DataBecause I’m a bit of a data-freak, and was so anxious / excited to track my pole progress, I started tracking my pole workouts and all exercise / workouts at the beginning of 2011 – this was in terms of hours, so I could easily and quickly see on a high-level basis, how much time I was spending on exercise each week, each month (rolling 4-week periods), and adjust my activity level and training accordingly. For example, if I’ve been swamped at work, I would be able to immediately see my drop-off in activity and try to compensate. This is not as granular a detailed log of what specific exercises have been done, to understand the intensity of the workouts, like what can be done in Fitocracy, or what I’m trying to do in my pole journal, but it does give a quick snapshot overview of the hours, and the type of activities
does give an indication of intensity.

The below are charts of my 2011 weekly activity, 2012 weekly activity to date (ignore the average since it includes future zero values), and a comparison of both years.

2011 exercise

2011 exercise log

2012 exercise

2012 exercise log

2011 and 2012 comparison

2011 and 2012 comparison

My key takeaways from the chart are:
1) I’m exercising more in 2012 than 2011 so far
2) Pole is the only exercise I have managed to do consistently over
almost all of 2011
3) However, I’m cross-training a lot more this year (doing non-pole
stuff), which is driving up my exercise volume
4) My exercise is very seasonal!

#1 makes sense because: i) exercise is addictive, ii) to maintain the
rate of strength / fitness gains require higher volume and intensity
of exercises as one gets stronger and fitter overall, and iii) I’m
aiming to pass Level 5 and hopefully Level 6! (which is looking less
and less likely as the months pass given my still-anaemic performance
to date and my various injuries (to be discussed another day). On the
bright side, the winter months are clearly the trough of my activity
levels (barring holidays, which are indicated by consecutive blank
weeks), and I’m already exercising more this year than last, so
hopefully my strength gains will improve throughout the year!

#2 makes sense because pole is my main passion, and all my other
exercise is more or less in support of pole, and to the extent they
conflict or negatively impact pole, I will de-prioritise or drop them.

I’m cross-training a lot more this year (#3) because increasingly I’m
learning about the benefits and criticality / importance of

i) FLEXIBILITY: As we build more muscle and get
stronger, our muscles tend to get stiffer and we lose on flexibility
unless we continually stretch, stretch, stretch to counter-act it, So
stretching and flexibility exercise are ON for me given my splits
goal, and anyway many pretty, advanced pole moves require a large
amount of flexibility (that’s where yoga and ballet comes in),

ii) LEAN-NESS: since most pole moves require a lot
upper body strength, particularly with power moves, polers tend to
bulk up on the upper body and develop an inverted-V, slightly manly
shape. While I quite like the powerful albeit slightly mannish look
(the Boy is much less of a fan), I don’t want to go over-board either.
So I need to keep stretching and lengthening my muscles (yoga and
ballet again),

iii) STAMINA: for overall fitness and stamina (for the
dancing element of pole dance), I really need to do cardio. Because
right now, I’m so unfit that I’m wheezing and panting like a
septuagenarian after a couple of minutes of spins and inversions – NOT
sexy. (Unfortunately, I haven’t found a cardio activity I like and can
do on a regular basis yet – on my to-do list!), iv) BALANCE: We
probably tend to use similar muscles / muscles groups over and over
again in pole, even if there is a wide of pole moves which use a wide
range of muscle groups. So, to give our usual muscles and / or joints
a rest, or to work them out in different ways, and balance the type of
movements that our body undertakes and balance out the stresses that
we place on our body, it’s best to train in other disciplines. (this
used to be belly dancing for me until I messed up my ligament from
that. Now this is ballet, yoga, pilates)

iv) STRENGTHENING (at least for me): I have an
incredibly weak core, which is quite shocking given the relatively
advanced level of poling I’m doing – it’s not that I’m super advanced,
it’s just that, for what I’m doing, I should have a much stronger
core; the fact that I can do the stuff that I do with such a weak
core, is very surprising if not downright amazing. So I need to
specifically work on my core strength – but off the pole, so as to
avoid over-training (this is Bootcamp pilates and ballet. Maybe a bit
of yoga as well)

The seasonality of my exercise (#4) is driven by the fact that: i)
winter is so cold and depressing that poling is almost a punishment
(cold poles!!) and I feel incompet ent because it’s difficult to get
warm and stay warm, and the poles are extra slippery, and ii) work
eases up in summer, so that’s when I try to cram in as many classes as
I can. Hopefully this pattern will hold this year, and my activity
levels will increase and I will become a super strong pole superstar
by the end of the year! (in my dreams…)

Okay, now that I’ve clearly demonstrated my obsessive- compulsive
tendencies to collect data and create lists, it’s time to stop my
monologue and try to look normal. *leans against wall in a cool pose*
-doo di doo-