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Twirly Tales: Natalia Kicked My 59 year Old Ass! By Doug Korb

Natalia kicked my 59 year old ass (and the next day I realized that I like it)

I’m 90 seconds in to Natalia’s lyra class and I’m thinking “WTF did I get myself into?”. After watching her inspiring performance at the Twirly Girls 13th Anniversary event, I had flashbacks of the time I was the “King of the Monkey Bars”; inventing, learning and perfecting moves like the Spiderman, Death Drops, Cherry Twists, coffins…and for some reason, the impressive moves that Natalia did reminded me of my times on the bars. I was inspired, and the next day I signed up for one of Natalia’s lyra classes, thinking that it might jumpstart a fitness routine that has become predictable, and boring.

What I forgot to consider was the “time warp” I was in when I made this decision. When I was impressing myself, and others with reverse spidermans and death twists, I was 12 years old. That was 47 years ago.

So at the 91 second mark of Natalia’s class (and Bel to her credit did say her warmup was tough…which I kind of blew off) I realized that: Bel was right and I’m gonna have to grind this next 75 minutes out, and decide later whether this was a big mistake or not.   Once the warmup was completed, the real work began…Learning how to get up on the lyra.

Surprisingly, certain moves like pullovers I was able to do right away, as if there is such a thing as 47 year old muscle memory. My technique was terrible but that was the least of my worries. Since I’ve always tried to stay active with weight training, crossfit (back in the day), hiking, snowboarding etc., my “strength to weight ratio” is decent for a 59 year old. However, what surprised me was that a move I could do once was not one I could do several times in a row, and Natalia wanted us to do 10 reps of many of these moves.

Natalia walks her talk and like the best teachers, can break down a move to smaller parts to help you figure out how to do it. She pointed out my errors (bent knees, toes not pointed) without being too critical. I think she was going easy on me.

10 minutes after class ended I realized how tired I was…in a good way. Not the “I rode 60 miles on my bike and now I want to eat 2,000 kcals worth of food to replace the energy I just burned off”, kind of way, but the “wow, that was a really good workout and I’m going to go home and sleep like a baby” kind of way.

The next day I was fatigued, had a blister on my hand and had some missing skin behind my knee. But I felt oddly inspired. I have always been drawn to individual sports and activities that were physical and at the same time offered me a chance to be creative and playful.   Skateboarding, monkey bars, bmx riding, and snowboarding were challenging and fun for me. When I was around 15, my younger brother and I learned how to ride down the street on our skateboard while doing a handstand, after learning this trick from some neighborhood kids who were gymnasts.   We could go quite a ways, upside down, and then when we got tired we would just lower ourselves back onto our boards. This trick led to many others that challenged me to my fullest. I often ended up with blisters, bruises, lost skin and even missing hair (from trying to teach myself how to do a headstand). But there was nothing like the satisfaction I got from learning a trick for the 1st time.

The day after class I felt like I had already accomplished something…I survived my 1st lyra class.   This class offered something that was missing in my weekly routine; “Creative Physicality”. I haven’t been overly motivated to change up my fitness routine lately as I was in a comfortable stasis. But this lyra class brought back a feeling that I didn’t realize I had been missing. Creative physicality.

So I decided to decide whether or not this feeling was a fluke or not. I bought a “5-pack” to the class to see what happens over the next few weeks. One class a week will spice up my routine without causing too much havoc to my schedule. In 5 weeks, will I be stronger, more flexible and have learned a bunch of new tricks? I sure hope so. Will the next 5 classes get any easier I seriously doubt that as Natalia wouldn’t let that happen…: )

But, for the next 5 Wednesdays, the morning after I take these classes will I be saying to myself “Yep, I got my ass handed to me again, but I’m really glad I took the class”?

            I bet you I will.ddd

Doug is my boyfriend and has been a true supporter of Twirly Girls from Day 1! Doug used to run Twirly Tuff bootcamp, so he isn’t new to fitness. For those of you who know Doug, you know he is very much into fitness. He is Crossfit Certified and has taken many other fitness certifications mainly just to improve his own personal fitness journey. He has always been very passionate about fitness. I’m super excited that he decided to try Lyra. He was really impressed and honestly loved the class instruction, warm up and team work!

