5 Mistakes I Made The First Time Competing...

So in one of my earlier posts I announced that I would be competing in PPC again this year….well that didn’t happen. I know I’m not the only one who signed up and then had to drop out, but I should have known better. This was my second time around, I knew all the work that needed to go into competing, I knew the emotional toll. I had done it all before, BUT this time I ignored past lessons learned andthrew myself into training with all the focus and commitment of kid at Disneyland on a sugar high.

Since I am hoping to go another round with the routine I started for PPC this year at Nationals, I want to get my booty in gear and make sure the lessons I learned STICK! So learn from my mistakes: here are the 5 things that I will NOT be doing this time around:

1. Not Setting Realistic Time Commitment Goals

Here’s what you need time for: creating/choreographing your routine, practice, additional pole classes, cross training, costume/hair/make-up creation, dress rehearsals, music editing, and more! Don’t forget you need time for transportation and any physical maintenance you do in preparation for your performance (i.e. hair removal, spray tans). That’s a whole lot to get done in what is usually 2-3 months.

It is, however, totally doable! What I’ll be doing next time around is planning out a careful schedule ahead of time, first figuring out how much REALISTIC time I can commit to competing each week and working backwards. Of the list of time commitments I posted above several can only be done by you, but other items can be delegated to helpful friends and family. Also don’t fall into the trap of believing you have to train at the Pro level for an Amateur performance. If you have the time and energy – great, if you don’t no worries, do what fits into your life and goals!

2. Not Having a Realistic Budget

Here is what you will have to purchase if you compete: entry, possibly tickets for friends and family, professional pictures and video, costume/hair/make-up, pole classes, studio rental/open pole sessions, cross training classes, day-of parking, transportation, and more! Yup, competing can cost you a pretty penny if you aren’t prepared or you wait til the last minute to get competition ready. I made that mistake my second time around by waiting til it was too late to make my costume and realizing I would either have to purchase a much more expensive one or lose the visual I was going for.

So how do you end up NOT having sticker shock on competition day? Again, decide how much you are willing to spend ahead of time. You can compete on a surprisingly low budget if you can modify old pole wear to be your costume, train at home, do your own hair and makeup, and purchase you pictures and video together. Or maybe you have an unlimited budget. Either way, don’t waste money on the little costs that sneak up on you because you didn’t prepare ahead of time!

3. Forgetting to Cross Train

So you’ve decided to compete, what is the first thing you do? Take as many pole classes as possible and train on your home pole 24/7! Yeah, that is a sure fire way to do some damage to your body. Not only do you run the risk of injury and creating a lopsided body (unless you run your full routine on both sides), but you are missing out on the amazing benefits of cross training. Also if you’re like me you start to resent the hell out of your pole after having to force yourself to work on it day and night.

This go around I’ll be including cross training in my competition schedule! Personally I have seen the direct effect hoop/lyra practice has had on my pole training, because it is a more balanced workout, my more acro-focused pole moves are much stronger and more comfortable than ever before. Add in an additional non-pole class or session into your weekly practice to give yourself a break from the toll of pole and invigorate your routine with new physicality. Don’t forget to get in proper stretching too!

4. Not Improving My Diet Sooner

I could be a lot healthier in my eating habits PERIOD, but when it comes to competing there are no excuses I should have changed my diet as soon as I signed up. Getting to the studio was a pain in the butt because I was feeling sluggish and tired. When you are in training mode you are going non-stop and your regular diet, not matter how healthy it might be, is likely not up to the challenge. As with not cross training, not taking on a healthier training diet can lead to sickness, injury, and just plain feeling crappy. Don’t put more obstacles in your way!

I am not a nutritionist so I won’t be giving you any hard and fast advice in this area, but I believe as polers and aerialists we have an intrinsic connection to our bodies. More than the average person, we know when something feels good or bad, when food is hurting or helping us. If it is in your budget to meet up with a nutritionists or someone you trust to give sound health advice figure out your competition diet ahead of time. If not, listen to what your body is telling you and know that what you eat pre-training is not the same as what your body will want in competition mode.

5. Expecting Giant Leaps in Skills

I normally pole in-studio twice a week, I try to then get in an additional aerial class and a couple home practices (which are more like rolling around my home pole than anything else lol) SO I thought when I started my competition training of pole 4-5 times a week I was going to see a huge jump in my skill level. Yeah, not so much! Yes, I started to learn more new moves, but none of them ever got competition ready, and the majority of the time I needed to spend choreographing and then perfecting the actual piece.

First, realize that you will not be able to learn a bevy of new, crazy tricks in a solid enough way to include them in your piece. It sucks I know, but being honest with yourself frees you to create unique transitions and variations on tried-and-true moves. You could be the person every other dancer is copying after they see your one-of-a-kind take on a fireman spin! Second, give yourself 1 goal move. If you just HAVE to include a new and tricky move, just include one. Again, be realistic with yourself: it will not only take time to get the new move, but even more time to get it solid enough for competition. By limiting yourself to just one fancy new move, you get to have the excitement of including a new move without the stress of it taking all of your training time!

Hopefully you got something from the lessons I had to learn the hard way. I’ll see you at Nationals ready to rock the stage!