I want to share an epiphany that I had while practicing. I was in Finland with my girlfriend and her family and was looking for something to kill some time. Poi is always my go-to when I have extra time, but I couldn’t poi inside and it was winter in Finland: pretty cold.
I decided to go out anyway and adorned myself with all my warmest clothes. I had on 4 layers, the last one being my snowboard jacket, and even had to put on thick, leather gloves. Immediately I felt bulky, encumbered, and immobile compared to how I normally like to spin.
The ideal clothes to spin in would obviously be light, loose fitting (but not too loose), and allow for a wide range of motion. After all, it’s not just being able to move your arms around; the poi need a clean path to spin in to avoid hitting yourself. Anything extra hanging off your clothing can result in the poi hitting it, my favorite example being hoods.
So there I was with an extra 3 or 4 inches of jacket around my torso and arms, gloves on, and a hood. “This,” I thought, “isn’t going to be much fun.”
The gloves were my first concern, as I thought they would greatly decrease my touch. A couple minutes into spinning, though, and I realized that they really didn’t make a whole lot of a difference. Sure, if I was trying difficult tosses I would rather have bare hands, but they were by no means impossible with thick gloves on.
The hood was my next concern, as they have interfered with my poi sessions before. I hit the hood a few times, but hit it less and less as I warmed up. I realized that if I was spinning correctly, the hood shouldn’t really be in the way. It became a good way to calibrate my spinning, because if I was hitting the hood, my plane wasn’t in line properly.
Finally, the overall bulkiness of the extra clothing seemed like it would impede my arm movement enough that I probably wouldn’t be able to do good, clean flowers or any other extended arm circle moves. However, with 4 layers of clothing I was able to do basically everything I could normally do. It wasn’t as comfortable, and spinning stuff close to my body (behind the back stuff, body tracing, etc), but again, it WAS doable.
The epiphany I had was that I don’t need to have ideal circumstances in order to practice. In fact, if circumstances ARENT ideal, it provides a more difficult practice environment where the spinner has to be more aware of their abilities and their weaknesses.
As I said, this is like a calibration tool; having a fat coat on forces you to adjust your spinning through a wider range, wearing your hood down shows you when your poi are veering off course and into your body, and wearing gloves at the very least makes you appreciate when you’re not wearing gloves.
I’m not saying to go put your ski gear on every time you practice, in fact avoid having to do that as much as possible. My point is that instead of looking at poor weather as an obstacle, look at it as a chance to fine tune your poi skills.
This mentality has also helped me realize that there’s no excuse not to get out there and spin my poi. I have heavily favored indoor practice, and my move repertoire is a good reflection of that. For a long time, I’ve been better at tricks that take up a smaller amount of room and haven’t spent enough time on extensions and flowers.
I don’t want to be limited by 4 walls anymore, so now, if it’s pissing rain or snowing or cold I have no reason not to go challenge Nature’s resistance and turn it into a positive. I urge you to do the same, it’s very liberating. Escape the ceiling!