I had been pole dancing for two years, I labeled myself a pole dancer and it was something that no longer was just an activity for me, it was a way of life. I had a training schedule, conditioning exercises and trick progression plan.
I certainly thought of pole dancing as a sport. But the stigma behind pole dancing and the taboo surrounding it was still lurking. I had a corporate job, what if they found out I pole danced? Would I be thought of any less? Would this affect my career? I’m a mother of two kids, what would their friends think? What about their parents? What about my this person or that person? What will they think? Will people approve of this?
That fear of rejection lurked as my pole journey continued but the passion and love for pole dancing flourished. I’ll be honest, pole dancing has changed my life. Might be corny, but let me explain. Pole dancing gave me an incentive to eat better and help me overcome my eating disorder. It allowed to me learn how to be comfortable in my own skin, because I had a choice: I could hide the fact I have fat rolls and some varicose veins and never progress in pole, or I can feel amazing, doing things I never thought I could. The thought of feeling amazing or self-disgust…what direction did I want to go? Was I going to let my own body image insecurities hold me back? No…I had to learn how to move on from that, and show some skin, which is certainly a process and takes time. I also discovered that when you are vulnerable with people and they are still accepting, you can heel. And the combination of my eating disorder and body image issues had already begun the process of healing. I was accepted in this pole community.
Those were some of the benefits. But of course there’s also the physical aspect. I had been a fitness instructor in the gym for over 10 years, a personal trainier and a fitness guru. I had always wanted to do a pull up, never had the strength. After two years of pole dance, I decided to see if I could do my goal: ONE pull up. I didn’t end up doing one, I did TEN…and it blew my mind. I’m doing things I never thought my body was physically capable of. And as a professional fitness instructor and exercise physiologists in my 20’s…..I’m more physically fit 10 years later than I ever was in the fitness profession. I have pole dance to thank for that. I didn’t start off this strong, but I built incredible strength as I was learning moves and I didn’t even realize it. It was inspiring, and you could easily see a progression of pole tricks and moves as you continued your pole journey. One goal or trick would be accomplished and my eyes were already set on a few others. It wasn’t hard to stay motivated.
Pole has also allowed me to meet some incredible people, many of whom have become my close friends. It allowed me to be part of a community of polers, where encouragement, acceptance and some good laughs were guaranteed. It allowed me a way to express my emotions. Whether I felt angry and put on some Papa Roach, or felt a sadness and put on a country song that allowed my heart to weep. I could do gymnastics inspired tricks or spice things up with Britney Spears and some sassy hip moves. It was a freedom of expression. It was an emotional release.
A turning point came and a pole friend helped me gain the courage to sign up for my first public pole performance. I was terrified. I wasn’t as advanced as the other girls performing and I was a self taught pole dancer who was slow to progress without the classroom instruction. That fear of “I’m not good enough” and “I can’t do this” started to lurk back in. But with her help, I signed up. And in that moment I decided the love for pole outweighed all those fears of rejection. I decided there really was no reason to be ashamed of this incredible sport with these amazing athletes.
So I decided to create a dance that was my interpretation of not being ashamed. I am a pole dancer. I am a mother. I am a Professional. As I have publically “come out” I have learned so many people have wanted to try it – few actually have the courage to do it. I found it a personal passion of mine to create a welcoming environment and allow people the opportunity to discover pole. Corny or not, it changes lives.