What I Learned from My First Competition

Bluetooth Headphones Can Come in Handy

I spent most of my time training with other polers in an open studio hours rather than alone. While I definitely took the liberty to hijack the speakers and play my song out loud (I wonder how many people associate me with that pink panther tune now), it’s definitely not something I or anyone else can do for the entire session.

That’s where having your personal music setup makes a difference. As I don’t have a teeny-tiny ipod-nano-ish music player, and I probably wouldn’t have poled with one clipped on me anyway, I opted for bluetooth headphones.

I got Sony XB50BS EXTRA BASS™ Sports Bluetooth In-ear Headphones on Black Friday for a good discount, but cheaper ones would have probably done the job well too. The sound quality and isolation was good enough that there could be music playing in the studio and people talking, and I could still hear my song clearly and concentrate. The battery life is really good, I only had to charge mine a handful of time and often leave them on during the entire session, multiple times a week.

Being sports headphones as this are, these stayed in place fairly well for the most part. There was a certain moment when I threw myself around in a very strong static spin, where one of the ear pieces would consistently come out. The other issue I had with them, is during a shoulder/chest stand on the floor, where I had to lay on the side of my head and they were really in the way.

All in all a decent investment to do, although not direly needed. I usually had to reference to the song once in awhile, but preferred to work on things without wearing those.

You Either Video or Audio

It could be just an iPhone thing, but I couldn’t play much and video myself at the same time. The music stops as soon as you open the camera, and no, it’s not a bug. There are some apps that claim to allow to video and play music at the same time, but I haven’t gotten around to check them out.

My solution was to dust off my old phone and put my song on it. It has bluetooth, it has Spotify, I don’t care about it – it all works out. As I progressed with my training, I didn’t need to film myself as much, and I could just play music in the studio and film my routine tun with my iPhone as one would usually do.

Talking to Other People Can Save Your Routine

The PSO documentation is pretty good. It covered any question I could have and more. What I missed is the orientation of the poles. Which one is static, the left or the right? The documentation says left, but I didn’t realize I was thinking about the ‘wrong’ left until I went to a group hearsal class and someone pointed it out for me. It messed up my floor pass, since it was going in the direction than I thought, and it was my weaker side of all the moves I intended to do.

It could be reminders to do things, clarifications or just good old sanity checks, but check out what’s the consensus on things from the community can be helpful, if not crucial. If you’re a lone wolf, then checking in with others and making sure your idea of how your routine should be lines up with other people’s expectation can be extra valuable.

Do Privates if you Can’t Work out that Choreo

About a month in, I had a small crisis. I had a routine, not a good one though, with many parts missing or not fitting well. A routine from scratch is a blank board. You can do EVERYTHING, which can be very overwhelming. Suddenly, I couldn’t come up with a single thing I could do on spin pole, even though I know a shitton of moves. Floorwork was even worse, because I haven’t done much of that before.

Even just an hour with a good instructor can make a mediocre imitation of a routine to a full blown piece that I could stand behind proudly. The first thing that my instructor Tiffany Rose Mockler noted, was that my song is short but my routine doesn’t have a lot of judgeable  moves in it. I had too much of pink panther skip-walking,  which is good to character reinforcing but less so for actual content. So on top of filling up missing parts, figuring out the entire floor pass we changed a mistake I was not even aware of.

Bruises Will Happen

I love getting pole kisses, they are badges of honor and testaments that I’ve manage to do something new and cool. When I started getting bruised during competition training, I would put Traumeel to make these fade before I perform. Little did I know, these bruises were here to stay.

Unlike regular training, in competition training you do the same moves over and over again. I kept bruising myself in the same spots before they had a chance to heal, and not even Traumeel is a match to that. The worst one is on my right shin, where I land in a regular climb leg grip from a Shoulder Mount Flip.

Mary Nightingale