I am watching the new TV show “1883”, the pre-quel to Yellowstone. There have been 5 episodes so far and each one is a beautiful and horrific view of what crossing the United States as settlers must have been like. Episode number 4 stood out. It is one of the most well-crafted hours of television I have ever watched. The writers did this incredibly crafty thing with perspective that frankly left me speechless. The idea they were playing off of is each character’s perspective of what “hard” is and how your “hard” is “hard” for you but once you see someone else’s “hard” you might just keep your own. It showed the perspective of a mother raising a teenage daughter and a small son while on the journey, an old grizzled army officer who had lost his family and sent men to their death, an army officer and ex-slave who had seen things no other man had seen, a Scandinavian settler who admits that he was escaping a country where simple things like swimming were illegal and you could be shot on site if you were caught doing so. At the end of the extended scene the burden that the audience carries are so heavy and the top-down view of human suffering is overwhelming. Go watch it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
So, what does any of this have to do with Pole?
This week Heaux Apparel has received it’s first products that are in our own line. The first products are mainly accessories like gripper gloves, ankle protectors, shoe cover and knee pads. These are all basic products for people learning to do our sport. When I first started thinking about adding products like this, I had a few friends offer advice. Most of what I heard was “these are good for beginners but not really anyone else” and “they didn’t help me much because I already have the skills” and even “They are good for a few tricks but not that many”. I felt discouraged. And then something happened in one of our open pole sessions. My friend is a real “Sweaty Betty”. She was trying to level up and was having trouble holding some of the moves she needed to pass. It was very obviously not a strength thing, she just simply kept slipping – her thighs were like a waterfall. When she asked if she could use her grip leggings the instructor said no. I get that, you must show the ability to do the skills with out aids, I don’t question that, nor did she, but there was an underlying hint of “you aren’t good enough if you have to use aids”. In another class I have taken recently, this one Lyra, I was super excited about an idea I thought up for some leggings I want to make to help ease some of the pain for beginners. My instructor was super excited, but she cautioned “at some point you have to move past that and just deal with the pain if you want to get to the higher levels”.
Here’s where I tie it all together.
New people with no background are overwhelmed. We ask a lot of them in their first classes. Everything hurts, your muscles hurt from the activity, you are bruised, your pride hurts from inability to replicate the skills because…they hurt. How many people come to intro classes, get hooked and go on to be your star level 10+ student? Some, but very few. How many come to a few classes and have a blast, but then life takes over and they go missing for a few months only to come back and start all over. How many progress to a level 2 or 3 but get stuck because life is hard and practice time is minimal. How many people simply give up and don’t come back because it is all so overwhelming.
What if there was a toolbox of products that could help ease the initial pain, aid in their strength, take one layer of fear out of the learning. What if you don’t need them, but your friend does. What if learning to climb just clicks because with gripper gloves you have the confidence in your grip to not fall off the pole. What if ankle protectors take away just enough of that pain on your shins that you can keep practicing your climbs until you are confident enough to take the ankle protectors off. What if adding gloves halfway through practice allows you to execute the moves that many more times leading you quicker down the road to proficiency?
When you’ve got it, it all comes easy. When you don’t it is overwhelming. Perspective. Grip aids, protective products, anything that makes the journey bearable keeps people in our sport longer. Yes, some people will need them longer than others. Some people may use them for their entire journey. And do you know what? That is okay because most people aren’t trying to win the Gold at the Olympics in Pole. Most people aren’t trying to be in Cirque du Soleil in Vegas. Most people are just trying to get better, have fun, feel sexy, laugh a lot and make a new pack of friends.