What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
How many times have you watched a video or seen photos of people doing impressive things that seem like they would be a ton of fun, but you just don’t think it’s something you could ever do?
Yeah, me too. The excuses are endless: I’m not athletic enough, I don’t have enough time, I don’t want to go alone, I don’t want to look foolish. The majority of these excuses tend to stem from a basic fear of stepping out of my comfort zone.
I’ve found that people will do all manner of mental gymnastics in order to avoid situations in which they feel uncomfortable, myself included. There are thousands of inspirational memes and Facebook posts about getting out there and living life to the fullest, but sometimes random photos and a cleverly worded quote just aren’t enough to entice us out of the dreaded comfort zone. Well, I’m taking that first terrifying step into uncharted territory, and I’m taking you all with me.
I decided to start big, with something that I find to be as beautiful as it is intimidating: Pole dancing. Thanks to some incredibly talented dancers and an influx of videos on social media, pole dancing (or pole fitness, depending on your preference) has risen in popularity over the last few years. Pole dancing is no longer relegated to strip clubs alone, but is now a popular activity in gyms, studios, and bedrooms alike.
You can likely find a pole dancing class offered in at least one gym in your city, if not several. There are also videos and YouTube instructional guides all over the internet, as well as tons of pole kits being sold online.
I decided to go to a class offered at a local fitness center, X-Fusion. I met up with instructor Gidget Pellegrin for my first class on a warm Thursday morning having little idea of what to expect.
I showed up in a t-shirt and a pair of capri leggings that I rolled above my knee (shorts are preferred, but I haven’t owned a pair since middle school), and with a healthy dose of apprehension and nerves.
I’m a big girl. I’ve been overweight all my life, and I’m currently the heaviest I’ve ever been. For the most part, I’m okay with my weight, but the struggle to be happy with who I am in our current society is real. Despite all of the negativity thrown my way because I happen to be fat, I have no desire to be thin, just more active. The goal is, and always should be, health over weight.
Traditional workout routines and aerobics classes have never appealed to me; I’ve just never found them to be fun. So, I’m always on the lookout for new and fun ways to stay active and healthy. I’ve always viewed pole dancing as a beautiful art form that requires impressive muscle control, and I wasn’t wrong.
What I was wrong about was the thought that pole dancing was something I could never do. In my very first class, Gidget had me off my feet and twirling in several different spins. It was an absolute blast. I encountered zero judgment, tons of encouragement, and everyone there spent the entire class giggling and joking non-stop.
I had so much fun! Just about anyone can do this, and probably should.
Still, you will hurt. It’s a good hurt, but you will hurt. Specifically your upper body. My arms felt like flaming jell-o for the next few days, and I came home with some fun bruises around my knees where they gripped the pole, and one on my ankle from slipping. This is a fantastic upper body work out, and if you happen to be looking to eradicate those pesky under arm bat-wings, pole dancing is probably one good way to go.
I also realized that if you’re into instant gratification, pole dancing may actually work out for you. I honestly never thought I’d be doing a full spin during my first class (especially since I have next to no upper body strength), but I did. The feeling of encouragement I drew from accomplishing my first spin fueled the rest of the class and helped me try other moves I found intimidating.
Pole dancing is a lot of work, and requires you to build up your muscles to really get into the super cool stuff, but being able to do some fun moves right off the bat can help encourage you to continue to work at getting better.
I rocked that pole, and felt amazing doing it. We define our own comfort zone, and I intend to continue to expand mine.