It was a joke.
That is the only way that I can describe my initial interest in pole dancing classes.
I became aware that pole fitness had started being offered on my fairly conservative island right before I left for university. Everytime, I came back home for during summer, I would facetiously tell my friends that we should take a class; one of them would research it and then the thought would fade into the background of other conversations.
The main reason I wanted to do it (and consequently didn’t) was because I saw it as the complete opposite of myself. The image that came into my head when I thought about a pole dancer was that of a beautiful, confident woman who was both intouch and completely in charge of her sensuality. Alternatively, I saw myself as young girl who was so uncomfortable and afraid of her sexuality that she basically removed it from her own identity.
Then I had a very intense emotional breakdown.
I’ve battled with depression and anxiety for a significant proportion of my life. It deeply affected my experience at university and made the move back home almost completely overwhelming. It also made getting to know my own adult-body deeply frustrating and, at times, distressing.
When I hit one of the lowest points with depression I have ever had and saw the fear that it cause my mother, I made my mind up that something in my life needed to change. I decided I finally was going to start seeing myself as an adult.
I stumbled across a dedicated pole, aerial and dance fitness studio, across the road from where I work. And as dumb-luck (or fate) would have it, there just happened to be a introductory class two days after my initial email, to the studio.
Looking back, I can’t help but to laugh at just how naked I felt in my shorts and tank-top. I had worn these exact items doing my weekly errands but by standing me next to a pole, I was suddenly asking my body to be something that I felt it wasn’t: sexy.
But then the classed started.
Within that hour, there was only one notable mention of making something ‘sexy’. The focus of the class was far more on the fitness aspect (strength, flexibility) and learning how to safely maneuver around the pole. We were never asked to consider how our body looked.
I wasn’t at some prepubescent teen at a bachelorette party. I was a women taking an fitness class with other adults.
Nevertheless, then next few months of class were an adjustment period. While the focus of the classes was primary not able tapping into our inner goddess of seduction, it took time for me to feel comfortable moving my body in ways that I had never associated as with my character.
It was the encouragement of my teachers and classmates that lead me to start enjoying both the fitness side (which was a feet in itself) as well as the performance side.
They didn’t shame me for needing to take a rest when my arms felt like they would fall off from a plank. They would suggest ways to modify a pole-sit when my body decided it just couldn’t do it. They would applaud and celebrate when I would finally get a pole-spin. They would point out when I managed to climb higher than before. They would notice and care when I wasn’t in class.
I came for the workout but I stayed for the friendships.
I ended up finding something that actually makes me want to get out of bed in the morning and celebrate both myself and my body. And I’m so excited to see where this journey will take me.