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How to become a Pole Dance Instructor in Australia

How to become a Pole Dance Instructor in Australia

This post is for those of you who've been doing pole for a while and feel like part of the family at your pole studio. It's for all the polers who are proud of the progress they have made, and want to help other people achieve that same feeling of success. This is...

PoleSphere Review

PoleSphere Review

2020 has been a strange year. The world has changed, and the way we train has changed with it. Without access to pole studios, many polers rushed to buy home poles, only to find themselves at a loss for what and how to train. Luckily, there are a number of online pole...

Share the love and support your home studio or fave pole brand

Share the love and support your home studio or fave pole brand

Welcome to the Australian Pole Directory! I can't tell you how excited I am that you're here! This website was my #isoproject, my way to be connected to the pole industry while we were all effectively confined to our homes, as well as being my way to help support and...

An Interview with Nikki McLennan of Lioness Photography

An Interview with Nikki McLennan of Lioness Photography

A few weeks ago, while I was still in the process of preparing the Australian Pole Directory for launch, I started chatting online to Nikki McLennan of Lioness Photography. We made a connection, and decided to have a chat - we've both been around the block a few times...

How to choose a pole for home use

How to choose a pole for home use

It's an exciting day for you - you've decided to buy a pole for home! You've started shopping around, and you've realised that it's not as straightforward as "just buying a pole". After a quick google search, you're overwhelmed, asking yourself:  Should I buy a pole...

BREAKING NEWS: X-Pole Australia shipping/delivery delays.

BREAKING NEWS: X-Pole Australia shipping/delivery delays.

UPDATE 22/06/2020: X-Pole Australia has received their shipment, approximately 1 month later than expected. They are in the process of preparing the orders to be sent out, and have reminded people who are waiting on their deliveries that it can take 7-10 days from...

How to pole safely at home, and avoid ending up on PoleLOLs: an interview with The Pole Doctor, Toby J Monson.

by | Oct 10, 2020 | Pole Products, Pole Services | 0 comments

If you’re a home poler, or you’re planning to purchase a pole for home, this is possibly the most important article you will ever read. It’s a comprehensive guide to just about everything you need to know to make sure that your pole is a safe and secure piece of equipment in your home, direct from Toby J. Monson, champion pole and aerial athlete, certified rigger, and The Pole Doctor.

Let’s try and avoid ending up on PoleLOLs!

Who is Toby J. Monson?

Toby is a professional aerialist, and you may already be familiar with him as one half of the elite pole and aerial duo Suzie Q & Toby J, or as The Pole Doctor. He’s been a massive part of the Australian Pole industry for more than 10 years. Suzie and Toby have won multiple national and international doubles titles, and in 2012, they brought pole and aerials more into the mainstream when they competed and became finalists on Australia’s Got Talent.

As well as his successful career as a professional aerialist, Toby is a certified rigger, a welder and Australia’s most well-known pole installation expert. He installs, services and maintains the poles for most Aussie studios on the east coast of Australia, works closely with both X-Pole and Pussycat Poles, the 2 most reputable pole brands for Aussie polers, and as The Pole Doctor, he makes house calls and offers telehealth consults for installation, maintenance and repairs of home poles all over the country.

If there is one person in all of Australia who is most qualified to offer advice about safe home pole installation and maintenance, it’s Toby. I am so delighted to have had the opportunity to chat with him and share his knowledge.

Jump to section:

Is it safe to install your home pole yourself? Or should you have a tradie or a professional like yourself come out?

In a nutshell, Toby said that it depends. If you have a concrete or wooden beam ceiling, you can put the pole up yourself, with one caveat. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. If you have a suspended ceiling, you will not be able to safely mount the pole yourself. Here’s what he had to say:

“Um, I don’t want to lose all my work, but no, you don’t need me to come out. It is totally possible to put up a pressure mounted pole on your own, as long as you have some understanding.

