Like most people, I used to hear the phrase “pole dancing” and see a mental image of a stripper. It was never something I thought I would be interested in doing. When I heard several years ago that fitness classes based on pole dance were being offered in some cities, I thought, “Wow, that’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.” It turns out that I have a habit of hearing about a new thing, thinking it’s stupid, and later deciding it’s one of the coolest things ever. The same thing happened with grain-free diets and tablet computers, among other things. This process can be very humbling. 🙂
So I went along thinking pole dance was for slutty, not very smart women. (Sorry, sometimes my thought processes are embarrassing, especially for a Women’s Studies major. Ouch.) Then one day I saw a link on Facebook to a video of a world-class pole dancer named Jenyne Butterfly.
My reactions were as follows:
1) Wow, she is amazing. That is the coolest thing ever.
2) Wow, that was not sleazy or stripper-like at all.
3) I WANT TO TRY THAT!
As I found more videos on Youtube, I was amazed at the strength, flexibility, and artistry displayed by the best dancers. I have a huge girl-crush on Natasha Wang, for example. If I could ever achieve one-tenth of her skill and grace, I would be thrilled.
Towards the end of last summer, I finally searched to see if there was a pole studio in my city. It turns out there are two. After trying both of them, I decided to stick with the larger, more professional (and unfortunately more expensive) studio. Currently I’m working my way through the leveled program. I’ve seen some nice increases in strength and agility over the last several months, and getting back to doing dance on a regular basis makes me feel like I’ve gotten a piece of myself back that was missing for quite a few years.
Pole fitness is physically challenging for me, but it poses other types of challenges as well. I do not have a typical dancer’s build. In fact, I never did, even when I was doing dance classes multiple times per week as a teenager. My shoulders are broad, my hips are robust, my torso is on the short side, and I currently carry visible padding around my middle. While I am more body-positive than your average dancer, having to confront my image in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors while wearing my booty shorts can be uncomfortable.
Another challenge for me is that the style of dance common at this particular studio is very feminine and sexy. For a woman who spent years looking very butch (I mentioned I was a Women’s Studies major, right?), this can sometimes feel awkward.
But you know what? The fact that this form of dance challenges me to see myself in different ways and to stretch the possibilities of what I can do and be is actually a huge part of the attraction. Only time will tell how far I can get and what I will be able to achieve in this art form, but it is already producing wonderful results for me, both physical and mental.