I did my first pole class at the age of sixteen, which, I'm sure we can all agree, is a testing age for body confidence. It was a six-week beginner's course, and I still remember the nerves I felt going into my first class. It didn't help that I was half an hour late as I had gotten the start time confused. As someone who hates being late, that was anxiety-inducing enough, let alone walking into a room full of strangers about to try something new for the first time, wondering if I would be good enough or if I would end up embarrassing myself. My heart was racing, and my hands were clammy, which, if you have ever tried pole before, you will know that sweaty palms are not ideal for gripping a pole.
I ventured into the class, which was filled with other women of varying shapes, sizes, and ages. And it was amazing.
So much so that when I went to Uni, I started a pole fitness society and was president for 4 years. I wanted to share the sport that increased my confidence and allowed me to appreciate my body for what it does for me, rather than how it looks, with as many people as possible.
And now I want to share with you the 4 main benefits of pole:
1. It builds body confidence
When I started doing pole, I kept it to myself, and I wore clothing to hide my body. But as I impressed myself with what I was able to do, I started to share it with my friends and on social media. I started to wear less, as having more skin out allowed me to get a better grip on the pole and perform harder, more impressive tricks. At first, all I could see was my cellulite and my belly rolls. But other people's reactions were awe and amazement at what I could do; they didn't care about how my body looked. So now I rarely notice it. If anything, of course, I was going to have belly rolls when I was contorting my body around a pole!
2. It is empowering
Fayola Timberlake who runs She Can Empower said:
"Pole fitness empowers women by boosting their confidence through its focused and disciplined technique. It builds your physical, emotional, and psychological wellness and wellbeing, while also providing a nourishing and enriching experience that promises to make you feel comfortable in your own skin."
3. The inclusive, and supportive community
When I leave my classes, I feel accomplished and content knowing that I’m part of an intersectional community based on both vulnerability and strength that seeks to uplift all its members.
The pole community is known for its inclusivity and support. Regardless of age, size, shape, gender, or ability, individuals are welcomed into the community with open arms. Instructors and peers encourage and support each other's progress, creating a positive and uplifting environment.
4. You gain strength, mentally and physically
Pole is a challenging sport; it pushes you outside of your comfort zone and makes you question, "Can I do this?" Over time, you gain strength, flexibility, and endurance, enabling you to physically do more. But you also gain resilience and self-esteem from constantly trying new things and breaking your own limits. In turn, this builds your appreciation for what your body does for you, and you trust that your body can do it.
To me, pole is a sport that encompasses everything and includes everyone. It is creativity, strength training, flexibility, cardio, and, most importantly, it is fun.