Twirly Tales: The Tentative Twirly: by Rosanne Swanson Vasko

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I remember my daughter on the phone from college, telling me about a pole dancing class she saw that would be interesting. I mocked it, saying I could just imagine having one of those in the house. For all the sarcasm, it peaked my curiosity, I was, after all, still a dancer at heart. I spent as many childhood days in ballet and tap shoes as I did soccer cleats. Heck, I was even on the local TV20 Dance Party back in high school.

A few years later, realizing that Zumba near my house had me awkwardly bumping into my ex-husband’s sister-in-law, and not connecting with local yoga choices, I decided it was time to look for something new. I looked up “Pole Dance” near my work in Pleasanton.

On Friday lunch hour I made the trek to find Twirly Girls, and stopped in to see what it was like. I wasn’t dressed to do anything besides a work interview, and I just wanted to do a quick check before committing to anything. First thing I saw was a beautiful blonde women in a sports bra and spanx who appeared to be about my age on a pole over a big cushy pink mat dropping from this elevated ballet dancer pose into a long extension, while being spotted by Bel. I knew I would be safe, and with mid-cay classes I was motivated, and sure I could work it in.

Over the next few weeks, Christine encouraged me with a big smile to try climbing, even loaning me these super sticky socks to help give me confidence in making it up past a few feet. I signed up for regular twirly sessions & also yoga classes nearby to help work on my flexibility. At the same time, work was challenging me on a new intense project making it a challenge to pole more than one night a week, and commute across country, keeping me home only 3 weeks per month.

However, life came to a head, with intense personal crisis toward the end of my work project. I needed an outlet, and started doing more yoga, signing up for more pole classes. This is when each time I walked into the pole studio I felt I finally had found my tribe. I committed to performing in a single Halloween show as a solo act, practice became more regular at 2 days per week, and occasional privates. I got stronger. I tried moves I never thought I could do, and found the instructors believed in me more than I did. A few months later I attended the Pacific Pole Competition while I was in LA, and wanted more!

Five months later I was performing in the Nor Cal Pole Presentational. My coach and I had created a routine that poked fun at a drunk character giving me free reign to be goofy, wave around a beer cup, kick off my shoes and laugh off any mistakes. By the spring I was once again with PSO in LA, this time as a competitor with the same character, winning my first Gold Medal. I was 49 at the time, so I was in the Masters group in the Entertainment Category. The next year, I moved up a level both in age and in level, as a Grand Master 50+ in the Level 3 Entertainment, once again winning the gold Medal at the same PSO PPC event.

I had achieved these things by having a really good match with a positive coach Janet Cee, and taking different classes with instructors each with their own style, impact, and encouragement. Add to this I have a wonderful yogi studio 2 blocks away providing focus & flexibility training, adding a new level of body awareness to keep injuries to a minimum.

This year was probably my favorite, taking advantage of being able to have regular private lessons to develop a hard-hitting dramatic piece for NCPP to test out the scope of my skills. Facing the opportunity to perform in my home SF turf with PSO Golden Gate, I wanted to really do something new. Coach listened to the music I had picked, and once again warmed me, this isn’t going to be easy as my music was hard rock, but it was definitely me. We could do Entertainment category again, or, we could consider this, do it as an exotic piece. It took about 5 minutes, and we decide, Level 3 Exotic Grand Master for me! This time we had lots of time. A deep bag of tricks and very specific goals to achieve; giving time for poses, character, and mostly deliver on the floor part of the routine. We did it, and came away once more with gold medals, I in my category, and my coach Janet Cee also won Gold in her ever so smooth Low Flow Category.

As I look back, one of my favorite combos is still flipping from that ballerina-like leg hang to an extended superman, and smiling inside with accomplishment, just like I’d seen when I walked in the studio that first time. When I’m not in the studio I’m practicing at home, my husband now spots me to keep me safe. My phone is full of pictures taken at the studio and at home, so I can measure my progress. I am still focused on whatever comes next, and celebrate each new milestone.

