Pole dance: the sport that taught me how to love myself.

My obsession with pole dance all started nearly five years ago when my wonderful friend, Alessandra, decided to throw me a completely unexpected surprise party. You can’t imagine my excitement when I opened my front door to find my sister (who lives in Paris) standing in the doorway. Old and new friends came together to celebrate me…and I loved every minute of it! 

The activity chosen is a true testament that my sisters and friends know me so well, because I was blindfoldedly brought to a basement dance studio with two super long poles. The gorgeous and ever talented Sarah Louise Preston  was there to greet us and proceeded to show us some moves.

Now, at this point, I must express the total awe of watching a professional dancer combine moves with a pole. It looks easy and effortless – until you try it. The first lesson rendered me incredulous. Can a person really move around this metal tube so graciously as if appearing to go against gravity? With a few attempts, and a great teacher, it is possible!

One class is all it took and I was hooked. Every week, twice a week, without fail, I was determined to excel at this new sport – always keeping my favourite move in mind: ‘super-girl’. “One day, I will nail that move!”, I kept telling myself. What Alessandra did not realise, was that she was not just throwing me a lovely party, but rather giving me the gift of confidence. Believing in yourself is key when starting a new hobby. Only self determination will give you the motivation to excel. At nearly the age of 30, I myself was dubious on my skills to not only learn a new craft, but master it as well. Obviously, the more progress you make, the more you can actually see your improvements, the happier you will be with yourself and your ego will have that well-deserved boost.

Do not take this lightly. What I am saying is important, not for you to succeed with your hobbies or physical form, but for you as a person to be happier with yourself and more comfortable around others. For those who know me, shyness has never been a huge attribute of mine, but when you are in your sports bra and your short shorts in front of a mirror with six other girls, you cannot help but look at yourself and do the inevitable. Judge. We all do it, we are all guilty. We judge ourselves, we judge others, we compare ourselves and this whole daunting process can be enough for you to simply want to throw in the towel.

Don’t! What I found in pole dance class was not only an intense female bond, but also a collective push to make every single one of us a better person. Physically, emotionally and mentally. As cheesy as it sounds, a sisterhood was formed and what I gained from going to class, (even if all we did sometimes was stretch and flex), was to look at myself in a different way. Accepting what you see in the mirror can be a very hard thing, but loving what you see in the mirror is the highest form of empowerment possible.

So, for those of you who still have the antiquated mentality that pole dancing equals stripping: please stop. My Italian aunt and uncle once saw a post of mine on Facebook and rang me to see if I was taking “lap dance” classes. No, I do not take my clothes off and I do not get paid to dance in front of a bunch of drunk and horny men. Even more so when I moved to a small town on an island in Spain, I struggled at first to explain that I do a sport with an ‘american pole’ (as they call it) because the phrase ‘pole-dance’ for many people who still don’t know what it is, it’s just another way to say ‘whore’. 

I am pushing myself to higher limits with my body and mind and so far I cannot see anything negative about it. I am not forced to be sexy, but rather choose to be, because I like what I see in the mirror. I do not want to hide what this new sport has made me become, because it has helped me accept myself, and I am a much happier person because of it.

If you are curious to try a pole dance or pole fit class, I strongly suggest that you do. The first time might be scary, but you just might end up loving yourself for it.