When I started Pole I had about six months of Crossfit under my belt and a couple of years of circus training plus some experience in static and flying trapeze. I figured come on Pole bring it, I can take what you give out. I knew I was in trouble when Stacey the instructor for a stretch class called a lunge stretch an Ego stretch and I thought; What the? Ego stretch? You mean we shouldn’t go to the point of breaking ourselves so we can get a couple of extra cms on the person stretching next to us. Madness I thought. I am quite competitive and I have learned to tone it down because my goodness competitive people can be a pain in the tush but apparently I hadn’t quite toned it down as much as I thought I had and the Ego stretch was just the start of it.
Just in case you’re wondering, the point of Stacey calling this stretch an Ego stretch is that many people try to go as low as possible and sacrifice doing the stretch properly. You are better off staying higher and getting the position right and then work gradually on going lower and lower. Ego stretch made an impact on me and it was my first introduction to the idea that I would have to change how I do things. Not to worry I thought, I am a big tough person. I shall come to the fore in the strength aspect of Pole.
Before starting Pole class I kept watching clips of these tiny bird like creatures doing moves and I often thought well how hard can it be? Those girls look like they would fall over in a gust of wind, boy was I wrong.
A new studio had opened up and they were offering bargain basement prices and I thought yes please. Since the prices were so cheap, your not the brightest of bloggers thought, right I’m going every day. I did go every day and by the Saturday afternoon when I had started on the Monday I felt physically ill. No fair I thought, it’s just dance, it’s not real exercise, what is going on.
I will never say ‘just dance’ again, ever! Dance is beautiful, there are costumes and glitter and sparkles but my goodness do these people work. Pole performers are strong, they are disciplined and after one week I was in a world of hurt. Stacey again very kindly said it’s just the fact that you are using new muscles but after spending Saturday afternoon feeling physically ill I dialled back my pole appearances to every second day. The assault on my poor ego was not over however.
So now I was in beginner’s class, I got my pole, I got my mat, all was well with my world. The instructor showed a move, I couldn’t do it, that’s ok I’ve never been the fastest in getting things, my strength is in persistence. The problem though was that in addition to the fact that I nearly died when I tried to do pole every day, in addition to the fact that I was now not able to stretch as low as I had previously because of a need to do the stretch right, if all of that wasn’t enough here was the final kicker and this is why many people quit class, I know because they have told me.
The final kicker is that people who start at the same time as you will progress faster. My God it’s like a wound to my heart. You try your hardest, the move doesn’t come and they just get it in a moment and you chant to yourself, suck it up, suck it up, suck it up. Be happy for them, it will happen for you eventually. The mental strength I am learning from Pole is quite astonishing.
I watched a couple of people progress before me and I thought WHY NOT ME????? Ok I said to myself, let’s look at this objectively. Rather than freak out at your poor pole instructor Scarlett, who is also the lady who owns the studio, and I would rather eviscerate myself than cause her any pain, she’s just a lovely woman. I thought ok go to class and test yourself, have you mastered all that they are teaching in the beginner’s class.
So I made sure I had a nanna nap before going, I had my pole grip, I had some tea before leaving. I was ready, I was pumped. I was going to concentrate very hard and see how much I could do. Scarlett was running the class that night and I set a lot of store by what she says. If Scarlett said no you’re not ready I would suck it up.
I did the class and I shut up and I listened. With every not very subtle opportunity I did more than was asked trying to display my mastery over the moves. You know what? Objectively, honestly, I couldn’t do all of the moves, it had to be said. There are some I can do and there are some I can’t. So I didn’t freak out and call it unfair I said ok, fair cop I will stay in beginners and I will learn all that they are willing to teach me. I actually think that Pole is going to make me more reasonable in terms of my own training. Pole is a fascinating journey.