A Twirly Tale: My Six Year Pole Journey: By Brenda Lang

In 2013, I was curious about the increasing trend in pole fitness popularity. I searched a bit and found there was a pole studio just a stone’s through from my home. After checkibrendang out the excellent Yelp reviews for Twirly Girls Pole Fitness, I took the plunge. Already a senior citizen, I was soon humbled by the challenge ahead. It certainly looked heaps easier than what I was about to put my body through. But with the ever-patient Bel as my first instructor, I refused to give up. I was intrigued with many things about Twirly Girls. The super supportive environment was tops on the list. Students and instructors alike were welcoming, encouraging and inspiring everywhere I turned. Every age, gender, and body type was well represented. I was also intrigued with the technical aspects of carrying out a pole trick. With a few tweaks of a position here or there, a trick that seemed impossible, from a strength standpoint, soon became a surprising success. What seemed to be an eternity to learn the basic climb, was soon followed by successful leg hangs, a Superman, a reverse ayesha, and a one-arm handstand. My drug of choice was being upside-down.

brenda yesahThen I hit a hiccup in my pole journey, and in life. In late 2016, I was diagnosed with tonsil cancer. It was explained to me that the success for a cure was 85-90%. My reaction was, “Woo-hoo”…when can I start???” But it was also explained to me that the treatment I would need was the most brutal of all cancer treatments. I would need to take a minimum of 3-4 months off work, would need lots caretaking and there would be a 50% chance that I would require a feeding tube, due to the eating and swallowing challenges in the months to come. Nothing they told me turned out to be false. I needed it all. High doses of radiation and chemo are the gold standard treatment and they work, at a price. Permanent issues would be hearing, taste bud and saliva losses.

Treatment began, as did new challenges. The physical challenges were now life challenges instead of pole challenges. Getting off the couch was the new challenge, instead of climbing the pole. Trying not to fall while walking to the bathroom was the new issue instead of trying not to fall while getting dizzy on a spin pole. Cleaning my feeding tube replaced cleaning my pole. Counting pills and calories, replaced counting push-ups and crunches, watching hair fall out replaced doing hair whips, not having to shave (okay not a challenge) replaced excessively shaving, using tons of lotion replaced using none, bundles of clothing replaced skimpy clothing, living in Uggs replaced twirling in bare feet.

In addition to the physical changes, there were cognitive challenges from both nutritional insufficiency and medication side effects as well as the financial burden to the tune of $12,000, beyond the insurance payment. My caretakers tried their best to cheer me up. For example one day while putting together the stand for my formula gravity bag, they decided to use it as a mock pole and danced around it posing and taking photos. I can’t remember if I laughed. If I did, it was just to appease them. Laughter was not an emotion at that point of my journey. I was now in survival mode. I cherish those photos now and can laugh along with them. After setting up my formula bag, we all soon realized that even this form of feeding was no match for my mucositis, gag reflex issues and nausea. When I would cough (a constant state with mucositis), my stomach would empty, losing most of the precious calories. Having held onto almost no calories for about eight days prior to this, it was time for a trip to a very crowded emergency room in downtown Oakland on a Saturday night.

In the E.R., I was immediately triaged to the front and admitted with a low heart rate and low potassium. I was kept in the hospital for a week while they tried to figure out how to successfully feed me. Doctors ordered different anti-nausea meds, administered them intravenous and set up a formula pump, called Kangaroo Joey. K.J.’s flow could be set extremely low, to a point where I was receiving calories around the clock, but so few at a time that they stayed down. A new K.J. was sent to my home at the same time that I was.

K.J. was by my side for the next two months. My exercise pole had been replaced with a pole for K.J. to hang, along with my bag of formula. K.J. and I came up with our own new pole moves and they weren’t pretty. K.J. fed me and hummed in rhythm as I slept. He was my lifeline. As the end of my six weeks of treatment approached, I looked forward to jumping up and getting back to life, but what I didn’t understand, was things would continue to get worse before they got better. Radiation continued to work its magic and hell beyond the treatment days. My throat was sore, my neck was red, bumpy and itchy, but worse than anything, the mucositis got worse and the inflammation grew constricting my throat. Swallowing pills and water became more and more challenging, let along any morsel of food that my caretakers tried to get me to try. Daily swallowing therapy was a must. At the end of two months those issues started to subside and K.J. and I separated, perhaps prematurely. Our relationship was over as I switched to drinking most of my calories.

