For the past year and a half, and on and off for the last 5 years, I have been pole dancing for fitness – and fun! I enjoy it so much that I quit the gym and dance at Bobbi’s Gold Pole Studio at least twice a week. There are so many things I love about pole… learning challenging tricks and moving up to higher grades, performing new routines (choreographed by the talented pole guru Bobbi) at the end of each 8 week term, the supportive environment in class, the talented teachers, the endorphins and how my body is slowly but surely getting stronger, fitter and more flexible. It’s cardio and resistance training all rolled into one. I highly recommend pole for anyone who loves to dance and keep fit and gets bored easily with the gym.
When I reflect on my last 18 months, I realized that there are some life lessons that can be applied to pole. Seriously! Don’t laugh. Here they are:
1. Start from the bottom and build a good foundation before you can start climbing to the top. Each level is harder, building on the level before. So if I haven’t fully understood a basic climb on the pole, then I can forget about climbing higher up the pole and doing more tricks. A good foundation is important for everything in life like school, jobs and relationships.
2. Relax, shift your energy to face your fears. The scarier moves like inverting becomes even harder when I drain energy from being nervous and scared. As soon as I relax, I gain strength and a clear mind to get through it. And anything else that life throws my way!
3. Focus. Because if I lose my focus even for a second, I will surely fall. Off the pole. When trying to achieve anything, keep your focus on the goal and stay mindful.
4. Don’t quit. When I’m exhausted and down, I sometimes feel like giving it all up and going home to bed. This is bad – and could potentially be fatal – if I’m in halfway up the pole in the middle of a tricky move and feel like letting go. So as my dad always says, if you’ve started something, finish it. And you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve!
5. Get out of your comfort zone and build confidence. As you move up the levels, pole dancing becomes more pole acrobatics and it’s all about getting out of your comfort zone and doing crazy upside down moves. At first it’s scary and uncomfortable but after a while, it becomes easy and fun! My comfort zone gets smaller as I feel more confident with every new trick in my pocket.
6. Things don’t go according to plan. At school, if you are an average or above student, you generally move up to a new grade with the same set of students. Life is different – and so is pole. Students come from all kinds of backgrounds – some with more dance experience, some with more gymnastics experience, some with both and some with none at all. So it’s very rare to move up levels at the same pace as anyone else! Planning to become an Advanced level dancer after ‘x’ amount of years is a great goal but in reality, it may not happen after ‘x’ amount years. It may happen later – or even earlier. It will probably happen, but in most cases, not the way you planned it.
7. Enjoy the journey and celebrate each step of the way. When I had moved up from Beginner’s into Intermediate 1, all I wanted was to graduate to Intermediate 2. I was so focussed on the end goal that I forgot to celebrate the small achievements on the way. It’s great to have goals, but also important to enjoy the path to get there and rewarding yourself for the small achievements on the way.
8. Practice makes perfect. Pole is a hobby so when work or life gets busy, pole has to come second which sometimes hinders my ability to get new moves. But when I do have some quiet periods, I always go to practice sessions and learn tricks over and over again, committing them to my muscle memory. It’s amazing how a difficult move becomes easy with practice and how I can rely on muscle memory to get into it during a nerve-racking routine.
9. You need to go through a little pain (and bruises!) to get better at it. Pole is fun – but hard! It’s more painful than it looks and I occasionally have bruises. But it’s amazing how the pain has resulted in my body becoming stronger, leaner and toned. The girls in the Advanced classes are of all body types, but they are all super fit and strong. So going through a little bit of pain gives great results that are visible to everyone!
10. Don’t compare yourself to anyone but yourself. There will always be someone more flexible and stronger than me. Always. But I have learned to just focus on me and learn from those who are better than me. Comparing myself to anyone will only make me feel sad and, achieve nothing.
11. Trust your gut feeling and instincts. When I’m upside down with my legs locked on the pole, I only take my hands off if I feel secure and confident. If I feel insecure and unsafe then it’s probably because I’m in the wrong position at the wrong time. That’s when I leave my hands locked on the pole and come off safely. This, I think, applies to life. If something feels wrong and unsafe, it probably is. It probably isn’t the right time and place for whatever it is you are worried about. So trust your gut feeling and get out of the situation before you hurt yourself.
If you are interested in pole, there are lots of fun studios around Sydney. I’m a student at Bobbi’s and highly recommend her studio because Bobbi and her teachers are talented, nice and supportive; the studio is in the heart of the city which is a convenient location for me; and the routines are amazing. The interior is also spacious with pretty décor and plenty of room (unlike other crowded studios where you risk being injured by the girl next to you!) which always makes me feel calm after a stressful day at the office.
This is Bobbi’s Gold director and (one of my teachers) Bobbi in action in a move I may be able to do in another 20 years when I become flexible! You can wear a tank top and shorts to class OR you can wear sparkly bikinis (created by Bobbi) and HIGH HIGH heels!
But don’t be intimidated or scared, the Beginner’s level is pretty easy and approachable. You can expect to learn something new, have a work out and have lots of fun. There are no crazy upside down moves in Beginners – you have to wait for Intermediate 1 for that! Book in for a class and see how you go – you might just become as addicted as me, get fit, more flexible and make new friends at the same time!
Images credits: Pinterest and Bobbi.