Tag Archives: Pon de flo

Top 10 Hobbies

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A lot of people ask me what my FAVORITE hobby has been. I usually answer that piloting a plane was my favorite hobby–and that I’ll be looking to earn my pilot’s license after this year. That’s 100 percent true, but ranking hobbies at all is incredibly difficult, because each one has done an incredible job in helping me to overcome fears, build courage and manage both my mental and physical strength. Additionally–for several of the hobbies, friends joined me–and being able to watch some of them overcome their fears was more often more rewarding than anything else. AND one of my favorite parts of the year outside of the hobbies that I did–was watching a friend complete her own challenge: Tears came to my eyes as Rena completed her 100th Bikram Yoga class in under 100 days. What I can’t drive home any more is that it’s not until we try everything–that we realize just how capable we are of anything. I hope that these posts do nothing more than inspire you.

If I had to answer “the top 10” questions, this is how the activities would play out from 10 to 1 (1 being my absolute favorite):

10. Ziplining 

“At 650 feet in the air going that fast, let me tell you something,  you’re not thinking about falling to your doom–you’re thinking about living. You’re thinking about how free you feel–how amazing of an experience you are having, how you don’t want this 3,200 foot zip to ever end, and how your smile is going to be plastered to your face for the next few days after completing this. No, you aren’t thinking about falling–you aren’t thinking about landing–You are indeed doing nothing but living.”

9. Subway Singing / Dancing

“It’s great to see what makes people really crack a smile.”-Grant Ryan

8. Chess

” The truth is, when a stranger has faith in you—after only moments of knowing you—it is an incredible feeling—and it makes you wonder how you’ve ever doubted yourself.

Checkmate.”

7. Pon De Flo

“Halfway through class, I had a hobby breakthrough: As I began giggling to myself while I messed up another dance move (sorry Heather!), I noticed that I didn’t care if people thought I was America’s next best dancer–I didn’t care if people saw me mess up–and I didn’t care if my right foot accidentally went when my left foot was supposed to. Eventually, I felt tears begin to fill my eyes. I wasn’t in pain–and I wasn’t ready to run out of the room screaming. No, instead the tears had developed because a great amount of pride had come over me. I realized in that moment, that the fears and worries that I had carried with me just 11 months prior had now dissipated completely. While it may sound insignificant when written down, it was one of the highest points of my hobby year, because it had meant that the hobby year was coming full circle–revealing bits and pieces about myself and how far I’d come, without me realizing that it would.”

6. Surfing

“As I surfed closer to shallow waters, I splashed off the board and was congratulated with a nose and mouthful of salt  water. When I surfaced–I fist pumped into the air, and yelled “I did it.” Joel looked at me and smiled from a distance, though I’m not sure he actually heard me with the crashing white waters. But it didn’t matter. I didn’t do this for him–or for anyone else–I did this for myself.”

5. Meditation

I had escaped–I took a quick short vacation, a brief leave from the world. I spent time sitting still in a moment of ultimate calmness. What one could consider a thing of beauty.”

4. Chalking Happiness

“And what I learned most about happiness–aside from where to find it (ahem, again, everywhere): was that much like my chalked out versions of the word: Happiness doesn’t always come in a straight line–in one swoop–or even in one size–but it always, always feels good.”

3. Trapeze

In the end, all that matters is having the courage to jump.”

2. Hang Gliding & Skydiving (tie)

“I open my eyes back up, and I take in the world around me. I don’t want to lose this feeling–this feeling that nothing can knock me down, this feeling of being able to hold the entire world in my arms and hug her tight–this feeling that I am flying–this feeling that I am living. “

I’ve learned this year that the more you let yourself “just do” the less you try to stop yourself–the more you go with your heart’s desires–the more your fears subside–and the more fun you have. And life is supposed to be about having fun.”

1. Piloting a Plane

I enjoyed piloting a plane so much that I just had to do it twice…There is absolutely nothing more freeing than using the plane to paint the canvas of the world down below.

“No fear. No looking back. No hesitation. I was–and still am–on top of the world.”

“I don’t believe that I’ve ever taken on a challenge of such great magnitude before–one that set me off into the world to tackle my fears, overcome my personal issues, and become an all around go-getter. This flight, now, gave me the time to see that.”

