Has a "NO JUMPING" rule or sign on the wall in your studio ever made you wonder? If you have some vague ideas about how the "NO JUMPING" rule applies to you, then read on. If your pole studio or gym offers Frestyl lessons and you've attended for a while, then you've probably never given the no-jump rule a second thought. Perhaps you've seen a "NO JUMPING" sign someplace you've visited and, with a vague line of reasoning such as "Huh. Nothing to do with pole dancers. Probably has to do with an after-hours studio rental situation involving postmodern basketball or something," and you've gone on with your dancing, unphased. If that's you, then carry on, Frestyler. Carry on....
For all intents and purposes, Frestyl has a certain studio “rule” that goes generally unnoticed. This is not to say that the rule isn't followed. Quite the contrary! It’s printed in Frestyl Teacher handbooks and it’s posted along with other studio rules, but it rarely gets said. It gets mentioned mostly when people who aren’t Frestyl-trained enter a Frestyl lesson or open pole.
Here’s the rule:
"Absolutely NO JUMPING. Students using momentum beyond what they can stop with their muscles, without contact with an external surface (such as a pole, a wall, a floor, an instructor, or a "spotter" or other person) will be asked to stop and may be asked to leave."
On one hand, Frestylers might say “Well, duh.” Frestyl Teachers might say, “I don’t really know why we have that rule. But yes, there are lots of reasons why we would’t jump… and there are zero reasons why we would jump, so…um, yes. Good rule!”
On the other hand, people new to Frestyl might ask, “What’s 'No jumping' even mean? And why isn’t jumping allowed?”
My boyfriend, Dan, came up with a brilliant analogy to describe this rule at Frestyl. Here’s (roughly) what he had to say:
“Jumping into moves at Frestyl would be like me jumping out my living room window in order to get into my car and go to work in the morning. It never occurs to me to jump out the window in order to leave the house, I take the stairs and use the doors. It’s just taken for granted that every step (literally) is meaningful.”
So, for Frestylers, we get it. We simply take for granted that we wouldn't jump. We don’t think about it. It’s a cultural thing, similar to how most Americans don’t give any thought to whether or not we’re going to eat horse meat for dinner. Commonplace in other countries, and technically an option to fill an empty human stomach, horse meat is just not much considered on American menus. For people like myself, if it is considered, it’s a nonstarter. Culture acts as a kind of glass wall. Most people walk around the glass wall instead of walking into it, and no one really notices or pays much attention to the glass wall. No one notices it, that is, until someone who doesn't already know their way around ends up bumping right into the glass wall, face first. (Take me at FedEx Kinko's, for example: At the Uptown Minneapolis location, no problem, I know where things are. Take me to a location out of my usual rounds, such as the location off of Nicolet Mall near Marquette Plaza, and —SMACK! Brittin shakes it off and looks around for a door. ... Um. ... Does anyone else know what I’m talkin’ about?)
For newcomers to Frestyl, this "no jumping" rule can be confusing and even discouraging or upsetting. “No jumping?! Does this mean no kicking? No gentle swooping of the leg?! But what about a hitch kick, is that jumping? What about getting into my inversion for the first time, how's that gonna happen?!"
Fully fleshed-out, our “rule” is: if you’re using momentum that you, yourself, using your muscles, can stop and/or reverse, then it’s not considered jumping. If you’re using momentum that would have to be stopped or reversed by an outside force such as a pole, a wall, a floor, or a person (such as an instructor) or someone to “spot” you, then you are breaking the “no jumping” rule. You'll be asked to stop, and you may be asked to leave the lesson.
Taken another way, “No jumping” feels like another hallmark at Frestyl: Dancing to enjoy the movement that only your body can create, rather than dancing in order to influence outside forces such as an audience, or someone’s opinions of you, or to entertain someone else. Our focus is a vast departure from “performing” for outside influences. Our job is to create ways for you to enjoy the movement that you, and only you, can create, sans intervention from external forces. Our focus is inner enjoyment; in-joy-meant may be a better word than “enjoyment.” The things happening beneath your skin are the things that count here.
No jumping out the windows on your way to work, you insist? No problem. :)
PS. I do still coach performance dancing, and with a funny twist: I've found that a better experience for the dancer means much greater audience enjoyment. Audience enjoyment is not Frestyl's focus. It's simply a byproduct of frestyling; it's just a happy accident that Frestyl Teachers are effective performance coaches, too.
Farewell, friendly stage!
...Long live the
Frestyl Fitness Founder Brittin Leigh retired from performance after Minneapolis's inaugural pole show, Dolls On Parade at Mill City Nights, presented by the city's premier pole studio, Dollhouse Pole Dance Studio. Leigh's retirement came as a surprise, even to her. Here is Leigh's account of her decision to thrive behind-the-scenes:
"I was having my makeup done by [makeup artist] Brit Vechell Burleson, enjoying myself immensely. I was looking around the room at dancers, things on walls, and the structure of the dressing room. As I often do, I conducted a thought experiment and asked myself what it would feel like if I never performed again [after Dolls On Parade that evening]. Intellectually, I think I assumed that not performing would make me sad or [feel] like I was missing out on this great experience I was enjoying backstage. The show had barely started and I already loved it so, and I respect all of the work that Chloe [Kayne of Dollhouse Pole Studio] had done since the beginning...so I was just happily going about my usual business when to my surprise... the biggest wave of joy welled up in my stomach at the thought of not performing again. It was as if someone had asked an 8-year old me if I wanted to take my family to live on a horse farm -- my inner response was "GASP!! Can we DO that??" I giggled aloud, and Brit asked if a makeup brush had tickled [my face]. I explained to her that I was so, so overjoyed at the thought of retiring [from performance] that I was chuckling to myself. Brit was actually very helpful in getting me to notice the joy I was experiencing. To make sure I committed myself to this notion that made me so happy, I posted my retirement status to facebook before Brit finished putting on my face. That was that."
Brittin Leigh is still teaching pole and movement classes at Frestyl Fitness studios in Minneapolis, Rochester, and Mankato, MN, and enjoying opportunities to coach more often. She is available for private lessons and group lessons for performance and competition as well as for her newly rediscovered favorite fitness activity: poling for enjoyment.