelsea Market, and Central Park.  The weather was just perfect and I even got a sunburn from a long run we did in Liberty State Park.  

New York is a one of a kind special city.  So much to see! Also, coming from the west coast its amazing how different it is.  Everything feels historic and classic.  I even had a celebrity siting!  Our first night out I saw Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey in Grey’s Anatomy).  She was eating dinner across from me with her lovely family.  All I can say is that she is stunning in person and has good taste in middle eastern food.

I also had the privilege of taking a level 2 pole class at Body and Pole.  My teacher was Lara Michaels who the previous weekend won the Pro level USPDF championship (no big deal).  Lara, is down to earth and a really fun instructor.  

There were some moves in the class that I struggled with but she was great with spotting and keeping me motivated.  She has a positive and upbeat energy which is what I needed for working on my inversions.  Overall, I was super impressed with the studio and wish I could take classes there all of the time.  
When I got back from my NY trip I also had the pleasure of doing a one hour private session with Rachele Ribera the pole shoe master!  I recently got some 8 inch pleasers and was super exited to have Rachele guide me in how to walk and dance in them.

I did not think the session would be too physical and I was very wrong!  By the end of the session my ankles were shaking and my legs and arms were tired.  Rachele is so talented at what she does and each class/session I have had with her is hard.  You get your time and money’s worth.  I have to say that every class I have had with her (and really everyone of my teachers) have made me stronger and better.  
I have decided to video more of my poling to watch my progress as well as see the things that I need to improve.  I posted a video yesterday of a great spinning pole combo taught by my fabulous teacher Laura.  The video in no way is polished or fancy.  I can see a lot of mistakes but I love it because it captures a baseline.  I also love my determined and focused facial expressions….this is also something I am going to work on.

Next week I am traveling to London!  I am going to miss my little family so much but am so grateful and excited for this opportunity!  If I am lucky I am going to try to get a pole class in there too.

Much love and Happy Easter!


When in Doubt Leave it Out

Kitten has the right idea!

Not much poling or great poling happened this week.  I started a long term course of antibiotics which I am convinced has impacted my inner ear.  As a result, doing anything on the spinning pole has been tough.  Yesterday I thought I might vomit in class and my energy was just not there.  

My class yesterday was in general mentally and physically tough. At one point, I would have paid my teacher to just let me sleep on the mats.  The poles were slippery and everyone seemed a little sick.

Later in the day, I beat myself up about it and debated whether or not I should throw in some more practice.  I want to get better!  I felt like a complete failure in class and wanted to make it up.  Unfortunately, this inner dialogue was the work of my evil perfectionist gremlin.  This gremlin does not have my best interest in mind and has, in the past, caused a lot of overtraining and injury.

In college my little gremlin talked me into running 70 miles a week.  70 miles of running a week sucks and is a really quick way of breaking down your body.  It also convinced me to run a marathon a day after food poisoning…also not a great idea.  

Fortunately, after being a runner for 20 years and facing a lot of overtraining and evil perfectionist thoughts I have developed another inner guide who has led me away from this path. This inner guide has encouraged me to rest when I need to, take a break when I get frustrated, and to take things “day by day.”  Rome was not built in a day.  Pole dancers do not become amazing right away.  Muscle does not form instantaneously.  In other words “chill out.”

I think in any sport but especially with pole and running it is easy to feel that perfectionist drive to keep going, don’t take breaks, and don’t listen to your body.  A lot of polers get injured and need surgery and I can see where it happens.  There is so much to learn and conquer in this sport.  It is also so physically demanding that hours of practice day in and day out are probably not good.  Your body needs to rest and repair itself.  

I recommend going with the loving approach.  Allow yourself to have the bad days, take the breaks, and do something relaxing.  It is okay and you will not lose your strength or fitness.  If anything your body will thank you and replenish from the much needed rest.  This is also great if you are mentally burnt out from your sport.

Resting allows you to come back energized, refreshed, and ready to tackle those new tricks.  It also allows you to stay in the game for the long haul.  I would rather take a long time to get good at pole so that I can do it in my 60s then get good quickly and need surgery.

Questions and Answers

Roz the Diva….my number one pole idol!

