I realize as a woman I’m not really allowed to talk about the appearance of my body. Someone will have an issue with what I say no matter what I do. A woman is always “too thin” or “too fat” or “too muscular.” I’m going to discuss my experience anyway.
I recently came across an image of myself from college in 2007. I was thin with hardly any muscle. My body at the time would probably be considered ideal by most women’s magazines. I always considered myself to be a “fit” person. But at the time, I was not as fit as I thought I was.
I was by no means unhealthy. I ate and was active enough. I had no regular exercise regiment though and many of my meals consisted of late night fast food runs coming home from the bar. A funny thing happens as the years go by. You need to work harder to maintain what once seemed to come so easily.
A few years out of college I decided to try a pole dance class for fun. I was sure I was more athletic and capable than most people who tried it. I will never forget the sense of defeat I had felt that first day. I couldn’t climb the pole. My palms were sweaty and I was uncoordinated. In the days following my first class my arms and thighs burned from using dormant muscles I had ignored for years.
Today I can climb to the top of an 18-foot pole. I can hold my body weight perpendicular to the pole in an “Iron-X” position. I can propel my momentum around the pole with smooth control. These are not skills that have come easily. When students voice frustrations with their progress to me, I let them know it took hard work to get where I am. I have gained about 10 pounds since 2007 and I am healthier than I have ever been.
Pole dancing hasn’t just given me a more attractive figure. It has increased my body awareness. And this is something I carry with me throughout every day of my life. When I speedily navigate down subway staircases to catch trains, my footing feels secure. When I carry groceries home I engage my body correctly to avoid fatigue. Placing heavy objects in overhead compartments is no big deal. If I ever were to be put in a situation where I would need to pull myself up, I know I could do it. I sit up taller. I walk with grace and ease.
Pole dancing helps women and men gain confidence because the focus turns away from what your body looks like and onto what it can do. And ironically, your body ends up looking pretty great in the process. That is an added bonus though. The real treat is in discovering what amazing things the human body is capable of doing. There is nothing that makes you more confident than feeling strong and comfortable in your own skin.