Friday, May 9, 2014

Studio Review: Onyx Pole and Aerial, Sandy UT

For my second studio visit of my Utah-and-a-little-Idaho trip, I signed up for Pole 4.0 at Onyx in the suburb of Sandy. Or, I tried to sign up. The class was listed on their mindbody page, but the signup button wasn't enabled. I emailed them and the receptionist, Ashley, got back to me to let me know that they only start signups 2 days before class, but she would put me down. (That was helpful, because I wasn't bringing a laptop with me, and mindbody sites are difficult enough to navigate when you have a computer, let alone when you just have an iPad!)

So on my last day of vacation, I drove out to this industrial-looking strip mall in Sandy. This buliding has some interesting stuff going on! In addition to Onyx's pole and aerial studio. They neighbored an archery school, a fencing school, and... I forget, martial arts or something. You can really stay busy here! By the way, it's a little hard to find the school itself. You have to drive a spiral around a giant parking lot looking at buildings that look more or less unoccupied. But you'll know when you find it, and there's plenty of parking! (I love these spacious, non-urban places for that. I have no idea how to parallel park.)

I entered the studio and was faced with kind of an awkwardly small reception area with a closed door. Maybe they were trying to maintain the temperature of the space, or maybe they were trying to shield polers from peeping toms. But I introduced myself to the receptionist and she confirmed that I'd be taking class with at least one other student. She also showed me around a bit--bathrooms, changing area, and which pole area we'd be using. There are actually 2 separate pole areas here: a closed-off studio with 50mm poles and a row of 45mm poles on the main aerial floor.

The aerial space was filled with silks students on many fabrics. I also saw some students playing on lyras, and I assume there were trapezes--didn't really check, was concentrating on the 5 poles on the other side of the room.

Usually when spaces are "pole and aerial studios," you can tell they are a pole studio with some other apparatuses added as a bonus. You can tell because the ceilings are too low, the crash mats are too thin, the instructors don't have a solid background in circus arts--and circus spaces and pole spaces just feel different. Circus spaces are opener and dirtier and busier. Pole spaces are more contained, more controlled, and (ironically) have a more clean-cut presentation. Onyx felt more like a circus space to me, which is where I am in my element. Although I have way more experience and skill at pole than circus, I have way more formal training in a circus space than a pole space. (Although I will say that their crash mats seemed thin to me. A believe in cushioning!)

I got dressed (by this time the airline had delivered my luggage, unlike for my other studio visit--See Studio Review: La Bombe) in the dressing room. The dressing room was actually just a changing screen in an open room of cubbies (also common of circus studios). While putting my stuff away, another student walked in who I could just tell was my classmate. She had huge muscles--even bigger than mine! Her name was April and we spent some quality time chatting while waiting for class to start. She also showed me where I could buy a cute ponytail holder from the merch area (I usually keep some in my wallet but I was empty), pictured below.
Soon the instructor Heather showed up, who was very pretty and flexible. A third student joined as well, whose name I didn't catch but who was petite and adorable. (I don't mean that in a condescending way, she was just cute, like an anime schoolgirl!)

Warmup was brief and to the point: mostly leg-related stuff/jumping around to get our heart rates up. This is pretty much how I warm up my classes for pole conditioning, so it works for me.

The tricks were varied, but unfortunately they were mostly things I would never actually do: moves that require more flexibility than I have (a splits thing, Titanic, an Allegra combo--yeah I can Allegra, but it doesn't really look good if you can't do the splits) and things that irritate my wonky shoulders (Phoenix, a kicky-swingy thing in twisted grip). But there's not much you can do about that in a classroom setting, so I was a good camper and tried everything! The good news is that the moves were actually advanced. Like I've said before, you really never know what you're going to get in an "advanced" class from studio to studio. At one place I've taught, getting to the most advanced level means you can invert. At all. The other students were also legitimately advanced. You didn't feel like you were in a mixed-level class like can happen. (Then again there were only 3 of us, which makes that easier.)

We spent most of the class on static, but switched to spin as the class went on. As many instructors do, Heather had us end the class with improv to a song she put on. The fun part (besides poling and dancing of course) was that the silks classes were just finishing their warmups, so some of them sat and watched us and acted impressed. My ego appreciated it! (Especially because freestyling is where you realize how out of shape you are...)

We were working on that transition where you descend from a cupid to an inside leg hang (I had learned it at a pole jam in Boston) and I was feeling nice and grippy so I had April take a pic of my cupid in the studio:
The Q-sit pic at the top of the post was actually my resting position after the cupid. Q-sit is a nice resting pose! Oh, and it's hard to tell from the pic but the mural in the background says ONYX.

After class I went to the Red Rock Brewery. Crappy veggie burger, but, beer!

I felt like this studio had a really nice vibe. It was refreshing to be back in a real circus space, especially on my primary apparatus. I love doing silks too, but there's no place like home, and home is on the pole.

Onyx Pole and Aerial, Sandy UT
Equipment: 5 45mm convertible chrome X-Poles ~12ft in main aerial space, 8 50mm chome Lil' Mynx poles ~8ft in separate pole room, several silks, lyras, etc.
Amenities: Cubby room with dressing screen, bathroom without showers, reception room, big merch section, lounge area
Drop-in Price: $5!!!!

Photos of studio by me, photos of me by April

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