We’re beginning a Spotlight blog series, where in each post, we highlight a different woman from our studio! We hope to help the women in the studio learn something new about each other, and at the same time help work to change the stigma surrounding pole fitness, letting the other women out there know that we are all just regular women: teachers, doctors, moms, business owners, and other working professionals, who have found an outlet and a love for a sport that doesn’t get nearly the recognition it should!
Today, we’re touching base with Jessica, or Scully, as she is more commonly known by. (‘Cause who wouldn’t want to go by their last name with a last name like that?!) Scully came to Inversions after purchasing a Living Social deal with a friend, thinking of it as a fun, goofy thing to try out for a few weeks. Instead, she fell in love- and is now a full-blown, self-admitted pole fitness addict. After attending classes for awhile, she began helping out with the studio here and there, working on various social media outlets, blogging, and more recently, clean eating/lifestyle challenges that the studio has participated in. I’ve seen a huge transformation in her physically, and she definitely has a passion to inspire and support others on their healthy lifestyle journeys. This passion has led her into a role as our Studio Manager, so we’ll be seeing a lot more of her! Here, we ask her a few questions about how her changes came about.
So we know what drew you to pole. How long have you been at Inversions, and what was it that hooked you and made you stay?
I’m very competitive with myself. It drives me bonkers when there’s something I can’t do, especially in sports. I was a tomboy growing up–I always wanted to be playing or running. I’ve always played sports, but never been one to have much grace or elegance. I did ballet when I was really young, but I dropped it for running, tennis, basketball, swimming, and crew. In hindsight, I think I needed something that left me feeling exhausted, sweaty and spent, and ballet never had that draw for me.
I’ve been at Inversions about two and a half years. When I first came to pole, I giggled a lot. My body doesn’t “wave.” It makes hard, jerky, awkward motions. I didn’t have the upper body strength to hold myself up on the pole. Squeezing the pole between my thighs hurt. I couldn’t fathom how anyone did this, and was astounded at how difficult pole fitness really was, and how much strength and agility it took to execute well. So, that was it for me. The moment I realized I couldn’t do it was the moment I challenged myself with it. I told myself I wanted to be at the Advanced level and inverting on the pole after 1 year.
That’s a pretty lofty goal! So did you make it?
Haha, yes! I told you I was competitive with myself! The instruction and staff at Inversions was so helpful and encouraging. I didn’t feel held back, felt like I was allowed to work at my own pace, and felt like I was allowed to grow in a supportive and encouraging environment. I also began training doing private lessons with the owner of Inversions, Lisa G, and this one-on-one training really helped me grow in the sport faster. I also faithfully attended Lisa’s Saturday morning Inversions class, where we focused only on aerial tricks.
What was your biggest challenge in that year?
Hitting plateaus. I gained so much strength and advanced so quickly from Beginner Pole Fitness to Intermediate Pole Fitness, and then my progress slowed down significantly. There is a huge jump from Intermediate to Inversions and I skipped a lot of the advanced spin classes which prepares you even more for Inversions. I was very eager to do the aerial tricks but was faced with the fact that a lot of the tricks required a great deal of strength, balance and stamina. I became frustrated with my lack of flexibility and agility, which became more and more evident the more I progressed.
What did you do to overcome that?
Honestly? I took up CrossFit. And patience. I know there’s a lot of media hype about it (CrossFit), and that some people scoff at it. But I can honestly say that it has given me the physical strength I needed to break through those plateaus, and helped increase my mobility. It addresses strength, cardio, and gymnastics skills, all of which relate directly to pole. I also learned to have patience with myself, and realize that progress in pole fitness doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, dedication, effort, and most importantly, practice.
What else do you think had an effect on your progress?
My food choices, for sure. I’ve always been athletic, but in my late 20’s, I started feeling like no matter how far I ran or how long I worked out for, I was getting less toned rather than more. I used to think I ate fairly healthy, but as I started reading and educating myself on food, I realized I knew very little. My pantry today looks nothing like it looked a year ago.
What started you on this path? Did you have a major life event/swift kick in the ass, or was it a gradual change?
I’d watched a few food documentaries, and been grossed out, but not enough for it to push me over the edge. One night when my husband was out of town, I watched Hungry for Change on Netflix. That weekend, we went through the pantry and threw away anything with ingredients or chemicals in it that we couldn’t pronounce. I think that was really my “swift kick” moment.
From there, it became more gradual. We started CrossFit, I started doing private pole lessons with Lisa and then started eliminating things. Beans. Grains. Dairy. Sugar. It almost became a game for me, to see what I could live without, or recreate in a different way.
Tell me about your diet. What works for you and what doesn’t?
