And then motherhood and homes and bins and washing and cooking and separating squabbles happened. And sexy died.
I met Karen at a networking meeting and even I, with my hedonistic teenage years ticked off raised my eyebrows when she said she ran a pole dancing school. This was a few years ago and pole-fitness was only just kicking off. Was pole dancing actually a sport? Apparently so. It sounded fun.
I booked a pole-birthday party with a few friends a couple of years later and even though some of my pals aren’t quite as ‘adventurous’ as me, we all had a hilarious time and agreed it was so much fun, and way more physically trying than we’d envisaged. But even so, with small children at home and very little childcare I didn’t even consider the possibility of attending regular classes.
Then last year that changed, I made a commitment (and made my husband promise he’d be home in time, not as hard as I’d thought once I showed him what I’d be able to do 😉 ), and now I’m kicking myself with stripper heels I didn’t start years ago. Because what do Mum’s miss most about their ‘old’ life? ‘Me’ time, to be not just a wife, mother, bum wiper, packed lunch maker, but a woman, a real, sexy woman.
There is literally no ‘ideal’ pole dancer body, despite what you may have seen in ads for strip clubs. People of all shapes and sizes and ages have attended the classes I go to, from teenagers to women in their 70’s, skinny to much bigger. And what people look like is absolutely no indication of their strength or ability on the pole. You don’t have to look a certain way to be able to do pole dancing and that makes it an incredibly accepting community. Being physically strong is also incredibly empowering. There seems to be this mind-muscle connection where, if you are physically stronger, you are stronger in other emotional ways and feel more able to deal with what life throws at you.
Is pole dancing for tarts and strippers? Is wanting to look sexy demeaning and undermining other female values like intelligence? Is performing less important than, say, more conventional sports competitions? Not in the pole world. What we do, what we wear and how we dance has absolutely no reflection on other parts of ourselves. Some people who pole dance have high powered jobs, follow current affairs like politics and climate change, are caring responsible mothers, do charity work, are highly religious or compete in other sports. It’s the most non-judgemental group of people I’ve ever met.
And because not everyone understands point 2. and being comfortable with your body (1.) are very ‘heart on your sleeve’ declarations, the people you meet in class you’ll likely bond with and be able to open up to. It’s a fantastic grounding for a good friendship based on trust and honesty.
Pole requires you to use your entire core, top to bottom, front to back and round the sides. Every single muscle is needed, making it way more effective than endless sit ups and crunches.
Pole dancing is a mix of strength and cardio, so you use all our muscles at one point or other depending on the move (including your back – a strong back = way less back ache), and you’ll need stamina and a strong heart and lungs to keep going; you can’t just drop off the pole when you get tired or you could crack your head or land on your neck the wrong way! That being said, you can start at all levels and fitness abilities – even if you turn up completely out of shape, weak, and hot having a clue, by the end of your first class you’ll have learnt something and progressed a little.
On note 5, if you don’t concentrate you could slip up. Teachers are there to keep you safe and make sure you only do things when you’re ready to, and there are mats while you’re learning something new, but ultimately messing around is dangerous pole needs to be taken seriously. For that reason it’s great for making you put more effort in when you feel lazy, and for forgetting all the stresses of home while you concentrate on the task at hand.
Trust me when I say learning a move for the first time is clumsier and more awkward than graceful and sexy! And if you want to just use it as a physical fitness class, feel free to leave all sass behind and just get a good workout in. There are all sorts of competitions for all levels in the pole world, and even a finished routine can have any type of theme such as poetic or arty, not just a ‘classic’ sexy one.
Because sick and sore nipples and fish fingers and tummy holding pants are not sexy. Yet we are sexy (were?), so how did life become so very unsexy?! Well, here’s your chance for a recap. You probably do know how to look, feel and move in a sexy way, you’ve just forgotten, and the last time you pulled out your sass was at a 21st birthday party and you were rather drunk. Pole dancing can bring that goddess back out and trust me you’ll welcome her with open arms. You sex life may well improve and not because you know how to please your partner better, but because you feel more comfortable in your own body, which is a seriously underrated necessity in the bedroom.
Struggling in your yoga class or rival ‘Dad-dancing’ in the embarrassing stakes? No one ever said you had to bee good at these things. But if you want to, pole dancing will really help to improve both.
The number of stories I’ve read of women starting pole dancing during a difficult time in their lives is astonishing. Whether it’s their one night out a week, or because they needed to start looking after themselves physically as being healthy makes other areas of life more manageable, or because they were feeling lost and needed to discover who they were as a woman without anyone judging them, everyone I’ve met has a story. And each and every one has felt stronger emotionally by taking this one hour a week to do this for themselves. Sometimes there’s anger, frustration, tears and hugs. Sometimes there’s giggles from start to finish. It all comes out. My own pole journey started at a time when big life decisions (moving home), very sick family members, and my own personal mental health struggles were fighting for first place. Pole dancing gives me a bit of strength to stay standing through it all.
And that’s what it really comes down to as a mother isn’t it? We put so much time, effort, mental and emotional energy into everyone else, we forget that we need these things too. Pole dancing is my time, when I’m not a wife, or a mother, or a homemaker or business owner, I’m just me.