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The Hobby Hoarder Ziplines

The Hobby Hoarder Dances her Pants off

The Hobby Hoarder Flies a Plane

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Pon De FLO DVD

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Pon De FLO DVD

A lot of people ask me if there are any hobbies I have stuck with since starting The Hobby Hoarder. The answer is yes and I am proud to say that one of the hobbies I have kept up with is a Caribbean Reggae dance-based fitness class called Pon De FLO. I’ve noted this before, throughout the blog, but I’ll say it again: I didn’t go to group dance classes for years because I never felt comfortable–I never felt at ease–I never felt like I could do it. That all changed with Pon De FLO.

Many of the dance classes I tried throughout the hobby year were stepping stones in getting comfortable with being in a group dance class. But Pon De FLO quickly became more than a stepping stone–it became a ROCK–Just like the way good friends help us find balance and stability in our lives, Pon De FLO did the same for me–and continues to do the same for me.

I recently wrote about how The Hobby Year helped me to find balance in a world that I constantly felt held down in. This class has played a significant role in finding that balance and in surrounding myself with positive people who continue to help me find that balance. And to be honest, FLO has become more than a once in a while class for me–it’s become a routine, a habit–my go to. I’ve even started scheduling a lot of my hobby nights around the Pon De FLO schedule.

This isn’t your average dance class. The non-verbal cued choreography forces you to build endurance, stamina and strength through 60 or 90 minutes of high energy cardio that includes an abundance of burpees, pushups, sit-ups and squats. Additionally, the class challenges you to escape from everything that’s bothering you, from a day that came with more stress than you expected, and from the negative aspects of life that are just holding you down. FLO asks you to step up, look at yourself in the mirror, connect with yourself, and disappear into dance–to let it all go and for a brief time–just FLO.

 There are only two rules in FLO–just stop thinking–and just keeping dancing.

Beyond the workout, Pon De FLO is a community of positive passionate individuals who WANT to be in class– who love the burn they feel after a burpee song, and crave for the feeling the way their body sizzles after an intense set of pushups. And when the burpees, the pushups, the sit-ups, the squats, and the booty shaking is done, those positive, passionate individuals carry on their friendships with one another outside the studio classrooms.

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Because of the upbeat community of friends I have made through the class, the kick ass work outs, and the positive energy and passion for the dance class fueled by founder Heather Fay, I have found myself absolutely addicted to a group fitness based dance class.

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 Currently, Pon De FLO is based in New York City, but it is the hope and goal of their team to begin expanding the niche dance class nationally and globally.

This past week, the team launched their Kickstarter to fund a professional fitness based DVD so that people all over can do Pon De FLO from the comfort of their own home.

If you have a dollar or ten to spare, I hope you’ll consider donating to the cause–and if not, I hope you’ll spread the word.

AND lastly, if you are in the New York City area, I definitely recommend taking a class.
I’ll even treat you.

 

Pon De FLO might just change your life–I know it has definitely changed mine.

Choreographing a Better Life

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If someone had told me two years ago that I’d nearly be spinning in circles on my head, swinging around a pole, getting jazzy with it, or frequenting a fitness based Caribbean reggae dance class three-four times a week by the year 2013, i would have laughed in their face. Two years ago, I was the girl who walked out of Zumba classes because she couldn’t follow the steps of the instructor and felt too embarrassed to go on. Two years ago, I was the girl who judged herself against the professional dancers and professional fitness instructors in infomercials who appeared flawless. Two years ago, I was the girl who didn’t give herself a chance to last through a dance class because she had given up before she had even stepped up.

The truth is that long before those Zumba classes, I had deemed myself incapable of breaking it down to a steady beat. I had thrown in the towel. I was ready to enroll in therapy for the choreographically challenged–to stand up and say–no wait–YELL,  “Hello, my name is Libby and I can’t dance.”

What I didn’t realize two years ago was that by not giving myself a fair shot–or the classes themselves a fair shot, I was holding myself back. And the truth is that too often, that’s what we do: We give up amazing opportunities before we even give them a chance, and in the end we only hold ourselves back. 

So what exactly was I holding myself back from? I was holding myself back from learning to love dance–I was holding myself back from learning to love the way my body moves when I just let it–I was holding myself back from being free and I was holding myself back from…well…put simply–I was holding myself back from learning. And I LOVE learning. I always have. 

I recently had an epiphany, and when I say epiphany, I mean a full-on lightbulb popped over the head, type of epiphany.

As I swung left, and stutter stepped right in a class last week, I realized:

“Oh my goodness. Dance has taught me a lot this year…and by a lot…I mean: Dance could be a life coach.” 

The epiphany itself nearly knocked me off my feet.

