I was the last kid picked in gym class. Now I can catch things.

Posted on January 11, 2015 by

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Poi Fire Dancing Lessons

Artist: GlitterGirl
Photo: Don Albonico

As a kid, I stumbled around a lot. For whatever reason, I was really just two left uncoordinated feet. That meant tripping on things all the time, lots of bruises on my legs, bumping into the things, not being great at tossing or catching a ball and often, being picked last in gym class. I was excited when it was 3rd to last.

It wasn’t that I didn’t apply myself. I genuinely tried in each and every sport. I just wasn’t that good at any of them quickly and when you don’t practice, you don’t get better. The truth was, I was terrible at throwing and only slightly better at catching a ball.

I’m not exactly sure when that changed, but it did.

When I first started poi (4/2000), I did it as a sort of rehabilitation for my hands and arms. In my late 20’s/in the late 90’s, I woke up one day unable to lift a glass because I no longer was able to get my hands to grip things. I would tell my muscles to do something they had done the day before but suddenly, they couldn’t. I was terrified.

I was diagnosed with tendonitis in the arms and hands caused by repetitive motion with typing and piano. My issue originated in the neck, upper back and upper arm but the symptoms showed most severely in the forearms and hands. I wore braces, did massage, acupuncture, took supplements, changed my diet, rested, and, sadly, quit playing piano which was one of the two primary causes. My doctor said to me, “You can either play piano or you can type but you’re going to have to give up one of them.” Since I made my money using computers, gone was piano, though you can check out a small selection of my piano music on Soundcloud.

The doctors and physical therapists told me it takes 9 months to heal one inch of nerve. There are several nerves going from the base of the neck to the hand and there’s they are over 20 inches long which means over 15 years of healing. I started poi 2.5 years after getting RSI and I began using it as a rehabilitative practice, though several months later, got into a 4 car head on collision that only triggered the RSI as I added more back problems to the equation.

When I first started poi, I didn’t have enough strength to use much weight at all. I’ve been working hard since 2000 to rehabilitate my hands and arms. The daily practice I’ve had for 26 months now has been a tremendous help in this process. My downward dogs are stronger, my wrists are rarely in pain and I am finally able to grip my poi enough that I started working on tosses in May after the 2014 Expo. Here I am with far more grip strength 15 years into my practice and it feels good to be doing something I couldn’t do before.

Po iFire Dancing LessonAfter several frustrating takes, this is the first one where I was able to freestyle and get through a song with tosses where there are no drops. 37 tosses and catches in all — something amazing for me to consider, reflecting back on those young years in school being laughed at by the athletic kids.

Sure, this video is not nearly as embodied as I’d prefer and I can definitely see where I’m thinking. Furthermore, it’s soooooo many reels — which isn’t bad but it’s quite limited and not really my most advanced technique. Beyond that, the tosses are still something I think about so they aren’t quite flowing yet.

Apart from all those areas of improvement, I’m quite pleased with the fact that I was able to get through a whole track and was so surprised it happened at the end I was almost dazed as I raised my arms in victory because I had failed a good 15 times before to get through these 3 minutes.

I’m excited to see where the next year takes me as I dive deeper into tosses which I finally took on in my poi practice 14 years after starting poi and countless hours rehabilitating my arm. I’ll come back to this song again and do another toss video where I’ll hopefully be dancing more too.

Enjoy.

Clothing: Foompa Designs
Song: Keep On Dancing remixed by GlitterGirl
LED Tool: PodPoi
Beginner poi lessons: an organized 5+ hour poi series now on sale for 70% off (only $30) through this link.