Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Studio Review: Pole Chicks, Rockford IL

When I first moved here, I poured over the website of every single pole studio in the area. I was looking for work, and I didn't want to solicit any studios without having a firm idea of what they were up to. Pole Chicks in Rockford made an instant impression in my mind. It was the only site that had pictures of people doing really advanced moves. When I realized how far away it was, I knew there was no way I could work there. But I also felt like, "Well, they probably don't need somebody like me. Looks like they got it covered!"

Rockford is over an hour and a half's drive from me, so I had never intended on going there myself. But when Whitney announced on Facebook that they were offering $5 classes as a special, I reasoned that the trip was justifiable. Even if I spent $20 on gas, the cost for drop-ins at some places is $25, so I'd be kinda breaking even, you know? Well, it made sense to me anyway.

Some pole studios only offer one or two classes a night, but Pole Chicks has a full range. Today alone, I could choose from 10am, 11am, 5pm, 6pm, and 7pm. I decided 5pm would put me least in the way of Chicago rush hour traffic. Leave here around 3, leave there around 6. It worked. Smooth sailing the whole way!

All Pole Chicks' classes are mixed level, and I wasn't sure exactly how that would play out. These are instructed classes, after all, not open pole. It made more sense when I got there. The place is small, and only has a total of six poles. It's not like there was going to be a big class.

One thing I appreciated was the lack of obnoxiously feminine colors. No pink or purple; the room was white and orange, and the one silk they had was black. You can tell it's the kind of place people go to train.

There were four students: me and one other advanced poler, and two beginners (I assume they were beginners--I wasn't really watching to see what they were working on; could have been intermediate). So basically the way it worked was the instructor (Whitney) mostly focused on the beginners, and let the advanced students mostly train on our own, open pole style. She did toss out ideas and suggestions (Pippi, do you know this move? What about this one?), to me at least--I think the other woman was a regular, or another instructor, or something, who was just there to train. It was interesting, because although they didn't show me any moves I didn't know, they had different combos and transitions. For example, getting into a back elbow hold from a brass monkey, whereas I always do it from a pencil/iguana/whatever you call it. (It was a more interesting transition, but doing it from the floor I didn't have room to put my bottom arm straight, which I think is prettier than holding behind the neck).

They mostly just had spin poles, which was awkward for me since I don't spin to much. But it's good for me to be forced to practice like that. At home I tend to just stick to static. I'm a teacher, rather than a performer, and most of my students come to me for help on static. I don't have any problem with dizziness--I mean, I get dizzy, but it doesn't bother me--but some students have major motion sickness problems. Of course that can be combatted to an extent, but if they don't want to learn spin, I don't feel the need to force it on them. That's what you get when you take private lessons--you get to pick what to work on. (Long version of why I don't spin much.)

The poles were nice and grippy, but if I have one complaint it's that the room was a bit too hot. I had to change clothes early on (I had started in my fun grippy vinyl shorts, but was sweating balls), and I had to wipe my shoulder down with a towel three times before I was comfortable doing a fonji. There was a fan, but it wasn't doing a whole lot of good, even if you stood right in front of it.

The ceilings were 10 feet, which is a decent height for poles, but not for silks. I know because that's about what I have for my silks, and there's a ton that I just can't do on them because of that. But at least the ceilings were very easy to work with--there were no stray beams or pipes to worry about bumping, and no drop ceiling. Once I determined I wasn't sweating too much, I was able to do a solid ceiling lay without having to navigate around any ceiling obstacles, which I can't say about a ton of places.

I didn't get to talk to the beginners that much, since they were busy with their instructor. The other advanced student (who I had met briefly before but didn't really know) was very nice, and we got to exchange tricks and ideas (along with the instructor). It's good to be in that kind of environment where people are cooperative and not competitive.

I can't say too much about the quality of instruction, as my part of the class was mostly unstructured, but I can tell you that the beginners did conditioning both before and after, and had a thorough stretch down at the end. Whitney seemed like a really positive and encouraging teacher.

It's rare to find a place where you can do a drop-in at practically any time of day and receive advanced instruction. If I didn't live so far away, and they kept offering classes at $5(!!), I'd probably be in there multiple times a week.

Pole Chicks
Equipment: 6 10' 50mm permanent poles, Markstaar, stainless steel, 5 spinning and 1 static. 1 aerial silk.
Amenities: Two bathrooms that double as changing rooms.
Drop-in price: Normally $15. For June 2012, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday classes are only $5. Get over there!!

I forgot to take a picture again, so the photo is from Pole Chicks' Facebook Page.

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