I’ve been on a personal journey. I’m always on a journey so nothing new here but this journey’s theme is releasing judgment. “Reserving judgment is a matter of infinite hope”. There is a reason that is one of the most famous literary quotes and yet it is so challenging to actually live. I’m not talking about the judgment that results in avoiding harmful situations, I’m talking about judging other people for their choices and finding yours superior.
Judgment is everywhere. Most judgment is based in fear, ignorance and other people’s chatter. It doesn’t require much mental stamina to take a loved ones opinion or advice as gospel. Not only does it please the person you agree with but it allows you to stay “safe” and not to have to think for yourself. If your best friend writes off people who take pole dance classes as strippers, wannabe sluts or [insert other derogatory names here] it’s easier to agree than admit you’ve always wanted to try a class.
Recently I saw an article titled “The worst fitness trends of all time” that included pole dance as one of it’s condemned. Written by Brian Krans originally posted on healthline.com it was reprinted later on popsugar.com and shared in a social media website for pole fitness enthusiasts.
This new exercise trend is all the rage among young women who want to look sexy while getting fit. As videos on the Internet illustrate, home poles often come loose or sweaty hands lose their grip. While pole dancing might bring some spice into exercise, it’s best left to highly trained professionals.
[Editor's note (from Popsugar.com website posting ) : When done right, pole dancing is an incredible strength-training workout. When getting started, be sure to seek out a pole dancing studio and always make sure your home equipment is installed properly.]1
So what you’re saying is…… it’s challenging. Was that just included as space filler because I am pretty sure the author of this article did absolutely no credible research on pole fitness. You would actually have to take a class to see what it’s really about. That’s the worst you can say about it? You won’t be able to pick it up with just one week of effort? Sweaty hands lose grip? So you might have to spend $12 on a bottle of grip aid? Isn’t challenging what it takes to burn extra calories so that you can lose weight? So many questions but go on about your merry way Brian Krans you probably couldn‘t make it through one introductory pole class.
Getting to a pole class after getting over the stigma is only the first step. Once they have managed to get themselves to a pole class or found themselves in a pole birthday/hen party then the real hard part begins. That metal cylinder is hard. There will be bruises. Even possibly from your first class.
In the spring I wrote about the divide in the pole community over sexy vs. sport pole. I’m sure there are people out there looking at it and deciding polers are a bunch of strippers or wanna be strippers. There are people out there who would never consider taking a pole class because of the stigma that still surrounds it to this day. I can understand it. I believe the “origin” doesn’t help the perception either. For many people even the thought of being associated with strippers is unacceptable while for others it’s a fear for their job or standing in the religious organization that keeps them condemning what could actually be their salvation.
Some people don’t care about the “stripper-thing,” have no feelings about that one way or the other but have issue with the concept of sexy. As in, they don’t think they are and therefore are too intimidated to even think about it. They are not condemning strippers but themselves.
I have heard of it taking women 6 months from the time they decided they wanted to try a pole dancing class to the time to the time they actually walked into their first pole class. For me I was under so much [life] stress the first time I took a pole class it didn’t even occur to me it was something so intimidating. It literally never occurred to me I was doing something that was so challenging just by walking through the door. I did it on a whim because the studio happened to be right next to the place I was having lunch at. When I took the class I realized you could use any apparatus as a vehicle for fitness, classes have the same basic format. Warm-up, skills work, cool down--hopefully consisting of adequate stretching.
Pole is challenging to say the least. Not only is it hard work but yes there is the stigma. If people haven’t reached the point where they feel the “if you don’t feed me, sleep in my bed, or pay me I don’t care what you think” they are always a slave to other peoples’ whims and opinions. Any opinion someone they care about or have deemed important utters [is] taken to heart and could potentially influence not only ones actions, but their beliefs. I would venture to say it’s a dangerous place to be, controlled by forces not of your making but someone who is not you, outside of you. Still, people are living in those prisons of other people’s judgment and haven’t set themselves free yet.
Pole dancing first gained significant notoriety as a fitness craze in 2006 so the industry is still developing and defining itself. We are also still fighting controversy. This makes it harder for pole dancing to gain a large and loyal following. This also makes big name advertisers and companies shy away from partnerships with pole-related brands. The sexiness of pole dancing will always be there. But if this industry is going to flourish long-term I believe pole needs to be accessible to as many people as possible."
The above statement resonated so strongly with me because of the frustration I feel at fighting a stigma most of the time I don’t even contemplate. I’ve been poling for so long I forget that people really do condemn me for it. When I think about them I laugh and go on about my business but I do feel a little bad for them they will never know the fun of pole fitness.
