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Pole Dancing was definitely not love at first sight for me...

Beginner Pole Dancing Trick - Pole Shape - Best Online Studio

The Beginning...

I am Mareike, one of the coaches at Zero Gravity Pole Studio.

In April 2016, a friend invited me to my first pole dance taster class. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

At the time, I was still actively horseback riding and going to the gym at least three times a week. So I thought I could handle it.

But it turned out to be quite different from what I had expected. Today, no one really believes me.

For me, pole dance was definitely not love at first sight, but rather at second or maybe even third sight.

If I had come to the classes alone back then, I probably would have given up. Climbing, pole sits, and everything that hurt at the beginning were not my favorites. Plus, I was as inflexible as a wooden stick.

It took me months to achieve my first proper leg hang and years to do a split. And for all you handspring lovers: it took me almost 2 years to be able to do it safely by myself.

Why I still stuck with it...

You're probably wondering why I stuck with it.

I think it was the people at the studio. You're warmly welcomed into the so-called Pole Family and quickly feel like you belong. Among us girls, friendships are formed and we support each other during training.

Beginner Pole Trick - Crossed Ankle Release - Dancing , Dancer , Pole Fitness
Crossed Ankle Release

In 2017, the Zero Gravity Pole Gala took place and Mia asked all the girls if they wanted to show a choreography. At first, I was hesitant because I thought I was too bad. But when I saw how the other girls trained, I wanted to try it too. So I came up with my first small choreography :) When I watch the video today, I see a thousand mistakes and many un-pointed toes, and sometimes I have to cover my eyes.

Since I'm a pretty ambitious person, I always want to get the best out of myself and have high standards for myself. That's why I had to learn quickly during the preparation to deal with ups and downs. For example, just because you can do a pole trick on its own doesn't mean you can do it smoothly in a choreography, connect it, and dance a whole choreo to it. That takes practice.

But the gala wouldn't be my only stage experience.

The first championship....

Later that same year, I stood on stage for the first time at Steel on Fire. But I quickly realized that dancing and storytelling were not my strengths. I needed a different kind of championship.

This was not a difficult task, however, because I had ambitious trainers who had completed many championships themselves.

Intermediate Pole Trick - Handstand Split - Splits - Best Pole Dance Studio
Handstand Split

My switch to pole sport...

In 2018, the next stop was the German Pole Sport Championship. At first, I helped as a pole cleaner/assistant for the athletes and cheered on three girls from the studio. After the first impressions, I knew that this could be something for me.

And it happened as it had to: After having had one glass of champagne too many at the Christmas party, Vicky and I decided to compete in the qualification for the German Championship in 2019. From then on, I spent a lot of time in Open Pole, studied the rules, picked out music, thought of combos, etc.

Here too, there were many ups and downs, self-doubt, and tears - the full championship program. It was a very intense time, during which you learn a lot about yourself and grow personally.

The qualification went pretty well and there was plenty of food and coffee. By the way, Mia and Kayla almost missed my stage rehearsal because they were getting coffee.

I qualified for the championship with a fifth place. By the way, all the others from the studio also qualified. Mia and Kayla even with two choreographies.

Small spoiler: that year, the two later became world champions in doubles.

Beginner Pole Dance Shape Stargazer - Backbend - Pole Tutorials

Qualification and disqualification are close to each other... and becoming a pole dance trainer

After the qualification, things became a bit more turbulent for me because disqualification followed.

I was qualified in the amateur category. In this category, you can compete if you are not a (pole) coach. I had worked as a substitute coach in the same year, and someone had found out and reported it. So my participation in the championship was cancelled.

Of course, I was there to cheer and support.

Since then, I've been teaching full-time at Zero Gravity Pole Studio.

The news that I couldn't compete myself was naturally a shock at first. But as they say, fall down, get up, straighten your crown, and move on.

Now I'm working hard to compete in the professional category at the next championship.

Beginner Pole Dance Sit - Pole Trick and Shapes
Pole Sit Variation

The Corona year... Time for myself...

Unfortunately, in 2020, Corona put a damper on our plans and goals. But for me personally, it was quite convenient because I had more time to work on myself.

In 2021, things really got going again. In addition to the solo choreography, Vicky and I also put together an artistic double.

The preparation for the solo didn't start off very well. I had trouble with the requirements in the new, higher category. The usual ups and downs followed.

Then I had a huge mishap, for which Mia gave me a good kick in the butt afterwards. And I had to hear jokes from everyone else.

Typo in the championship registration

What happened...

Before every championship, there is a deadline for submitting music and choreography forms. If you miss this deadline, you get minus points - and not just a few.

Long story short: when I sent it off, I made a typo in the email address. When I submitted the music and forms later, it was already clear that I would go on stage with minus twelve points. And that, where often 0.1 points decide between victory and defeat.

My first thought was: Why am I doing this shit anyway?

After a week of being angry with myself, I continued training and saw it as a "practice run".

Split Progress Mareike Schuhmacher - Flexibility Progress
Split Flexibility Progress

A relaxed pole dance championship and my first medal...

On the day of the championship, I was pretty relaxed because I had nothing to lose with all those minus points. Nevertheless, I had a pretty good run and ended up in 11th place.

Now you're probably wondering why Mia gave me a kick in the butt. Without the minus twelve points, I would have taken first place in my category and become the German Champion.

With the double, Vicky and I became vice champions in artistic pole, so I could still take my first medal home.

And the competition goes on and on and on... or not?

The championship journey continued in 2022 with new music, new tricks, a new choreography, and the personal pressure to do better this time without getting minus points.

In retrospect, the preparation was chaotic. But mentally and physically, I just expected too much of myself. And it's at those moments that things happen that you actually want to avoid - injuries.

Starting with muscle soreness that wouldn't go away, shoulder problems, and ending with a fall from the pole during a choreo run. I received the receipt for the past months of carelessness on the day of the championship. Even the short stage rehearsal in the morning didn't feel good - no grip and no strength.

Beginner Pole Dance Tricks - Martini Sit - Pole School Online
Martini Sit

Keeping my composure... pulling through...

My performance time was delayed far too long. I stood behind the stage, ready and warmed up, nervous and waiting for what felt like an eternity. Fortunately, Mia was by my side.

My performance on stage was very tough. Many things that usually work well didn't work. In the end, my strength left me completely and the inverts felt like I had never trained for them.

On stage, you have to keep your composure. As soon as I got off the stage, I was crying in Mia's arms and had to regroup.

Then there were also minus points because the fringe on my costume was too long. We hadn't thought about it because I was wearing an old costume from Kayla and she had had no problems with it.

In the end, I came in third place.

But the feeling of not having earned it through my performance on stage remains to this day.

My motivation left me...

After the pressure of the championship subsided, I fell into a hole. I had no desire or motivation to train. My shoulder problems persisted and even got worse. There were also some personal changes that didn't necessarily improve my mental state and attitude towards training. I even played with the idea of giving up the sport altogether.

Capezio Advanced Pole Trick - Ballerina Variation  Pole Shapes

We will catch you if you fall...

The great thing about our studio and the girls is that they never leave you. We're there for each other, through highs and lows.

I'm especially grateful to Mia for never giving up on me. In the last few months, she has always stood by me, even when I withdrew completely and only trained minimally.

I am back with a choreography that's good for my body...

The studio is already preparing for the German Championship 2023. After long consideration and initial doubts, I decided to participate again this year. However, I will be more mindful of my body and choose a choreography that doesn't strain it too much.

Let's see what the next few months will bring

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