In the months to come, food intake and calorie maintenance were still an enormous challenge. This was now due to dry mouth, compromised taste buds, early satiety, and still some nausea. With calorie intake being low, energy was compromised. But, each week got better and at the one-year point I was eating mostly solid food, although it still tasted pretty bad. At that point, with vast muscle loss, I returned to Twirly Girls because I missed my thicker pole (sorry K.J.) and even more, I missed my Twirly friends. My pole workout looked much different now. My low energy and dizzy spells prompted sitting down often (about 30% of the time in the beginning). I pushed through and at two years post-treatment I’m still working on the muscle, but I’m elated to say that I have 100% of my energy back, thanks to my wonderful caretakers, family, friends and doctors. But I also attribute much of this to exercise, including my favorite form, pole fitness. My drugs of doctor’s choice have been replaced by my drugs of choice, butterflies, ayeshas and handstands.

With oodles of gratitude, I have just graduated from 3-month checkups to 6-month checkups because my doctor says everything looks “pristine”. Bring on the next six years of twirling at Twirly Girls!

brenda handstand

November Twirly Girl of the Month: Nancy Song

How did you financy 56nd Twirly Girls? 

I found a Groupon deal for pole dancing classes very close to my home. I have always wanted to try it, so when the opportunity popped up, I jumped on it!

How long have you been a Twirly Girl?

I took a few classes 3 years ago, but I’ve been coming regularly since February of this year.

Did you pole dance before becoming a TG? 

Pole newbie before TG

Which class(es) do you take?

As many as I can! It might be better to ask which classes I DON’T take 😛 I love all the different strengths and styles each teacher brings to the studio so I pack my schedule as often as I can!

Who is your instructor, instructors? 

Morgan, Janet, Ellen, and recently AJ! I also really enjoy when Patrick subs. Bel will always be OG Pole Mama though

Which move were you most excited to nail?

Ayesha! And all the various forms. It took me a while to build up the strength for it but man it was worth it.

Have you taken any workshops?

Just one, Katie’s floorwork workshop. Not a lot of workshops offered while I’ve been a Twirly Girl.

Which was your favorite workshop?

I’ve only taken Katie’s workshop but it was lots of fun. Especially because I’ve been following her on Instagram. I was a little bit starstruck

😛Do you like to dance in heels or barefoot?

I feel like I’m able to express myself better barefoot, but heels are so much fun to stomp and clack.

What is your favorite song to dance to? (at this moment)

Favorite song…. Hard to pick just one! Piece by Piece by Kelly Clarkson makes me feel all the feels

Do you have a Pole Dream, such as performing, competing? 

I want to try competing at some point but I need to work up the courage to do so!

If you wanted to say something about Twirly Girls, what would it be?

Twirly Girls is the most welcoming and warm group of amazing men and women ever. I’m so lucky to have such a great community so close to my home. Twirly Girls has really shown me that pole is for everybody, regardless of your gender or body size or fitness level. Regardless of where you are on your fitness journey, the teachers and fellow students are always happy to celebrate your achievements and make you feel accomplished.nancy333

I’m really happy to be included in the Twirly Family and I’m super honored to be TG of the month!

What is your guilty pleasure?

Hot Cheetos. ALL of them. And Cheese Pizza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS NANCY! YOU ARE AN AMAZING TWIRLY GIRL AND SUCH A GREAT ADDITION TO OUR TWIRLY TRIBE.  We are super excited that you will be getting married soon and decided to do your engagement pictures at the studio! You have grown so fast in such a short time. I’m excited to see where your pole journey will take you!

October 2018 Twirly Girl of the Month: Ashley Freitas

ash123Congratulations Ashley for being picked for Twirly Girl of the Month of October!

How did you find Twirly Girls?

Googled it. (“Pole dancing classes” if you were curious on the specifics.)

How long have you been a Twirly Girl?

Ummm I think my first class was in the summer of 2015? But I’ve been taking classes for a few months here and then some time off there…

 

Did you pole dance before becoming a TG?

Nope.

Which class(es) do you take?

Oh beans, all of them? Tuesday 8pm, and Sunday 10am (I’ve been missing a few recently because I slept in…sorry Morgan D: ).

The occasional Sunday 11:30am and Saturday 11:00am. I’ve tried the Wednesday at 8:15pm a few times, and used to take the Friday at 10&11:30am along with the Pat-tricks class.

Who is your instructor, instructors?

