Pole For The Eternally Ungraceful
Written by Neo Wilby Whilst scrolling through the millions of pole videos I’ve saved on Facebook this morning, I came to the conclusion that some polers were born to dance. I imagine Bendy Kate arriving into this world gracefully pirouetting from the depths of her mother’s womb with perfectly pointed feet, landing effortlessly, new born and naked in a stage-quality arabesque penchee. I, on the other hand, was born with all the elegance of a dad dance at a circa-1997 family wedding. I’m pretty sure I grappled my way out and landed instead with a “plonk” as my perma-flexed feet slapped the midwife in the face like two wet fish. Nope, I was not “born for the stage”. Far, far from it. I came to pole not from dance or gymnastics but from a completely different angle… A personal trainer and copywriter in the fitness industry, I loved to lift (and lift heavy)! My days were happily filled with kettlebells, HIIT workouts and bench pressing without a kick-ball-heel in sight. Eventually, my love for push ups led me into calisthenics and that’s when, as I was working towards doing my first ever strict pull up, I saw an advert for a pole fitness class at a local studio. This had to help me nail all those kickass calisthenics tricks I’d seen on Instagram, right? And, you know what? It did! But it gave me so much more than that too. Here’s me about 3 months after starting pole, getting the feet all wrong and having to do a take 2, as usual… How pole gave me grace I started pole for the strength and fitness, but I stayed because it gave me something that none of my other fitness endeavours ever could. For a start, it was hard. And I don’t mean hard in the way that one-armed burpees or the last few reps of your last squat set are hard. I mean it was not only physically tough, but mentally challenging too. It was frustrating and impossible and waaay out of my comfort zone. And I loved that. I needed it. Pole hasn’t just given me the strength to do pull ups and handstands. It’s given me a never ending quest! There is always a next “move”, another “trick” to master, and every time I learn something new, I get that mission-accomplished satisfaction of a “big tick” off my pole move wish-list. And because each one has taken so much time, so much effort, so many bruises and so much profanity, it feels so much more satisfying than a new deadlift PB ever did. As for the dance side of things, my poise is slowly starting to improve (a little) and that compulsory dramatic flourish of sexy which felt so forced and embarrassing at the beginning has actually given me a whole new confidence that I didn’t even realise I was missing. Nowadays, I can’t even scrape my way through a floor bump in the warm up without an ever so subtle hair flick at the end. I may still look a little more Bloke-from-MoneySupermarket-Advert than Pussycat Doll, but I FEEL sexy as hell while I’m doing it. And that’s what pole is all about. It’s not just strong, it’s fun. It’s playful. It’s movement. And it’s inherently sexy – whether you’re muscling your way into an iron-X or fairy-kicking your way around a spinning pole, I guarantee you will look (and feel) like a sexy badass. So, my point is this: don’t let a lack of grace put you off pole! Yes, pole CAN be beautiful, but it’s not JUST a form of dance! Fitness, strength, flexibility, fun—keep these things in mind and although you may feel like you’ll never fully be the boss of your own feet, if you enjoy the process, the va-va-voom will come—and you’ll learn to love it! About Neo Neo is a fitness writer and personal trainer from Yorkshire, England. A former lawyer, she left the legal profession to pursue her passion for fitness and is now much happier lifting weights and playing pole.