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Words by Eva Devore | Photography by Mia Maraschino and Etienne Reynaud

It’s no secret that the best way to fast-track your progress, no matter which discipline or style you practice, is to have a regular and consistent training schedule. In an ideal world, we would have all the time and energy to devote to our craft! Unfortunately day jobs, commitments, families and responsibilities end up getting in the way, and before we know it, we’re back at our weekly class, having not done a thing since the last one. Don’t worry, you’re definitely not the only one!

This week we are sharing some strategies to help you add a little more training to your busy schedule. Whether you’ve got five hours or five minutes free, there are many things you can do to beat the procrastination blues and kick-start your training.

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According to studies, it takes an average of 66 days (approximately two months) to change a habit. That’s a lot of hard work! Incorporating a new habit in your life can be really difficult, so the best idea is to start small. Tasks like stretching and working on your splits in front of the tv while you watch your favourite show, or incorporating a 10 minute abs workout into your morning, are a great place to start!

The trick to changing a habit is to keep it consistent, and give yourself time. That way, the thing you are doing starts to become part of your daily routine, just like getting your morning coffee or brushing your teeth! Try to schedule your activity for the same time everyday, ie, when you wake up in the morning, or in the evening after work.

If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up! Instead, forgive yourself and use it as inspiration to try again the following day. We all get busy, and tired, and sometimes it’s just too hard! Being hard on yourself won’t help at all, so treat yourself gently and remember tomorrow is a brand new day.

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Do you have trouble feeling motivated to come in and practice? A great way to kick procrastination in the butt is to arrange a training buddy to practice with. Not only is practising with a friend way more fun, but making the appointment with each other will make you much more accountable, and ensure that you show up to training!

You can either schedule a regular weekly session with your buddy, or just plan ahead and lock in times together. Whether you are taking classes together, hitting the gym or coming along to Practice Time sessions at the studio, watching each other’s progress will inspire you both to work hard and catch up to each other!

You can also try setting some goals that you’d like to kick together - maybe you both want to nail that nemesis move, or achieve your invert, or finally get a flat splits! Cheering each other on will give you all the motivation you need, and someone to celebrate your wins with too. Don’t have any friends who are into your apparatus? Why not ask a classmate? You may even forge a wonderful new friendship!

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You’ve been stuck in one place for months, and no matter how much practice you do on the apparatus, you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere. It’s so frustrating when your progress in your chosen art form slows because of a nemesis move! Maybe you’ve been itching to get to Emeralds Lyra, but you can’t quite nail that invert. Or you want to move into Diamonds Burlesque, but are told that your performance needs a bit more polish. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, why not try adding a different class into your routine to spice things up?

Target those areas in need of extra strength with a Bootcamp class, or work on your flex in Sexy Flexy. Experimenting with things like yoga, barre and weights are also great ways to train while mixing things up!

It’s also great to try something completely out of your comfort zone. Inspire yourself from a creative rut by trying a new style that you haven’t played with before. If you’re a die-hard exotic dance fan, maybe give a contemporary class a go! Classic burly babes can broaden their creative horizons with something new, like Bollywood dance, or 1920s Charleston. Mix it up and feel invigorated!

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Cross Training refers to training other disciplines outside of your main art form. For example, if you're enrolled in Lyra, you could cross train in Pole or Burlesque and vice versa. Cross Training presents a number of benefits, all contributing to making you a better dancer.

It’s very difficult to see any progress in your strength, flexibility or dancing if you are only training for one hour, in one class per week, especially when it comes to the higher levels! Rather than repeating the same things in the same classes, cross training allows you to work the same muscles in different ways, expanding your knowledge and skills as well as your strength. You will also be challenging your brain to learn and remember multiple skills, routines and moves.

In addition to the physical benefits of cross training, it also gives you the opportunity to learn from different teachers. We often talk about how every teacher has their own style, and while one teacher’s method of explaining a move might not ‘click’ for you, another teacher’s explanation may make perfect sense the first try. Trying a different apparatus exposes you to a whole new array of instructors and all the incredible knowledge and advice they have to share!

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Setting yourself goals gives you clear pathways to achieve the results you want to see. Goals can be large or small, but setting yourself measurable goals will inspire you to actively work towards achieving them. Whether you’ve got a list of nemesis moves that you’d like to hit, flexibility milestones you want to achieve, or a special routine or performance you would like to complete, your goal will act as a compass to guide and direct your training efforts.

Start by writing down each of your goals. You can pick just one, or write down a few to work on at once! Set a time limit for your goal, to keep you focused and accountable. Deadlines are one of the best ways to get you motivated! Underneath each goal, write down the steps that it will take to achieve that goal. From this, you can easily create a to-do list to make your goal happen. You can even incorporate some of the other tips in this blog post! Here’s an example:

Goal: To finally get my splits.
Deadline: By the end of June, 2019
Steps to make it happen:
1. Sign up to a Sexy Flexy class for support and techniques
2. Incorporate 20 minutes of stretching at home every day
3. Post about it on Instagram to track progress and stay accountable

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If setting your own goals seems a bit tricky, or you can’t think of anything specific, why not give a pre-made challenge a go? There are plenty of challenges floating around online, and especially on Instagram. You can find some of them using tags like #fitnesschallenge or #30daychallenge, or have a look at some of your favourite pole, aerial or burlesque accounts to see if they have any challenges going.

Using an Instagram-based challenge is a great way to keep yourself accountable as you will have a reason to “show up” each day, as you post a picture or video of your progress. Not only will posting to social media help you feel accountable, (instead of one training buddy, you will have lots!) but also, you’ll be able to see your progress from start to finish once completed. It’s satisfying to see how far you’ve come and celebrate your wins!

A common challenge that occurs is Split-tember, where participants actively work on achieving their split every day of the month of September. This helps to keep you motivated and establishes a routine as you go. Try setting yourself a goal move or stretch to work towards over 30 days, and track your progress as you go along.