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Pole Stars, Happy Students, Kind Words

23 May

A few weeks ago, we concluded yet another round of fantastic workshops that were given by Natasha Wang, Crystal Lai and Estee Zakar. It was such a joy to learn so many wonderful things from these amazing women, and we’re so glad we were able to give our students a chance to do so as well.

Here are some kind words from the students as well as our guest instructors about the Polestars Summer Workshops. We hope to always elevate your pole experience at Polecats Manila!

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REPOST FROM The Happy Lab: Labrats turned Polecats: A Foray into Pole Dancing

7 Feb

Here’s a blog entry from Pia, one of the authors from The Happy Lab. “Pia is a full-time mom and fitness junkie, who is willing to try anything (that doesn’t involve vicious animals or jumping off a perfectly good airplane) at least once.” (The Happy Lab)

When Chinggay asked me to attend a pole dancing class with her at Polecats Manila, I was a bit hesitant.  For one thing, I had just committed to aBarre 3 personal challenge (30 classes in 30 days, don’t ask me why); I was only a week in, so my body was still adjusting to the sudden exertion.  Also, I could already hear my daughters’ reaction to the idea — “There she goes again. Sigh.” — and while I’m always trying to encourage them to be open to new things and challenge their limits, I was worried that the idea of their mother strutting seductively around a stripper pole would push them a bit over the edge.  But then I ran it thru my personal litmus test (also know as the “Why not?” test, or better yet, the “What would Angelina Jolie do?” test), and it passed with flying colors.  Which is why last Sunday morning, Chinggay and I found ourselves clad in our shorty-shorts, 22 floors up in the heart of Ortigas Center, waiting anxiously for the pole dancing class to begin. CLICK TO READ MORE

How I lost 20 Pounds (More or Less)

15 Sep

Christina Dy is the founder of Polecats Manila. She is an acclaimed international visual artist, an avid math essay reader, and a big fan of peanut butter.

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I was never skinny. I didn’t grow up athletic, and my childhood was spent playing the piano and reading encyclopedias. Well, there was a brief flirtation with the Ateneo Varsity Table Tennis team, but that was only because no one else showed up during tryouts. And then my adult life was spent slouched over and drawing. To sum it up, most of my life was spent sitting for long periods of time.

I guess it’s no surprise that I had a 32-inch waistline by the age of 26. It didn’t really bother me back then because I was happy. I had a blossoming career as a production designer, I had a fiancé, I didn’t care about the usual girly things like shopping and clothes. I was happy with simple things, and I just wanted to save up for the future.

But as it turned out, things didn’t happen the way I thought they would. The simple things got complicated, and the future I was saving up for wasn’t going to happen. And you know what? I’m very thankful things went the way they did.

When I started losing weight, I was at around 120 pounds. For a girl who’s 5 feet tall, that’s a whole lot of unnecessary weight! And then I lost about 10 pounds a year for three years. There was a point when I dropped down to 92 pounds! As of last year, climbed up to 101 pounds. But I haven’t gotten on a weighing scale since then. It stopped being about the numbers and it turned into something deeper. I realized that as long as my clothes fit well and I feel great, I’m okay with not knowing.

I wish I could say that losing all that extra weight and getting into shape was easy, but it wasn’t. However, it is possible, so very possible! And here’s what I picked up on the way to health.

STEP #1a : Hit rock bottom

Fall. Fail. And fail hard.

Did you notice that most people gain weight when they’re happy? From my experience, whenever you think everything is A-Okay, you don’t have enough motivation to stick through whatever it is you want to do. It’s when you WANT something to be better, when you see no other way, that’s when you go and achieve something.

STEP #1b. : Pick yourself up

This moment is crucial. Look at yourself in the mirror and accept three words: life goes on.

And then you’ll be faced with two options: 1. Go through life being unhealthy and feeling dumpy or 2. Go through life being healthy and feeling fabulous. Which one will you choose?

STEP #2a : Get off that couch. Now.

I don’t care what you do, just do it. Walk. Run. Bike. Swim. Do yoga. Dance. I find that walking is the simplest thing that everyone can do. You don’t need special equipment and you can do it anytime, anywhere.

