Saturday, October 17, 2015

US National Pole Championships 2015 - #dreamfearlessly

It's interesting where life will take you when you try new things.  A year ago, I would have laughed in your face if you told me I'd compete in Pole Sport (aka pole dance in lay terms).  Ha!  But, as my adventures proved me wrong, I fell in love with pole and my competitive side couldn't say know to trying my first competition.

In May, I journeyed to Chicago with 17 other Dolls to take on our Central Region Pole Championships (CPC).  Like bicycle racing, there are multiple levels, and I entered at Level 1 (beginner).  The nerves were through the roof, but the experience was out of this world!  Much to my surprise, I finished first in the Level 1 Seniors for the Championship category!

At the same time as we were preparing for this competition, my training and practice began preparing me for the next level.  In the weeks following CPC, I had to make two decisions: 1) Do I go to Nationals in LA?, and 2) Do I level-up with my new found skills?  Heck, WHY NOT?!

So, with just a couple months to prepare, I hit the studio hard with Coach Jamie and my teammate Emily to take my routine to the next level.  I had to re-cut my music and make the song longer to fit Level 2, and I had to learn a whole lot of new tricks.  But, moving to Level 2 meant I got to invert!  Yeeeeaaaaahhhhhh!  We practiced up to six nights a week at the studio, often til 11:00pm or later, and my body took a toll.

With only 3 days til competition, I finally nailed all my tricks and I was ready for the next adventure.  Jamie and her mom, Emily, and I headed out to LA to take on the stage and have a good time.  When I got to the studio that morning, I knew this would be my last chance with this routine.. I focused on having as much fun as I could in the 3 minutes I had on stage, and meditated on becoming my character one last time.

As I moved across the stage, it was hard not to smile..  I knew I had to stay in character, but the energy coursing through my body was electric and I felt on top of the world!  As I moved through my last tricks into my finale, my heart was bursting with joy, and I cried with pure happiness when I met Jamie off stage after my exit.  I didn't care where I placed - I just knew I'd done the best I could have done.  And, as it seems I don't know myself as well as I should, I was surprised yet again to find myself on the podium... 2nd place at Nationals!!!

Wow, it was so amazing, and I was overwhelmed with joy!  So much so, it has taken me nearly 2 months just to write about it.  But, once I received my video from Alloy Images, it brought that elation back in force!  It has been so fun to relieve those short minutes of my life..  all the countless hours, bruises, and bottles of Dry Hands... all for 3 minutes to shine.  I wouldn't have done it any other way.

Check it out!...

Next up, our student Halloween showcase "Dolls Must Die" next weekend, then "Dolls on Parade" in February.. I can't wait!  And all of this fun, these dreams, this happiness would not have been possible without the unending love and support of my hubby Jay, the tough love and unbelievable talent in my Coach Jamie, the laughter and making up moves with Emily, my family and friends for coming to our shows and cheering me along this journey, and for Chloe and her amazing creation of Dollhouse Pole Dance Studio!

High on Pole!
Kristy Kreme

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Overcoming Weakness and Fear

If  "Pain is weakness leaving the body", then I'm convinced that bruises must be fear leaving the body.

Now five months into pole dancing, I regularly find myself staring back at my coach or instructor like a deer in headlights as they demonstrate the next trick, spin, or climb... "I'm gonna kill myself trying that"...  But somehow, within the black-n-white-striped and purple walls of Dollhouse Studio, I find myself trying it before that thought takes purchase in my mind, crippling me from a new breakthrough before I even make an attempt.

And somewhere in that fear and disbelief, I continue to find a new strength and courage within myself I didn't know existed.  Or maybe just forgot was there.

I look back at my first three months - I was terrified to climb more than 7ft up the 15 ft+ poles in the studio.  It wasn't until my last week of Competition Bootcamp, end of January 2015, that I finally made it.  I didn't look down, I just gritted my teeth and dug deep into some fierce layer of determination, finding myself touching the beams at the top and gliding down with a cheshire smile stretched across my face.  Now I have to force myself from a full ascent to train for our 12 ft competition poles!

Now, as the tricks become more advanced, I'm forced to learn to ignore the fear, listen to Jamie or Chloe's voice, and TRUST that following their instructions will guide me safely into the move.  I almost laugh at myself as I'm contorted or dangling precariously, while some expletive escapes my lips in shock. "Holy $&%#"... or I return to earth needing immediate high fives and hugs to celebrate a moment's victory.  Turns out I don't have much of a poker face either... even as I complete the move, shock is pretty evident.