If you’ve been paying attention you know that my first love is pole. What you may not know is that I do use other modes of exercise. I recently started working with my speed bag again. It’s been about 4-5 years since I seriously worked with it so getting back into it was slow at first. It’s one of the few upper body cardio workouts and it will leave you out of breath if you can use it correctly. You know when you are hitting it correctly by the sound and the movement. If you hear a steady rhythm and see your hands hitting the bag square in the bag and the bag is moving back and forth as opposed to in a circular motion you are probably doing it right. If you hear crunch you have probably not landed a square hit and the links have crunched together. There is also a good chance that the bag is now going in a circular motion instead of back and forth. If you can reset and land the next blow you can get your rhythm back before you have to stop the bag and start over again.
Somewhere during my last session, arms flying, music blaring I realized I loved this! I absolutely loved the motion of my hands connecting with this tiny bag. It was like a revelation that seemed so obvious. Just as I loved hitting this bag I loved pole. I mean really loved pole. I loved the movements, the challenge of getting my body to do what I asked and the ability to move in a way that never once came naturally to me.
Life lessons repeat themselves over again until you learn them. Not only did I learn again that it’s all about love but I learned about value. The value of pole is not in how sexy you are, how many people think you are sexy, how many tricks you have, how flexible you are if you have an oversplit, if you lost weight from it or if you have more social media followers than a rock star. The value in pole is how much you love it. Love of the motion; how happy it makes you.
The only place for judgment is in the competition arena
Don’t judge anyone. That includes you, too. Enough is enough already. Do you think your judgment is changing the world? Nope. It’s not. It might be changing your world. For the worse. If you can’t help but judge you would be wise to keep it to yourself as you might not get the reaction you are expecting. Judgment rarely changes anything but will serve to distance those whose ties aren’t close enough to withstand the attempt to enforce ones will upon another.
Wouldn’t it be nice not to hate calorie burning activities that aren’t sex?
If you are staying away from pole fitness because of judgment I strongly encourage you to reconsider. It’s an activity you can fall in love with and should you, it won’t matter if you get the competition level pole move or more flow and floor work. It really is a sport with something in it for everyone and you really can be whatever it is you want, trickster, sexy vixen, showy-flowy dancer, a combination of all that pole involves.
Everyone is different and everyone has their own ideas of what is important to them about pole. There are in essence two pole communities. There is the local community which is made up of real people in a physical studio that you can actually interact with face to face. It does not have to be an actual studio maybe a group of people meets every Wednesday at someone’s house that owns a pole and pole jams. That’s the local pole community, the people you are in the room with. Depending on your location in the world it can be really challenging to find a local pole community. Even in a town ripe with pole studios it can be hard to find people who are in the same chapter as you are with pole.
Then there is the online pole community. This is everyone who is online submitting videos, photos, articles and in social media groups. This is facebook, instagram, tumblr, website forums, etc. Some facebook groups are private, I don’t even know about a lot of them. There are still cliques online but as we are not limited by geography it is easier to find someone on the same pole wavelength as you are. If your equipment works well enough on both sides you can video call with a pole buddy 3000 miles away from you.
Being able to do the things I can on the pole are what I love, not recognition from others that I am more skilled than everyone else in the room that day. This is why I don’t compete in pole. I have long said it was because I don’t need to and while that is true has been true I didn’t really know how to explain why I felt no need to compete. Sharing, learning, moving, finding new movements to practice and love are the answer to the question why pole for me.
Do you want to compete, sincerely want to be judged against others? Go for it then, but with eyes wide open after having thoroughly evaluated your motivation. Are you dancing to flaunt or are you dancing for love? Are you dancing to get recognition of your tricks, sexy, flow, floor work etc. or are you dancing for the love the movement? Do you love the rise to the challenge of the nemesis move and/or the swivel of the hips? No judgment---whatever your motivation sometimes we need a self esteem boost. One seems to be more sustainable than the other however. As most strippers’ careers do not last so too wanes the competitors’ shelf life. Regardless of the age of competitor, to live at that level all the time is not realistically sustainable. Most pole competitors seem to be on the competition circuit for 3-5 years from 1st competition. I say seem because I have absolutely nothing but observation of the online community to base this assessment. I’m pretty sure no one has compiled a list of competitors and length and number of competitions entered but from what I hear of their training schedule you’d have to be the six million dollar person to train at that intensity long term.
On the other hand, have you ever seen a tricked-out pole performance come in second to one with not as much tricks or floor work? The love of pole comes through in the performance and a lot of time is enough to win a competition. Sometimes even the most tricked out performance can’t compete with passion. When a performer truly loves moving on a pole (and so much better if they enjoy the audience) it comes through and connects with the audience.
Not everyone that gets on a pole feels the need to share their journey with everyone, that is a personal choice. Whatever you decide to do with your new skills I sincerely hope it is what you enjoy doing.