Raising the Bar

[CEBU Daily News]

Here in Cebu, they don’t really think about the sexiness either. It’s already a widely practiced physical activity as fitness and art.

At five feet and seven inches tall, Phil Simon Infantado can present Pencil, Bow and Arrow, Crucifix, and we’re not talking about a Bring-Me game. It’s the ultimate body-twisting, core-hardening, leg-gripping sports art that is Pole Dance. A brief stint in ballet coupled with his stubbornness to go against stereotypes and misconceptions led him to where he is now—the emerging winner of an international pole dance competition and founder of Pole Sphinx studio.

Wearing nothing but a tight pair of shorts, Phil couldn’t imagine himself clad in white even when he bears the credit of a Top Nursing Licensure Passer. The moment his mind was set to pursue the profession of pole dance instructor, he stripped himself off of inhibitions, grabbed life by the horns, and turned his world around. Not once did he regret taking that detour.

Pole dancing—though appearing sensual by nature—is far from being just about a form of entertainment. This type of dance is a fitness routine that builds muscle strength and flexibility, improves stamina and endurance, and tones the entire body. It targets good body coordination and creates good posture. Other than the physique, the dance channels creative expressions, brings awareness to one’s body, and boosts self confidence. With routines and music, glittery costumes and makeup, and yes, leg-spread moves that are very similar to that of gymnastics, a pole dance performer still holds the baggage of wrong notions. Can the art of pole dancing finally put this behind? The vigorous, smart and debonair Phil Simon entertained us with his thoughts on the matter being an instructor, businessman, and partner that he is.

What is the start-up story of your pole dancing profession?

I was working before as an ESL teacher, and at night time, I was a ballet dancer, like ballet on training. I was a scholar in ballet of Montebello at the time. That was three years ago. One of my “ballet-mates” invited me to join a pole-dancing class there at Golds Gym in J Centre. That was the first pole dancing studio in Cebu. We tried, but it ended up only me trying it! (Laughs). There were supposed to be three of us, but I was the only one who enrolled first.

What pushed you to go for it?

Well, I was alreadyinterested in circus arts and aerial arts—acrobatics in general. There are no circus schools or acrobatics schools here in
Cebu, only gymnastics, but then that’s a formal training. So I was very interested in pole dancing because it’s not the usual type of exercise. I see the art in it, more than the sexiness it exudes.

Do you get wrong notions from people about pole dancing?

Here in Cebu, they don’t really think about the sexiness either. It’s already a widely practiced physical activity as fitness and art. The problem is that many are still intimidated. Just like CrossFit, people are intimidated; when they see it, they’d go, “Oh I can’t do it. It’s very difficult.” But like yoga or any other activity, it’s a step-by-step process. In yoga, when you see people doing Downward Dog or a headstand, people get intimidated right away. But you don’t jump into a headstand, you don’t jump into inversions. You do it slowly, at your own pace.

What’s a common misconception do you hear?

I can’t do it. They’d always say it’s not for them especially from first-timers. They’d say, “Nah, di ko ganahan mag-invert. Di nako kaya magbalintong-balintong, hadlok na.”

So, would you say it’s for everyone?

Actually, yes, it’s for every type of body. It’s all in the mind. And since, it’s a step-by-step exercise, there are also variations or movements that can be modified. There are many moves you can choose for yourself.

What’s your daily routine like?

I start the morning checking my phone. (Laughs). Well, on a Monday, I go to my first class of the day, which
is a private class at 7 a.m. I teach Yogilates and flexibility. I go homeafter that and then eat. The other classes are mostly in the afternoon or at night, so I go home first to rest then come back at the studio around 3 p.m. When I arrive, I do all my paperwork and then I monitor the class.

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