And the crazy thing about pole, is that it leaves it's imprint all over your body.  Long, lean legs.  Stronger arms and back muscles.  Sure, there's bruises all over my shins from trying to climb on my weak side or on my biceps from some crazy pit-hold .. raw skin on the top of my feet from practicing my Remi Sit.. bruises on my side from a Gemini or leg switches...

But most evident is the confidence I see as I walk straighter and taller.  My eye contact with others, even when dancing in my sports bra and shorts with strangers.  My husband constantly catching me on my tip toes - at the grocery store, doing the dishes, walking the dog.  And my movements as I dance getting larger, longer, and more expressive... dancing as if no one was watching.

On top of all the fear of learning something new or attempting something terrifying has been learning to overcome the fear of talking about it.  So much negative stigma surrounds the words "pole" and "dance" when combined, that I quickly find myself shy to share my love for such a sport. Afraid of what people will think or say.  But with every new trick I learn or personal struggle I overcome, I become more determined to share this passion with everyone.  I doubt my Dad yet truly understands, and my male coworkers are still in the dark, but nothing happens overnight.  (Heck, my Superman hasn't even really happened over 5 months!)

Until the world understands this sport and art form, I'll simply take pleasure into sharing with one person at a time and encouraging others to find their passions, no matter what they look like.

Facing my fears and finding new strengths,
Kristy Kreme

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Blurring the Lines Between Cross-Training and Competition

A few months ago, I was on the hunt for a new fitness routine to help me combat repetitive low back issues and a weak upper body.  Sure, hot yoga is great, but I next really had a major ache to go.. and lifting weights at the gym was something I left in high school.. so what next?

As anyone who's seen me at the end of a mtn or cx race knows, I'm not the most graceful of creatures.  But there's a part of me that has always loved to watch various forms of gymnastics and dance, fascinated by the amazing displays of strength and creative ways to move the body... a power I've envied for years as I'd watch performances and youtube vids galore.

So, in October, I finally put on my big girl pants and signed up for a aerial dance workshop to give it a go and I was instantly hooked!  I immediately signed up for a month-long beginner session to learn how to be an aerial dancer of my own.  Aerial dance?  You may know it better by the term Pole Dance ;)   Just, take away the removal of clothing and add in a ton more strength and contortion, and you'll get what it's about.

I've been studying at Dollhouse Pole Dance Studio now for three months and it's the first time since I bought my first bike that I've found something that I'm this obsessed about.  Feeling and watching the changes in my body is hard to believe sometimes... less back pain, stronger core, awesome increase in arm and leg strength, and touching my toes for the first time in years!  All that havoc I've caused in my body on the bike is finally starting to reverse (but there's still a LONG way to go)!

The interesting part happened right around the New Year...

I'd taken December off of racing bikes - the first month I hadn't raced in over three years!  I really tried to learn as much as I could in my pole classes with an insatiable hunger. When it came time to thinking about 2015 and the possible adventures that lie ahead, I just kept thinking of "If Nothing"... What if nothing stood in your way?  What awesome things would you do?

This lil bike racer signed up for her first Pole Sport Competition!  In January, bike racing turned into cross-training for my first pole competition in May, and the cross-training I'd been doing in dance turned into my new competitive sport.  I ramped up my training more than I ever thought I would... and I still wanted more!  For the first time in my competitive life, I've wanted to eat better and train harder.  Riding my bike for cardio, doing calisthenics for strength training, stretching regularly for the first time in my life, and taking Pole bootcamps and learning how to edit music.. and it all feels so natural.

I day dream about my routine, my costume, my make-up... I've sat on youtube for hours just trying to find new things for Coach Jamie to teach me.  And then I spend my Saturday's in the pole studio, followed by a couple hours on the LaMere

fat bikes with my hubby... so perfect!  Sure, I'm still racing, but from now til my first competition, it's not exactly what I'm training for.  But I'm sure loving learning something so challenging and exciting!  And heck, I gotta thank the bike for giving strong legs by which to hang upside down with!

my first Gemini!

One of the craziest lessons I've learned in this... I bruise more from pole dancing than I do mountain biking!  Maybe it's cuz we do things like holding your body weight with just your armit...

first time getting the Yogini!  (nice fat purple bruise in my armpit after this one)

It's interesting what phenomenal things you find when you follow your life's curiosities and try new things. I know I don't regret it, and I'm so excited to see what amazing things lie ahead in 2015!

Pole dreaming and bike ridin', 
Kristy Kreme