This week I thought I would answer some questions I have recieved regarding pole fitness/dancing:

1. Does pole hurt your hands?

I definitely have calluses on my hand right now but I don’t all the time. When I am working on new moves or grips I tend to see more calluses.  They do not bother me and poling does not seem to ruin my fingernails.  I am able to get a gel manicure and keep it intact for about 3-4 weeks.  In addition to my hands, I also get some bruising. This definitely happens when trying to moves,  holds, climbs, etc.   As I get more familiar with the moves the bruises go away  and I notice new strength where I am executing the move.

2. Are you afraid how people will perceive you?

No. Living your life in fear of others’ perceptions is no fun and lends itself to a boring life.  Life is short and precious.  I don’t want to look back and say “I wish I had done that.”   Also, I remember as a teenager telling people that I wanted to grow up to be an “interesting person.”  

With that said, I am mindful of myself and my family and use my own judgement of what is acceptable.  Some readers were offended by the picture I posted last week.  I took the picture down but I will say I personally did not find the picture offensive.   The move I was executing was 4 months in the making and I was over the moon to do it!  I also took the picture myself and only had 10 seconds to do it.  My only criticism is that I should have had someone else take it and I should have used my crash mats……safety first.

3. What if someone calls CPS on you?  

For what? My three year old son has poled a little bit both with my partner and myself.  We use the crash mats and have both parents present for spotting.  Typically, he is being held/spotted with one parent while the other one watches.  We also have an X-pole that was carefully setup by my partner.  He also routinely checks it for me.

In regards to myself pole dancing, I do not believe it provides an unsafe environment for my child.  I take classes at a studio and practice in my garage.  I also find this question offensive and small minded.   There are many strippers out there who are great mothers. No one calls CPS on mothers because they are strippers. It is a JOB that provides for their families.  I am not a stripper but I would not judge someone who is. 

4.   What does your partner and son think of your pole dancing?

My partner has always been supportive of my hobbies.  When I did improv he attended all of my shows and has cheered me own during my running events. He bought and installed my pole for me. Contrary to popular belief, he does not sit in the garage and ogle while I practice. I think he is more worried I am going to accidentally kick and break one of his bikes.

My son thinks its cool.  He likes to see the new tricks I learn.  We watch tutorials together and he also likes to watch pole competition videos.  

5. Do you pole in heels?

I pole in heels about 75% of the time. When I first started I adamantly did not want to pole in heels. Then I had the privilege of studying with Rachele Ribera.   She is the pole heel master and taught me all that I know of poling in heels.  Seriously,  check her out on Instragram…..AMAZING!  

Now, I love to pole in heels because its fun and they act as ankle weights for toning and strength training.

6. Who are your pole idols?

So many!!!!! I will dedicate a whole separate post to this!

Leave the (body) issues behind

Some just see my butt.  I see muscles that are keeping me safe from killing myself…

Yesterday I did two crazy things: wore tiny booty shorts to pole class (basically underwear) and posted two videos of myself in said booty shorts on Facebook….crazy.

8 months ago when I started poling I was super conscious and sure that I would not be wearing anything scandalous.  I mean I am a mom and have given birth….nothing to see here! I think for my first class I showed up with pants and a tee shirt. 

I knew I wanted to learn how to pole but I was going to keep as many clothes on as possible! However, that doesn’t work too well on the pole.  It is super important that your body sticks or has some grip to the pole otherwise you are in serious trouble.  You need a lot of skin exposure to do climbs, hangs, etc.  Bottom line, its frustrating and unsafe to pole in a snowsuit.

Over the last few months I have seen and more and more clothes comes off and this is not easy.  When I first started taking classes it was super intimidating.  The studio where I pole is filled with a lot of different aerial arts (not just pole) and also filled with aerial athletes who are in super great shape.

In my normal everyday world I do not feel insecure about my body but in the pole world I sometimes feel like a huge awkward clown. I think the issue is far larger than pole dancing or being an athlete in the pole world. My problem is that I am a woman and like every other American woman I have been\am objectified.  Appearance first before everything…that’s how I was raised and that is the bullshit that every woman feels.  I wish and hope there are women in this country that do not feel this.  No expectations for the perfect body, hair, makeup, clothes, etc.   

Like going to the beach (if you don’t wear a wetsuit), pole dancing is a sport where it all hangs out.  You are basically climbing and swinging from a pole in your swimsuit. The other thing about pole dancing is that usually its done in front of a mirror where you can easily judge yourself. So, why am I pole dancing if it is intimidating and makes me insecure about my body?

