Inversions University

I have been going rather crazy with my pole dancing lessons, going eight times so far this month, so this is going to be an extra-long entry as I go through all the new moves I am working on.  The Secret Dance Studio in Hawthorne is slowly ending their grand opening specials, so I am heading back to Allure Dance Studio where I still have plenty of New Student credits.  It has been great mixing it up between the two studios.  While Candace at the Secret is driven by choreography while throwing in new moves and transitions, Orlee at Allure does a great job building your core strength and getting you ready for bigger moves.  Her new class “Inversions University” is a great abs workout while getting you comfortable upside down.

I think the key to a good abs workout is doing it as a team.   Sit ups are just too monotonous to do by yourself.  A couple years back, a group of coworkers and I would gather to watch an old scratchy VHS.  Every day at 5’o clock, Jaime Brenkus would talk us through the same series of cruches while we lovingly mocked his every-friendly encouragements … “just 10 more seconds Gang!!! BOOOM!!”.  I think it worked, but slowly people fell of the 8-minute ab bandwagon (you can still find it on on youtube) and soon the flab took over.   Orlee has her own workout mixing in new exercise with a little yoga.   There are your classic curl ups where you reach between your legs or to one side, but instead of having someone hold our feet, most of the time we have our legs up in the air reaching for the ceiling.  I think this helps engage your lower abs.   Her strategy is just when can’t take it any more she starts counting down the last 10, 9, 8, 7 .. 3, 2, 1!  Then you think you are done but no it is on to the next set.  Other variants include a side twist where you lie on your back with bent legs and alternate reaching sideways for your ankles and stretching the obliques (I like that one), and various pike positions where you hold your legs in the air – slowly descending – 90 degrees, 60 degrees, 40 degrees, 20 degrees,  10 degrees, and back up again.  Not only are we working out but we are practicing our trigonometry.  The most tiring exercise is still the one where you alternate elbow to opposite knee.   This always kills me fast, yet we keep building up speed.  We start holding knee to elbow compression stretch then start pumping faster and faster.  After a half hour of situps we are back to what this class is really about: inversions. My goal is to do a freestanding handstand – something like this.


Before I can start working on my balance and arm strength, I need to first get up into the pose. There are some girls who have been practicing walking on their hands since they were babies so this comes naturally.  Meanwhile I am six feet tall and I’m just not used to having my head that closed to the ground. I have to build that muscle memory from scratch.

  1. Plant the hands thumbs forward (ideally near a wall or pole to support you)
  2. Extend through the heel on your upper leg, activating the muscles from your toes to your core.
  3. Practice hopping on your lower leg trying to catch air time, maybe tapping your upper foot against the wall
  4. Swing your lower leg up to catch up with the upper leg.
  5. Balance, Congratulations, you are doing  a hand stand!!!

Well, that’s the theory.  Now this is what happened in REALITY along with my inner monologue.  Because I just need to find the right mindset.

  1. Hands planted – Check!!
  2. Extend leg – That helps, but it’s still not very high
  3. Practice hopping – OK .. Baby Hops
  4. OK, let’s jump higher … OH SH!T Did I just kick you in the MOUTH??  I AM SO SO SORRY!!!

Yes, I just kicked my teacher, Orlee, in the mouth as she tried to spot me.  Luckily she is tough, and (hopefully) forgives me for my total lack of body awareness.  So it is back to basics for me. One stepping stone is to practice a head stand where one’s head and forearms create a little triangular platform. However, I still need help swinging my legs up (somehow Orlee still agrees to spot me), but I’m getting close. It is a lot easier getting upside down when you have pole to help you.

In the basic pole invert, you grab the pole with both hands and swing your lets up and hook on. If you do it right, you can grip the legs with your feet and shins and hang with no hands. Then you slide down into your handstand.



Basic invert

Basic Invert

Handstand, slide down

Handstand, slide down

So that how you get upside down to do a hand-stand and hopefully no one else needs to get hurt. Next time go over other other things to do upside down.


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