This is a follow up to my unexpectedly popular Stretching for Splits post! I got a lot of requests for center splits exercises.I myself do not have my straddle split, but you can see some of my progress here — these stretches do work!!
As with all stretching, make sure you are warmed up (5-10 minutes of cardio should do it — jogging, dancing, jumping jacks, running up and down the stairs, whatever!)
Wall Sits are a great way to increase your flexibility in your straddle! I like to do mine on this wall with the mirror as it gives me a point of reference for how I am progressing; when I first started, my feet were on the mirror! I also have a wall at home where I marked my starting point with pencil and update it every few weeks. Seeing visual progress is a good way to keep motivated and it’s easy to do with this stretch series!
Some great stretches for loosening up the hips and legs before trying a wall sit:
Froggy - Butterfly - Happy Baby - Pigeon - Floor Straddle
You will be using gravity and the wall as resistance in a few different positions. Try to hold each position for at least 1 minute (feel free to hold for longer).
- Lie on your back with your butt against the wall, legs pointing up and flat on the wall. Slowly begin to open your legs in a V. Keep sliding your legs wider until it starts to become uncomfortable. Now here’s the fun part: HOLD! Let gravity do its work and pull those legs closer to the floor. Don’t resist! Try to relax! Breathe :)
- Without moving your bottom, try to push yourself up onto your palms to press your chest toward to the wall. Depending on your level of flexibility, you may not be able to sit up all the way. You may need to begin with resting on the forearms rather than the palms. Hold. Relax. Breathe.
- Without moving your legs, begin to slowly slide your butt backward. Your feet will slide down the wall until they are on the floor. You will sitting up in a straddle with your feet against the wall. Here’s the fun part again: use your palms to press yourself forward into the wall, letting your legs stretch wider as you push forward. If you are flexible enough, once you get a good amount of resistance/stretch, you can rest your face, shoulders, or chest against the wall while you hold, relax, and breathe again :)
Optionally, while you are holding these stretches, try alternating pointing and flexing the feet every 15-30 seconds or so for another challenge.
A straddle split is usually harder to obtain than a front split (though for some people it’s the other way around) so again, PATIENCE! I’m still working on mine too, but I have made a LOT of progress! Good luck :)
I’m kinda bored from all the drills I’m learning at Muay Thai and am dying to move on to sparring. Three years ago at the gritty Muay Thai gym where I got my first taste of the sport, that was what we used to do in the last fifteen minutes of our class.
That was the cool thing about said gritty Muay Thai gym. It had a flexible structure, and by the time we were in our final Beginner classes, we were so used to sparring and getting bruises all over our shins. I’m at Level One in Evolve right now (have been for eight torturous, boring months because I don’t attend classes as frequently as the gym would like, so they won’t promote me to Level Two) and all I do is bag/pad drills. ZZZZZZZZZZZ.
I guess this is what happens when you’re a member of a ‘corporate’ gym. You have to abide by all the boring structure and boring rules and boring status quo.
My Muay Thai friends are right, I should get back into a gritty gym once my annual membership is done in June!
It’s always nice to try out new types of workouts. I tried Parkour in the first two months of the year but didn’t enjoy it very much, so this month I was happy to move on to something new.
Today my colleague Keith and I popped by the Crossfit Unit for a trial class, as recommended by our friend Faye, who’s been raving on about it for the past two months.
Faye and I sit next to each other at work and discuss our fitness routines and diet a lot. She got me interested in Crossfit one day when she showed me a video of a whole bunch of chicks lifting and climbing ropes.
The pole dancer in me saw the appeal in climbing ropes (ha!) and was like, “Sign me up for this!” And besides, I’m totally in love with fit chicks and their awesome cut bodies!
So Keith and I decided to give it a go. I was scared, though. Faye has told me the horror stories where she and fiance ended up puking in between classes. I was pretty certain I’d be barfing myself silly on the first class too, because although I consider myself strong, my stamina is still crap enough for me to get caught and eaten by zombies in the event of an apocalypse.