I am pole dancing because it builds strength and is gloriously fun.  In the beginning it was really easy to get caught up in appearances and I still do!  But….what I love about pole is that even though I am wearing less clothes I don’t seem to notice it as much. I am more interested in how to do a ballerina sprin or the proper way to grib my hands.  I am giving myself permission to wear the clothes that will help me perform and not apologizing if I don’t look like a supermodel doing it.  

I am telling the critical voice in my head to fly a kite because this mom booty has some climbing to do.  I am not sorry or ashamed of my cellulite.  Instead, I am busy building some biceps.

Making it my own

Note: legs pictured above are all thanks to running many many miles!

This week I had a realization that really refreshed my attitude and got me back on the pole.  Why was I being so hard on myself to do an inverted V?  I am a perfectionist and not always patient.  I see others in class nail incredible tricks or I watch fabulous pole dancers on Instragram and take for granted all of the work and dedication involved it nailing a specific move.  What I see are the successes but what I don’t see are the blood, sweat, and tears it took to get to that move.

After much thought and Internet research I figured I am not ready for the inverted V and that is totally okay.  I also realized how ridiculous I was being!  To do an inverted V you need to have a lot of arm and core strength.  Don’t get me wrong I have improved my arm and core strength so much in the last 8 months but my body is not there yet.

My default sport for the last 20 years has been running.  Running is an amazing form of exercise and it has given me some incredible life experiences.  I have run 5 marathons, tons of half marathons, made wonderful friends and pushed myself in ways I never thought possible.  The other thing running has given me are legs of steel and an ass that won’t quit (I’m just kidding I don’t even know what that means).  Bottom line, I have a lot of muscle in my body and like 80% of it resides it my lower half.  So this means that my poor upper half is seriously disadvantaged.  My upper half will get there but I need to be way more patient.  

In the meantime I decided to work on my climbs and really get them polished.  Wednesday and Saturday I had the best poling sessions in a long time!  I even learned how to do a front hook hold.  It was also really fun focusing on making my climbs artistic.  

The other incredible thing that happened was a friend sent me a video of Greta Pontarelli.  She is amazing!  Greta is 66 and started pole dancing when she was 59.  She is incredible to watch not because of her age but because she is a beautiful pole dancer.  

There have been so many times during this journey where I felt too old to start pole dancing but watching Greta I realize that I am completely wrong.  I also love how she competes with herself and does not compare herself with other dancers.  In the video I watched she mentioned that in her first class she could not even get up the pole. This made my want to cry because I have been there so many times and felt an instant bond with her.

So this next week I am going to continue on my journey and focus on my own small successes.

Struggle Bus

This year has not started off as my most healthiest of years.  Last week I caught my fourth cold and I can only really blame myself.  I have a super cute three year old who I love to kiss and snuggle so I pretty much get whatever he has.

I spent the whole month of January battling three colds and a sinus infection.  I have spent a lot of quality time in bed.  Also, to top it all off I food poisoned myself with a homemade vegan lasagna.  I promise I will stop buying bagged spinach!!!  I also think there is something going on with the Trader Joe’s mushrooms or maybe its mushrooms in general?  Maybe I need to take a break from cooking.

In any case, after I threw up the offending lasagna this morning I knew pole class was off the table. I was super bummed! The class is all strength and flexibility……which is what I need for those inversions.   On the plus side, I did work on conquering my fear of throwing up.  Throwing up like inverting makes me super scared and feel out of control. However, I knew it would be better on the other side.   I have had food poisoning where I absolutely would not vomit and I don’t recommend it.

I also have to say I was really proud of myself. If I can conquer one of my biggest fears then what else can I do?

So, my intention for next week is some extra self-love and patience.  Also, extra hours in bed and more hand washing.

Stay healthy folks…its all that really matters.


I’m not going to lie its mostly been a hate kind of week.  I am in a difficult time in pole journey where I am confident with basic spins and climbing but am super frustrated with inverting.  I am trying to do a chopper or a V inversion and it feels impossible.

I think there are several things going on:

1. I am not comfortable going upside down.  There is definitely a bit of a mental block.  I am in general overly cautious and do not want to hurt myself.  Also, there is probably a control thing going on where if I go upside down I might feel too out of control.

