I started Pole Dancing in 2008, shortly before my 31st Birthday. I was generally unfit, and had no dance or gymnastic or even any real exercise background. If I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I hate exercising. I tried all sorts of exercise classes, but it was mostly because my friend Trina wanted to get fit, but didn’t want to go alone. That’s how I ended up doing dance aerobics at the leisure centre.
So I signed up for a course, and that was it. One lesson and I was addicted. Within four weeks I had my own pole at home, because one hour a week just wasn’t enough for me.
For me, there is no other exercise like Pole Dance. It can be whatever you want it to be. Whether you focus on strength, finesse, grace, tricks or even making it sexy, because lets face it, we could all do with a little bit more sexy in our lives. Pole dance truly can be all things to all people. Now, I know I may come across as a bit evangelical about it, and I do talk about pole dance all the time, but I genuinely love it. It brings me actual joy, which is why I named my school Vertical Joy. (Well that, and the fact that I appreciate a double entendre).
I have never been what anyone would class as sporty or athletic. I am sure I was the bane of my PE teachers lives at school because I just had zero interest in sport. I was a geek, well I suppose I still am a geek, it’s just that now I’m a geek that pole dances. The challenges that Pole gave me, and the ways in which I was able to push myself gave me an immediate sense of achievement. The fact that there are always new moves being created means that it never gets boring, and that there is always something more to learn. I just can’t explain the sense of achievement that it gave me, that it still gives me after all these years.
I now class my life in terms of ‘Before Pole’ and ‘After Pole’. Before pole I was shy and reticent. I had little self-confidence and was often quiet and withdrawn. I had very low self esteem. But once I started pole dancing, that all changed. I am by no means saying that this happened overnight, but about half way through my second course (about 12 weeks in), my husband started telling me how much better I looked. And it wasn’t just that I’d dropped 2 dress sizes. (I lost inches but actually gained muscle weight). It was because I was holding myself differently. I was standing straighter, I walked with confidence, I looked as though I had purpose, and I just felt like I was becoming a better version of me, and it showed.
Don’t get me wrong here though, there have been times that I have been disheartened by pole dance and almost quit. About 3 years into my training I hit a plateau. For a couple of months I didn’t get any new moves, and in fact, my skill level regressed as I was no longer able to do moves that I had previously found easy. It was incredibly frustrating and more than a little heartbreaking. I had paid my course fees in advance, and I thought I’d finish the course and then quit. But on the last week of that course, after almost 14 weeks of not getting anything, I managed 6 new moves and was suddenly able to all the things id previously been able to do. So of course there was no intention of ever giving up again after that.
I was always told that every pole dancer develops their own style, and in the beginning, I thought there was no way I would ever be able to do that. But it happens over time. There are so many different ways to get into and out of each move, that eventually, you find the way that works best for you, and then you start to adapt other moves to suit the way you move, the way your body is shaped, to reflect how you feel. And at first I didn’t notice that this had happened for me, until Zoe and I were training together one day, pushing each other as we normally do to try more and more outrageously difficult stuff. We were both taught by Rachel, and on that day I noticed for the first time that our styles were now completely different.
But I invest time in my pole dance, I go to as many master classes and workshops as I can. Because everyone’s styles are different in the pole community, it’s good to learn from as many people as possible. We have 4 instructors at our studio, and we all dance differently. Its good for our clients to see there is no right or wrong way to pole dance (unless you’re not pointing your toes, then that’s always wrong, pointing of toes is important people). And of course we all started somewhere so on that note here is a clip of me from 2011 when I was a little less skilled than I am today. This is to prove that hard work and defiance does pay off. You may notice an instance of monkey feet and perhaps a moment where my feet are not pointed but that does not mean I expect any less from any of you – the importance of these things was not stressed to me in the same loving fashion as I stress them to you. You will all thank me later for my support and attentive tuition! Still, I practised and practised because very little in pole came to me during the first time of doing it.
My first master class was with Jess Leanne Norris, but since then I have been taught by Daniel Rosen, Zoraya Judd, Michelle Shimmy, Sam King, Pantera Blacksmith, Sarah Scott, Tiff Finney, Annalisa Muresu, Alex Shukin, and many more world famous pole dancers. I push myself to learn more, so I can teach more, because if I can make you feel 1/10th as good as pole dancing made me feel, then you’ll be addicted too.
Its empowering and beautiful, its graceful and awe inspiring, it brings me a sense of self worth and achievement that I have never found anywhere else, and that’s why I love Pole dance, all pole dance, whatever the style. I just hope to share it with others in the hope that they will feel about it as I do.
But it’s not only that, the community around pole dance and aerial arts is amazing. Sometimes it’s like I live in a little bubble of acceptance and love. In the pole and aerial community, there is no hate, no racism, no sexism, no homophobia, just love and acceptance and support from everyone. There is no judgement on your skills, everyone is helpful if you need it, even the online forums are full of love and support. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this world?