About 6 months ago, I bought a discount coupon to go and check out some drop-in fitness classes at a local studio. At first, I was a bit nervous – after all, I didn’t know anyone there, and I had never taken any of these classes before. Plus, they did pole dancing there. I had heard a little bit about pole fitness, as I knew someone who had done it a few years ago, but really, knew nothing aside from my own thoughts and stereotypes. I had the same image that many people do, I’m sure, about scrawny little 20-something girls shakin’ their things around the floor and doing the occasional shimmy around a pole, with a spin or two thrown in for good measure. I didn’t know if that kind of thing was for me, but I thought “hey, it’s just for Zumba and Groove classes, what’s the harm?”
Fast forward a week or so, to the day of my first Risque Groove class. I had no clue what to expect from this place, and this class, and wondered if I was going to in, have someone take one look at me, and feel like I needed to leave, now. I got into my workout gear, laced up my runners, held my breath, and walked in. I was greeted warmly by the studio owner, who was also teaching the class that night. She welcomed me to the studio. and when I stopped to look around, it was totally different from what I had imagined. Instead of bright lights and glaring, judging people, like one might find in a normal cardio class, I saw a warmly lit, welcoming place filled with women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Aryn explained the class to us and asked us to leave all judgement about ourselves and others outside the door, and told us that if we really wanted to take it home, we could pick it up on our way out. But she also told us that we probably wouldn’t want to. And she was right. All doubt, self-consciousness and lingering thoughts left my mind, and were gone from that day on. I danced around like no one was watching and like no one cared, had an amazing workout, and was left wanting more.
From that second, I knew I was home, and that this was the place I wanted to be. I wanted to try everything that the studio had to offer, and although I had my doubts about my ability to do it, I signed up for a free trial pole class a couple of weeks later. The day of my trial class came, and once again, I was nervous. I watched as the instructor demonstrated the moves that she would be showing us. I snickered at myself, thinking that there was no way that I would be able to do that. And then I tried it. And I did it. With each new thing that we learned, and I was able to do, my confidence grew. I was hooked. Little did I know or realize how much of an impact this one class was going to have on me later down the road.
I signed up for a Level 1 class that night. As our instructor explained to us all of the moves that we would be learning over the 6 week session, once again that nagging sensation of doubt crept back into me. I’m not a tiny girl, and where on earth was I going to find the strength to be able to hold myself up on the pole? Or would my arms be strong enough to hold me up while I did a spin? I knew that they wouldn’t ask stuff of us that we couldn’t do, so I decided, right then and there, that I was going to give this 100% genuine effort, and that success or failure was mine to win or lose.
Each week, our workout got a little longer, and we learned new moves. By the end of that 6 weeks, I could do every single one of those moves. I felt better about myself, I felt stronger, and I felt more confident. In the week between my Level 1 and 2 classes, I took a workshop. The other participants were all grads level girls, ones who had been doing this for years, and had way more skill and ability than I did. I threw myself in anyways, and learned a ton of stuff. At the end of Level 2, I took a workshop with the amazing, world renowned Jenyne Butterfly. Again, I was the only girl who had not been doing this for at least a year, but I was determined to learn everything that I could from this amazing artist, and I pushed myself harder than I even thought possible. It worked though, I learned stuff way above my level and was able to do a lot of it. I came home exhaused, bruised and sore but loved every second of it.
I’ve kept going at pole, and completely adore it. Each week, I challenge myself both physically and mentally to take it to the next level, and each week that I succeed, my confidence grows just a little more. The changes to my body have been amazing – I have muscle definition in places that I never thought that I would, and it’s only going to get better from here. I’m stronger and more confident that I have been for a long time. I know that I can push myself to do things that a year ago, heck, even 6 months ago, wouldn’t have even been on my radar. I’ve bought a pole for my basement, and am determined that I am going to practice every day and get better. Maybe I will never dance in front of anyone other than the women at my studio or my family and friends, but maybe I will… The possibilities are endless.
Someday I want to teach pole, and share the gift that I’ve been given with other women. We are so hard on ourselves, and so hard on others, and it is a refreshing change to be somewhere, and do something, where none of that matters. It’s about supporting each other, and understanding the power of friendship that we can give each other as women. It’s about knowing your limits and pushing past them, and not being afraid to try something new. It’s about changing your attitude and suspending your judgement, and maybe, just maybe, finding something you love.