“First off, read the instructions. Read them really really well. The number of people that don’t read the instructions and don’t actually put the pole up correctly, even with having those instructions there, blows my mind. It absolutely blows my mind.

“The big thing that is always the most important part is knowing your ceiling. What kind of ceiling do you have? It used to be that ceilings were quite standard. They were either a concrete ceiling in apartments and flats, or they were wooden beam ceilings with either gyprock or plaster on them for houses. If you’ve got one of those two, super easy.

“Concrete is definitely easy. You can stick (the pole) up wherever you want.

“Wooden beams, you just have to make sure you’re on one of those beams. There’s lots of ways you can check. You can tap, you can push, you can use a stud finder. I always recommend sticking your head up in the attic space. Open up the manhole, climb up in there and see which way the beams are running so that when you use the stud finder or tap, you know you’re on the right thing. Then as long as you have centred that pole on that beam, you’re going to be pretty solid. 

“Over the last 10 year, most flats are being built with a suspended gyprock ceiling. It’s the equivalent of those false office ceilings. It’s like a metal grid hanging on wires from the concrete, and the gyprock is attached to that metal grid. They’re really great from a construction side of things because now you can run all of your electrical, your ducted air conditioning, everything in that cavity, that space between the concrete and the gyprock. But as soon as you try to push a pole up on it, you’ll never get enough pressure or resistance to make that pole stay standing solid.

If you’ve got a suspended gyprock ceiling, don’t put the pole up.

“I’ve figured out ways to do it, but I have to cut a hole about 150x100mm in the gyprock, fill that space, reinforcing it with wood, and then put it back together. It’s not simple, It’s a 3-hour job for me after figuring out how to do it over multiple, multiple poles. Just putting one up on a suspended gyprock ceiling using normal pressure, it’s not safe. It’s going to come down, 100%.”

How do I know if I have a suspended Gyprock ceiling?

Toby shared with me the list of questions he uses to try and figure out if someone has a suspended gyprock ceiling:

  1. Do you live in an apartment or a house? If you live in a house, you’re pretty much good to go. Houses typically have wooden beam construction. If you live in an apartment, we move to the next question.
  2. Do you have another unit above you or do you have the roof space above you? If you have another apartment, you will most likely have concrete (however there could still be a suspended ceiling hanging from it). If you have the roof space above you, it could be a wooden beam situation.
  3. Do you have down lights? Down lights will tell me that it’s gyprock, because you don’t put down lights into concrete.
  4. Do you have ducted air? As soon as somebody says they’ve got ducted air, I know it’s a suspended ceiling.

“If you want to confirm/guarantee it, grab one of those little downlights and pull it out. Stick your phone up there and take a video. What you’ll see is the metal grid and everything hanging and suspended up there.”

A suspended gyprock ceiling with have a similar appearance to this image, sourced from https://www.rondo.com.au/products/ceilings/

I have a suspended gyprock ceiling and I rent. Does that mean I can’t have a pressure mounted pole?

If you’re in the situation that you’ve got a suspended gyprock ceiling and you’re renting, Toby shared that there is still hope that you can have your pole installed:

“Since COVID, of the 15+ suspended gyprock ceilings that I’ve done, more than half of those have been renters and the landlords have been really good about it. They’re saying “yeah no worries, as long as it’s returned to normal, no problem.” After I cut the hole, all there is is the line where I’ve made the cut. So a couple of mm thick of my saw blade and then the gyprock goes back in there. It’s only going to take a plasterer a couple of hours, maximum, to plaster it, let it dry, plaster it again, let it dry, paint it up and you’ll never know.

It’s the same process as if you took a light fitting down or you wanted to shift your light fittings around. So it’s a really easy fix to put it back to looking 100% normal. Worst thing – you might have to repaint the entire ceiling in that room to make the paint match or something. But still, you’re talking $100 in paint and time. It’s not a difficult fix.”

