By Meri Burgess


The number one thing I would say is practice…putting in the hours is so important. Your rate of improvement varies greatly depending on how much work you put into it. The two things I’ve done to push myself to practice? The first, is entering competitions and showcases. With every competition I do, I break through plateaus and gain strength in new ways that I might not have even necessarily been training for that specific competition.

So far I’ve been in about 6 competitions in the past 2 years, plus at least another 6 shows. Each one has been well worth it! Competing can sound intimidating, but I started out with Pole Sport Organization (PSO) events that have specific levels you can enter without any qualification rounds. It is a great place to start.

The second thing I did was enroll in a 9 month professional aerial dance training program through Frequent Flyers Productions in Boulder, Colorado last year. It was 20-25 hours a week of training in pretty much any aerial apparatus or aerial related cross training you can think of. Not only did this teach me a lot of skills, but it taught me how to train smart. Within the program we had a 6 week kinesiology course with a very skilled trainer, and beyond that I took half a dozen private sessions with her to work on very specific muscle engagements and alignment techniques. We also did a lot of ground based dance classes, which have expanded my vocabulary greatly.

You don’t necessarily need to find a program exactly like the one I did if you don’t want to move or pay for something like that, but rather, you can build your own based on resources around you. I’ve only been doing this for 3.5 years, with absolutely zero athletic or dance background, and I was pretty rough around the edges to start…I’m only just beginning to feel semi-competent!