Most girls that I’ve met have been self-conscious about their bodies at one point or another in their life. That was me about a year and a half ago. I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship and felt like I needed to get out and do something a little out of my comfort zone. So I decided to sign up for a local pole fitness class and see if I could feel a little bit more sexy and confident, as well as become more fit. Pole dancing is still not very common as a workout (although it’s definitely gaining popularity), and remains stigmatized in society, but once you get past that, you discover a surprisingly diverse, creative and challenging sport that should be more recognized. Here are some of the things I’ve learned about pole dancing during my first year.
- It’s not inherently sexual
Yes, pole dancing started off in strip clubs, and it is important to acknowledge that strippers did popularize pole dancing, especially in westernized countries. However, the sport has evolved a lot since then. Nowadays, there are so many different styles of pole dancing, which of course includes exotic pole, but also other styles as well, such as contemporary & flow and pole fitness. A lot of pole outfits show some skin: this is because you need to expose skin in order to grip the pole. Parts like the legs, waist, butt, even armpits need to be exposed so you can properly stick to the pole during certain moves. There’s also no shame in showing off your body with a wide array of cool and unique outfits, but the most important part is being comfortable with what you’re wearing and what you’re doing. Pole dancing definitely can be incredibly sexy but doesn’t have to be.
- It’s an amazing workout
I have gotten more bruises from one year of pole dancing than I have from 6 years of rugby. You use muscles that you never thought existed, and you definitely get sore afterwards. I can now pull my entire body weight and flip upside-down, which is something I never thought I would be strong enough to do. A lot of the moves combine upper body strength, flexibility and rhythm, and stringing them together into a routine requires a surprising amount of cardio. Learning new moves is physically exhausting; you’re trying to adjust your body mid-air, doing your best not to slip and fall, while attempting to look graceful at the same time, but the end result is so worth it.
- People who pole dance are super supportive of one another
I thought strippers were always super catty and trying to tear each other down. You know, the stereotypical b*tchy girls that don’t play nice. In fact, I have not met a single person at a pole studio or online forum who has not been super sweet, friendly, and most importantly, non-judgemental. Whenever someone in my class would get a new move that they had been struggling with, everyone would encourage and congratulate them. It’s a super positive environment that has helped me overcome a lot of insecurities and fears I’ve had about my abilities.
- It’s very accepting of people of different shapes, sizes and fitness levels
I’ll be honest, I hadn’t been regularly working out for a couple of years before trying pole, and was not in the best shape. Especially after the pandemic hit, it’s been pretty difficult to stick to a workout routine. However, don’t let your level of athleticism get in the way of trying to pole dance. Some of the other people in my pole classes were very fit, others were super thin, and others were more heavy set. Everyone learns at their own pace, and everyone finds moves that work best for them. Some people are better at inverts, or spins, or sits, but everyone finds something that they feel good at and enjoy doing, and the strength and muscle needed for many moves develop over time.
- It’s really fun
Once I got over the fear of getting judged and learned a couple of basic moves, I learned to just have fun with it. I started to put a couple of moves together and just dance around to music. For someone who didn’t dance, with little coordination, it was fun to have a bit of fun and move around without the worry of having people criticize me. I’ve had lots of moments where I’ve looked as graceful as a sack of potatoes, and I laugh about it afterwards. I am seeing progress, and am learning my own style as I keep practicing. It’s also very rewarding to look at the progress I’ve made over time. Looking back at the videos from my first few classes, I can see how much stronger I’ve gotten in my lifts, how much more momentum I can get in my spins, and how much smoother my transitions are getting.
For anyone considering trying pole dancing, go for it! I can’t guarantee you will get hooked like I did, but if you’re open to it, you’re definitely going to have a good time! It’s a wonderful way to get fit, get in-tune with your body, and gain confidence.