The Ultimate Guide to Leveling Up!
~ Written by Rosie at Altitude HQ with the help of Altitude instructors.
Leveling up at Altitude can sometimes feel like a daunting process. I remember when I was still just a wide-eyed baby poler, diligently working my way through level 1, when one day I saw the level 5 polers freestyling. It was amazing to watch, and undoubtedly inspiring, but it was also incredibly intimidating! Here they were, going upside down and doing flips and splits and spins and all sorts of seemingly impossible things, meanwhile I was literally learning to (pole) walk. I couldn’t do a pirouette without falling over, and a stag spin was completely out of the question. It felt like being back in my first year at high school, in awe of the people even just one year above me, let alone those terrifying 17-year-olds! How would I ever be as cool as them?
In the end I did manage to flounder my way through level 1, and these days I continue to flounder in level 4, but it could have been a much smoother journey with some kind of… I don’t know… super handbook for getting better? No, that doesn’t sound right... I know! An ULTIMATE Guide to Leveling Up! Hell yeah!
And that is what I present to you today! I asked our amazing Altitude instructors for their top tips on not just getting from one level to the next, but how to improve as a poler generally speaking. Check them out!
Don’t just ‘get’ a move - practice it and perfect it! You want your butterfly to be fully formed and beautiful, not some weird caterpillar-butterfly inbetween thing. Moving too quickly from move to move or level to level can slow you down in the long run. The Altitude curriculum is designed so that each level prepares you for the next, so if you hurry your way through then you might pay for it at the next level. It’s about laying down foundations, and making sure to develop good habits and avoid bad ones. In short: it’s not a race!
Always check with your instructor before moving up
Although it’s tempting to just give the next level a go, make sure you check first. As much fun
as pole is, remember that you’re essentially flying through the air with nothing but a shiny metal cylinder to hold onto! We need to make sure that you’re safe! Trying a new level when you’re not ready can result in injury, and that’s the last thing we want (not to mention that it usually means time off from poling!).
As well as that, our instructors do their best to keep an eye on your progress and let you know where you could improve, but they’ll be able to give you even better advice if they know that you’re thinking about leveling up. Let them know before class that you’re considering the next level, that way they can keep an eye on you throughout the class and give you some tips at the end.
The other reason to check in with your instructor is that we are our own worst critics! While you may not feel that you’re good enough to move up, you might be underestimating yourself. Don’t let that one nemesis move hold you back (Cupid grrr), ask for feedback. You might be a lot more ready than you think you are!
Pole Play and private lessons are your friend
There’s nothing wrong with sticking to the curriculum classes, but sometimes there’s just not
enough time to focus on the areas you personally need to focus on. Maybe you’ve nailed everything in level 2 except your apprentice, and you just need to spend an hour doing it over and over again with an instructor watching and providing feedback. Pole Play is the perfect time for this. By the end you’ll no longer be the apprentice, you’ll be the master!
Similarly, a private lesson with your preferred instructor is a great way to prepare for the next level. If cost is an issue (or maybe it’s too intimidating on your own), grab a friend and go halves. Come prepared with the things you want to go over. Write down the tips and tricks they give you, then work hard on nailing them. We have some incredible instructors, so make use of their knowledge and experience!
Don’t be disheartened when things are hard
When you do make the jump into a new level, chances are you’re not going to be able to do
a bunch of the moves straight away. It might take weeks, months, or longer before you start to really grasp the content. That can feel pretty bad when you’ve come from a level where you’re smashing every move, but it’s okay! Even if you don’t notice it, each week you’re getting stronger and better. One day, seemingly out of nowhere, things will start to click.
If you are starting to feel disheartened, one tip is to try straddling between levels for a little bit. I have found level 4 incredibly difficult, so sometimes I just need to go back to level 3 and remind myself that I’m not absolutely hopeless, I do have a couple of tricks up my sleeve. It’s really easy to forget how far you’ve come, so make sure to remind yourself regularly!
And if I could add my own general tip here: don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. Find a pole buddy to laugh at with you. You will inevitably end up doing some ridiculous things while poling: you’ll collapse in a tangled, groaning mess after attempting a new move; you’ll do the best and most beautiful spin ever on your A side, then completely botch it up on your B side; and you’ll make some seriously unattractive faces and noises when you have to use a painful grip point. All of that can feel very frustrating, but it’s much easier to deal with when you’re able to have a laugh. Remember: pole is supposed to be fun!
And that’s it! These were the top tips from our instructors on leveling up, and I think you’ll agree with me that it’s all great advice. Just in time for ‘Level It Up’ August - it’s almost like we planned it!
Since August will be themed around leveling up, have a think about whether you’re ready to do that. Have a chat to your instructor at your next class and see what they think. Or if you’re not quite there yet, make a list of the things you’d like to work on and take it to a Pole Play class or a private lesson!