Owning a Pole & Aerial studio means appreciating and HATING the internet. I love it because it helps me educate about my business and connect with students outside of class times. I HATE it because students are also connecting with other business in the industry that don’t give a crap about their saftey and instead just want them to tag their business in posts so they get more publicity. This means they create “challenges” so that students participate do their marketing efforts for them by posting pictures of them doing the challenge each day tagging the company. It can be really exciting. Some companies have done really cool challenges. And some have done challenges that are dangerous, and students rarely recognize the difference.
Right now there is a doubles challenge going on. When I first saw it, I thought “fun”. How cool to do simple doubles with a friend! Then I actually looked at the doubles moves they had in the challenge. NO. Just no. One of the moves they call something else, but we call it a “circle” where one girl is in a superman and layback is in a plank and they hold each other’s feet. The video on the challenge facebook page shows it as this simple thing, not spotting required. And that is where I draw the line and decide I need to write a blog out of my frustration.
Seven or so years ago we did this move for the first time at Aerial Dance. We had two spotters, one for each girl, and helped walk them into it. They then did it a few times figuring out ways to make it easier. And how to enter AND EXIT the safest. A few of these trys the spotters caught and we analyzed what went wrong. After we had a good working understanding of how to do it well, we tried to break it. We tried to do things wrong to see what would happen while we had so many people around to spot. Through this process we created the best option for entry and exit and optimal cues for teaching it.
That multi-step process is so important for learning new moves. It isn’t about watching a video and doing it because they are only showing you one entry that they do (most don’t even show you an exit) and they don’t explain the serious saftey cues. This is why our studio rules state that if you want to learn a move to send it to us and we will go through our process to keep you safe and develop a plan for teaching it. We aren’t saying you can’t do it; we’re asking that you respect the instructors enough to give them time to figure out the best method to teach you.

So as our students get excited about challenges, how am I as the studio owner supposed to keep them safe? I’m forced into the role of the bad guy and I then I have to ask my instructors to be as well. We remind students of the studio policy covering new moves. We ask them to care about it. We remind them of the importance of saftey even though the challenge says the move is no big deal. I ask my instructors to be firm in sticking to the studio policy even though they want to be nice. And we dash our students hopes of being Facebook famous. And that sucks. We don’t want to be the bad guys. We also don’t want to fill out an accident report after you leave in an ambulance. So ask yourself as you see these challenges online: is doing the marketing for this company worth your neck? Is doing the marketing for this company worth the neck of whomever you ask do to the challenge with you? If a challenge is upright and there isn’t a lot to it, great, party on. If the challenge has any inverting, is this company so important to you that your neck is worth the photo and tag?