From dingy dive bars to lounges and strip clubs, my stint as a bottle girl meant that I had to become accustomed to each and different setting in nightlife and their blinding LED lights. Soon enough, watching dancers effortlessly twirl down a pole from unfathomable heights with casual ease and even a slight hint of boredom began to entice me enough to want to try the sport on my own. As someone with zero dance experience, stiff joints and a fervent fear of heights, I seemed like the last person who should ever want to try pole dancing. I had long been fascinated with gymnastics, ballet and figure skating as a child, but by the time I realized I wanted to try ballet at seven years old, I was already being rejected from schools left and right for being too old. Thus, my attempt to become a skilled gymnast or ballerina came to a severe halt.
But alas, I was tempted to try pole dancing, a sport that combines skills and moves from gymnastics, ballet, and even figure skating, after watching inexperienced dancer after dancer work in my club and become an expert in aerial dance seemingly overnight.
Not to mention, pole dancing has taken a new role in the exercise world as a trendy, unique way to get fit, with classes popping up all across different cities. With its growing popularity and its health benefits, it seemed like a perfect way to have fun and work out at the same time.
Here’s what I learned about the art of pole dancing after just one class.
Upon entering Foxy Fitness & Pole‘s massive studio in Midtown Manhattan, I was greeted by glaring LED lights and bass-thumping music. As I watched dancer after dancer perform acrobatic inversions and Cirque Du Soleil-type tricks on the pole, I fought the urge to dash out of the studio as fast as possible and retreat back into my safe, non-inverting home. I knew I had to stick it through. It couldn’t be that hard, right?
The class was mixed level, so I was with students who had been poling for five or more years as well as students who, like me, nervously signed up for their first class that same day.
You will most likely not be spinning around and hanging upside down from the pole during your first class, and if you are, please stay far, far away from the studio. The more advanced tricks that include climbing on the pole and inverting are usually reserved for intermediate-advanced students who have been poling for at least a few months.
The first thing that I learned was a pole walk, which, as its name suggests, simply consists of learning how to walk around a pole. After completing a series of basic walks around the pole, the next thing we learned was a pole sit, which is where you literally sit on the pole, using the skin on your inner thighs to stick to it.
What I was not expecting was for this move to hurt like a MF. To my surprise, I couldn’t hold this deceivingly easy move for more than five seconds, and after collapsing back to the ground with instant pole burn on my inner thighs, I asked the instructor if it was normal for it to hurt this much.
“Yeah, but the more you do it, the less it’ll hurt,” she explained. “You’ll develop callouses on your inner thighs eventually.”
The idea of tough, brillo pad texture skin on my inner thighs was not exactly what I envisioned when conjuring up mental images of the sexy sport, but I took her word for it.
For the remainder of the class, we learned two basic spins: the fireman spin and the back hook spin. By the end of it, I was twirling around the pole with the casual ease of the dancers that I had envied for so long. I felt like a kid at in the jungle gym, eagerly awaiting my turn to twirl and hang off the pole.
Pole dancing is a workout. The following day, I was sore in unimaginable places and could barely muster up the effort to lift my arms over my head. Despite the pain, I’m hooked. And despite the negative stigmas that surround and attach pole dancing and stripping, it truly is a s[prt for everyone. Since my first class at Foxy, I’ve attended other studios taught by plus-size instructors, men and older women in their 50s and 60s. For someone who is looking to get into fitness but is instantly repulsed by the idea of spending hours on a treadmill, pole dancing might be for you. What better way to impress your friends than by casually hanging upside down six feet off of a pole?