So after class I decided to sit and compile the five biggest lessons that dance has taught me not just in terms of dance…But also in terms of the bigger picture: Life.  After reading through, I hope you’ll share some of your favorite life lessons you’ve learned through the activities you’re most passionate about.

Here goes:

1. No one is judging you. Well-Okay maybe one person is. And that’s you. But you shouldn’t be. Getting to the class in the first place is something to be proud of. Getting up and out to do ANYTHING you set your mind to is something to be proud of, especially when the weather–or our moods–or our mind is telling us otherwise.

Pole Dancing

2.  There isn’t an exactness to everything you do. In dance, if the teacher is getting her JLO on and you want to get your Beyonce on during a booty shake then by all means get your Beyonce on. Or men if you want to shake it like Michael when the teacher’s getting down like JT–then just do it. Add YOUR flavor. Just whatever you do–own it. Same goes for life: Own EVERYTHING you do–and never–EVER–stop.

3. Do it wrong. So I cheated on this one. I took this lesson from not just dance class but acting class as well. Do it all wrong. We learn from our mistakes. Our muscles learn from our mistakes. And questions are okay – no wait–they are great. Sure, teachers love flash mobs of amazingness but they don’t teach so that perfectionists come in. They teach because they want people to learn, they want people to get excited about being imperfect sometimes, they want people to embrace their passion. Part of the fun of a class –ANY class– is working your way up. Part of the fun of any challenge you take on in life is getting knocked down and feeling the sense of pride in getting back up.

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4. “When you assume. You make an a…” We all know the saying. We can’t judge a class–or a situation in life– before we even step foot in it. Not only does it reinforce any stereotypes or preconceived notions we have about the class/activity/event, but it also holds us back from possibly finding something we are truly passionate about. Prior to the hobby year, not only had I convinced myself that I wasn’t a dancer–but I had convinced myself I wasn’t fit for group  classes at all–that I didn’t fit the “look.” You know the “look” I am talking about–the look it seems that all the people have who participate in infomercials for the latest Zumba videos or aerobics dvds. The men are shirtless and ripped; the women are in sports bras and spandex–chiseled. That belief I concocted from stupid infomercials was wrong. In each and every dance class I’ve participated in this past year, people of all sizes and of all attire are taking part. People of all sizes and all attire are having a really amazing time. I choose to rock my college field hockey shorts and a white T. Cause that’s comfy–and cause that’s me. (And sometimes me –and sometimes comfy is a tiger suit–see last picture on the page).

5. The most important lesson of ALL. Just freaking dance like no one is watching. Please, I beg you. Refer back to number 1: no one is watching. The world is a wide open dance floor just waiting for you to dance on through, to make your art–to make your life.  So go on. Yes YOU…YOU and even YOU.. Dance. Dance. Dance.

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Motivational Soundtrack: Heather Fay

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“I feel so high – Like if I could fly
I feel so free – so free to be me
I wanna go up – I wanna get down
This feeling can’t stop – So put your hands up
I said put your hands up!”
-Machel Montano

A lot of people ask me if there are any hobbies that I have stuck with post-initial hobby year. The answer is, “Yes–a few.” And in fact, the one I’ve returned to the most is the fitness-based Caribbean reggae dance class called Pon De FLO And there are three simple reasons why I keep coming back:

 The freedom to be free and to dance, the kick-ass music, and last but certainly not least–I find myself coming back to the class because of the supportive and upbeat founder and teacher of Pon De FLO: Heather Fay.

But Heather is not just the Pon De FLO founder, instructor, and choreographer–she is a bright and motivational force, inspiring her classes of newbies and pro-floer’s to leave the negative vibes at the door, to stop thinking and to just dance. There is doubt in my mind that her vibrant energy and positive attitude is what keeps not only me but a number of her students coming back for MULTIPLE classes each week.

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Last week, when I asked “hobby coaches” to submit a motivational song for a blog post, I knew I had to ask Heather. But when I asked her–Heather didn’t submit just one song–she submitted a whole album of them.

She told me that her list of motivational songs could go on and on and then added why the songs motivate her:

“These songs motivate me because they all have the underlying motivation of living for today, enjoying life, and being true to yourself.”

She continued:

“The songs are also a reminder that no matter how hard life gets or how bad someone hurts you, you can dig deep within yourself and push forward because right when you feel you want to give up and throw in the towel–is when your story is born.”

