Pole dancing

This post needs no witty title. The experience of my first pole class was amusing enough.

Always willing to try something new, I signed up and somehow managed to persuade one of my teacher friends to come along. I know what you’re thinking – it’s not the first thing you associate with a nursery teacher, but we’re living in a progressive age after all.

We nervously waited on the stairs as we heard commands punctuating the upbeat EDM. Another first timer turned up and we wondered if we should buzz in or not. Just as we approached the door, it swung open and a crop-topped athletic woman ushered us in.

It was intimidating. There were twelve poles and each had a dancer swinging upside down, doing the splits, cores ripped and no muffin top in sight. They were all in what looked like their underwear. I felt overdressed in my tank top and cycling shorts.

Was this the beginner class? Would we be expected to do these moves? I couldn’t fathom how they weren’t sliding down on the pole onto their heads.

Thankfully, the previous session had overrun. I couldn’t take my eyes off the dancers as they transitioned from climbs into graceful swings and held their extended limbs in the air without even a shake. It was mesmerising. Even their cool down was aspirational, exhibiting impressive flexibility and core control.

As we waited for our introductory class to start, we were asked if we’d ever done this before. We admitted that we’d all had a go on nights out, but apparently that didn’t count. Then, unexpectedly, more teachers from our rival tuition centre arrived. My nerves eased as more familiar faces walked in and I realised that this could actually be an empowering experience, or failing that, a laugh.

We began with a strenuous yoga stretch which had half of us wincing before we’d even started. We lined up behind our poles and I was surprised to find that it rotated and wasn’t fixed. We learnt how to position our arms and legs in order to stabilise ourselves.

The first move was pretty simple, just a measured lift into a climb. I nailed it on the right side, but the left was tricky. I began spinning slowly until I faced the back of the room with no way of correcting myself. Not exactly the poise I was after. I had to keep reapplying the liquid chalk to my hands as I was sliding off the pole. Trying to wipe the pole with a tiny flannel was comedy in itself.

The thing no one tells you about pole dancing is how much it hurts. The next move was an extended leg twist, where you released both hands. I managed it but it chafed my inner thighs. It wasn’t the most flattering of positions as my stomach popped out to say hello, but I was proud I could hold it.

The final move was my favourite. We learnt a simple swing around that starts high and lands you gracefully on both knees. It was daunting to go for it, but once the forearm and back leg were hooked, it was fun to do. I needed to work on a softer landing though.

Our instructor gave us ten minutes at the end to practice the moves, mess around and take pictures. It was a giggle and we all were excited about the prospect of going back to learn more. I’d recommend it for a group activity as it is guaranteed to bond you through collective humiliation as you launch yourself at the pole unsuccessfully.

I left with a newfound admiration for pole dancers. It is not easy and requires a significant amount of strength and suppleness. However, the following evening my inner arms and legs were pinched so much that lots of tiny bruises appeared. Be prepared for some pain if you’re thinking of giving it a go. On reflection, I’ve decided not to return as it’s not a sport designed for those with sweaty palms.

The most graceful shot I could find

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