Don’t like walking? There are endless options these days, how lucky are we! There’s a gym/ dance studio/ fitness hub in every city. There are fitness DVDs you can follow at home, or if you’re stingy, download them!

Do jumping jacks every time you have a spare minute. Or do 5 push-ups every time before sitting on your couch. Excuses are just that—excuses. They are unacceptable.

Step #2b. Do something that you love

I found something that I loved to do, which was pole dancing, and so I did it. I did it a lot. And I guess consistency is the important thing with everything, right?

Also, the scientists got it right, endorphins do work! The more I danced, the better I felt. The better I felt, the more I wanted to dance. It encouraged me to try out other things as well. I have grown to really love Yoga, I do circuit training for my cardio, boxing, and I’ve even tried parkour.

We work around 60 hours a week. What’s 3 hours that you give just for yourself?

STEP #3 : Put down that 3rd slice of cheesecake

I once dated a guy who was on a strict diet. I was very reluctant to have dinner with him at first, because I had never followed a diet ever. Hanging out with the rest of the Polecats makes that impossible, since we eat together more than we dance.

And then finally I decided to try his diet out. It was simple: no pasta, bread and pastries. All we ate were natural foods– rice, veggies, meat, fruit and tea. Eventually, I saw the effects of the diet. I looked and felt great!

Unfortunately, my recent allergy attack has severely limited my food intake. That means no eggs, chicken, seafood, chocolate and dairy. But I still eat all the time, because if I don’t eat every 3 hours my body hates me. What I do now is eat as much fruit and veggies as my taste buds can take, and limit the amount of processed food.

STEP #4 : Enjoy!

As you’re losing the weight, it’s going to get rough. You’ll WANT that 3rd slice of cheesecake. You’d rather stay in bed than go work out. So what you need to do is make things fun! When I go and workout, I do it in red lipstick, or with wingtip eyeliner. At the very least, I’ll eat pretty looking food.

Also, accept that self-control can’t always be strong. So every week I set aside one giant tub of popcorn (cheese + sour cream!), one donut and one burger. That way, I don’t feel awful when I eat those things, plus I now have a limit. I’m having just one of each a week, instead of one of each every day.

Don’t set unrealistic goals, or else you’re setting yourself up to fail. Going to the gym 6 times a week? Not going to happen. I set aside time to watch a movie or hang with friends, so that I’m actually enjoying my life, and look forward to working out on my own when I’ve had enough leisure.

Some things have changed since I’ve gotten a bit thinner. We all know that we live in a lookist world and people are often judged based on how they look. So if thinness is the standard, then I’d probably pass. I’ve noticed that people are so much nicer, especially when I’m wearing thigh-high boots.

But I’m still the same person inside. At times I’m reserved and quiet, sometimes loud and inappropriate, and the entire time still wanting to change the world.

A few great things have really changed though, like being able to run up and down the beach without having to catch my breath. Walking along Makati streets from market to market on a weekend, without my feet aching. Dancing all night. Carrying my niece the whole afternoon. Shopping for clothes without having to try them on– as long as it’s a Small, I grab it and go.

It’s these things that make life a lot more pleasurable, and they are made possible by a healthier body. So, if you’re done reading this, get off that couch, put your walking shoes on, and shut that excuse up. Change your life. I did it, and so can you.

All This Hoop-la

21 Aug

Okay, bad pun for a title aside, we are so incredibly excited for our hoop and silk workshop with Symone Dolai this September 1 🙂 So much so that we’ve been using company class time to prepare for it! Lots of heaving, tugging, groaning and scratching taking place, but thankfully pole has prepared our core for all the lifting and back bending that it involves.

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Some tricks looks easy, like this one:

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But this takes strength to be able to hold on to the hoop with just your elbow! The real talent though is smiling and looking happy while doing it. Haha!

