I started taking Pole Fitness classes the same week I started university. Since then, you can’t keep me away, and it’s been a massive part of my university experience. It’s been challenging, rewarding and sorely missed during lockdown. Since I haven’t been able to get near a pole since March, I wanted to talk about some of the things I’ve learned over the past few years.
My body can do some pretty amazing things
Pole Fitness is a serious strength-building activity and coming from a background of very little exercise meant I did – and still do – struggle. But the euphoria of mastering a move is worth the pain every single time. If you’ve watched someone practice before, you may well have underestimated just how physical it is. It’s completely unlike any other exercise I’ve tried; for a start, I spend a lot of time upside down. I feel like my body can do amazing things, even if I’m still a relative beginner, and I’ve never found that kind of confidence anywhere else.
People really like to sexualise Pole Fitness
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. A common misconception is that Pole Fitness is the same as pole dancing. While there is some overlap, they use very different skills depending on what classes you take. Another thing I’ve learned about my body is that I’m not a dancer. While I’m slowly improving on the feats of strength I will never put on an elegant performance, although I have tried it in class. Both practices are totally valid, and I’d recommend trying both if you’re interested. But something I’ve had to be ready for is the funny looks from people who learn about how I spend my Wednesday afternoon.
People are quick to assume that I do pole for some kind of sexual attention, but it’s just not true. Yes, I wear ‘skimpy’ clothes – because I need as much skin on show as possible to grip the pole. I also work out to music sometimes, just like anyone who does Zumba or has a running playlist.
Fitness actually can be fun
This is the first time I’ve really enjoyed exercising. Blame that on 7+ years of school PE lessons that only succeeded in making me hate my body. Now, I take pride in my body, with all of its bruises because it means that it has learned something new. Like I said, I have no background in fitness, apart from the occasional gym visit when I felt guilty. With pole, I’ve finally found something I’m passionate about.
Pole Fitness is for everyone
Pole is for everyone – I’ve practiced with people of all genders and body types and there’s no restriction on who can practice. The only thing that really matters is dedication and enthusiasm. Of course, it’s maybe not for the faint-hearted – if you’re reluctant to go upside down or spin particularly fast, you might want to avoid a few moves!
It’s an amazing community to be a part of
What I’ve loved the most about it is the community. Whether it’s the instructor who’s always there to spot you, the classmates who will get photographs at the best angles or the people online who share helpful tips, it’s always an environment of positivity above all else. Even though I’m not the most outgoing person, and some of my spins are genuinely tragic, I’ve always been encouraged and supported – sometimes physically – in all of my classes.
Photo courtesy of Mahir Uysal