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Full Time Pole Star: Jordan Kensley

By on June 15, 2018

As part of our series on Full Time Pole Stars, we interview various stars on the business of being a pole star. For this installment, we talk to the lovely Jordan Kensley.

Describe your daily routine? How long to you spend training in the studio or gym and how long to you spend at a computer doing the administrative stuff?

My daily routine changes weekly. But I weekly have classes on Mondays/Thursdays and body work on Tuesday and Wednesday. I don’t teach on the weekends because I’m usually dancing either for a gig or at a club. The computer work is always with me on my phone. I try to update my website about once a month, and I’ll take a lot of random time to be on social media to stay engaged. Training is hard for me. I actually train best when I’m on tour somewhere with a bit extra time. Otherwise I tend to train randomly when I’m not running off to the next thing.

Do you work with any other service professionals to help with the stuff you’re not good at or don’t like? Such as accounting, social media, tour scheduling?

I absolutely have an accountant, I personally believe everyone should unless they specifically went to school for it. There are so many random write offs that I wouldn’t know about if I tried to do this myself and it just wouldn’t be a good use of my time. I also have an amazing tour manager: Alanatis of Alanatis Bohlen Management. She is my shining light and has helped me so much with the administrative side of touring. I tried doing it myself and just couldn’t keep up with answering back in a timely manner, which I feel is important and professional. And for bodywork I just started training with Sara Shay for Pilates. She’s an amazing pole dancer who just moved to LA from SF and has great body awareness and understanding- she’s helping me find the mobility weaknesses in my body that are there from years of performing and training one-side dominant.

Broadly, can you describe your income streams and frequency? For instance, do you make a regular salary at a studio + some merchandise sales? Or does all your income come in batches like from doing a tour?

Oh gosh, my income changes weekly, monthly. I make a small salary from my regular classes, and occasional shoots, and private lessons. But most of my income comes from dancing in a club/gig setting or from touring. I’m also becoming a body worker myself, and taking on a small number of clients for my structural integration practice, which is something I’m hoping to grow in the future.

How do you manage your daily/monthly budget?

I make sure to have the money I need weekly set aside for body work, and about an additional $100 for food/coffee/etc for the week. The rest of my money goes straight to either my bank account or paying off my cc (something I try to do monthly).

Are you saving for retirement?

I’m absolutely saving for retirement! You should too! Though, I wish I was saving a lot more when I had a regular person job as well as my dancing gigs. I’d have a lot more had I prepared myself then. And many people had told me to do so but…. Agent Provocateur was just so pretty.

Do you have a partner, spouse, parent, roommate or other person that helps you? With meeting your budget, acting as support “staff,” or other?

I do have a partner who helps with the household things. We split everything pretty evenly, though not always at the same time. I personally believe that relationships are not always going to be 50/50 because that gives no leeway for life to happen. And if you’re going to be with someone for better/worse than your responsibilities should reflect that too. So if I’m having a bad week, they’ll pick up dinner or groceries or vice versa, if i’m having a better week.

If you had another job before – what do you miss about it?

I used to work with horses, and that’s what I miss. Those animals are so empathetic and kind and just incredibly beautiful creatures. I don’t miss most of the people though; for as pro-feminism and pro-equality and just in  general pro-social justice/change I am, everyone I worked with was the opposite. The environment was extremely toxic and put me into a severe depression for the last year of my job. I was willing to do anything but that job by the time I quit, and thankfully I was making more dancing than I was working so I cut my costs down and made the jump. I’ll never go back.

Are you worried at all about longevity of your career? And of your body?

I’m a planner so I’m always thinking ahead. I started going to school for my ‘backup career’ in structural integration. This is a type of body work that specializes in myofascia and connective tissue health, and is something I believe truly helps bodies of all abilities. So my current plan is to teach pole as long as I can, and to incorporate this career once I graduate, slowly exchanging one for the other. I’m planning this because I absolutely worry about the longevity of my body and my friends bodies & of pole as a career on a whole. I think we as a community, myself included, need to start taking physio and small movement training, and proper mobility training (active flexibility and functional range mobility) more seriously to avoid injury from training habits, overuse. I’m constantly getting body work and trying to find new ways for injury prevention to help my body and I take breaks when it asks for them. I understand needing money, especially as an independent contractor, but I find that taking the time I need is far better than taking the job and being injured longer. I also have made a decision to only teach higher difficult levels for my workshops, as I find teaching regularly scheduled group classes is difficult since the range of abilities can be so varied, and not every move will work for every body. I prefer teaching basics and conditioning techniques to help my students grow in a balanced way, even if it might not seem as exciting as learning the newest trick.