There’s another trick that we’ve been learning on the pole but this time, we decided to apply it on the hoop. It’s a sort of variation of Cocoon – can anyone help us name this one?:)

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We’ve been working on our back flexibility as well as lengthening our splits — and it’s definitely been paying off 🙂

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There is still so, so much to learn and so much flexibility we need to attain, and we are gonna keep training harder so that we can share the knowledge and the exercises with all of you 🙂

Only a few days til our hoop and silk workshop takes place! We can’t wait to see all of you there 🙂

Fitness Friday: How to Train Your Toes

13 Jul

For this episode for Fitness Fridays, Kristine Warren shows us how to train our toes for pretty pointing. Kristine is a long time student (and friend!) of the Polecats, and a professional physical therapist and official PT of the Polecats. Read on and get those muscles ready for another round of pole madness!

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“Point your toes girls!”  This is something we hear from our teachers throughout all our pole classes.  Don’t you feel that sometimes no matter how hard you try, your feet just won’t make that nice arch that we all see in the pictures of our Polecats teachers?  Well, here are some stretches that may help you achieve those perfectly arched feet.

First, we need to stretch the connective tissue under our feet.  (For those interested, this is called the plantar fascia)

Why? Because walking and going on our toes during pole class tightens them.  To stretch the plantar fascia, sit down de quatro then pull your toes up and hold the stretch for about a minute.  Do this for 3-4 repetitions.


Second, we stretch the tendons and muscles on the front part of our leg. Stay in the same position and then pull your toes down. This stretch can be a little tricky. Place your hand under your arch and bend your foot towards your heel while pulling your toes down.  Hold the stretch for a minute as well. Do about 3 to 4 repetitions.

 

Another great set of tips from our beloved PT! Do these exercises everyday, and you’ll see the difference in your point in no time 🙂

 

Fitness Fridays: Muscle Health

11 May

For this episode for Fitness Fridays, Kristine Warren drops by for a couple of tips on how to keep our muscles in tip-top shape. Kristine is a long time student (and friend!) of the Polecats, and a professional physical therapist and official PT of the Polecats. Read on and get those muscles ready for another round of pole madness!

With rehearsals for Stellar 2 going into full swing, we need to make sure that we keep our bodies, particularly our muscles, ready to take the challenges that each pole class brings.

1. To prevent muscle cramps, make sure you take enough fluids throughout the day. We need at least 2 liters of fluid (water/ sports drinks) for basic organ function. Muscle cramps are usually caused by dehydration, lack of minerals in your diet and muscle fatigue.

And you guys know how much we LOVE lightwater! All the great stuff minus the sodium :)

And you guys know how much we LOVE lightwater! All the great stuff minus the sodium 🙂

2. Rest is important for muscle recovery. It is during rest that we get “supercompensation”, meaning we get stronger muscles. In sports rehabilitation, rest does not mean lying down or sitting on the couch. We want to keep the muscles and the surrounding tissues moving. One way to do this is by getting a tennis ball or golf ball, and just roll it under your foot for a about a minute, 2 to 3 times on each foot. When you do this, the fascia (tissue covering the muscles) is relaxed or untangled relieving muscle tightness. Before you roll the ball under your foot, bend over and try reaching for your toes, stop when you feel tightness. After rolling the ball, do the same movement and check how much easier or more range you have now.

More for Fitness Fridays every week, so keep on checking in for more great tips from Kristine and other fun stuff with the Polecats 🙂

Fitness Friday: Improving Your Grip

4 May

This photo actually has nothing to do with the article. It’s just so fun and random that it must be shared!

Since we’re taking a rest from pole today (because we have to go full force on Saturdays, of course), we’re going to give you a little tip that could help improve your pole life. If you’ve taken at least one class, you know that having a strong, consistent grip can really help you with the different pole tricks you’re going to learn.

So this weekend, grab yourself a grip ball and do this exercise everyday:

1) With the grip ball positioned in the palm of your hand, let your fingers slowly squeeze around it. Hold this for 5 seconds, and then slowly let your fingers open up. Make sure you release the ball gradually. Repeat at least 10 times per hand.

2) Take the ball and place it in between your thumb and your index finger. Pinch the ball for 5 seconds and then do the same with all the other fingers.

3) Take one end of the ball with each hand, and slowly twist the ball. Do this at least ten times.

4) Pinch the sides of the ball with your fingers, and slowly pull away from each other, and then relax. Repeat at least 10 times.

