Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Studio Review: La Bombe, Salt Lake City

I went on an actual vacation! Long story short, I got my master's online and decided to show up to Utah State for commencement. It was mostly an excuse to go to Utah, because I'd never been and I get unreasonably excited about going new places, and because I love mountains. (I don't ski or anything, I just like to look at them!) My travel plans got switched around a bit, leaving me with some free time, so I decided to use it for pole, natch.

Some people (who don't know Charlee Shae Wagner) are surprised when I tell them they have pole in Utah. This is a crossroads of stereotypes: Utahans as Mormons, Mormons as prudes, and pole dancing as sexually explicit. There are actually many pole studios in the greater SLC area, and choosing would have been difficult if I wasn't so otherwise busy. There were only a couple options where a class at my level fit into my schedule, and I took both of them.

The first studio I visited was La Bombe in Salt Lake City proper. Judging by the name, you'd expect a sexy-centric boutique fitness studio, but that wasn't my experience. Rather, the studio was the more stripped-down, simple style--the kind of place where you know you're going to get a good workout. I arrived early and chatted with owner Amanda (who let me borrow her Dry Hands because my luggage was delayed, and a shout out to the Charlotte Russe shop at the mall for having cheap pole-able clothes!) while waiting for class to start. She showed me around the studio: there were 2 pole studios, one with 5 poles and the other with 6. (I think... My notes just say "11 poles"...) I also noticed that there were piles of 4-inch pole crash mats. That is so refreshing. I can't tell you how many studios I've been to that have no crash mats whatsoever.

I got dressed and started warning myself up a bit before the instructor Summer came in. I was disappointed that there weren't more people to meet, but a second student, Katie, showed up a bit later, and we made a happy trio of tricksters.

Summer's warmup was the first one I've ever taken that I 100% agree with. It was very joint mobility-centric (which is how I warm up myself and my students for tricks classes), with plenty to get the heart rate going. It got as sexy as "sexy pushups" but not as sexy as booty shaking. There was no static stretching. A little tribute to Marlo's Prancy Feet but no using up your strength on exhaustive abs routines before you even get into the air. And then there was some aerial style warmup climbs and inverts, plus a couple warmup tricks during which she was probably just feeling out my level (shoulder rollovers to kneeling, true grip handsprings).

The class was "pole playground" and advertised as multi-level, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I definitely didn't expect what I got, which were a ton of crazy tricks I had never even seen, let alone attempted. I mean sure, we discussed some "basic advanced" stuff like Janeiros and Marion Ambers (stuff that's not easy but is common vocabulary), but there was a lot of stuff where I was just like, WHAT. And as much of it came from my fellow student as from the instructor.

It was more of a pole jam-style class, but still I tried to stay in "student mode" and not show off or try to start teaching (although I did demo my flippy thing from that last routine I did). I think it's healthy for instructors to stand back and allow themselves to be taught sometimes (see Teachers Teaching Teachers). And of course Summer and Katie had plenty to teach me, so it's not like I was playing dumb.

I wish I could tell you what we worked on, but I don't know the names of most of the moves, if they even have names. I did have them take this video of my shoulder invert-hand on the ground switch so I could see if I was doing it pretty. (This move I think I had seen a video of before but I don't think I had played with it.)
Yeah yeah I know, point your toes. I'm going to give up on my right foot. I'm quite pigeon-toed on that side so it always ends up looking sickled or flexed or some combination.

The class was only an hour, but we hung out tricking and chatting for an extra hour on top of that. Now that's the sign of a dedicated pole community! All in all the experience was humbling. Normally I'm a big city girl and I feel like I'm heading into the sticks when I leave home, so to find that level of polery in an area that seems so remote to me is surprising and uplifting. And again, like making yourself be a student, it's ego-dashing. It's so easy for polers in their home clubs and regional scenes to feel like big fish. But remember that a fish can't see where the big ponds are. They might be an ocean, or they might be a Great Salt Lake.

La Bombe, Salt Lake City
Equipment: 11 45mm chrome X-Poles, about 12 feet high. Divided into 2 studios.
Amenities: Reception area with stuff for sale, lots of crash mats, bathroom without showers
Drop-in Price: $13 for the first class (I think $18 after that)

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