I know when I first started pole dancing I would have really appreciated someone drilling these little tips into my brain. Luckily, I didn’t develop any bad habits in my training, but occasionally I see students who have built up some naughty behaviours over time which stop them from developing their skills, or negatively impact on the safety and quality of their training.

So… here are my top 5 bad habits that all beginners (and intermediate, and advanced!) students should avoid. Catching these early helps you to train your muscle memory more effectively, and helps your long-term progress.

1. Monkey Climbing

A ‘Monkey Climb’ is simply what I call a lazy climb using the bottom of your front foot on the pole, instead of the back of your calf. Whenever I see someone doing this dreaded climb I harass them immediately, usually wielding a scary stick! A climb with the back foot flexed for grip and the foot foot pointed helps to condition your feet, legs and knees, and builds up your lower and upper-body strength so that you can progress to climbs with both feet pointed. Poor technique means you never have the chance to perfect these simple foundation moves so catch these early and rectify them.

2. Messy Feet & Monster Munch Toes

Yes, you will probably be harangued daily about the positive life-affirming qualities of pointing your toes, but it really is a point (hahahahaha point, get it) worth labouring. You may be strong, and you can get into that amazing upside down death-defying trick that your instructor has just shown you, but if your feet are flexed at the end of your legs those photos will not be Insta worthy!!! And for the LOVE OF GOD THEY NEED TO BE INSTA WORTHY!

Of course, messy feet and monster munch toes are to be expected when you first start training, especially with brand new moves. However, you can begin to consciously focus on pointing your toes for prettier lines and extensions. The key here is to point your whole foot from the ankle, not just scrunch your toes up.

3. Not Following The Lesson

So… you have been coming to pole for a few of months and you have learnt some cool moves. Maybe you’re even strong enough to start going upside down! However eager you are though, make sure you always follow what your instructor is telling you to do. It is very tempting to try whacking out that new trick you’ve seen, or ‘just trying’ to Ayesha in the corner of an intermediate class with no one spotting you (yes this has happened, yes I had a quiet word). This is dangerous, and your instructor is teaching you certain moves in a certain order more than likely for a very specific reason!

Your instructors should be able to recognise when you need pushing and can give you a safe and clear progression to work with, and if they don’t perhaps ask why- they may want you to get this foundation move really solid. If they are happy to, they can show you what this move progresses into, and offer you something to work on with their help in a safe and structured manner. Regardless, you do not know what their plan is without asking, so do not ignore them and go throwing yourself into something crazy whilst they are teaching the rest of the class.

It is always worth going over and practicing moves several times (or several hundred times), even if you think you’ve ‘got it’ you will still benefit from going over it to polish it out and make it perfect. I’ve probably demonstrated and practiced a fireman spin hundreds of times, but guess what, that’s why my fireman spin is so beautiful!!!

4. Negative Self-Talk

“I can’t do it”… “I’ll never get it”… “I’ll never be strong enough / bendy enough / good enough”… “Yes but it is easy for you!”, and so on.

Firstly, you are NOT the first person to have these thoughts and feelings. You see some of those girls at your pole school that you are admiring for their strength and grace? You see your instructor who in your eyes is some kind of other-worldly Goddess? They ALL had similar thoughts too at some point, but look where they have progressed now. Everyone’s journey is different, but there is one sure-fire way to slow down your progress and that is to talk to yourself (or about yourself) in a negative fashion. Some self-doubt is natural and normal, but constantly taking a pessimistic approach is going to hold you back.

When your instructor asks you to try a move one more time don’t tell them that you can’t or that you will never get it, because they don’t want to hear that and it certainly isn’t going to help you! When you speak about yourself negatively, either to yourself or out loud, you are programming your subconscious mind without even realising it. Your subconscious mind (the bit that controls your emotions, beliefs and feelings) hears these negative statements and starts to make them a core belief – this is why positive affirmations are so powerful, because they start to alter your subconscious mind away from negativity and into positivity.

Think positive, and you will feel positive. Positive people progress faster! And even if you DON’T progress faster, you’ll have a hell of a lot more fun on a pole journey full of laughter than one full of frustration!!!

5. Not Dead-Lifting  

I’m not here to weigh-in on the ‘kicking vs no kicking’ debate when it comes to first inverting. However, I do believe that once you have started to progress into higher levels after you should endeavour to dead-lift your inverts as often as you can, or at least be making a concerted effort towards it, no matter which method you first learned with.

It is worth challenging yourself to get a strong invert, rather than rushing through this essential foundation move to simply chase the next trick. I realise some people come to pole just to get the tricks, and they are not interested in the dancing or the artistry of pole as a personal pursuit of theirs, but dead-lifting your moves as much as you can helps you to train safely and build up your strength more quickly. It isn’t JUST to look pretty!

When you gasp in awe of your instructor demonstrating a move, is it because they landed the trick? Or is it because they gracefully inverted, had beautiful transitions and THEN landed the trick? More than likely it is the latter!


What bad habits do you think are important to catch early? Is there something you wish you had known when you first started pole dancing? Let me know in the comments.

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