Toxic Positivity: Finding your Mr Brightside

Toxic positivity: “We define toxic positivity as the excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state across all situations. The process of toxic positivity results in the denial, minimization, and invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience.”
The Psychology Group

Those who work in the pole industry are generally a positive lot. We know that a positive mindset reaps huge rewards. We create an environment for our students of support and positivity. We are absolute masters of inspirational quotes and memes about never giving up and hard work paying off.

More than ever, we are hugely appreciative of support from our friends, family and loved ones. Messages of kindness and consideration are invaluable to us in these difficult times. But as we leave Lockdown 2 and enter Lockdown 3: The Return Of The Tiers, the sequel we all knew was in production but nobody wanted to see, misplaced positivity can reach toxic levels.

It may be wonderful for those with secure employment and steady income to spend December looking forward to lovely nights under a blanket and extra quality family time as the nights draw in, but for the majority of the pole industry, watching studios close their doors yet again, small businesses that took years to build, is heartbreaking and soul destroying.

Here’s why now is not the time for unsolicited albeit well intentioned advice – or, how to find your Mr Brightside in what can feel like a sea of toxic positivity.

It’s only for a few weeks – stay positive!

It isn’t only for a few weeks. It’s a few weeks on top of the four week lockdown on top of the original four month lockdown, longer in many parts of the U.K. Businesses only reopened their doors a few months ago, and under a whole new complex set of regulations.

And is it really only going to be a few weeks? And even if it is, what about the next sequel, Lockdown 4: Lockdown With A Vengeance? Or its sister spin-off franchise: Lockdown Vs Brexit?

No you’re right. This negative mindset doesn’t help anyone. You are absolutely correct. Ok. Let’s be positive! It IS only a few weeks.

It’s just a month! So I’m sure you wouldn’t mind giving me your months wages. You won’t even notice right? A months outgoings is NOTHING! Especially not the month before Christmas. It’s fine. I’ll just give you my bank account details and you can send it right over yeah? Cool.

What I’m sure you actually mean: “let’s hope it’s just a few weeks. Keeping my fingers crossed for you.”

I heard you can get a grant/assistance/some kind of financial help!

Oh thank you for your second hand incomplete vague advice! We are saved!

Let me assure you that EVERY SINGLE SMALL BUSINESS OWNER with any brain capacity whatsoever has spent a considerable amount of time, possibly including watching the sun set and rise, frantically researching every single possible option available to us. We know this industry inside out – as well as you probably know yours, surprisingly. Additionally we are a very strong community and we share a lot of knowledge, information and support. There is not a single piece of information relating to our industry we don’t know about, or haven’t thoroughly researched.

If you are a friend who is genuinely trying to help or offer support, thank you from the bottom of our hearts, we do appreciate that and we love that you are thinking of us. But if you are trying to tell us we don’t need to worry because you read something online, chances are we already know about it, and no, it’s not necessarily all that helpful. And no, we can’t invoke some ancient rule from the Magna Carta either.

What I’m sure you actually mean: “I hope you’re able to get financial support, I feel for you. And also you have a nice butt.”

I heard from my mate that you can *insert weird loophole theory* why don’t you try that?

Ah, the magical dance of the loophole.

We are professional business owners. Exploiting loopholes is morally questionable at best, and dodgy as f*** at worst. One of the reasons our students trust us and feel so comfortable coming to us is our professionalism – during this pandemic we have invested a huge amount of time implementing extensive Covid safety policies and a huge amount of money on strict cleaning regimes and equipment. Gym settings have to be one of the most stringent industries around for post Covid secure policies, and as a result studios and gyms are one of the lowest places for Covid transmission. Who is going to risk endangering students and inviting the wrath of the local council and Public Health England because “my mate on Facebook says a girl he went to school with registered her premises as an ambulance so technically she can open as it’s classed as an an emergency”

Stop playing games with our professional business. You’d run a mile if we suggested illegal practice for your business, and we are running a mile from you.

What I’m sure you actually mean: “I know you’re a professional and know what you’re doing. I respect any decisions you make because I’ve seen you come this far and I have faith in you. Also you’re a total badass.”

Can’t you get another job?

Let’s be clear here: we are well aware that we may need to look at other ways to bring in a wage. This is true of everybody, in every industry and every profession. Nobody is above that. But before you suggest this to your friend because, in your opinion, working in the fitness industry is no big deal, just think how you’d feel if someone suggested this to you. To set aside all the work you’ve put into your long term and successful career, your training, experience, promotions you worked so hard for, successes you achieved, networking within your industry, respect of your peers, relationship with your clients… the list goes on. Just because our industry doesn’t sit behind a desk and make deals over board room tables, doesn’t make it any less valid.