Remember to do these exercises everyday so that you strengthen your grip and you get healthier hand muscles!

How To Start Your Own Pole Dancing Group

16 Apr

Christina Dy is the founder of Polecats Manila. It is because of her determination that every time we were challenged, we accepted it. She wrote about the story of our group, and how it happened one small step at a time. Enjoy 🙂

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Everything in my life starts with a heartbreak.

Almost six years ago, my then-engagement to my now ex-fiance didn’t end up in a wedding. It broke me. I wallowed for months, and I didn’t know how I was going to get up from it. Then one day in 2007, I got a text from Mich Dulce saying she had tried this pole dance and striptease class and that it was so much fun, we should try it. I decided it was time to get out of my shell and said yes.

So I went with Mich, and I sucked. I couldn’t do anything! No spins, no climbs, nothing. At that time I was a couch potato and weighed 20 pounds heavier. It didn’t help that I had no dance or athletic background whatsoever. But I was in awe of my classmates, one of them being Mirell Macalinao, who ended up becoming a founding member of the Polecats. On that first day that I couldn’t do anything, Mirell was already doing things upside down and doing splitty and bendy things. I had never been strong or flexible all my life, so I was challenged.

I kept coming back, even if I still couldn’t do anything the next few classes. Until one day, I was finally able to climb onto the pole. Just one climb. But I was happy. That was all I needed to push myself some more.

Pole classes then weren’t like the classes we have now. It still very new, so it wasn’t organized, there was no syllabus, no safety precautions. It was fun, but I had so many injuries– right wrist, right knee, right ankle– that I thought, there must be a better way of doing things.

One day, our teacher left, and there was no one else who could teach us. But Mirell and I had already paid for 6 months of classes, so I demanded to use the studio even without a teacher. We would play around, figuring out stuff for ourselves, researching on YouTube, and we found out that doing pole doubles was fun! That’s how our first pole duo GirlVSGirl (GVG) was formed (thank you Mihk Vergara for that name!).

In 2008 I got offered to teach, and I said yes. For a long time, I had only one student– the physical therapist of the Polecats now, Kristine Warren. But she left to pursue her PT studies. Good for me that I managed to convince my friend Kris Isaac to try out pole. She had super short hair then. Then Myla Tan-Santiago came to class (Kris thought she was masungit, haha), as well as Margaret Chualao and Caryn Ortiz– whom we dubbed our ballet girls.
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And then, one night at Capone’s where GVG was performing, Kayleen Ortiz was in the audience, and while still in her school uniform, tried a couple of things on the pole. She came back the following week and I told her to take official classes instead.

Our classes were just an hour long at first, and got longer and longer as we got stronger. That much time together helped us became good friends. We wanted a class t-shirt just for fun, and so I asked Mihk again for a name– my requirements were that it was 2 syllables, and would look good on a t-shirt. Without blinking, he said, POLECATS. Kris then designed the Polecats logo that we still use today.

In October 2009, GVG got offered a gig at Ascend, I said yes. Without really asking the other girls, I told the organizer that it was no longer just GVG, that we actually had a pole group. Good thing the other girls were willing to perform too! So on October 31, 2009, we had our first gig together, and the group Polecats was born.

First gig

We decided that we needed more dancers in the group. Kris brought her friend Mara Andres to class and Donna was teaching hiphop at the same studio. We convinced them to join our new little group. We had another gig in January 2010 called FunkPoleOthers, where we danced with live bands (thank you Mike Constantino!). Amaya Gonzalez was in the audience and said she wanted to be part of our group. A little later on, during International Dance Day 2010, we met AJ while dancing in the LRT. He tried a trick or two, and was instantly hooked.
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One by one, our little group was expanding. We wanted to put up videos on YouTube, which is how we found out that someone already owned Polecats (it’s a punk band!), and so Kris modified our name to Polecats Manila.

The boyfriends were included in this new pole family of ours. They helped us so much, and were such an integral part of the group we had to give them a name, and of course, a shirt! We called them the Police.

The Polecats family was complete.

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Early on, it was very clear to me what kind of pole dancing I wanted to do. It wasn’t the sexy type in the giling-giling sense. I wanted it to be like cirque du soleil, to break the stereotype. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t even do a split at that time, I just believed I could do it. I also believed that everyone could learn too, given time and proper training.

From one class composed mostly of us, we grew to several classes of different levels. My once half-page syllabus of spins and tricks expanded, and is still expanding. We knew there were still so many ways to improve the way pole dance was being taught. So Myla and I went to HK to study, and we became the first pole-dance certified teachers in the country.

We did shows. We performed in the dance festival Wi-Fi Body at CCP. We also did corporate shows and shows with bands. We did photoshoots. We loved what we were doing and wanted to share it to the world. We worked hard to spread pole love.

But operating under management wasn’t satisfying– we couldn’t do things the way we wanted to. So we left and found Gen Studios which was to be our home for a year.
That first few weeks weren’t easy. We had just a handful of students, and only two classes a week which never got full (and sometimes had no students). But we persevered.

As word spread, that handful of students got bigger and bigger. Enough to put on our very own student show in the summer of 2011 which we called Stellar. It was a sold-out show at Teatrino! sailor 1 draft

It was then that we started dreaming of our own pole studio– high ceilings, black floors, lots of poles.

Our students, whom we fondly call Kittens and Tigers, became our friends, our family. We watched them grow, get better. I hung out with a lot of them, chatting and eating out. They told me how pole dancing helped them get over a heartbreak, more comfortable in their own skin, made them happier, how pole changed their life. Most of them never imagined that they’d be doing pole dancing, or that they’d feel this free. Most of them come to the studio to feel safe, energized, to de-stress, to feel alive. I still keep some of those messages in my phone’s inbox just to remind me why we work so hard.

I knew that a studio of our own would not just be for the Polecats, but more so, for our students. And so we started towards that dream.

We did a lot of gigs and we saved the money. We put up our show with the Manila Symphony Orchestra, then we lost money. But we knew that aside from the business side, we had to do our artistic shows as well, if only to show that yes, this kind of pole dancing was possible. We fought with each other. We made up and became closer. We won and placed in several international pole competitions along the way.

We did more gigs. We decided that if we were going to have our own studio, it would have only the best equipment. So we bought x-poles. Our studio would also have the best teachers. So we took first aid classes. We also had mandatory company class so everyone in the Polecats would get better and stronger. We took workshops from other pole teachers abroad– Mai Sato, Oona Kivela, Zoraya Judd, Marlo Frisken, Jenyne Butterfly, Alena Downs. We also took aerial silk and hoop classes.

We also decided that we would give our students the best possible pole class we could. We continuously streamline our syllabus. We study, study, study. We had mats made for safety. And very recently, we brought in US Pole Champion Natasha Wang to give the students some workshops.

In 2011, 360 Fitness Club (good friends of the Polecats family!) had this great idea of converting the penthouse of Strata 100 into a wellness complex, and did Polecats want to join? I asked the family, and we said yes.

Fast forward to Holy Week 2012. The Polecats and the apprentices (yes, we are a growing family) are slaving away at the new studio. Stripping paint, sanding wood, painting furniture, painting the wall, framing photos, mopping the floor and eating donuts. Every single day, morning till night.

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Last April 9, at 11am, we opened our doors.

Margaret and I used to joke that I’d have to find a sugar daddy to have our own studio. Turns out I didn’t need to. All we needed was a group of hardworking and passionate people who believed in pole dancing and in each other. And because of all that hard work, our family now has a home for all our kittens and tigers.

We once had a dream. And I do believe our new home is a place where dreams can come true.

Kayleen at the Aerial Arts Academy

25 Jul

July 23 2011

It’s my birthday! and what better way to celebrate it than with a Hoop and Silk Class at Aerial Arts Academy! 😀
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It was Open Studio so I got to try out all of the cool stuff they had at there.
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After Open Studio, I took a Aerial Dance Class under Tessa Yung. She was very nice and looked absolutely graceful.
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This is my teacher Tessa. She also taught Cd and Myla Hoop and Silk when they went to HK months ago. We love her. 🙂

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Thank you so much Aerial Arts Academy for an awesome class! We hope to see you again soon! All the love from Polecats Manila ❤

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