Awareness in… Pole Dancing?
That’s right! Pole Dancing. In my quest to try all of the coolest NYC exercise classes on ClassPass, with the intention of focusing on body awareness, I came across pole dancing and decided to give it a shot!
To be honest, I’m someone who tends to feel a little uncomfortable trying being “sexy,” and I know I’m not the only one out there who can relate to this. If I were to dig deep to pinpoint the source of my discomfort, I’d find a myriad of contributing factors: Sexual trauma? Check. Gay ex-husband? Check. Skin-changes post major weight-loss? Check. I’m like a petri dish of issues, and although I’m able to moderate these issues pretty well, sensual movement is often synonymous with self-consciousness, as far as I’m concerned.
So, on a last-minute whim, I decided to enroll in a pole dancing class. I’ve been told it’s a difficult workout and really fun, so I decided I’d give it a shot. I arrived at Femme Body Fitness in Midtown Manhattan for a 2pm class on a Wednesday. I felt equal parts nervous and excited as I entered the lobby and immediately approached a wall lined with stiletto stripper-heels. I snapped a quick photo and smiled broadly at the woman at the front desk.
As I signed the waiver, I blurted out my apprehensions to her, confessing my struggle with being “sexy.”
Without hesitation, she looked at me square in the eyes and said matter-of-factly, “But, hunny, you’re already sexy.”
This made me grin from ear to ear, bolstered my confidence for the upcoming class, and perfectly opposed my negative experience from the spinning class the previous weekend. I didn’t have to take this class to become sexy. I already was. Thank you.
Five women attended the class. Three of us were first timers, and the other two were regulars. The woman at the front desk emerged as our instructor, revealed her small, pregnant belly, and demonstrated a warm-up routine that focused on stretching and celebrating our own sensuality. Whether it was “sexy push-ups”, pelvic rotation on four-point, or the sexiest downward dog I’ve ever experienced, I was laughing and smiling the entire time.
After we warmed up, she got us started on “Pole Conditioning.” We started with “pole sit-ups” where we basically held the pole and lifted our knees to our chest. She elegantly drew her knees up past her pregnant belly, and lowered them down again with exceptional control. I watched in awe as I tried to do the same – emphasis on the word “tried.” I basically held onto the pole for dear life and tried to fling my knees up to my boobs without losing my grip. I was astounded at how difficult it was, and my respect for pole dancers increased exponentially in that moment.
The other newbies and I were all cracking up as we learned to spin forward and backward around the pole. I held on tight, shoulders hunched up to my ears, and cringed every time I heard the skin on my legs squeegee down the pole. Learning these moves was the most unsexy thing I have ever done, but it was paradoxically freeing to allow myself to be awkward while doing something intentionally sensual.
In the awkwardness, the learning curve, and the struggle, I was finally able to see progress in my forward and backward spins, and we learned a little routine to incorporate all of the new tricks. We did some sexy pole walking, some pelvic thrusting, and although I’m not sure exactly what twerking is… I think we did that too.
For the last ten minutes, our instructor turned off all the overhead lights and replaced them with crazy disco ball stage lighting. She turned on some R&B and let us have free time to practice the new moves. This free time was ridiculously fun! I sexy walked. I spun around the pole. I shoved my tush out and even did some more pelvic thrusts to the music. No one was looking. It was just me, myself, and the pole, and I had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
I wasn’t trying to impress a man. I wasn’t even trying to impress myself. I was just trying to dig deep and tune into my own body. I was trying to feel what it felt like to move in a sensual way that felt authentic and natural. I was finding myself – my confidence.
This wasn’t about changing my body. It wasn’t about making it look better. It wasn’t about improving anything. This was about me becoming more confident in my own skin, in the intimate, non-sexual relationship that one has with one’s self. It was about being at peace and finding the joy in exactly who I am right now and knowing that’s enough. Who knew Pole Dancing would teach me all of that?
I walked out of that class feeling empowered, free, and confident. In terms of exercise, I was astounded at the physical capacity required for the tricks, and I definitely look forward to going back at some point. If I’m ever feeling insecure with my body or my sensuality again, I know just where to go to find my confidence… and never in a million years did I think it would be at a stripper pole…
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