“Choose what you want to do, focus on that, be intentional about your goals, and stick to that training plan, be consistent, and do both sides all the time.”
She's a girl with multiple talents - a paper florist, a pole and aerial instructor and they also call her the flexibility queen. Meet the voice behind Polecat Manila's social media pages and our movement ambassador for this month, Victoria Velasco.
1. What sport or fitness are you currently into and what makes you so passionate about it?
Pole and aerial has ruled my life for the past few years, and I don’t see that obsession changing ever haha! Though within pole, my focus changes a lot. I am, at the moment, obsessed with handstand tricks and any kind of sequence that involves the pole and floor. My focus is also on pole dancing with heels and really trying to improve my own skills there, as well as learning how to teach it. I also train my flexibility a lot!! And trying to translate that training to some pole tricks. There are so many “subtopics” in pole and aerial life that I never get bored, and in fact my to-do list of tricks always gets longer and longer!
2. Is there an athlete that you look up to and why?
There are so many where do I start! Obviously, people in Polecats Manila were and are my teachers, and I “grew up” in pole wanting to be like them, and still do! From CD, Kayleen, Kyla, Ahlex, Josyne, Myla, everyone really!!! Everyone is really unique and knowledgeable in the way they approach movement and dance, and I really enjoy learning from them!! Not just about dance, but learning from them about life in general!!
In the pole world, I really look up to Marlo Fisken, and how she can spark movement in you, but in your own way. She won’t teach you like this is step 1 and step 2, and so on. But she will teach you how to create the steps. I took two teacher trainings under her, and I ended both feeling like there was a world of possibilities ahead of me. I also love other pole dancers who are so unique to their movement and style - like Mimi Midnight, Teresa Rodriguez. I admire Jazzy K, and love her classes as I learn from her as a teacher, too. I also really admire pole dancers and flexibility trainers who have been able to create businesses around their skill set, like Jen Crane (cirque_physio), Dan Rosen, Claudia Renee, Natasha Wang. It’s not easy to be your own entrepreneur. And coming from someone that does a lot of backend work as well, sometimes I wish I could just train all day and that would be enough haha. So I really appreciate and admire athletes who have been able to do that. And I really admire athletes that continue to influence the world around them. I admire the US Women’s National Soccer Team for their fight for equal pay, and for how they are vocal about racial injustice in the US. I admire pole dancers like Nadia Sharif (and Marlo, too!!) who are vocal about how they think our own industry can improve and be more conscientious about our biases, and how we can be more inclusive and uplifting as a community.
3. How has this pandemic changed or affected your fitness routine and how did you manage to adjust?
Since the studio closed during the pandemic, I focused a lot more in non-apparatus skills. From one flexibility class a week, I taught four per week, at the start of last year’s lockdown. So I really focused on learning more about it as well, on advancing my own education, taking contortion classes, and training my own flexibility. I would also take the other classes that we offered - the different dance classes like dancehall, floorwork, etc., and some of us Polecats would do kettlebell training together. Then with the classes like MightyFit and Gymnastics also really helped me stay strong and agile. I am really lucky also that I have physical space to do this, and that my ceiling is cement, so I could continue pole! Overall, our challenge in the last year (and I suspect what will be our challenge in the next few weeks) is translating flight into something without an apparatus, or a different one than what we usually use. These challenges also make us more creative teachers, and as a student of these classes, I become a better aerialist, too!
4. What led you to teaching and what struggles did you have learning how to teach?
Teaching was not in my plans for pole life, it was part of our training for becoming a Polecat. I ended up really enjoying it, and still do!! I love thinking of the movement I’m doing, and trying to break it down and translate it to something fun for someone else. My goal is for every class to be the best class ever, and I try to make sure to offer both a substantial lesson and also, a fun time for everyone. I still struggle with keeping up with my personal training and my personal goals, and the training I do for teaching. They both take a lot from me physically and mentally (and I also have to rest hahaha!), so balancing them can be tricky! Every time I get a window, I’m always still learning a new dance or trying to figure out a trick I saw on Instagram hahaha!
5. What are your other interests outside your sport?
I like to bake and cook in my free time! I used to eat out lot (out of convenience and since I was always assigned to different studios, not only Ortigas), but since living in lockdown, Iike many people, I’ve been forced to spend more time in the kitchen, and I’ve really enjoyed it!! I like watching recipe videos, and trying to challenge myself by making my cravings instead of buying them hehe! This is something I never thought I’d ever do, I didn’t grow up knowing my way around the kitchen at all. So I’m also surprising myself this way haha!! I used to make a lot of crafts, particularly paper flowers, and actually that was more my full time job before pole. But I haven’t done that in so long, and I packed up my crafts room to make way for the pole and workout space at home hehe! I’ll always be a DIY girl, though.
See some of Vicky's works at victoriavelasco.com
6. What’s the best piece of advice did you receive regarding your sport?
Train SMART. Like I mentioned earlier, there are so many aspects of pole and aerial life, that it’s easy to be so overwhelmed by the kind of training to do. There have been many times I have felt like I have to be good at ALL the aspects - dance, tricks, strength, flexibility, flips, flow, heels, acro - all!! I had episodes in my life where I felt I had to take all the fitness and dance classes I could find, so I could be good at pole. To help my pole life. And while other disciplines can definitely help, to try to take every class ever, is not entirely sustainable in the long run. So, choose what you want to do, focus on that, be intentional about your goals, and stick to that training plan, be consistent, and do both sides all the time hahahaha.
7. They call you the flexibility queen, what are the common misconceptions on flexibility?
First of all thank you, I think there are so many other flexi queens out there, but I’ll always try to live up to that hahaha! I think the main misconception I always encounter is that people think they have to be flexible before they take my class or a class like Mat Flexibility. They say “I’ll get flexible first, then I’ll take your class,” omg no!!! This class is to help you become flexible, and doesn’t assume that you already are. I understand that it can seem intimidating to see the current students do the poses, but they have also come from a few years of pole and aerial. In truth, anyone can join in and come as you are! Another misconception I think people may have is that it’s just about stretching. But actually, a lot of strength is involved in the body to be able to hold flexible poses. It wouldn’t be safe to try to go into a super flexible pose, if your other body parts weren’t strong enough to hold that position. A lot of my progress in flexibility training came from strength gains as well!
8. What advice can you give to those who want to learn pole dancing, aerial silks or flexibility but are too afraid or intimidated to try?
Well, I wish I could say just go for it! But our studio is closed so we can’t do that right now. But I would advise anyone who ever thought about it, that if you want to start getting ready, our online classes are the perfect introduction. All the classes are a complement to pole and aerial and can help you become braver when the opportunity take class is there. You will meet the teachers whom you will see in studio, eventually. And I’ve found that online classes are very no-pressure - you can’t really be intimidated by your more experienced classmates because you’re in your own space (and provided you’re not watching gallery view, you don’t see them haha!). Online class was the first time I tried dancehall, and while it’s really so out of my comfort zone as a style, I felt braver trying it in my own home without being conscious of other people seeing me look or dance funny haha. I feel I have enough confidence about it now to try an in person class haha! We are also a small community, we know everyone in class haha we know exactly when a first timer is present. I don’t mean to say that to put any first timer in the spotlight haha, but I mean it in a way that we know when we have to explain things from scratch, to someone who has never stretched or taken a class like ours before. So don’t worry!!! Just go for it!
Catch Vicky in her flexibility and pole classes online through Polecats Manila at https://www.polecatsmanila.com