What is your self-care and recovery regime?

I value my body and I spend the money to care for it accordingly. I receive acupuncture weekly, chiropractic work only when needed (no more than once a month if that), and a more specific-to-my-body form of structural integration weekly. I also try to take at least one day a month to go to a spa that has a hot tub and cold tub and do about 3hours of cycling between the two to help my body’s recovery time. I also incorporate physical therapy exercises into my class warm ups, so my students and I both get that cross training, and I just started taking pilates with another aerialist who understands what I do, and can see the areas I need work on (either to strengthen within my flexibility range or improving functional mobility within the areas that are overly developed). I also take at least two days off a week from any form of movement other than basic stretching to give my body a way to recover. I also try not to completely eat like shit, though if my partner brings home NuttyBuddy Bars…. Those things are gone in a matter of days, but I don’t judge myself for that indulgence. I enjoy it and move on to the next day.

Have you ever been injured? How did that affect your career?

Yes, my first injury was during my baby stages, and I had a minor tear in my surpaspinatus (rotator cuff) from doing an elbow grip iguana mount. I had the flexibility but not the stability within my shoulders for this move and when I went to the doctor, he dismissed it without taking it seriously. I continued training on it because that’s what I thought was expected of me.  I’ve also fallen twice, both during a performance. The first time was during a doubles act, I fell from the top of the pole because I missed my regroup and partially dislocated my left shoulder (yay), when my body released from the shock my shoulder fully dislocated and I had to get a cortisol shot after having a dr put it back in. Since then the scar tissue that built up from those injuries has created imbalances in my left shoulder range of motion, and ‘pulling’ abilities. I also fell in 2015, off spin pole, during a competition, onto my back. This fall shocked my body into a state of emergency and the neuromuscular connection  in my lumbar extensors and flutes were no longer firing as a way to protect my spine (from what dr’s told me, firing them caused inflammation and my muscles to pull my spinal column out of place and so my body reprogrammed itself), and would instead fire up my QL-PSoas-Hamstrings to do the work my back and butt should’ve been doing. It’s taken me almost 3 years to get those muscles back ‘online’ and I went from being a more natural back bender to a splitter. I actually have minimal straight-back bend, and usually ‘fake it’ with my transverse movement (my twisted back bend). This changed my career the most. It prevented me from doing a lot of what I used to do and changed the way my body moved, and found flexibility. I became aware of the ballistic abilities my body has, and use them to fire up my flexibility. This is another issue I’m working on with pilates and my phsyio exercises, and body work. Slowly but surely It’s getting back to where it was, and hopefully will be on the road to bendiness again.

Is there anything you wish you knew before you started on this road?

That training both sides actually matters, and that taking the cross-training more seriously would’ve helped me a lot more, both to develop movement awareness and movement abilities.

Anything else you’d like to share with someone who is thinking of making the leap to being a full time pole-fessional (teacher, touring teacher, other)?

Make sure you have a savings and a back up plan before you cut ties to that regular-paycheck-world. It’s not as easy as it looks. And schedule time for training and for admin work and relaxation weekly. Treat all parts of this new life just as importantly as your money making parts or you’ll lose your drive and inspiration. Work with your studio owners, and find a way to communicate your needs, and be open to theirs!! You’re teaching the clients but they’re giving you space- this is a symbiotic relationship! And that relationship will become more stressful if you either take advantage of the owners or if you feel taken advantage of. Learn to communicate with understanding without diminishing yourself.

Also, price yourself accordingly! Look at your surroundings/area, ask others what they charge and then price accordingly. As someone starting out, you shouldn’t be making as much as someone with more knowledge/experience but you also shouldn’t slash your prices too much because it hurts the industry as a whole; you’re time/effort/experience is valuable, don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise. This goes for classes, privates, gigs, tours- basically anything with money.

Finally, continue to learn! Research for yourself, take trainings, go to workshops and try out different modalities. Some will work for you and not others but you can use those experiences for your students and help them, and yourself, with the newfound knowledge.

 

 

 

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Colleen Jolly
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Colleen Jolly

is AFAA and elevatED certified pole dance enthusiast and entrepreneur. She has been poling for six years, runs and owns the International Pole Convention (PoleCon), teaches pole and lyra in the DC metro area at FIT4Polers and MyBodyShop, and is a partner and instructor with 123Poling.com. She loves performing, regularly competes, and lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two kitties.
Colleen Jolly
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