What are the biggest mistakes people make when they’re installing their own pressure mounted pole?

Not knowing what their ceiling is, that’s number one.

Not reading the instructions, number two.

“Then the most common user error is over-tightening the pole. What I see a lot of are cracked ceilings or bowed poles from people over-tightening their pole. And they lose their spin and then once the pole bends it spins in a wonky way because of that permanent bow.”

I asked Toby if a bowed pole is a safe pole to use, or if the bow affects the structural integrity of the pole.

“It would a little bit, not as much as you’d think. It’s not going to break, but what it does mean is that now that pole has got a bow in it which means it can flex that little bit easier. That means the pressure that you need to keep it up might be a little more. So you’re constantly having to add more pressure which creates more bow. It’s not good. A little bow is pretty normal. We throw ourselves around a pole, it’s going to naturally want to have a little bow in it. We just don’t want it so much that when you turn it, release it and it jumps back. That’s a bad bow.

“The main culprit for (over-tightening) that is boyfriends, husbands and tradies. It’s honestly men. It’s the worst thing because they don’t want their partners to fall down so they’re like “I’m going to make it really tight”. They tighten it up so much that they end up damaging the pole or the ceiling. Tradies, the same thing, they just don’t understand. Plus they don’t want the liability of it falling down, so they just tighten the crap out of it and boom. Now the pole’s damaged.

“It always scares me a little bit when people say “my boyfriend (or a tradie) put it up”. Like as good of an idea as it sounds, they don’t understand the pole itself. They understand building, but they have no idea how to tension the pole, what we do on the poles, and how to put them up properly without damaging the pole itself.

“(Another) common user error is not lining those three grub screws up on the bottom – the adjuster screws for X-Pole in particular – with the flat spots on the adjuster rods. What that’s doing is tightening the grub screw up onto the threads on that adjuster rod. (The grub screws) smash those threads and then the pole won’t go up and down anymore. When their pole only moves a cm down or a cm up and can’t adjust all the way, that’s a sure sign that they’ve damaged the threads on the adjuster.

“This is when I know people haven’t touched their instructions, because it’s very clear in there that you MUST line it up on the red line. I see that happen a lot and look, I can usually fix it, but it takes a lot of force, I have to re-cut the thread, and it’s a big job for something that is so easily prevented.

If you have a modern X-Pole, the red line at the base of the pole MUST line up with one of the three keyholes, as seen above.

“In with that, not KEEPING them tight. So if they start to come loose and people are doing static, and the pole starts to move a little, back and forth, it’s still damaging the sides of those threads, creating the same problem. So yes, they’ve put it in the right place, but they haven’t maintained the tightness of those screws. That can also do some damage in there.

“Also, simple little things like the pole isn’t straight, (because) they didn’t use a level. They used the level app on their phone which is ok, but it’s not great. Most people have buttons on the side of their phone or a case, and phones aren’t square anymore, they’ve got nice contoured edges. So they’re not super accurate. You can go and buy a little level from Bunnings for less than ten bucks, you know. It’s worth it.

“If your pole isn’t straight, that is the equivalent of having a bent pole. Because now it’s putting pressure on in a sideways thing, your spin isn’t good, and it’s going to want to come down easier because it doesn’t have that even pressure onto the ceiling. So having a straight pole is really important.”

Can you straighten a bent pole?

“It’s not really easy. I had never really tried it until COVID, to be completely honest. I would always be like “Your pole’s bent, get a new A pole or get a new B pole. Just replace the bent part with a new one from X-Pole. When X-Pole ran out of stock and everybody wanted poles during the first COVID thing, I basically had all these part in a stockpile that I was going to send to recycling. So I tried to straighten them out.

“I can make them better, but there’s no way to make them perfect. If it’s a big bow, I can take some of it out and make it useable, but it’s also quite a lot of my time, and in saying that, the (cost of) time that I take to fix it is probably not much different than buying a new extension.