I really dislike the word diet. Diet implies that its a short term plan, and I can tell you, a short term plan gets you short term results. If you want to make a change, and see a change, you need to just overhaul what you buy and what you eat.
As I mentioned before, I just started eliminating different foods to see what happened. The biggest surprise for me was how good I felt. I didn’t realize that I felt bad before–I thought I had been feeling fine. But once I purged all of those things from my pantry, and found their substitutes, it was obvious to me that I had been wrong. I started sleeping better, had more energy, and gained strength faster. I think the most obvious sign to me was that I stopped getting drowsy around 2 or 3pm each day, which previously had seemed to happen without fail. That told me I was doing something right.
So do you think everyone should eat this way?
I think that each person needs to decide what’s right for them. I do think an elimination diet is definitely the way to go. If you pull everything out and then reintroduce things one at a time, you can isolate them and see what effects they have on your body. If your body doesn’t seem to react to them, great! If it does, then you’ve learned what your body doesn’t like, and what not to eat if you want it to perform optimally for you. Food is fuel!
One of the biggest challenges with eating healthy is the time it takes to prepare everything. How do you find the time?
I’m a firm believer that you find the time for things that are important to you. You can invest your money and time into good food and fitness training, or you invest that money and time into medical bills and doctor’s visits. I try to have at least one prep day a week (usually Sundays) where I gather all my fresh produce, meats, etc, and prepare my foods for the week. Even just a little bit of prep (browning some ground beef, baking some chicken breasts, chopping up veggies) can go a long way towards your weeknight meals. Opening the fridge and having some cooked chicken to throw on top of some chopped veggies for a salad makes all the difference. Or at least, the difference between making that salad and shutting the fridge and ordering a pizza.
What about cravings? Don’t you miss the foods you don’t eat?
Oh, I still get them! I’m a sucker for a good pizza, some ice cream, or a sugary, crunchy bowl of cereal. When I get a craving, I try to figure out what’s driving it. A smell? A memory? Something I just ate? I re-create a lot of foods with alternative flours and sweeteners, and find that the craving is usually satisfied–it’s usually about how or where the food is eaten, and less about the ingredients themselves. I’ll also try to eat something else and see if the craving passes. If it persists, then I consider it legit, and give in! I do this very rarely, and try to be conscious of those decisions. But I do believe in certain circumstances and at certain times, you need to just eat what you want, whether its emotional or physical or whatever. And I hate the term “cheat day!” You’re not cheating on anything. You’re making conscious decisions to eat the things you want to and need to. Just make yourself aware of your choices, limit the bad ones, and you’ll do alright.
What would you tell women who are interested in pole fitness but are too intimidated to walk through the door?
It’s not nearly as scary as it seems from the outside. Yes, at first you will giggle and fall and think you look ridiculous. But if you stick with it long enough, you will eventually see something else. You’ll find a confidence you didn’t know you had, strength that you’ve always wanted, and a sport that will challenge you in ways you didn’t know were possible. And, if you join us at Inversions, you’ll find an incredibly supportive, cohesive group of women, and learn that what we say is true: Inversions girls really do rock!
Wow what an interview huh? Scully is that classic case of, “ooooo I got bitten by the pole bug, and want to learn everything as quick as possible and master the elitist of the elite tricks ASAP!” I remember many times in class, Jessica was so passionate about learning the tricks she would get frustrated if she couldn’t nail it right then and there. Like any sport, pole fitness is progressive! You must master A to get to B, and B to get to C. You have to not only be strong and flexible to master Inversions, but you also have to understand the physics of pole. When and where to apply pressure, when to push and pull, etc. There is both an art and science to it!
Like Jessica, many students do get frustrated or feel they are hitting plateaus, but very few do anything about it. If you are only coming to class once a week, you won’t progress as quickly. If you come to class 3 to 4 days a week, then you will progress a lot faster! If you are training outside the studio or inside the studio, eating right, and being consistent and patient, it will all fall into place. I saw a noticeable difference in Jessica’s strength and stamina after she starting lifting weights. Tricks she previously could not hold on the pole or combinations she had difficulty transitioning into she was now able to actually nail! Am I saying you need to lift weights to master the hardest tricks? No, not at all! For the last 6 years, I have trained only in the studio and only on the pole. But I also teach many other types of classes, not just pole classes. I teach and take private pole lessons. I take workshops. I practice yoga. Many of our students only take pole classes, and are solid athletes! It’s really a personal preference, and what you feel is right for you and your pole journey!
Our next blog will be focused on cross training and the importance of it. Inversions offers many classes to help with this, such as pole boot camp, conditioning, hip hop, flex and POLGA! All of these classes will help you get stronger and more flexible to master the most amazing pole tricks.
Until then, Eat Clean, Train Dirty and keep Rocking The Pole!