What do you think? Are any of these on your motivational soundtrack? I know they’ve definitely been added to mine:

“Waiting for the End” – Linkin Park

“Written in the Stars” – Tinie Tempah ft Eric Turner

“Move Along” – The All-American Rejects

“Just like Heaven” – The Cure

“Living on the Edge” – Aerosmith

“Fly so High” – Machel Montano

“Simple Song” – Konshens

“Advantage” – Machel Montano

New York City Dance Parade

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Just a week ago, I mentioned that my pre-hobby anxiety before going to CrossFit was at an all-time high. I was worried what people would think of me, if I would be too weak, and if I would fail miserably. As I noted in the blog post—there clearly had been nothing to really worry about, but that didn’t mean that my pre-hobby anxiety never existed.

However, this week my pre-hobby anxiety was at an all time low. The only thing I felt going into this week’s hobby was excitement—pure and wonderful excitement. This week I was doing something totally novel, totally unique, and totally awesome. This week, I was doing the  7th Annual New York City Dance Parade!

I’ve watched the dance parade a number of times over the last few years. The key word in that sentence is “watched.” I should have never been watching…I should have been shimmying and shaking right along!

And not only was I signed up to do the 7th Annual New York City Dance Parade, I was signed up to break it down with the crew that won my heart on January 6—the Pon De FLO crew!

A note: Prior to the hobby year, I’ve written that dancing for me in public was difficult—especially in group       classes. A long time ago, I deemed myself choreographically challenged and found myself walking out of dance classes: I couldn’t get comfortable. I couldn’t keep up. I couldn’t smile and have fun—when that’s all I wanted to do at all–well get fit–but also–just have fun. During the hobby year I took several dance classes including pole dancinghip-hop, jazz, and tap.  And in June, I took part in a flash mob. Finally—dancing in large groups of people was becoming fun.

Then I took Pon de FLO  at the DANY Studio.  And I had an epiphany—dance wasn’t just fun. It was exciting. It was freeing. For the first time in a dance class, REALLY—the first time—I felt comfortable—comfortable to be me—comfortable to be free—comfortable to FLO!

So when Pon de FLO posted on their Facebook page that they were looking for participants to join for the 2013 New York City Dance Parade, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t want to be cheering from the sidelines—I didn’t want to be restricted by some barricade. I wanted to be shaking my hips, stomping my feet, and breaking it down freely—I wanted to be in the parade, and I wanted it to be with the Pon De FLO troupe.

Prior to the parade, we had two rehearsals. While my opportunities to take the class since first jumping in at the beginning of the year had been limited due to my own scheduling conflicts, the group of men and women ready to move and groove down Boadway was quick to welcome me into their crew, for the parade, with open arms.

As I sat down in our first rehearsal and Heather (Founder of Pon De FLO) started telling us the details of the parade, I felt a smile spread wildly across my face. “This is freaking awesome,” I thought to myself. “FREAKING AWESOME.” I got so excited that when I left rehearsal I started sending texts to people that I hoped they could come out and support. Whether I looked good shaking my hips or I looked ridiculous, I wanted people to know that I was proud of my group and that I was extremely proud of my decision to dance in the parade at all.  I wanted people to want to dance too.

When I woke up on the day of the parade, I woke up with a smile on my face. And as I threw on my Pon De Flo shirt that Heather made for each of us, and as I buckled my fanny pack (yes, fanny pack), I began to two-step through the living room. “Gosh…the power of dance,” I thought. “Whew.”

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Upon arriving at our group’s meeting place, I could feel the positive energy already FLOwing ;). Everyone was decked out in the yellow, purple, and green Pon De FLO gear. Everyone was chatting—smiling—laughing—gearing up. I began introducing myself to a lot of the people I hadn’t met yet, grabbed coffee with a fellow flo-er, and warmed up for the parade by shaking it out to the music that was blasting out of our speakers which sat on top of our sponsor, Wicked Willy’s bike. Gracefully, I swayed my hips with one of my groupies to the sounds of reggae; freely, I busted a move to the sounds of Call Me Maybe as it blared out of a set of speakers. I guess it was Pop-De-Flo momentarily 😉

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Not before long, I bravely took my place in our groups formation. Patiently, we waited to begin moving along the route, and as we turned our first corner onto Broadway, from 21st street—a smile expanded across my face—the same smile that I felt form at the first rehearsal—this one, however, was even bigger. And as we began to choreograph our way towards Astor Place and then St. Thompkins Square, I laughed to myself: “Two years ago, I was sitting behind the barricades, thinking I could never be in the parade. Now look at me—I’m making moves like Beyonce at the Super Bowl.”