Mama Bel, and Morgan Christy mostly though I would also say Ellen Lovelace, and Patrick are all my instructors for my pole-history. Along with a class from Jade, Grace, and Miss Katie.

Which move were you most excited to nail?

I would have to say Superman, and man did I feel super once I got it. (I had to, no regrets.)

Have you taken any workshops?

Yes, I’ve taken more than I can actually remember the names of.

Which was your favorite workshop?

I cannot pick just one because they all had a different element that was being worked on, and they all had a different feel to them. I enjoyed each one in their own way and how they were being taught. I don’t think I ever left a workshop no having felt happy and amazing and wishing there was another one coming around again soon!
Do you like to dance in heels or barefoot?

I usually dance barefoot only because I cannot (at the moment) physically dance in heels, but it is something I would like to do at some point.

What is your favorite song to dance to? (at this moment)

Ummm I think my current song I would really like to make a choreography to at some point it “Church” by Fall Out Boy.

Do you have a Pole Dream, such as performing, competing?

I’ve definitely contemplated it with all of the pros and cons, and how much time, effort, sweat, dry hands, and bruises would be involved in such adventures like performing or competing. Though I think as for now I am content with having my one experience be performing at Trick or Twirl.

If you wanted to say something about Twirly Girls, what would it be?

What would I say about Twirly Girls? I would probably say that I had at one time worried about being accepted into what seemed like such a tight knit, caring, and supportive group of people. Though that was before I found out that one becomes knitted into the group just as fast as you walk into the door.

Everyone I have meet at Twirly Girls has been nothing but kind and supportive of anyone they are interacting with. As some may know I have anxiety, but I really don’t worry about as much when I am in the studio or around others I know from the studio because I feel as if I have quickly become part of their family as they have become part of mine. I know that there is no judgement only encouragement to keep doing what you are doing since being their is something we all enjoy and love doing. Everyone seems to want everyone to feel their best and do their best every time they walk into the studio, and to feel the drive to come back the next time and try even harder.

What is your guilty pleasure?

My guilty pleasure? Is allowing myself to completely and totally nerd out about things I like considered a guilty pleasure? If so, I am guilty.

September Twirly Girl of the Month: Mlis Chris

How did you find Twirly Girls? I was referred here by Kinetic Arts.

How long have you been a Twirly Girl? 3 years!

Did you pole dance before becoming a TG? Yes, Pole was offered once a week at Kinetic Arts, but I wanted more classes.

Which class(es) do you take? I take AJ’s Total Twirl Class, Morgan’s Pick a Trick & Inter. Adv. Class, Bottoms Up with Janet, Pole Combo’s with Ellen, and Triple T’s with Bel.

Who is your instructor, instructors? Morgan, AJ, Bel, Ellen, Janet, Grace and Patrick!

Which move were you most excited to nail? Handspring and handstand press-up.

Have you taken any workshops? Yes

Which was your favorite? Morgan’s Flip clinic

Do you like to dance in heels or barefoot? Barefoot

What is your favorite song to dance to? (at this moment):  Anything Sultry, Sexy,   “Think Nawlins” …love Tracy Chapman “Give me one Person”

Do you have a Pole Dream, such as performing, competing?. My pole dream is being able to clock a handstand move..haha!! In all honesty I really am shy! I do pole for me. Its my reward to myself after a long hard day working.

If you wanted to say something about Twirly Girls, what would it be? An incredibly friendly, welcoming, supportive, group of men and women

What is your guilty pleasure? Champagne! I just adore those beautiful bubbles floating to the top of my glass.

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2018 Northern California Pole Presentation Here We Come!

This Saturday is the annual Northern California Pole Presentation hosted by Lori Myers and Ellen Lovelace!

NCPP is a showcase giving pole performers a chance to perform in front of a crowd and get feedback from professionals. This performance is the biggest pole show of the year in Northern California.

A showcase is a great way to perform in front of an audience! Its alittle less stressful because its not a competition so you’re not getting judged. Whats nice about NCPP is there are professionals that will give you feedback if you want it. This helps you prepare for a contest if that’s the way your journey will take you.

This year we have 4 Twirlers performing at NCPP.  Janet, Rosanne, Nisha and Robert!

Go out and have fun and enjoy your moment! We’ll be there to cheer you on!