“The only reason I put the time in to do it is obviously (that I was not) performing on cruise ships, because they all closed down. As it happened, I had these bent poles and there were no other parts for people to use. I started putting the hours in to fix them rather than buy a new one. But even with me fixing it, it’s still not as good as a new pole. So when you weigh up those things, you’re probably better off to just buy a new extension or a new part, than paying me to straighten one out. But if there are no parts and you want it better, it is something that can be done.”

Is it safe to put plywood between your pole and the ceiling? Either to protect the ceiling, or to bridge the beams?

“As soon as you add something else in between your pole and the floor or your pole and the ceiling, that is not physically attached, it’s one more thing that can slide around. Do not put anything in there. 

“X-Pole did recommend that if you needed to, you could do that. You get a big enough piece of ply and you get a non-slip mat and you put that between there, so when you put the pressure on, it holds. That is if you need to put it between the two beams. Personally, I would be putting screws in that thing. I would be putting 4 screws, one in each corner of that thing and making sure that stays in place. Filling in a hole in a ceiling is no different than hanging a picture on a wall and filling in that hole afterwards. A bit of spak fill, you’ll never see it. But the safety behind it is huge. Trying to balance a piece of wood while you tension up your pole is, to me, ridiculous. And people who put rugs or mats under their pole is again ridiculous. It will slip. It’s going to slip at some point. 

“It doesn’t protect the ceiling. You’ve got just as much chance of damaging the ceiling with that ply up there as you do the dome. If you’ve damaged the ceiling, it’s typically because you’ve overtightened it, not because you didn’t put something else in there. If you do it properly, you don’t need to put the wood in there. So look, I’m a definite no to putting anything in between unless you screw it in. Then I’m ok. 

“Think about it like this, if that thing DID slip, now you’ve got a plank of wood that’s going to come down on your head as well as the pole. So not only does it add a level of potential for it to move, you now have a falling object that could fall on you when the pole comes down.”

What are your best tips for making sure that tension mounted poles don’t fall?

“I’m going to give you the tip that I give every single person that I put a pole up for. That is, that the best investment you can get in putting your pole up is a pencil.

“So you find the beam, you put the pole up, you get it where you want it, you get it nice and straight. Then trace a circle around your dome. You’ve now given yourself a visual clue to if that pole has moved at all. If you ever see it move outside that pencil circle, you know the pole has come loose a bit. Get off the pole and fix it. It’s simple, you can erase it when you’ve finished. I do a same circle on the floor if possible. But a pencil adds a level of safety to what you’re doing so much and it’s such a simple fix.

You need to check your pole EVERY TIME before you start a training session. This is something that people don’t understand about buildings and houses. They change size on a daily basis. Buildings expand and contract with hot and cold. Buildings expand and contract with humid and dry. Carpet starts out thick and squishes down, screws can come loose. There are so many factors with a removable pole that can affect the pressure, that you never know from day to day if that pole is tight if you don’t check it. X-Pole says that every 30 minutes of use you should check the tension of your pole. Checking the tension doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to take the tools out and tighten it up and retighten the pole. It just means, does it stay in its vertical position and not move? So what I tell people, you’ve got a circle up there. Grab onto the pole as tall as you can, give it a bit of a tug and try and move the top out of that circle. If it doesn’t move, it’s tight enough. If it moves, it’s not tight enough. That is how I determine also if they’ve got enough pressure when they tighten up the pole. Does it stay inside the circle? If it stays inside the circle, we have enough pressure. Simple as that. 

“So I get everybody before they start a training session to do what I call the tug test, and try and pull the pole out of position. If it stays in position, they’re good to go. Then every time they wipe the sweat off their hands, they wipe the pole or clean the pole, look up at that circle. You can check it 100 times during your session and it takes a millisecond. But you now know that pole has not moved out of its position so you know you’re safe. 

“It’s going to give you a little bit of warning and a bit more warning before it actually falls down. Poles don’t just go foomp and fall down. They’re going to move a little bit and they’re going to move a little bit more before they actually fall. So if you have a visual reference point, pencil circle, now we know if that’s happened.”

Can I safely do everything on a home pole that I can do on a studio pole?

“I personally don’t think so. If you do really big vomit spins, phoenixes, anything that’s putting a lot of outward force on your pole, you’re basically asking it to pull down.

“People get away with it sometimes, and it works, but at the end of the day, those home, removable poles aren’t built for that hard of use. They’re built for home use.

“If people want to do this big stuff in their home, (they should) put in a fixed ceiling mount. X-Pole have a great little mount called the home mount. It’s about 20mm deep, it’s smaller than a smoke detector, you put 4 screws up and it holds it into your ceiling and now the top isn’t going to go anywhere. Simple. 4 screws. If you’re using the dome, there’s also a little hack that XPole used to do, and it’s cutting a piece of wood, a big circle, I call it a donut, in an 8-12 mm thick piece of plywood. You trace the circumference of the dome and cut that on the inside of the donut. You screw that to the ceiling then you mount your dome inside of it. So now if the pole comes a little bit loose, it has to come the full thickness of the plywood loose before it’s going to move side to side. It all does require putting some screws in, but like I said, screwholes are not hard to fill in. 

By putting a donut in, or the fixed mount like the home mount or one of the studio mounts, you’ve just increased your safety 10-fold. If a pole falls, it typically falls because the dome moves. If you can remove that from the equation, then you’re pretty well good to go. You’ve basically created a studio pole in your home.”

Do I need to buy an X-Pole? Or can I safely get away with a cheap pole from Amazon (or Wish, or eBay etc)

While Toby made it clear that there are safe poles on the market other than X-Pole, he feels pretty strongly that you should invest in a brand-name pole. Here’s what he had to say:

“I do believe that X-Pole is probably the best home removable pole that’s out there because they’re adjustable and you can add and remove extensions as necessary. If you can screw into the ceiling or are looking for a studio pole, then X-Poles and Pussycat poles are both great poles. The one thing that I do really want to keep people away from is those cheap fakes.

“Just the other day I went to a girls house to set one up and I looked at the instructions. They literally photocopied the X-Pole instructions. There are pictures of somebody wearing an X-Pole shirt. The pole they’re using to describe their instructions is actually an X-Pole. (The instructions) say “Pole” and they’ve just erased the X on it. It’s really bad. The poles are so cheap.

“I know X-Pole goes on about this, they say “fake poles break” and stuff like that. THEY DO. I’ve seen them first hand. I’ve seen cracks in the joints, the bases are basically plastic coated in metal. The tools don’t fit, and as soon as you try to tighten (the pole) you bend the tool in half, and they don’t actually tighten the poles up to the tension that they need. They don’t lock. They’re just so cheaply made that it scares me. I put them up for people but I scare the crap out of them when I do. I say “This is a shit pole”. Plain and simple, you get what you pay for. You paid $200 for something that is not going to last, it’s not 100% safe. Like, I’ll put it up as safe as I can but you need to be super diligent.

“X-Pole has evolved four generations of poles from their original model, which is what these guys are copying. So they’re copying something from 10+ years ago. And it’s half the quality of what XPole was making 10 years ago.”

I commented here that one of the arguments I frequently hear in defense of cheap poles, is that people aren’t confident they’ll get the use out of a home pole, so they buy the cheapest pole they can just to see if they get the use out of it. I also mentioned that I, personally, have had multiple X-Pole home poles over the last 12 years, and they hold their resale value incredibly well. For me, it’s not worth the risk of having a cheap and potentially lethal pole in my house.

“Like you said, they hold their value. And you can get parts for X-Poles. XPole is so good with warranty things, if something goes wrong. The other thing XPole is really good at, when they make a new model, they also make retrofits, so when they discontinue a model, you can still use your old pole with some new parts. So you’re never completely stuck.

