By Kelly McGarry
Like many women I’ve spent most of my life trying to find the most effective diets or exercises to perfect my body, and, like many, I’m still working on it.
As much as spending hours fighting for the treadmill in the gym or swimming under people in over-crowded, public pools is fine most of the time; every so often it’s good for your body to try something completely new.
I’ve tried many different exercise methods to keep fit, including sports, gym, aqua-aerobics and even power kiting. However, the one form of exercise I’ve avoided my whole life is dance, mainly because I have the poise and grace of a drunk rhino.
It wasn’t until I heard a few people at my gym raving about their first lesson that the idea of pole dancing even crossed my mind. They claimed it was not only fun, it was also a really good work out. I figured even if I lost my balance, which was pretty much guaranteed, at least I had a pole to hold on to.
I was pretty nervous about signing up, but as soon as I walked in to the room I was greeted by a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, with a group of women aged between 18 and 50, most looked as nervous as I was.
Another reason I’ve avoided dance classes is because dancers always seem to have perfect figures and years of experience. I was relieved to notice that these women were all shapes and sizes and had different degrees of experience in pole dancing.
Standing in the middle of the group with a warming smile and excited demeanor was the instructor, who was not what I had expected. Dressed in casual jogging bottoms and a strappy t-shirt, she was laid-back and friendly and had a fantastic sense of humor, which helped ease the tension of the new members.
She explained to me that she had been pole dancing for 5 years but had never considered doing it as a career, “I started pole dancing because it was fun and I never really got on with other dancing styles. I soon realized that it was a fantastic work out and as soon as I got my license I started teaching. I instruct a lot of work out sessions in gyms but pole dancing is definitely my favourite.”
After a ten minute warm up of stretches and light jogging we were separated into groups according to our level of experience and assigned poles.
We started with very basic moves, which I was more than happy with as I didn’t think I was ready for an upside-down twirl just yet. We did a ‘spin around the pole with a pirouette,’ which is the basis for all pole-dancing routines, so while it sounds easy it was important to get it right.
I couldn’t help but peek across the room to where the more experienced girls were practicing and saw something that changed my misguided opinion of pole dancing completely.
One participant had swung round with her back to the pole, kicked her legs out and then swung them up above her head. She then carefully slid down, replacing her feet on the floor once again.This sounds outrageous but to see it up close was amazing. It wasn’t just that the move was impressive; it had looked so graceful it was more like watching rhythmic gymnastics.
The girl later told me, “I’ve been learning to pole dance for 5 years now and I love it, I’m thinking of entering competitions soon. I tried going to the gym but I couldn’t get the motivation to keep it up, it’s just so boring. But pole dancing keeps me fit and it’s really fun.”
Spurred on by this performance I continued trying to perfect my first move.
Next we were taught a more complicated move called “The Fireman” which entailed spinning around the pole with your knees sticking out and your feet resting on opposite sides of the pole. Naturally our instructor made the maneuver look effortless and I foolishly thought, “I can do that, no problem.”
I positioned myself with my right hand on the pole and swung my leg round in to position, and then promptly slid down and landed hard on my behind.
My group and I laughed together and the rest of the class continued with that fun-filled vibe.
By the time I got home my arms and legs hurt and my muscles were aching in that way that lets you know you’ve worked hard. By the end of my first session I had made friends, had fun, found a new respect for pole dancers, and, most importantly, I had found a form of dance that I could get in to.
I had easily worked as hard in class as I ever have using the gym for an hour and I enjoyed it twice as much. For any girls looking for a new way to keep fit; pole dancing is definitely one to try.