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Pole fitness is an emotional, mental and physical exercise. 

This past weekend, I was privileged enough to compete in a professional pole dancing competition here in Herndon, Virginia. I’m not talking “pole dance” in the traditional sense, but in the acrobatic and artistic sense.

If you haven’t heard of the pole fitness craze that has been gaining momentum all over the United States, try asking the Google machine and you’ll most likely find a pole fitness studio somewhere in your area. In the same way that yoga, Pilates and qi gong are considered mind-body workouts, where your emotional and mental stamina get as much of a workout as your body, pole fitness is also a mind-body exercise.

Many of us have fitness goals. Whether it’s the mastery of a specific trick, combo or floor exercise in pole fitness, getting stronger from lifting weights or completing your goal run time, we all want that perfect execution.

It’s easy to compare ourselves to some of the people out there who are already exactly where we want to be, and who seem to be able to tackle every new idea with ease and finesse, but there is a fine line between comparing yourself to them and admiring of them. This is especially true if you are new to exercise or new to a type of exercise like pole fitness.

When we compare ourselves to those we deem “better,” it creates a lot of negativity. Did you know the body will automatically sabotage itself when faced with the negative thought of “I’ll never be as good as (fill in the blank)”? It sounds a little esoteric, but negative vibrations and positive vibrations not only affect your health, but can also affect your body’s movement, function and perceived ability to succeed.

When we switch to a vibration of admiration, we can negate some of the negative effects of comparison. I have a lot of experience with this. I am not a classically trained dancer, I’m not a gymnast, I’m not even considered flexible (I can’t even do the splits), but that doesn’t stop me from competing at the professional level in elite competitions. Why? Because I don’t waste my training time comparing myself to the dancers I’ll be competing with. Instead, I focus on admiration.

Each dancer is unique. Whether dancers’ assets are strength, flexibility, choreography or costuming, when their individuality shines through, they are phenomenal to watch. On the other hand, the dancers who are not being true to themselves and are attempting to imitate what they deem to be “perfection” in someone else often fall flat in their performances. Either their bodies don’t move smoothly, or the concentration it takes to imitate something that is unnatural makes them appear awkward and can drag down an entire performance.

By changing my mindset, I can appreciate the uniqueness and physical ability of the competitors whom I feel are “better” and use that as insight into the things I know I’d like to improve in my own craft. In the meantime, I focus instead on the things I’m good at. Strength moves and musicality are my strongest suits. I can connect to the music and move naturally when I focus on those things, and even though I have not yet placed in the top three in a pro competition, I have done well, enjoyed the experience and received great feedback from judges and audience members. If I spent all my time comparing myself to the dancers in the top three, I wouldn’t be able to take pride in my actual accomplishments. I wouldn’t be able to pick myself back up and push harder next time.

As an integrative health and lifestyle coach at Whole Green You, understanding what my body thrives on nutrition-wise is also a strong suit. By being able to eat for energy, detox daily using food and nourishing every cell in my body, I am able to improve my craft even faster. The mind-body connection cannot be denied, and when the body is thriving, the mindset switches to a “can-do” attitude. The two really go hand in hand.

When I work with clients one-on-one who have plateaued in their current workout regimen, one of the first things I do is help walk them through a food-based detox. By resetting the body, improving digestion and learning to eat the clean foods that work especially well for your body, pushing through plateaus becomes a thing of the past. Whole Green You offers these detoxes every season and is currently working on a Spring Sugar Cleanse and Digestive Restart with most clients. My practice is also starting to branch off into the physical fitness side of health, offering online workout and pole instruction customized to your goals and ability.

So what’s the best way to switch vibrations? Just focus on my favorite nine-letter word: Gratitude. Did you know that studies show that this one thing can make you 25 percent happier? It boosts your immunity to anger, disappointment and frustration. It’s even been shown to heal pain and illness in your body. It can certainly heal relationships, especially with your beautiful and miraculous body. Amazing things happen when you integrate gratitude into fitness.

Here’s a fun exercise to try:

1. As you get ready to start your exercise routine or pole practice, breathe in deeply and imagine your best trick or exercise. Envision yourself executing it perfectly. Allow this energy to pulse and radiate from within. Give thanks to your body for it and show it appreciation.

2. Remind yourself that whatever you focus on expands. When you focus on gratitude and positivity, you will get more of that in return.

Be mindful that you will attract more abundance, love and health by being grateful for your current state in these areas. Your body, your health and your relationships can only be improved by honoring where they are in this moment.