26…in retrospect.

Wow, I didn’t realize that I had left my blog unattended for so long. I was logging many hours in at the gym after school and in the evenings in preparation for the pole competition this past weekend. Unfortunately, this particular endeavor took a backseat. I definitely needed the time to work on my choreography. Since I was dedicating so much time to pole, I decided to forgo my usual workout schedule. I didn’t want to overwork my muscles or risk an injury.

Then…all of a sudden…it was Saturday. Competition day.

But first,  I had to complete Tabata Bootcamp training from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Was I insane?!

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What an incredible (see also: exhausting) experience, though! The woman in the gray “Tabata Bootcamp” hoodie is none other than Mindy Mylrea, creator of Tabata Bootcamp. Despite the fact that she is a celebrity in the fitness world, this woman is so down-to-earth and wonderful…you can’t help but love her!

When you became a Trainer for Tabata Bootcamp, you’re given access to a website that monitors your “bootcampers”. They’re encouraged to journal eating and exercise, but not necessarily count calories. Rather, it is learning new eating habits. I can’t reveal too much – but I can’t recommend this program enough!

So…after all that hullabaloo…I still had the pole competition. I quickly ran upstairs to the studio (how lucky was I to get a program training at my home gym?!) to run through my performance before heading home for a shower and a light supper (oatmeal and iced coffee…). The Chad was feeling ill and attempting to rest up so he could make it to my big pole debut. Poor dear is still out of it.

Anywho, I head back to the gym. It seems like time begins to fly. When all was said and done, the Amateur category had 4 competitors, the Masters category had 3, and the Professional category also had 3. We were sorted based on ability, amount of experience, and previous competitive experience.

We were provided with a makeup artist (for free! WOW!), and my darling friend and teammate Jessica agreed to do my hair for me. I’m glad I wasn’t forced to utilize my limited skill and look like a slob in front of an audience.

First up in the competition was the compulsory round. All competitors submitted three moves to be executed in a 2 minute period with absolute silence in the room. This was for judges to evaluate strength and ability – they could hear every grunt, groan, clang, or plop. They also looked for transitions between poles and fluidity from one move to the next. Lucky me…I was first.

Cross knee release
Cross knee release
Bow and arrow from forearm stand
Bow and arrow from forearm stand

And finally, into a peek-a-boo spin on the spinning pole. No picture for that one, I’m afraid. And that was the move I was most confident in! That bow and arrow move was really a big deal for me. I’ve never been able to do handstands or headstands, and I dropped into that bad boy from the cross-knee release. It’s really incredible to be doing things that I saw my mentors do when I first started. I still can’t wrap my head around all the changes my body has endured.

After everyone completed and was scored in the compulsory round, we were ready for the creative round. Guess who’s first? Me. Again.

And the music played.

But it wasn’t my song.

Another song.

Still not mine.

I waited a few minutes on the floor. I tried to stay limber and charm the judges a bit. Maybe butter them up for those scores. Get some sympathy points. Anything.

Posing for the audience - seemingly unalarmed by the situation
Posing for the audience – seemingly unalarmed by the situation

Then, finally the familiar strains of Van Halen. Thank goodness!! The shortest and longest four minutes of my life. It seemed like a blur, but I was actually wrapped up in the crowd, grinning like a fool and – dare I say it – having fun!

Was it the best dance of my life?

Oh…no, no.

But I was proud of how I executed my moves. The skills were my forte. The dance-y stuff? Totally out of my realm.

I have to admit…it was so nice to be done first! I got to sit back and watch everyone else. But then PoleKatz performed. That one wasn’t so much pressure as my solo piece. We danced to “Troublemaker”. Just a fun little interlude while the scores were tallied.

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When all was said and done, I got second place in my division! And I only lost by 0.8. I almost wish I didn’t know how close it was, because I’m really questioning some of the judges’ scores! haha. That’s a really neat thing about pole competitions…I was able to take home the score sheets to review. Some judges left notes and comments. Others…nothing.

Rather than going into a coma on Sunday, I went to church, then to a workshop led by Karol Helms. She was one of the judges (and left the most helpful notes on my score sheet). Injuries and late-nights prevented some other people from attending, so I got to have one-on-one time with her. Wow!! She was so incredible. She has such an easy grace…her moves seems effortless and fluid. She gave me some moves to work on for my transitions from move to move, pole to floor, and floor to pole. Money well spent!

That brings us to date. I am now 27. In the past year, I’ve begun dog agility with Frankie, moved schools (again), worked with a completely different age group, struggled with body issues – weight gain and loss, muscle changes, group fitness certification, pole fitness certification, Tabata Bootcamp certification, and now competed and placed in my first pole competition. Among other things. But my body has been rocked and rolled, and is now in a completely foreign state. I’ve never been this healthy or strong. I still have issues, but for once, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. The daunting task of losing weight isn’t so impossible. I’m optimistic, rather than defeated. And I certainly could not do it alone. But if this is the progress of one year where I finallyreally made the conscious decision to change and follow through, I’m anxious to see what another will bring.

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