So anyway, this afternoon Keith and I reached the box, and we huddled in the front seat of his car, contemplating on turning back and heading home instead. “I have a tummy ache and need to use the bathroom,” I told him. He said, “Me too.” The prawn noodles we had for lunch 45 minutes earlier were still sitting in our bellies. A few guys from the box looked over at us and we crouched even further down in our seats, although on retrospect I’m not too sure why we even did that because it wasn’t like they were going to drag us out of the car anyway. Only Faye would do that.
Finally, Faye turned up at the box and told us to get out. Melvin, the owner of Crossfit Unit, was nice and told us not to worry, he wouldn’t kill us that day… But that’s what they all say aye? After some shuffling and dilly-dallying, we finally began our warm-ups: a series of reps for air squats, pull-ups, push-ups and sit-ups.
I finally managed to execute a pull-up with the help of an exercise band. Yay! Because it was an Intro class, we were done with the warm-up after three reps but I was already feeling jelly arms. “Aha, but this is just the beginning,” Melvin declared mockingly. Shit.
I’m not sure about Keith, but before today I had never touched a barbell or kettlebell in my life. Ever. So I was pretty doubtful about how far I’d be able to go with them, because they look crazy heavy to me. As it turned out, with the right posture (pushing my hips back and tightening my lumbar), I was able to work them both! In the end, I managed to complete the 10-1 countdown rep thingy with a kettlebell and burpees (BLEAH so much hate for that).
The class came to an end, and I didn’t puke nor faint! On hindsight, pole, Muay Thai and yoga have served me well. What would seem to be a killer workout to someone else, was actually pretty okay for me, never mind all the sore arms and legs I’m having right now (sore is good!).
Would I go back? TOTES! Maybe I’m speaking too soon but it seems like an ideal kind of workout to have a few times a week. (Mmmm one step closer to getting them guns!) Sadly, I only have seven days in a week with three different types of classes to attend, so I have to put Crossfit on hold until I complete my gym membership at Evolve in June.
In the meantime, I’ll substitute it with Fightshape classes at Evolve, which seem pretty similar and sound just as difficult. I will let you know if the class makes me puke.
Most of the girls in my studio love to dance. They’re all about it. Every single Pole Grooves class is ALWAYS full because these are the classes that incorporate more dance moves amidst pole tricks. Every pole girl from my studio raves about ‘dancing my life away, being a dancer, dancing and having no time for boys, making dance the centre of it all’.
As many pole veterans like Aerial Amy say, it’s one thing to learn all the tricks but it’s so important that pole dancer remembers how to, well, dance! So I don’t doubt one second that it is important to learn how to have fluid floorwork, transitions, and beautiful hands/pointed toes/head rolls because these are all the elements that complete your dance.
While I totally agree with Amy, I must admit that I’m not getting the ‘I HEART DANCE!’ vibe that everyone seems to have around me. It’s slightly daunting that I don’t, because I can’t share the excitement with my friends.
When I go out with the girls, I can totally tell they’re truly, madly, deeply into dancing their heart out, the way they get down on the dance floor even before taking a sip of alcohol. But it isn’t the same for me. I’m like a dude. I prefer to sit back and people-watch over a beer, or go all-out silly with the chicken dance/Harlem Shake/Gangnam Style, much to the horror of my gal pals around me!
Weird lifestyle choices aside, I must admit that this term, I haven’t been very hardworking on the dance aspect of my pole practice. I’d choose to go for my techniques class and sit out Prep Advanced or Lyrical Jazz. At home, I hardly get inspired while trying to freestyle (everything looks ugly on the camera for some reason) so I give up in the end. I feel bad that I’m not paying attention to the ‘dance’ subset of my practice.
But should I feel bad? I’m not saying I hate dancing, but perhaps, it’s time to accept that when it comes to pole, I’m more of a trickster than a dancer.
I love my newfound core strength (thanks, Yoga!) and my improved flexibility, and how these two elements have made it possible for me to get into tough-assed tricks I never thought I could master. Nothing excites me more than attending Naoko’s Techniques 3 class, because it just means NEW TRICKS! (Even if I can’t get into half of them, it’s still all very exciting and inspiring for me.) To have my body do beautiful, death-defying things that I could only wish to achieve many years ago, is always a monumental moment for me, so I can’t help but indulge in this.
