There are so many things you can miss out on for being judgmental. An amazing man, an amazing friendship—but what about an amazing body? What if, because of a social stigma, you’ve allowed your judgment to get in the way of an amazing fitness routine that could transform your life?
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when my friend went off on a tirade about how all the “yuppie women” in her fitness group wouldn’t be down to try pole fitness because of the whole “stripper stigma.”
“Of course, I don’t think that!” She went on. Again, I rolled my eyes. She had called to ask if I knew anyone who owned a workout space and I quickly offered up my friend’s pole fitness studio. That’s when she bumbled into her explanation that it wouldn’t be quite appropriate for her group of women.
The first time I tried pole fitness I didn’t feel sexy, I wasn’t strong, and I wore baggy shorts and a tee shirt to hide the chubbiness I was so insecure about. I knew I needed an alternative to the gym and traditional workout routines and had tried lots of things, so I was willing to give this a try.
The Judgment: Pole Fitness Is Pretty Much Stripping
This actually always makes me laugh. The studio isn’t crawling with strippers and no one is ever dancing around with pasties or nipple tassels. There also aren’t men with their tongues wagging, stuffing dollar bills into G-strings. (For the record, no one is wearing those either.)
Yes, most strip clubs have a pole in them but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. For those of you who don’t frequent strip clubs, most strippers do very basic, sexual movements on the pole (because let’s be honest it doesn’t take much to get a man going). It’s also pretty rare you’ll see a full-blown pole routine.
The majority of pole studios don’t allow men. They want women to feel comfortable working out. The only point I’ve ever taken off my clothes in the studio is going from wearing my sweatpants in the warm up to shorts afterwards.
It’s easy to come up with excuses not to try something new. These are the ones I regularly hear about pole fitness:
Excuse 1: I’m Just Not Very Sexy/Sexual Person
Am I missing something? This isn’t a sex class. Sure there are some sensual movements that go along with it, but no one will force you to do them. Those movements are really there to assist in the transition from one movement to another while still looking graceful.
When I first started in pole, my confidence had previously been shattered. I didn’t feel sexy at all. I laughed at myself every time I did a sensual move or a hair flip. It took some time, but the studio provided a safe place for me to build back my confidence and allow myself to do those sensual moves without feeling stupid.
Excuse 2: I’m Not Strong Enough
No kidding. If you don’t work out and then suddenly tried to lift a 200lb barbell you probably couldn’t, at least not without hurting yourself. Pole fitness is a fitness program. Just like you wouldn’t dive into a fitness routine and lift crazy heavy weights on day one, you wouldn’t do that in pole either.
Most studios help you to build up your strength and don’t expect you to be hanging upside down on your first class or even several in. Besides pole work, a warm up and after workout is provided, where your muscles can begin to build strength, especially your upper body and core.
Excuse 3: I Probably Won’t Be Good at It
How often do you find that someone is just naturally good at something? Just like everything else, it’s a skill you’ll need to learn. Your first day they aren’t going to throw you in an advanced class or expect you to be competition ready!
Most studios have different levels of classes and are small enough that when a class is mixed, the instructor can assist each person on their individual level.
Excuse 4: I Don’t See How Pole Dancing Is Even a Workout
You don’t have to see it, but there’s a reason why it’s called pole fitness. Just attend even the most basic of classes and when you wake up the next morning—you’ll be a believer. Really, who doesn’t want to feel like they’re not really working out, while they really are working out??
My first ever month and a half doing pole fitness I lost 11.5 pounds. Last year when I returned to it, after only 4 weeks my weight stayed the same but I experienced a considerable amount of fat loss.
While you may get some cardio into your pole workouts, you’re building muscle, which assists with the burning of fat. While not everyone will have the exact same results, most people I work out with have seen noticeable changes after just a month of going at least 3 times a week.
Not feeling sexy but want to? Why not let it rip in the studio? It’s amazing to be surrounded by so many other women of all shapes and sizes not afraid to run around in short shorts and a sports bra. Despite people outside turning up their noses, these women won’t judge you and it’s such an incredibly safe place to let that inner sex kitten come out and play—if you want to.
Learning is Addictive, Motivating… and Fun
The thing I love most about pole fitness is that there are so many spins, poses, inverts and climbs to learn and so many variations of each. Learning new things becomes addictive, and it’s that addiction that keeps you coming back and working out. Maybe there’s that one move you’re trying to perfect. Maybe once you get that move down there’s another move you want to learn, and another. The fact that you are learning a skill will keep you coming back and keep you from getting bored.
It’s also almost impossible to not have any fun while you’re there. There will be plenty of days where you don’t feel like getting up and dragging your ass to the gym but if you’re having fun, it doesn’t feel like you’re working out and you’re likely to keep coming back.
If you can put your excuses and judge-y pants away, you’ll be able to see and maybe even reap all the awesome benefits to this alternative fitness practice.
*This article was first published in the June 2014 issue of Indie Chick Magazine.
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