Pole Dancing is a relatively new form of dance fitness, which means there are a limited amount of teacher training programs available and a large number of teachers who teach pole without any certification whatsoever - which seems insane to me. As someone who suffered a pole related shoulder injury as a student relatively early in my training (an injury that could have been prevented had proper body mechanics been taught), my inclination is to be cautious on the pole and sometimes I avoid it altogether while dancing. I've also always been a little bit of a snob about people who prefer to throw trick after trick on the pole while incorporating almost no dance style or sensuality into their movement, labeling them as gymnasts only, not dancers. To me, being precise on the pole used to mean losing some of the sensuality of the movement. With that said, I fully recognize the skill and strength it takes to properly and safely execute beautiful pole and floor moves, and I've avoided studios that don't require their teachers to have some kind of certification program in order to avoid injury. Additionally, being a good pole dancer - even a competitive dancer - does not necessarily make you a good teacher. Learning to teach any sort of movement (let alone pole) requires you to have not just a good knowledge of the material, but the skills to impart that knowledge to your students and a trained eye that can both recognize and correct mistakes in body mechanics, assist with issues like self-consciousness and lack of confidence, all while making class a fun and rewarding experience. That is no small task.
When I decided to explore teacher training programs, I had a list of things I was looking for. I wanted the program to give me the freedom to develop my own curriculum, rather than being committed to one particular studio's vision. I also wanted the program to be very detailed when it came to teaching pole tricks. That is to say, I wanted it broken down step by step and I wanted the vocabulary I was learning to be consistent with what pole studios were teaching around the world. I also wanted the program to have some "street cred" a reputation that they needed to uphold. What wasn't high on my list was a program that taught me how to be sensual and encouraged me to explore the emotionality behind my movement. This may of course seem surprising since all I ever write about is female sexuality and emotions, blah blah blah. However, I knew I already had the skills to teach that portion of the class.
After researching multiple programs over the course of several months I chose the OC Pole Fitness Instructor Certification Program. OC Pole Fitness was founded by Collette Kakuk (also the co-founder of the Pole Fitness Association) and she runs the studio with Natalie Hammons Hamilton. The PFA has been the driving force behind things like insuring that pole tricks and spins have the same terminology from studio to studio, as well as pushing for instructor certification programs that emphasize safety and body mechanics first. Their Instructor Certification Program is the only one to be endorsed by Felix Cane, two-time World Pole Champion. And while they teach a very comprehensive beginner/intermediate instructor program, they are not teaching you a specific sequence of movements to teach your students. Rather, they are giving you the the tools to build your own curriculum with confidence. All of this appealed to me tremendously. So I signed up!
Over the next few days I will be up to my eyeballs in pole (which sounds like heaven to me) AND I will be chronicling my journey through The OC Pole Instructor Certification Program in order to give my unbiased, in-depth, insider review of what's going on behind those purple curtains! So stay tuned my pole pets!