“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney
Pole fitness has always been on my bucket list for the longest time. I’ve always admired efforts it takes for performers to pole dance while enjoying what they’re doing. Although pole dancing is extremely strenuous, performers always maintain a sexy and seductive aura. The combinations of body and mental confidence are two of the most intriguing things that drew me to pole fitness.
A little background…
Growing up, I had problems with my body image. I am 5’2 and I have a petite body frame, so I’ve always been self-conscious about my weight because gaining weight tends to make my body looks stubby. I was lean and skinny, and I didn’t have a lot of muscle. I struggled with maintaining my weight for a little bit because I was so obsessed with staying thin and not having a tummy. Being an Asian American, the standards of beauty between my native culture and American culture always clashed. In Asian culture, the idea of having a small frame and slender is more appealing, while in American culture, it is all about the booty and the hourglass shape. Having two opposite body standards was difficult for a young girl to adapt to. Body insecurities have always been a touchy topic of mine that I didn’t begin dealing with until my sophomore year of college when I discovered weight training.
I was a cardio bunny in my freshman year of college, I went from 115 lbs to 110 by the end of my first semester. I didn’t have any muscle, so although I was quite lean, I actually looked weak. I took up weight training during the summer of my sophomore year, and I fell in love with the result that I was seeing. I began working out more, but it wasn’t something that I took seriously.
After going through a major breakup a couple months ago, I decided that I wanted to take better care of myself, mentally and physically. I wanted to have a better relationship with my body, and when I came across pole fitness, I decided to give it a try.
And so the adventure begins…
On the first day, the class began with a light warmup of the hula hoops and stretches, since it was a pole dance class, high heels were optional. I wanted to challenge myself so I took up the high heels. Since it was the first class for myself and other students, we spent the majority of the time strength training using the pole. I could barely keep up during the first 10 minutes of class. The instructor had us working on our arms by doing the pull up using the pole. So I had to lift my legs off the ground while holding onto the pole, and it was such a struggle. It was definitely harder than weight training because I was working out with my body weight. After 10 minutes of arms, we moved to core, then booty and finished with core again.
I slept so well that night and woke up extremely sore around my abdominal region. It hurt when I sit up and it hurt when I laughed. However, I felt good about myself the entire day knowing that the pain was there because I worked so hard during the session. I skipped the gym the next day and instead, I went to yoga to stretch, and it actually helped my body recovered.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu
I struggled during the first 2 weeks of classes because my body wasn’t able to keep up with the training. I have pretty decent core strength and legs strength but I have terrible upper body strength. On days that I don’t have pole fitness classes, I would be doing weight training, and I spent more time working on my upper body, including my arms, chest, and shoulders.
The classes lasted for about 1 month, and the learning curve was pretty high since my body wasn’t used to being sensual yet strong at the same (the combination just didn’t go together but in pole fitness it does). As I was beginning to feel discouraged, I began talking to other guests, who were phenomenal and have amazing bodies. I learned that most of them have been training there over 1 year so they had the muscles and they were used to the routines. At that moment I realized that I was measuring my own growth against people who had more experience than me. It was a reminder for myself that I needed to be patient with my personal growth.
“To me, beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It’s about knowing and accepting who you are.”- Ellen Degenerous
On my last week of class, I was finally able to properly spin around the pole and do pull-ups. I was amazed by my body, not because of the way it looks but the strength that my body exerted. I ended up with a few bruises on my thighs and my feet, but I was so happy to see how capable my body was. Since the class also focused on being sensual and promoted body confident, I finally got comfortable with seeing and accepting the way that I look. My experience of trying pole fitness has inspired to see myself as a project that deserves attention and dedication, not just the physical aspect but also the mentality that came with it.
Thank you for reading!