The jobs we are currently in are what we have worked towards for years, possibly decades. Dancers, gymnasts and athletes may even have been in training for these roles since we were in school. Our jobs are not typical ones, they are fairly niche specialities, that we work and train for, perfecting techniques, practising, rehearsing, training. Our jobs are our passion. At a time when the nation’s both physical and mental health is so crucial, we take that responsibility to our students very seriously. If we are lucky enough to have made our passion our business and livelihood, please don’t underestimate how hard it is to be told to walk away from that and “just get another job”. It’s not just a job to us. It’s really isn’t. As I’m sure yours isn’t to you.

Additionally, you may have noticed that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, and businesses are losing employees at a high rate, not taking on new ones. What makes you think we can just walk into a new industry in which we have no experience and pick up a new job?

An extra aside here: Please don’t throw around jokes about what you see as menial labour or inferior jobs. Laughingly throwing out comments about oh well, you can always work in McDonald’s/Tesco/sweep the streets/become a stripper is fairly insensitive – a lot of people do those jobs and do them well and with pride, and are keeping the country going. They aren’t a hilarious back up plan for when you can’t do your lovely comfy well paid job.

What I’m sure you actually mean: “I know how much you love your job and your students and how hard you’ve worked to come this far, and I really hope you’re able to keep going. You’ve got this!”

Don’t try to get me into your MLM scheme

Ok no shade here, each to their own and if you are doing well and are happy in your MLM role then power to you. But if you pop up with your “hey babe! How’s it going?!” in my inbox and try to tell me I can make heaps of cash joining your “team” you’ll be taking a long walk with your vitamin pills/magical serums/whatever where you won’t find them for a long time. Extra gross points for trying to exploit the pandemic to make sales – “at times like this it’s even more important to look after your health and boost your immunity with this weight loss tea” thanks hun!!! Now f*** off.

What I’m sure you actually mean: “I wish I could help you, I feel so helpless watching people I care about feel so worried. Please know that I’m thinking of you and trying to be positive. Also did I mention you have a great butt.”

We are all in the same boat. Lots of people have it worse

Saying you can’t be sad or upset about something because other people will always have it worse is like saying you can’t be happy because other people will always have it better. Feeling frustrated, worried, sad or lonely is perfectly valid and we shouldn’t constantly feel like we have to put on a happy face. And no, not everyone is in the same boat. There are lots of boats, a whole flotilla of boats, and some are sinking faster than others. I love a crap extended metaphor as much as anyone, but please stop talking about boats.

What I’m sure you actually mean: feel free to unload on me at any time because I know it’s crap for you. And after we’ve moaned a bit we can have a laugh and hopefully it’ll cheer us up a bit.

Learn to read the room

Maybe despite everything, you’re on a trajectory of joy and success.

Doing well despite the world going to hell? Promotion? Pay rise? Sleeping with Ryan Reynolds? Fantastic! Good for you! That’s great!

But here’s the thing: maybe now is not the time to plaster that all over Facebook in glorious HD Technicolor. To be clear, this is not ragging on people doing well. You deserve that and have worked hard to get there, and as your friends and loved ones we want to celebrate that with you. Truly. Via zoom, if necessary. But a little consideration and compassion for people who are worried about losing everything goes a long way.

What I’m sure you actually mean: “I really want to share my good news with you because you’re a special person in my life and you’re important to me. But I also know it’s ok for you to have a bit of a moan and a mope and maybe I’ll wait until you’ve had a bit of time to do that before I bring this up.”

Tough love

Maybe you are a proponent of tough love. Maybe you think a strong dose of reality is what everyone needs. Maybe you genuinely don’t care about how other people feel or about their opinions of you. In which case, great! Congratulations on your psychopathy bro. I’m sure it’ll stand you in great stead in years to come as your friends slowly stop inviting you to things and you’re left alone. There is absolutely a time and a place for tough love and some stiff upper lip and all that. But ask yourself – is this really what my friend needs right now? More than ever at the this time it’s important to look out for each order, be kind, be caring, be considerate, and be empathetic.

And that, right there, is my positive stance at this moment in time. My students have been amazing, and have adapted to the new rules and regulations and procedures with intelligence and good humour. They have been kind, loyal and supportive, as has this industry and community as a whole. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by such hard working, positive, inspirational and uplifting people both in a work capacity and as my friends.

There is always hope. More than ever, we need to look out for each other, and support each other. Now is the time to get creative with our businesses, and rely on all our knowledge, experience and instinct to get through this. With so many opportunities opening up online, more than ever we can support our instructors and friends by taking their online classes, and supporting our studios.

There are tough times ahead but I know I’m not going through it alone. And THAT is my Brightside.

Bexiita Ackland

Online XPERT Training Courses

With the world on lock down and unable to train in our beloved studios, the XPERT team have been working hard to bring you our new project "XPERT Online". XPERT's ethos is really all about face to face training, as we believe this is the best way to really get the full XPERT experience. However due to us keeping in line with government rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we have postponed all face-to-face training courses until the beginning of May.

