By Michelle Anderson

First place in Level 2 Artistic Entertainment

Hello Pole World News, fans, and fellow polers!

My name is Michelle Anderson and I have been pole dancing on and off for about two years. I would say that I’ve been consistently training for about a year. As of right now I’m a certified pole fitness instructor at inFit Dance in Woodland Hills. I teach pole levels one to three as well as flexibility and contortion. Pole fitness has been part of my life and I must confess I’m addicted! It makes me feel empowered because it takes incredible flexibility, strength and physics to do pole moves and floor work. It wasn’t until after my second year that I decided to compete. Everyone kept telling me I should compete because of the talents that I carried along with me. Fellow colleagues, students, and coaches tell me that I’m very flexible and bendy. I have a background in hip hop and jazz, which makes me feel more confident if I have to perform for gigs. When I was seven I had been in gymnastics for only six months and was in dance team throughout high school. I was a stubborn child and now I wish my mom had forced me to stay, but now I’m paying for it (literally paying $$$ to my coach for privates, and dance classes).

After deciding to compete for my very first time I had many feelings of fear, anxiety, stress, pain and excitement. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t even give myself enough time to prepare. I literally only had 6 days to put a routine together! My friends, fellow competitor friends and coach said I was crazy! Good thing I pick up quick and work well under pressure. As far choreography, I wanted to show the background I have in dance, which is hip-hop, jazz, and rhythmic gymnastics. I had the help of my Coach, Karine from California Springs and my talented friend Glaiza choreograph the sassy sexy hip-hop. I choreographed all the pole moves that I have learned from being a student from different pole studios. It’s great to go to different studios to see what each has to offer. For the competition I represented, InFit Dance and Luscious Maven because that is where I work and am proud to say I feel at home with the owners, students and teachers. We are family and not competitive with one another, but unified to support one another.

Preparing for competition is not an easy process, many things can go wrong, and I broke many rules that coaches and fellow competitor friends told me NOT to do. Everyone scolded me for procrastinating and that I need months to prepare not six days! My coach told me not to get a massage the night before and rest, but I went ahead because I was in a lot of pain as I practiced for two to four hours each day. As I got a massage the lady told me she would throw in cupping for free. I thought cupping wouldn’t leave marks, but I realized two minutes into it I felt like I was getting the life sucked out of me so I told them to take it off, which also lead for me to get a whole new outfit to cover these marks. I also taught two classes the night before competition, which I was supposed to rest, but it just goes to show I was in beast mode. The night before competition I could not sleep! I was thinking about all the mistakes I made during my practice runs, and all the feedback. It was horrible and again I felt like I was about to back out and quit after my cupping incident.

In the morning of competition I was restless, exhausted and at the point of barfing. I gathered all my stuff and forced myself to eat because I needed the energy to perform. When I arrived to the LA convention center, I forgot a lot of important things. I checked in and had the teariest eyes as I told Amy Guion that I forgot my shorts. Luckily, she told me they had vendors at the competition that sold shorts. On top of that I forgot my grip aids L but there was a nice competitor who lent me hers. I was telling people that this would be my first and last competition because I was having anxiety attacks and could not sleep, but they all said I’d be fine and compete again. As I was getting ready I literally kept gagging. I felt so sick and nervous. Luckily, some of the competitors I met there came up to me and were very supportive. They said I have nothing to worry about as they saw me practicing and knew who I was. It’s a small world and word of mouth travels faster than a speeding bullet. It felt so good that people were digging my style so I started to feel more comfortable. As it was my turn to perform I was panicking and everyone who saw me said don’t worry, have fun!

I couldn’t believe how fast time flew by! As I got on stage my adrenaline kicked in! And as an entertainer, I had to go full out and show my stage presence. I nailed every single trick that I couldn’t hold as long in practice. It was an amazing feeling! I had no one there that I knew because I would even be more nervous if I invited my friends, family, and my man there. Everyone in the audience kept cheering at every single pose and choreography, which even motivated me to do better. After, I was finished with my piece, people approached me and told me how great my performance was and my stage presence was spectacular. I almost cried! I went to lunch after and almost forgot how hungry I was so I drank a double shot of alcohol at the ESPN center to calm my nerves and had some sushi. As I came back I saw the scores and learned that I won first place in Level 2 Artistic Entertainment. I was super excited and started to already think about what I would do in my next competition. It took me two nights after to finally get some good sleep from the feelings of accomplishment and joy. Now I definitely know what to do in preparation and how to handle my next competition in a way where I’m not stressed out or nervous. Well, at least I hope sooo….