The truth is two years ago, I was sitting behind the barricades thinking I would never have the courage to dance in the parade. Sure I’ve danced at parties or at bars/clubs when my friends have gone out—maybe at some karaoke—but never, before this past year, did I believe in myself enough to partake in such magnitude of an event.

Honestly, nothing can describe the feeling of being able to dance so freely down Broadway in New York City. Nothing can describe the feeling of being able to forget what you look like—to forget what other people might be thinking of you; to feel accepted, so quickly, in a group of people who really just met you one night prior. Nothing can describe the feelings and emotions that overwhelmed my stomping feet or my shaking hips, my body—or the feelings and emotions that overwhelmed my heart.

What an amazing parade—what an amazing day.

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     Photo Courtesy Pon De FLO

Pon De FLO

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“You made it through!”

My new friend Jimmy laughs and takes a sip of his water as our Pon De Flo class comes to an end. I giggle, “Yes I did. That was a lot of fun!”

As some may remember, I kicked off the year by taking two group dance classes–pole dancing and hip hop.

On both occasions, I brought a set of nerves with me. With pole dancing, I was hoping to overcome difficulties accepting my self-image, and with hip-hop I was just trying to overcome the fear of being judged in a group setting. The truth is that prior to this year, group dance classes scared, for lack of a better term, the shit out of me. On a scale of 1-10, my fear of group dance classes ranked around an 8 or 9. To put that into perspective–when i jumped out of an airplane, my fear level was around a 1.5.

I always worried that I’d be judged for stepping the wrong way in Zumba–or for not wearing the right “dance attire,” (please see jazz dance to see what I mean). So if my friend, Tory of LIfe Vest Inside, had suggested the dance craze Pon De Flo before this year, I am pretty sure my response would have been “Pon De NO!” But instead, I jumped at the opportunity for another dance class.

(Sidenote: Pon De FLO is a combination of Caribbean and reggae dance that requires a willingness to have fun!).

As I arrived at Ripley Grier for the 3:00 class with Heather Fay, I didn’t think twice. I slid off my sweat pants to reveal my Princeton field hockey shorts and grabbed a spot on the floor. I looked around and noticed that this class had attracted a great diversity of people. There were men. There were women. And there were people of all sizes, smiling and getting prepped for the next hour and a half of high energy dance. ‘People must really love this,’ I thought to myself. And for a few minutes, I decided to mingle with some of the veterans.

“Get ready to sweat a lot,” said one. “You’ll definitely get hot,” added another. “Just go with the flow,” mentioned Jimmy.

Before I knew it we were flowing right along. “Left, right, left, right, shimmy, left, right, left, right, shimmy.” I kept reciting what Heather was doing in front of the class, in my head. I moved my hips every which way, bounced my booty, and waved my arms. About a quarter of the way through the class, Heather told everyone to move up a bit because the people in the last row didn’t have room. As a member of the last row, I joked, “It doesn’t matter, it’s not like I know what I am doing quite yet anyway.” My back row companions laughed along with me. Just a year prior, I’d be too scared to even speak to another person in a group dance class. Now I was making friends.

A few minutes later, when a step caused us to turn around, forcing me to suddenly be a part of the front row  of the class, I momentarily panicked. However, instead of losing my composure, I just began to bust a move and hope it was right. I can definitely tell you this much: It did not look graceful–but it didn’t matter: It was very easy to see that no one was judging me–not even myself.

I didn’t realize this of course until half way through the class when I had an epiphany–or a hobby breakthrough: As I began giggling to myself while I messed up another dance move (sorry Heather!), I noticed that I didn’t care if people thought I was America’s next best dancer–I didn’t care if people saw me mess up–and I didn’t care if my right foot accidentally went when my left foot was supposed to. Eventually, I felt tears begin to fill my eyes. I wasn’t in pain–and I wasn’t ready to run out of the room screaming. No, instead the tears had developed because a great amount of pride had come over me. I realized in that moment, that the fears and worries that I had carried with me just 11 months prior had now dissipated completely. While it may sound insignificant when written down, it was one of the highest points of my hobby year, because it had meant that the hobby year was coming full circle–revealing bits and pieces about myself and how far I’d come, without me realizing that it would.

After clearing out my eyes, I came back to the present moment and realized that the moves were much faster now. I laughed some more. “Just keep dancing like no one is watching, Libs,” I thought to myself. Then I shook it out. “This feels pretty freaking good.”

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http://www.pondeflo.com

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