What you see in the mirror…

When I was in Wellington, New Zealand, I had a rehearsal session at a studio called well, The Studio. Like any dance studio, The Studio has massive floor-to-ceiling mirrors in which students can check and correct their form, make sure their toes are pointed and lines perfect.

Scribbled on one side of The Studio’s mirrored wall were choreography notes for The Studio’s students who were competing in the New Zealand Pole Championships 2011, Andre Wotton and Mei.

But scribbled on the other side was a list of corporal punishments for pole ‘misdeeds’ — flexed feet gets you 5 push-ups or a 10-second plank, while the more severe ‘I quit’ gets you 10 push-ups and a 20-second plank. But the real punishment is incurred when a student makes an anti or negative body statement. This gets you 100 press ups or a 5 minute plank!

The Studio's list of corporal punishments for pole misdeeds
The Studio's list of corporal punishments for pole misdeeds

I’ve noticed a startling amount of self-criticism and body dysmorphia amongst polers, a result no doubt, of spending hours on end in front of a full-length mirror, half-naked. Despite our toned and muscled bodies, we still find flaws to pick at which we fault for their aesthetic qualities but also for their functional ones. I know I’ve complained on end about my scrawny legs, which I blame for not giving me power in my spins or security in my leg holds. But those scrawny legs also give me less weight to lift, which is probably why I go into dead lifts with relative ease.

And while we are athletes and thus, are always on a quest for physical self-improvement, this can’t come at the cost of equating our physical appearance with our own self-worth, or doubting or discounting our abilities because of what we “see” in the mirror.

Shirley Jones, the owner of The Studio, graciously shared with me her punishment manifesto. Feel free to adopt, or create your own version!


Toes not pointed (unless there’s a good reason, like the flexed foot is being used for safety etc)
5 press ups or a 10 second plank.

Jumping into a move (flying mounts have control, jumping doesn’t)
5 press ups or a 10 second plank.

Quitters (full on sulks, not doing that move etc.  Never confused with frustration at not quite being ready for the move or needing more explanation)
10 press ups or a 20 second plank.

“I can’t”  or words to that effect.  Acceptable phrase is “I’m having an issue with that right now.  Perhaps I’ll try again later”.
5 press ups or a 10 second plank.

Monkey Feet.  sheesh, ugly, ugly, ugly especially when climbing or spinning.  (unless there’s a good reason, like split leans foot on pole, cupid pose etc)
5 press ups or a 10 second plank.

Using the Bracket / open grip when not taught yet.  (not doing this until ready can result in carpal tunnel, shoulder injuries and the like.)
20 press ups or a 45 second plank

finally, the biggie:
an anti or negative body statement
100 press ups or a 5 minute plank. (double if aimed at someone else!)

Thank you to Shirley Jones of The Studio for graciously sharing your list with me!  http://poledanceaotearoalimited.dnserver.net.nz/


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *