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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...

Szilvia Molnar, Head Judge, IPSF (International Pole Sports Federation)

Pole in the Olympics, competing if you can’t dance, and Aussie Pole idols: An Interview with Szilvia Molnar, Head Judge of IPSF

by | Jul 11, 2020 | Pole Events | 0 comments

We’ve all heard that Pole could one day end up in the Olympics. In fact, some of us may have used that very argument to convince disapproving relatives that pole is, in fact, a legitimate sport.

But have you ever wondered WHO is pushing for Pole to be represented in the Olympics, and HOW they plan to make that happen? Well, there are a few organisations who are pushing to see it happen, but the organisation who is furthest in the process and most likely to succeed is the International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF).

IPSF is the largest Pole Federation in the world, with more than 30 member federations worldwide (including here in Australia!) and in the 2019 IPSF Worlds, there were over 300 competitors!

Szilvia Molnar is one of only 13 IPSF Head Judges worldwide, as well as being the Technical Chair (basically, she chairs the committee that decides what technically correct form looks like and whether new moves are accepted into the Code of Points – she’s the technique MASTER), and for the last 9 months, this Hungarian powerhouse of Pole has been living in Sydney.

While IPSF and the discipline of Pole Sports is not widely known or practiced here in Australia, it is HUGE in Europe, where I lived from 2014-2019. When I found out that Szilvia was here, I couldn’t wait to interview her and share some of her knowledge and expertise here on the Australian Pole Directory.

All about Szilvia

The first thing I wanted to know from Szilvia was her back-story, and how she started doing pole.

“I started pole in 2011. One of my friends convinced me to try, although I really didn’t want to. Somehow I had this stereotype thing, but I thought “Ok, I will survive this 90 minutes”. It impressed me so much, after my first class I went home and ordered a pole from X-Pole.

Yeah, so the first class changed everything.”

A sizzle reel of Szilvia’s pole progress from 2011, when she first started, to 2015.

Szilvia went on to explain that she had done competitive fitness when she was a child, and she felt like Pole Sports could be something similar for her.

“The studio where I trained focussed mainly on Pole Sports and Pole Fitness. I loved it. They organised the first-ever Pole Sport competition in Hungary and I participated.”

She mentioned that she competed all throughout Europe, in every competition she could – although, ever humble, she decried herself as “not a really good competitor”.

One of the many competitions Szilvia competed in, in the early years of her pole career.

So what made you decide to stop competing, and start judging?

“At first I did my Judges course because I wanted to be a better competitor. But I realised I could be a better coach than a competitor.”

“When I became a judge, I spent a lot of time on our bible, on our Code of Points. I found that there were some mistakes and I had many, many questions, so I bombarded IPSF with my questions. Eventually, they asked me to be a tech team member and help them to develop the Code of Points. I became a tech team member, and I wanted to know more about how to oversee a competition and a judges panel. So I trained up and became a head judge.”

Pole in the Olympics:

So the IPSF started back in 2008 with a petition to have Pole recognised as an Olympic Sport. I know that progress has been made, but do you know how that campaign is going? How close are we to seeing Pole at the Olympics?

“We are part of GAISF (Global Association of International Sports Federations), which is the first door before being recognised. We are the only federation accepted by GAISF and they work only with us. We have a little bit less than 40 federations all over the world. Our last Worlds involved more than 300 athletes in one weekend.

“That’s why we have this very strict code of points. It’s because we want to be a part of the Olympic games. We would like to follow the sort of rules that they have in Gymnastics, or Rhythmic Gymnastics, Ice Skating and the other Olympic sports.”

Competing in IPSF Competitions:

What makes IPSF Competitions different?

Knowing that Pole Sports is not a well known discipline here in Australia, and that IPSF is even less well known, I asked Szilvia to elaborate on what makes an IPSF competition different to most Aussie Pole Competitions.

She explained that the reson she personally fell in love with IPSF Pole Sports is the equality, fairness and transparency of the judging system.

“Everybody competes against the Code, not against each other. So if you can do the elements and the tricks and everything according to the code, you will get the score. If you don’t do that, you won’t get the score. It’s not like other competitions where subjective feeling can affect the final result. Here everything is transparent.”

Szilvia explained that there are 5 judges in each competition, and each judge focuses on only one aspect of the competition.

“If somebody is a compulsory judge, they judge ONLY the compulsory elements. If somebody is an artistic and choreo judge, they will judge ONLY the artistic and choreo components and they will have nothing to do with the other sections. (Each Judge) has to focus on one thing and not be confused or distracted with the other stuff.” 

“I know it is not EASY, because mentally and physically, I think this is the hardest competition that is available on the market. I know it is hard, but at least it is transparent and equal.”

Competing if you’re NOT a dancer:

Something that Szilvia is passionate about sharing, is that an IPSF Pole Sport competition is not a dance competition or a gymnastic competition. It’s first and foremost about the technical execution of the pole moves.

“If you are not a good dancer, if you are not a good gymnast, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to do the dance part. You don’t have to do a kind of show on the stage. But you can be unique if you bring a theme on the stage, or you are very fluid on the stage.”

I had to laugh at this stage, because I, personally, am a TERRIBLE dancer, but I love the technical aspects of Pole. I asked Szilvia if there was hope for someone like me, who danced like a baby elephant.

“Yes! If you know what is your strength and what is your weakness, then you can balance these things in the routine.”

She shared that she had coached students in Hungary with no dance or gymnastics background. Their routine focussed on highlighting their strengths and keeping the technical requirements of the competition as a priority, and they ended up placing in the top 3.

Competing if you ARE a dancer:

The other thing I wanted to clarify with her, is whether or not there is a place in IPSF for pole athletes at the OPPOSITE end of the scale to me, the creative, artistic dancers.

“In (IPSF) Pole, we have 2 disciplines. We have the Pole Sport which is very technical, and we have Artistic Pole.

“In Artistic Pole we don’t have any compulsory elements, we don’t have any technical bonuses, so this discipline is about art. It’s about the storytelling. If somebody wants to compete, but they don’t want to do the technical parts, the artistic pole is, I think, a good opportunity. They can use everything on the stage that they want. It’s an artistic competition, but at the same time, it’s not this kind of showgirl thing. They have to follow similar rules to those in pole sports, just in an artistic way.”

Competing if you’re an absolute beginner:

I knew that there were 3 divisions in IPSF competitions, Amateur, Professional and Elite. What I was curious about, however, is whether a very new, beginner pole dancer would be able to compete in the amateur level – say, before they had learned to invert.

“For a full beginner, I think our judging system is not good, because you should know at least the invert. And because adults have to reach the top of the (4-metre high) poles 2 times in the routine, if somebody cannot climb, it’s not good.

“So they have to climb and do the invert at least. And doing some leg hangs.. These are the basics that I think we really need for the code. But this could be reached in less than 1 year for this level, for amateur level. So that’s why we have these kinds of rules that (instructors) cannot compete in amateur level. Because we want to keep the amateur level for real students.”

I commented here that it’s quite unusual in Australia to see a competition where amateurs have the opportunity to share a stage with elite pole athletes. Szilvia reinforced that there is also the Professional division. She said “If somebody is good, but they don’t want to do crazy things, or they don’t want to go to the world pole sports championship, then the professional category is absolutely for them. I think they can still do a strong or flexible routine if they want, but they don’t have to go into the elite level.”

Putting together an IPSF routine:

If someone wanted to compete, they would obviously need to put together a Pole Sports routine. How would you suggest they go about that?

“In pole sports, if people want to create a routine, at first they have to decide which category or which division they want to compete: Amateur, Professional or Elite. I think it’s very good because the amateurs don’t have to compete against the elite. And instructors cannot compete against amateurs, because we assume that the amateurs are really students. I mean that they come to classes and they want to learn from the instructors.

“So at first, they need to check the code of points and choose the right number of elements. And something that is really important, that people forget all the time – they have to read the criteria. All of the elements have specific criteria that they have to follow. If they don’t follow the criteria, they won’t get the score. 

So first choose the compulsory elements. Try to join them on the pole and decide “ok, you can do this on the static pole, you can do that on the spinning pole” because you have to use both poles equally. Try to combine these compulsory elements. When you’ve done this, find out what kind of technical bonuses you can do and try to include the technical bonuses between the elements. So use these to try to fill the gaps in your routine. And then you can add the artistic parts. That was the most successful way that we built up the routines with my students in Hungary. 

Szilvia’s Aussie Pole Idols

Of course, while chatting, I had to ask Szilvia who her Aussie Pole Idols were – we have such in credible talent right here in Australia!

“I can say that I’m lucky, because in 2013, during my first World Pole Sports Championships in London where I was a judge. Deb Roach was on the stage. She was our first ever Para-athlete in our history. I mean that we didn’t have the para category at that time but she was invited onto our stage and she performed. And now I work for her. So I work in her studio as an instructor, I’m really happy about that.

But of course, I follow other (Australian) pole dancers. From here, I really would like to visit one time Carlie’s class (Carlie Hunter) or Mischka’s classes. And of course, I am following Amy Hazel as well, but I think she’s too flexible for me. 

And in your role as Technical Chair, I imagine you’ve seen some pretty crazy things? Is there anything in particular you’ve seen that just blew your mind?

For Pole sometimes we see really really strong and really really difficult elements. Last year, what we got, I don’t know if you know this air-walk when they are in a true grip? I think this guy is from China and he works for a circus, and he did a full circle 7 times. During the video, when we were watching it, you couldn’t see that he was getting tired. Not at all. Just up and down, up and down up and down. The only thing that you could see was that the top arm started to be a little bit bent. We decided not to put this one in the code. We have the 2 times full circle but not the 7 times how he did it.

Li Bing submitted this video for consideration into the Pole Code of Points

I am involved in Hoop as well, and there is a guy from Chile, and he’s extremely flexible. When I saw him, I just thought “where is his spine?” Sorry for asking but where is it?

How to become a part of IPSF:

In Australia, our National IPSF-endorsed Federation is the Australian Pole Sports Federation. Membership to the Federation starts at $12 for individuals and is currently free for Studios.

IPSF offers a number of training courses to help you to be a better competitor, to train as a Judge, and to become an IPSF-endorsed coach. These courses are delivered online via Zoom, typically in a European timezone. These training courses are surprisingly affordable:

  • Level 1 Code of Points training is approximately $80AUD (40GBP) and will help you to gain a greater insight into what is expected from a competitor in an IPSF competition.
  • Level 2 Judges Training is approximately $260 (135GBP) and will allow you to Judge IPSF competitions, become a supremely prepared competitor, and depending on your other qualifications, allow you to become an IPSF-endorsed Pole Sports coach (if you are a qualified and insured fitness professional in Australia, chances are, you meet these requirements).

Because Szilvia is here in Australia, we have the opportunity to have these trainings delivered in Aussie-friendly times. If you’d like to express your interest in attending one of these courses, you can do so by contacting the Australian Pole Sports Federation at [email protected].

How to find an IPSF-endorsed coach in Australia:

Szilvia herself is available for coaching if you would like the highest level of IPSF expertise to guide you through your competition-prep. I can speak from personal experience, she is an excellent instructor and her knowledge of the most technical aspects of Pole is absolutely mind-blowing. If you would like to contact Szilvia for coaching, please contact me and I will put you in contact with her.

There are currently approximately 4 other IPSF-endorsed coaches in Australia, and you can contact the Australian Pole Sports Federation to find out their contact information and availability.

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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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