I’ve had some amazing life experiences, and some I’d sooner forget. Going from fit and healthy to being trapped by my own body was undoubtedly one of the hardest, but it did change my life. It changed my attitude, my perspective and the way I wanted to live: I came out the other side a stronger, more confident and more capable woman, and while I wouldn’t recommend the cause to any one, I truly believe in the cure.
Putting a metal pole in the middle of my living room was a pivotal moment for me, although if you’d told me then how much it would change my life I would never have believed you.
But I’m not the only one.
All around the world, people are inspired by their pole fitness classes. The pole worked for me and I see it make a huge difference to many other women every day – it’s why I’m so passionate about teaching.
I thought I’d share just 6 of the things I’ve learned here, in the hope they’ll help you too.
1. We’re all good at going fast, but sometimes it’s better to take things slowly
When you dance, it’s often easier to do things at speed. Momentum carries you and makes it easier on your body, and you can hide some of your less-awesome moves and not-quite poses. To an audience it may look more dynamic and exciting, but when you’re dancing you’re aware you’re not completely in control – it’s just a little scary up there.
We race through life in the same way. How often are you rushing around following a timetable for each day, anticipating what you need to do later, and multitasking to the max just to cram everything in?
When you’re used to going at a thousand miles per hour, slowing down is an incredible experience. Taking the time to appreciate what you have now, what you’re doing now, or who you’re with right now means you can really enjoy every moment (and it feels really good). You’ll feel less pressure and have more fun. It gives you a very different outlook and helps you realise the things that are really important – you may even start to ditch some of the stuff that matters less.
2. Not everyone shares your perspectives. And that’s ok.
Pole dancing can be a tough gig. While more people are open to the idea of using a pole for fitness, there will always be voices in the crowd who refer to our “stripper poles” and assume that classes consist mostly of twerking, grinding and the removal of slinky dresses.
It’s good to educate people if their opinion is important to you. Take the time to talk to them about what you do and what an amazing workout it is. Show them videos of yourself or some of the elite pole athletes so that they can understand the strength and skill needed. The people who matter will be open to what you’re saying, and will feel your passion and support you all the way.
Then there are the other people. Whatever they see or hear, those people will be closed to anything other than their own preconceptions.
And actually, that’s ok too.
Not everyone will like what you do all the time. You can’t control what other people say or think. And it doesn’t matter. As long as you are happy and living life the way you want to, their opinion is their own and you don’t need to take on their negativity.
It’s true about your pole fitness classes, and it’s also true for everything else in life. If you appreciate how pole makes you happy and is something you want to carry on doing, whatever anyone else thinks, it toughens you up. You’ll find it easier to make other decisions without worrying so much, and that can only be a benefit.
3. Your body is amazing and deserves to be appreciated.
Before I started pole fitness training I was never happy with my body. In my eyes, it was riddled with imperfections and I took every available opportunity to remind myself of those faults.
It wasn’t until I couldn’t walk properly for a couple of years that I realised society’s emphasis on how our bodies look is all wrong. It’s all about what your body can do that makes it amazing.
Pole fitness shows you what your body is capable of in a way that makes it difficult for you to argue. If you can hold your own bodyweight in the air with your hands wrapped only around a slim metal pole, you start to feel pretty darn awesome. If you can hang upside down by your knee long enough for someone to capture the evidence on camera, you can’t help but watch the next Marvel film feeling like those radioactive superheroes have nothing on you.
Feeling strong with potential super powers helps you be more appreciative of what your body does for you day to day, and makes a few lumps and bumps seem much less important. Confidence and sass come more easily when you lift like Wonder Woman, making this one of the key life lessons from your pole fitness classes.
4. Believe in yourself and all you can be
It wasn’t just my body I lacked confidence in before I started pole fitness training. I was my own worst critic about nearly everything, and it held me back from taking part in life. I became so determined that I would fail that in a lot of ways, I stopped trying.
Pole fitness helps you believe change is possible. Even after a few weeks, the difference to your strength is obvious as each move becomes easier, and you only have to look in a mirror to start seeing the differences in your body. Then there’s the stream of achievements as you learn new tricks: if you don’t get it right first time, you try again. You work on it. And then you crack it.
You start to see that if you give yourself a chance, you can achieve things you thought were impossible.
The more you achieve the easier it gets to cheer yourself on. You remember your past successes and relate to them, trusting yourself and trying again. And guess what? More successes.
Pole fitness is a confidence builder. It teaches you how to learn and grow, and reminds you that believing in yourself is a positive thing that means you can do just about anything you put your mind to.
5. The parts you don’t like have a lesson to teach you
Your pole journey is one of huge discovery and achievements. There are also times when you can get really frustrated that you can’t quite get a new trick. Sometimes you’re not quite strong enough yet, you need to work on the body placement or maybe figure out which muscles to switch on: whatever the reason, the sessions where you feel like it isn’t happening can be tough to get through.Overcome fear
The thing is, you want to get this. It matters to you and you’re not going to give up. So you don’t let it beat you.
You start to realise that real progress comes from your mistakes. It’s how you learn and get better. There’s also the “light bulb moment” high afterwards – when you really have to work for something, the sense of your own brilliance when you get there is so immense you end up buzzing for days.
When a pole move comes up that you don’t find easy, you embrace it and rise to the challenge. You try to understand what you need to do to make it happen and you’re not afraid to ask for support. When you find this approach that works for the hardest parts of your pole fitness training, you feel more confident tackling other problems in the same way. And it’s easy to see the difference in your results.
6. Play is good
Imagine being a child again. Can you remember how it felt to spend time running, jumping, skipping and doing things just because you could?
Think of the pole as a climbing frame for adults. You don’t ask “what’s the point?” when you’re trying something new, you just experiment and find out what you like doing, and then do more of it. It feels good to whizz around the pole in a spin. It’s exciting to climb to the top of the pole, flip upside down and drop into a crazy pose that has everyone else staring on in amazement.
Doing pole fitness is fun. Flipping, spinning, dancing… just moving your body makes you feel good. You don’t need to have any reason to get into class and work out other than you enjoy it, (the fact there are so many other benefits is just an added bonus).
Your classes can be a time for you to forget about anything else that’s bothering you. You can take away any expectations you have of yourself and just enjoy the time, knowing you’ll always walk away feeling energized and motivated by the experience.