Thursday, January 23, 2014

Day 256 - Taking a Pole Dancing Class

I have never taken a pole dancing class. When I made a sub-goal on trying new forms of exercise during my year of new experiences, learning how to climb and spin on a pole was not exactly what I had in mind; however, the activity came up nearly every time I brought up my experiences with new fitness routines during the course of my “I have never...” year. Those friends of mine that had taken a pole dancing class before insisted it was one of the best workouts they had ever encountered, and the rest of my friends simply wanted to laugh at photos of me spinning around a pole. After some time, this resulted in me deciding, somewhat reluctantly, to include a pole dancing class in my year of new experiences if the opportunity presented itself.

Of course, my announcement of that decision resulted in more than a few friends attempting to locate a pole dancing studio that would permit me to attend a beginner session. Eventually, a friend of mine, Amber, was the one to find such a location, which didn’t surprise me given her last role in my “I have never...” year was setting up my chest waxing appointment. Given the time an effort Amber put into the event, I agreed to attend the class on the condition she would attend the class with me. Realizing the experience would likely offer plenty of laughs and unforgettable memories, she happily agreed.

Now, I’ll begin by saying my experience pole dancing was one of those “I have never...” events I almost immediately knew would be best told by the photographs from the “adventure.” As a result, I will be brief in my remarks about tonight’s “I have never...” event. From the beginning I knew my first experience pole dancing would offer plenty of awkward moments, which began when I entered the dance studio and came upon an unknown student, our instructor, and three metal poles fixed to the ceiling and floor. Thankfully, the instructor, Jackie, was quick to help me through my lingering hesitation and my premature embarrassment about attending the event. Offering plenty of foresight on the format of the class and a little wit, Jackie led us into a few simple stretches before the focus of the class shifted to the real reason we were in attendance, pole dancing.

As we worked into a series of moves including the body snake, the fireman spin, and the angel spin, I quickly found myself breaking a sweat from the series of movements required to complete each dance form. Within minutes of trying the more complex exercises, all of the comments I had heard about the skill and strength needed to pole dance were proven true. I felt muscles I hadn’t used in a long time going to work as I spun around the pole, even when trying to complete movements that looked simple from a distance. The coordination and strength required for each of the techniques Jackie walked us through was so much more than I expected, which provided plenty of challenge as the class progressed. Stated plainly, pole dancing is serious work. Anybody who thinks otherwise clearly hasn’t experienced the form of exercise firsthand.

By the time we brought my first pole dancing class to a close I stood before my pole, sweaty and winded by the extensive effort required to take on the four spins and three stationary moves Jackie had taught us. After a final practice requiring us to put all of our learning together in a fluid routine, I took a step back, placed my hands on my hips, and forced a remark between my labored breaths. “This is hard,” I said looking at the pole, “I mean, this is really hard.” My statement caused the three women in the room to smile before Jackie offered me a simple response, “That means you’re doing it right.” Her comment was reassuring given how awkward I know I must have looked trying my best to look graceful as I spun around a pole in athletic shorts and a plain t-shirt. If Jackie felt I was doing something right, that was all I needed to know that putting myself out there, blowing past my hesitation, and giving pole dancing my best was a good decision. I might not have been the prettiest or most elegant person to ever dance on a pole, but it was clear my first attempt at the physical art form was a success.

Point your toes! ...POINT!

At the end of the class Amber and I gathered our things and made our way back to the car. As we pulled out of the parking lot Amber grinned and asked me a simple question, “So, would you do it again?” Understanding the question was intended to act as a gauge of my thoughts on the experience, I gave her a straightforward answer, “Oh, definitely. That was one of the most intense and challenging workouts I’ve experienced so far. I would easily do it again.” The response caused Amber to widen her smile. “Well, if you ever want to do it again, you know I’m game.”  It didn’t take me more than a few seconds to settle on the idea that I wouldn’t be surprised if I took Amber up on her offer. As awkward as I still feel about it, pole dancing provides a challenge and a workout unlike any I have encountered before. The challenge drives me to want to improve and the exercise is good for me. As far as I’m concerned, that makes the activity worth trying again; even if it means I have to make a fool of myself pretending to be graceful as I spin around a shiny metal pole.

1 comment:

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