Tuesday, 31 January 2017

How pole dancing changed the way I feel about my body

Pole dancing was never something I thought of trying. I’ve been an aerialist for a couple of years now but I started pole classes in May last year. I’m not going to lie, I was terrified. Aerial hoop and silks allow you to wear lots of layers and long leggings to protect your skin from catching. Pole is the exact opposite of that. You use your skin to grip to the pole, meaning the less you wear, the more you have to grip with. Pole classes often consist of shorts and a sports bra. Oh, and a room of other beautiful women. Do you know what happened when I went? I fell in love with the classes and the skill. I stopped caring about my body hang ups and what other people might think and just let myself enjoy being in class. 

I started working on my body in a different way

Dieting and working out purely for the intention to get thin fast, has stopped being my main priority. In fact, it's not even my top five. I train my body to be stronger and allow me to do more. I work on being able to hold my own body weight and lift myself (even if I don't quite manage to do so gracefully). My upper body strength has improved so much in a year and I’m only getting stronger. Losing weight has been an outcome from that but it's not all encompassing in my mind anymore. I’m also working every day to become more flexible. Pole has lead me to work on myself in a whole new way. Being stick thin wouldn’t work for me anymore because I want strong defined shoulders that will hold me up. Taking classes has completely changed my outlook on how I want my body to be and I’m so grateful. 

I learnt not to compare

These days I’m more jealous of a girl's splits than her body. Don’t get me wrong, I still see girls and think ‘Wow, I would love to have her X, she is beautiful’ but it’s not in a petty, self-hate kind of way. It can be incredibly daunting to stand in a room full of gorgeous, talented woman and feel at home but the sense of community is a lot stronger than the fear. I learn tricks and routines in my own time and everyone in class is supportive; we root for each other’s success. I don’t need to stand there and compare my body to anyone else because mine is mine, it will change however I change it over time. 
I’m happy with myself and that's a result of facing my body fears head on, albeit in shorts and upside down.

I appreciate what my body can do

I train my body in some way or another every day and I’ve seen first-hand the results it brings. If I treat myself right, and nourish my body, it will pay me back in kind and do what I want it to. I don’t believe in detox laxative teas or starving myself because I won’t have the energy to work at my best. My flexibility teacher encouraged us to complete a straddle challenge throughout January which I have been doing almost every day. The results are obvious and after just one month I am so much closer to the ground! I can do things I never thought I would be capable of and in a year, I know I will be even further on my journey. 

I’m not ashamed

In the past, I have been the girl to stand in front of a mirror and cry. I'm not ashamed to say that because I know I am far from alone in that fact. These days, I’m surrounded by mirrors and I couldn’t feel more at home. I use them to correct my posture rather than hate myself. When we start pole tricks, and I take off my leggings and shirt, I stand proud in my shorts and sports bra because I know I love what I’m doing. I don't feel the need to judge myself or feel judged by others. To be perfectly honest, people are more interested in my bruises than my jiggly bits!

I still need to lose a bit more weight but I’m doing it positively instead of obsessively. It's really not about weight loss. Pole has been a huge confident boost for me. I may not love my body all the time, but I love what it can do and it’s the only one I will ever have. I’m looking forward to learning new things and taking my flexibility and strength further. I want to take care of myself and just be happy with what I have. I’m so thankful I took up pole dancing. Anyone feeling insecure about going? Just do it. I haven’t ever looked back. 

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