Let’s face it: I’m definitely a trickster.
Still, I won’t be hesitating to bust out the hair flips and crazy splits if I hear a rocking 80s track! Maybe my taste has just become a little more ‘hardcore’? I should put Alethea Austin’s Floorwork/Sexy Fundamentals DVD on one of these evenings, and start working those crazy leg waves and back arches!
So this week I made it to a grand total of one morning yoga class. Yes, just one. And that was it for me. Then I came home early today to freestyle on the pole but gave up and took a shower after about 20 minutes.
It’s official: I’m not motivated. My heart is just not in it this week. (Yes, the week before Lunar New Year, the week which is opportune for me to work out as much as possible before I start stuffing my face with New Year goodies for about three days straight. Good job for walking out on me, motivation!)
It’s definitely due to the growing mountain of work that I go to every single day. And the meetings! With all the time and energy sucked out of me and put into trying to meet appalling objectives at impossible deadlines, I simply do not have anything left in me to dedicate to my fitness and wellbeing.
In a way, I kinda understand why so many corporate folks end up with terrible health and poor stamina. When you work in a demanding 9-5 (or 9-9, or 9-midnight) job, the only thing you want to do after you’re done is curl up in your bed, naked, to recuperate. Or drown your stress at Happy Hour.
It definitely takes lots of discipline and willpower to drag yourself into an exercise class after work, that’s for sure. And even more to wake up 3 hours earlier to squeeze in a morning routine before heading to work.
And because 8 hours in the office is just not enough to clear the load that’s coming in at high speed, I end up skipping classes in order to work overtime. By 9pm, I’m just too tired to get into the late evening class.
I’ve always been admired by my colleagues for putting aside my own time to work out, but lately, this ability of mine has dwindled significantly.
It’s also sad that my pole studio is now holding more group activities like dancing for One Billion Rising but I have no choice but to exclude myself due to commitments or just sheer exhaustion.
Well, I shall stop being all whiney and dramatic here, and shall go and indulge myself in an episode of Girls (a TV series that I’ve started to relate very strongly to as of late). But before I go, here’s a question that I need answers to.. Perhaps you could enlighten me.
How do I rediscover that will and mental strength to get myself back into my fitness routine again? Or is this a sacrifice I have to make just for the sake of the grind to get to the top of my career?
It looks like I’ve been consumed by a new sport, and that’s yoga. Funny how much I’ve fallen in love with it, considering it once used to bore the hell out of me when I first began practicing in 2009.
But like I discussed with a couple of mates, it could be the newfound understanding and discovery of core strength and flexibility that has gotten me so hooked. Back then, I had not discovered pole dancing yet and wasn’t really motivated to do much other than lose weight. It was only through pole that I felt motivated to get stronger and flexxier so I could get into my tricks and have very nice lines. And all of a sudden, I ‘got’ yoga and it became a huge love.
And it could also be the studio that I currently go to. I found out about Yoga Movement thanks to my old yoga instructor who now teaches there, and was initially attracted to the simplicity of the fluff-free but beautiful studio. The classes are given very straightforward and uncomplicated names that wouldn’t confuse a first-timer. And! The number of hot classes they have! I love hot classes!
So, I officially mark February my Yoga month. With all the work stress going around, and with much conditioning needed for pole, it’s high time I made yoga a core (no pun intended) workout to focus on each week!
So my friends call me utterly insane. They say that I must be mad (and really energetic) to be going for hours and hours of classes every other day. Pole dancing, Muay Thai, Yoga and now Parkour? How do I do it?
I told Chwenny that this is what keeps me sane. It really does. There is nothing more peaceful than planning out my workout roster, and sticking to it. I can’t feel any happier than the thought of going to different classes and getting stronger, bendier, and fitter.
I’ve never found peace the way I’ve found it in my practice.
So the pole got fixed up in my bedroom a couple of weeks back and I finally spent about 15 minutes on it tonight. Just what I needed to end a long day. Love my pole so much.