“X-Poles are now bottom loading, so you don’t have to climb up a ladder to do all the mechanical tooling. All of these cheap poles need a ladder to set them up properly. So you’ve now added another level of danger! You’ve got to be up a ladder using cheap tools that are going to bend or break while you’re trying to put muscle on it. It’s unsafe just trying to install these poles. 

“Then you throw in the factors of carpet and gyprock ceilings and and a cheap pole, and it’s just not safe. So you pay $200 for a cheap pole, but if you bought an XPole, got some use out of it, (and sold it) you wouldn’t be losing much money. You might spend $400 on an XPole, but you’d at least make $200 back if you sold it and you’re safer, but you’re only out the same amount of money.

“It’s not a bias to XPole, it’s me seeing that those poles are actually shit. 

How can I contact Toby for help with my home pole?

If you’d like Toby to help you set up your home pole, or figure out a pole problem, you can contact him directly through The Pole Doctor listing here on the Australian Pole Directory, or through his Facebook Page.

Toby also makes custom aerial apparatus, and if you’re interested in contacting him for that, head over here.

As one half of the husband/wife duo, Suzie Q & Toby J, he’s an incredible performer. You can learn more about what they can do over here.

I want to know more about poling at home.

This article is the third part in our home-poling series. You can read part one, “How to choose a pole for home use” here, and part two, “So you’ve bought a home pole… What’s next?” here.

*Huge thanks go out to Toby for being so generous with his time and knowledge to help keep all of us home-polers safe, and out homes undamaged by this sport that we all love so much.

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69 Holbeche Road, Arndell Park , Blacktown, New South Wales 2148, Australia
How to become a Pole Dance Instructor in Australia

How to become a Pole Dance Instructor in Australia

This post is for those of you who've been doing pole for a while and feel like part of the family at your pole studio. It's for all the polers who are proud of the progress they have made, and want to help other people achieve that same feeling of success. This is...

PoleSphere Review

PoleSphere Review

2020 has been a strange year. The world has changed, and the way we train has changed with it. Without access to pole studios, many polers rushed to buy home poles, only to find themselves at a loss for what and how to train. Luckily, there are a number of online pole...

Share the love and support your home studio or fave pole brand

Share the love and support your home studio or fave pole brand

Welcome to the Australian Pole Directory! I can't tell you how excited I am that you're here! This website was my #isoproject, my way to be connected to the pole industry while we were all effectively confined to our homes, as well as being my way to help support and...

An Interview with Nikki McLennan of Lioness Photography

An Interview with Nikki McLennan of Lioness Photography

A few weeks ago, while I was still in the process of preparing the Australian Pole Directory for launch, I started chatting online to Nikki McLennan of Lioness Photography. We made a connection, and decided to have a chat - we've both been around the block a few times...

How to choose a pole for home use

How to choose a pole for home use

It's an exciting day for you - you've decided to buy a pole for home! You've started shopping around, and you've realised that it's not as straightforward as "just buying a pole". After a quick google search, you're overwhelmed, asking yourself:  Should I buy a pole...

BREAKING NEWS: X-Pole Australia shipping/delivery delays.

BREAKING NEWS: X-Pole Australia shipping/delivery delays.

UPDATE 22/06/2020: X-Pole Australia has received their shipment, approximately 1 month later than expected. They are in the process of preparing the orders to be sent out, and have reminded people who are waiting on their deliveries that it can take 7-10 days from...

Sara-May Monaghan

Sara-May Monaghan

Australian Pole Directory Founder

Sara-May is passionate about pole. She did her first pole class at Bobbi’s in 2006. 

After repatriating to Australian in late 2019, she struggled to find the right studio, her favourite polewear brands and the other poling resources she needed. As a result of this, the Australian Pole Directory was born.

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