To be able to keep training with XPERT,  the team have been working really hard to develop 3 new online training courses for you. We are excited to now offer:
Online Pole Fitness Level 1&2
Online Flexibility Flow
Active IQ Mental Health Awareness

Our online manuals are now available. We've already had a great response. Below are some of the main questions answered.

  1. Time: You can take your time, there is no time limit to the course so do this as and when you feel you want to. Once completed fill in your learner pack and send this back to us.
  2. Once you have registered we will give you access to your account online, including our online videos and our A&P section. You will also receive an email inviting you to a private Facebook group where you can ask for assistance at any time.
  3. Once you have completed the Learner pack send this to us and an instructor will be in touch. Our team are here to help you in any way.
  4. To complete the course you will need to do a written exam and a practical and also attend a live zoom meeting with a trainer.

Face-to-Face Training

5 reasons why face-to-face training will always be my favourite way to learn and train others written by Amy Williams XPERT Trainer.

Two heads are better than one ...... well actually maybe even slightly more than that! I would like to talk about the benefits of face-to-face training.

I have always had a huge passion for learning, but like many others I didn’t discover it until much later in life.

At school I was dyslexic and didn’t know this until later in life due to travelling as a child.

I think it’s one of the reasons why I became passionate about teaching and even more so about becoming an instructor trainer.

I quickly realised along my journey that everybody learns differently, and with face-to-face training everybody can benefit. Regardless of your learning style.

National Pole Dance Day
National Pole Dance Day Pole Cartificate Qualifications
National Pole Dance Day

Tick all the different learning styles - If you’re a visual learner - amazing because you have a living, breathing 3D human to watch and interact with. Maybe you are more detail oriented and like to ask a lot of questions and by having a trainer right there in front of you, you can rapidly begin to understand the topics being covered and if you don’t - you get to ask until you do.

I ALWAYS remind students and instructors that I am teaching, that there is no such thing as a silly question. A good trainer should encourage you to ask as many questions as possible and if they know the answer, GREAT, and if they don’t, they will go and find out for you.

Face-to-face trainings also have atmosphere. You get to meet new people that have the same interests as you at heart. Not only by having more than just you and a teacher, it means we get a whole wealth of experience and knowledge to work with, observe and learn from. You get to see the moves, poses and postures on several different people, rather than just on you or someone on screen or in a textbook, where it can often be tricky to fully understand the true technique of something. This is very important if you are new to teaching as you only truly grow as an instructor when you begin teaching.

Although my very first pole course was different in comparison to what XPERT offer today, there is no way I would have had the confidence to start teaching without it. I love to ask questions so if I had tried to do an online course, life would have got in the way or technology would have failed me and I may have even given up on the whole idea.

I have participated in so many different courses, workshops, certification and seminars over the years, both online and face-to-face. and the ones I have in enjoyed the most are where I have had an instructor present right there in front of me - the great ones will inspire you and make you feel equally at ease but excited to learn.

For me there is no greater feeling than the abundant energy that is always present during face-to-face trainings. We are a hugely excitable passionate bunch of humans and we love to share.

At XPERT we create exciting learning environments where we can bounce off each other to help inspire you to become the greatest instructor you can be. Below are 5 reasons why FACE to FACE learning will always be my favourite:-

  1. Focused engaged learning - Most of us instructors and studio owners have VERY busy lives, and sometimes we can neglect our own professional development in order to help progress and nurture our students. There are just not enough hours in the day and so by booking face-to-face courses, it gives you specific dates and times to make yourself available and fully focused at the task in hand. With face-to-face training there is dedication and much more focus, being organised and prepared to focus on this one area, and with XPERT we have courses in most countries so you can go somewhere convenient and close to home. That being said, we have courses in some AMAZING locations all over the world - London, Oslo, Rome, you can book yourself on to your own mini learning retreat and get some personal growth at the same time! Find a Course
  2. Networking - At face-to-face trainings you are put in a room with likeminded people who share similar goals and passions. You may meet a studio owner, meet a pole idol that you didn’t know about, or find a new training buddy. Sometimes you meet people so like you it’s nice to know you’re not the only one. Every course I teach I see a huge amount of networking and peer level bonding occurring. Often those students keep in contact and you see it grow into wonderful things – you’ve got to love social media!
  3. Atmosphere - You get to meet new people that have the same interests as you at heart. Not only that, but by having more than just you and a teacher on screen, it means we get a whole wealth of experience and humans to work with, observe and learn from. You get to see the moves, poses and postures on several different people, rather than just on you or someone on screen or in a textbook, where it can often be tricky to fully understand the true techniques. This is something that is so important if you are new to teaching as you only truly grow as an instructor when you begin teaching.
  4. Interactive - I ALWAYS remind students and instructors that I am teaching and that they should ask questions. A good trainer should encourage you to ask as many questions as possible. Also, you get to try things first hand, making sure you are executing the correct techniques and visual cue for your students. The interactive nature of XPERT courses also help to solidify your learning, as you are more likely to remember something you have experienced with all your senses rather than just observing from the side lines.
  5. Value - Yep face-to-face trainings are amazing value even though they may often be more expensive, but with XPERT you get the dedicated training dates, online resources which include videos of all the moves we teach you in person, plus all the other things such as manuals, as well as your assessment and feedback in person.