2. I have really long legs.  I mean who would complain about this.  Long legs are awesome and hot but really terrible for inverting.  It is a lot more weight to throw over head and super frustrating when dancing with other folks who have shorter legs.

3. I do not have a lot of core strength especially lower core strength. There are other places where I am toned my stomach isn’t one of them.  I think also given my long legs I need extra core strength.

So, here I am I want to progress but feel really stuck and there are a lot of emotions tied in with this.  Its really easy to go negative super fast.  This is the time to step away from Instragram and to work on my inner cheerleader.  It may take me months (hopefully not years) but I will get there.  

The one thing that keeps me going is remembering the time my son was learning how to role over.  He struggled and cried but he didn’t give up.  I won’t either.

Potty Time

Yesterday in pole class my teacher mentioned how she someday wanted to create a pole studio that catered/embraced the LGBTQ community.  I never once considered how it must feel to be in a pole studio as an LGBTQ person and what the current experience might feel like.

As a straight Caucasian woman I have to regularly check myself and put myself in other folks’ shoes because I often only just think from my perspective which I feel is super privileged. I mean anything is possible but for the most part I don’t feel like a cop would pull a gun on me. 

Anyway this talk about an LGBTQ pole studio got me thinking what is going on with the LGBTQ community and what are some ways to make this community feel better.  Given the recent news let’s start with letting Transgender folks use the bathroom for their identified gender.

What is the big deal about letting transgender folks use the bathroom of their choosing?  I honestly don’t give a care who uses the same bathroom that I use.  I only care about the cleanliness of the toilet when I go to use it.  I have been working in the corporate world for 11ish years now and I cannot tell how any ladies’ room toilets look like a crime scene.  What’s going on ladies?  Seriously, there have been a few times where I thought someone gave birth on the toilet or set off a poop bomb.  WHY?????  Also, who is in that big of a hurry that the toilet seat liner is still on he toilet.  Really????? Look fucking behind you!

Maybe because I was a Girl Scout (campsite rule) or I have overflowed too many toilets in my time but keep that toilet clean. How hard is it to do a quick glance behind yourself and verify the toilet is flushed and nothing terrifying was left behind.

I bet if transgender folks where able to use the bathroom in which they felt most comfortable that the bathroon would look way nicer and the world in general would be a happier place.

Little Bird Pole Project

About 8 months ago I watched a documentary that changed my life.  Blood, Sweat, and Sequins is a documentary about pole dancers in Australia competing for the title of Miss Pole Dance.  I decided to watch it through a fit of insomnia and thought it would be a fun way to pass the time.  Instead, the film sparked my interest in pole dancing and even motivated me to try my first class.  8 months later here I am with the idea to do this project.

2015 and 2016 were tough and intense years.  Lots of stuff going both in my personal life, politics, etc.  2017 started off with a bang and I could easily see myself falling down a rabbit hole.  My default mode is highly anxious with a few sprinkles of depression.  I needed an outlet to focus my energy and some goals to keep my brain occupied as well as some positive goals.  Don’t get me wrong I still plant to read the New York Times and stayed engaged with the world but needed something to help me stay sane.

I decided for the next four years I am going to document my pole dance journey and capture my progression and the lessons learned along the way.  Ideally, I would love to someday compete or at least get  some performances under my belt.

So, what’s with the name?  Well, my maiden name is Ptacek which is Slovak for Little Bird.  I mean if I was really being honest with myself I would title it the “Big Bird Project.”  I am 5’10 and look like a giant in pole shoes….so “Little” is not what I woul use to describe myself.  But I don’t want to get sued by Sesame Street so here we are.

Okay, so you may be wondering why Pole Dance?  I am not going to lie if you asked a year ago what I thought of pole dancing I probably would have said something offensive.  I have been a runner for the last 20 years and I have had a bit of an ego about my running fitness.  I have had some good races and done pretty well.  I have considered myself an athlete but after getting into pole dancing I have changed my tune.

Pole dancing is hard like really freaking hard.  It requires strength, patience, mental agility, etc.  Also, it is beautiful to watch.  I am so captivating by the tricks and movements.  So I gave it a try and was humbled.  I decided to invest in this new sport and started attending classes regularly. I am excited to share my journey and see where it takes me!

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