Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pole Position

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of going to yoga and breakfast with my good good buddy Ru. We faced our dogs downward and let our eagles fly high and then we walked to get some brekkie before I had to go to work. It was nice to just chat and catch up with each other. One thing that we talked about was pole dancing. I've been taking pole dance classes since January and performed in a recital in May. Ru came to see the recital (Yup. I'm an adult in a dance recital. Don't be mad.), and I've been trying to talk her into taking classes too, but her schedule hasn't allowed it. We talked about how much stronger I've gotten, how much more comfortable I am with myself, the fact that I have new bruises every week (which I think is flippin awesome) and how being sexy is okay...nay a good thing.

First of all, no, I'm not a stripper. And if I was, so what? But I started taking these classes as a fitness option that I had never had before. And let me tell you, these classes are a doozy! When I first started, my upper body strength was just about to the point where I could bench press the bar. The. End. I can now climb a 12 foot pole and touch the ceiling. I can hold my entire body off the ground with just my hands and arms and pull myself into a pike or a tuck. I can invert myself and hold my body upside down, 2 feet off the ground using just my inner thighs. Um, what?

During the recital in May
When I first started, being intentionally sexy was weird. Because let's face it, we all have our body hang ups. But the nature of pole dancing is inherently sensual, and if it's something that you want to do, you just have to woman up and love that t-shirt! You learn to be comfortable with yourself and to be fully supportive of the other women in class, who cheer you on along the way as well. Right now, I'm the biggest person in my class, and I struggle with inversions. I mean, for real, have you seen this wagon that I'm draggin?? It's HARD to get all this ass over my head! But when I finally got it, those ladies cheered me over my hurdle and up the pole. (I may or may not have promptly fallen on my head, but I was over a mat, so who cares! I got upside down!)

The biggest thing that I have gotten out of my pole dance journey is a way to get out of my own head. As I mentioned before, I struggle with certain poses and moves, just because of how my body is shaped. But it's more than that. If I try something a few times and I can't get it, I won't get it because my mind is discouraged. But I keep trying and eventually it just happens. At some point, all of my muscles and joints get their shit together and make sense of what I was trying to do and actually do it, and I break through that mental barrier. Even if I don't get it the next time, I've already done it, so clearly I can do it again. At this point, it's just a setback, not a failure. I feel like Harry Potter when he makes a Patronus for the first time because he knew he had done it in the futurepast and it wasn't a mental block for him anymore.

Layout in May. I'm WAAAAAAAY stronger now!
I've found a hobby that I am truly passionate about. Not only do I see a physical transformation, but I can tell there's been a mental transformation as well. I look stronger and I feel stronger and I have the strength to mentally push through anything that's blocking me (because, let's be honest, if I can convince myself that my abs and biceps are strong enough to lift this junk in the trunk 5 feet in the air, what the hell CAN'T I do?!?). I have been sick, come to pole class. Driven like a bat out of hell from Philly to make it to pole class. I've fallen on my head, mashed the tops of my feet up so that they are purple and swollen, gotten all sorts of bruises in really strange places, banged up my ankles, cracked the shit out of my knees and tailbone, achieved some gnarly pole burn and worked so hard that my fingers wouldn't bend all the way and my arms were like overcooked noodles. But I love it. I can't imagine going a week without it. Pole dancing has made me a better person, and every time I have a new bruise, I show off that war wound with pride!

So lady friends, yoga is lovely for getting into a good mental place, but if you are looking for something a little more...sassy, try out pole dancing. Anyone can do it, regardless of why you *think* you can't. "I'm not sexy!" Bullshit. You're a tiger, ready to pounce. "I'm too big!" Cockamamie. It's about the mental just as much as the physical and you will be amazed at what you can do when you tell yourself that you can. "I'm not in good enough shape to wear short shorts and a sports bra in class!" Preposterous. You gotta start somewhere, right? Otherwise why work out? Also, after a few months, you'll be strutting around, guns ablazin' like this gal. "I'm not strong enough to climb the pole!" Well shit, NO ONE is strong enough to climb the pole when they first start. You can be fucking He-Man, but you gotta start from the bottom to make it to the top. You use muscles that you didn't even know existed. Your skin starts to act like those rubber jar openers that stick to the metal to give you a grip. You will eventually hang in a beautiful pose using only your ARMPIT AND THE SKIN UNDER YOUR RIBS. That shit don't come easily.

Any more excuses? I didn't think so. If you're in Columbus, my vote is to check out Studio Rouge, but hey, I'm biased ;-)

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