So basically, you get the best of everything, face-to-face, online and written resources, and you can call me biased, but all this is delivered by some of the industry’s best instructors, aerialist and pole dancers.

National Pole Dance Day
National Pole Dance Day
National Pole Dance Day

Why Take a Teacher Training Course

Why an XPERT Pole Fitness Teacher Training Course Could be Right for You written by Lindsey Kimura.

Whether a student looking to deepen your pole and aerial practice or a seasoned instructor, taking a teacher training course is always beneficial.

Training programs set standards for safe and effective instruction and provide a structure and method for helping everyone reach his or her teaching potential. If just starting out, you learn a great deal of new material. If teaching for a while, you receive fresh perspective on teaching and knowledge that complements your current instruction.

When the opportunity to take XPERT arose in 2011, I thought “Nah, I don’t need that. I’ve been teaching for over a year and feel fine with my teaching.” Despite the initial hesitation, however, I decided to take the course and was so glad I did - it was gold!

We learned how to craft spicy and dynamic warm ups, understand muscles and their functionality, use exercise science and anatomical cues in instruction, teach moves in new ways, learn and practice safe spotting, design fluid combos, and utilize constructive feedback. I came away with exciting new warm ups, a larger library of moves, practical ways in which I could be a better teacher, new connections with other participants, and so much more!

Over time the XPERT program has grown tremendously becoming a worldwide brand with trainings in beginner, intermediate and advanced pole, spin pole, aerial hoop, silks, hammock, flexibility, and pole and aerial for youth. XPERT is in over 20 countries, in 7 languages, accredited by top certifying bodies ACE, AFAA, Active IQ, and Fitness Australia, has 1000s of instructors trained, and can be held anywhere in the world. XPERT is far more than a weekend-long teacher training. The knowledge, wisdom, insights, practical applications, and connections gained through the program are invaluable and seep into your teachings forever.

We all have the ability to share our love of pole and aerial by helping others learn. As teachers, we each have strengths and special gifts along with areas in which to grow and develop. The XPERT program provides a structure, system, and elevated standard for becoming the best teacher we can be whether we are just starting out on the journey or are a seasoned professional looking to gain more knowledge and experience!

HFE Interview with Sarah Scott

Master Pole and Aerial Fitness Trainer Sarah Scott Shares Her Thoughts on the Mainstream Success of Pole Dancing

Sarah Scott is an international pole dancing performer and master pole and aerial fitness trainer. Her numerous accolades include 1st Place at the 2012 Miss Pole Dance UK, and 2nd Place at the 2014 World Pole Dance Doubles. She’s also made several, high-profile TV appearances including Sky 1’s A League of Their Own, and gained a huge social following.

Sarah recently spoke to HFE (Health and Fitness Education) and explained why pole dancing has become so popular. She said: “Pole dancing is nothing new, but recently it’s become a lot more mainstream as the fitness world is realising it’s a brilliant way of getting people involved who would otherwise be fearful of the gym environment… (it) helps women get another view of their bodies. It’s not just about losing weight, but about being part of a group and having fun. Most importantly of all, it takes the emphasis off the exercise itself and places it onto the mastering of a technique, which is where the enjoyment and commitment come into play.”

She went on to explain how pole dancing provides an exciting alternative to regular fitness classes: “The other big advantage pole dancing offers is the sense of support… Normally the same people are going to pole classes every week and if someone gets a move they’ve been struggling with then there’s a big round of applause. That sense of group support is hugely motivating and reassuring.”

Sarah also offered some advice for personal trainers looking to get into pole and aerial fitness: “The PT industry can be incredibly competitive, so if possible you really want to carve out your own small niche… The first step is to get certified which they can do through number of providers or gain their qualification with XPERT Pole & Aerial Fitness, which is the only provider to offer the QCF… This qualification has really helped to give the industry credibility and raise the overall standard.”

Read the full interview on HFE’s blog.

About HFE

HFE (Health and Fitness Education) is a leading training provider of personal trainer courses and fitness qualifications. They have recently received an Outstanding Achievement at the ukactive Active training Awards for Best Use of Technology.