Blog 8. Dear onlooker

Dear onlooker

I have listened to your views and endured your comments on what you believe women who train pole represent. I would like to take the opportunity to share my views and experiences on teaching pole to women.  I hope this letter will encourage you to take a deeper look into your views about the pole industry.

I set up Pole 4 Fitness in 2005 and I have seen thousands of women pass through my doors and take away nothing but a positive experience and new friendships.

I understand your reservations and how you would believe that pole is something to be shielded from the eyes of others, something that you do in private and not share on social media. I too was a little embarrassed at first to say I was teaching pole dancing because the first thought that came to people’s minds was ‘is she a stripper?’  There is no denying the connection and there is no getting away from the fact that some pole schools still embrace this side of the industry.

But this is not the reason why the majority of the women taking part come to pole class.

You should know that the women who come to pole gain more than learning to dance around a pole and gyrating their hips. Apart from the physical side of getting stronger and fitter there are other social and mental health benefits too.

I’m going to start with the development of courage. Having the courage to walk through the door or pick up the phone is usually the hardest part and many women say to me ‘I wish I’d done it sooner!’ This is because like you, they wonder about what we are going to make them do, they also have to deal with the prejudiced remarks of the uneducated to the pole world.

These women learn how to express themselves in a room full of strangers, for some they are going to wear less clothing than they would even wear in bed and this takes great courage to stand tall and except themselves for whom they are.  We are going ask them to do things that they really don’t believe that they can do and we ask them to open themselves up to getting it wrong. In a perfect society where social media only shows the end result this can be a hard act to do.

We have women of all ages’ shapes and sizes, all walks of life form housewives to professionals, daughters, mothers and grandmothers. There are no barriers to learning pole. This variety of students in the class offers women the chance to grow and learn from each other. They form like-minded groups which are healthy for the mind and the soul. In my time as a pole instructor I have watched students become friends who then go on to be bridesmaids and godmothers; we have celebrated weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and even divorces. Together as a group we have also celebrated life and memories, as we watched people come and go into our world taking from it what they need before moving on to share their experiences.

What we do in class is make shapes, shapes that enhance our natural beauty. It’s about the shape you are making verses the shape you are in. Bodies come in many guises and we celebrate what that body can do. I love to see the wonder and amazement of others around these women when they show them what they have practiced and achieved in class. We encourage a positive body image with the emphasis about strength and movement.

Students of Pole classes can do things that they never believed they could ever do, physical feats that are gymnastic in nature. For some they learn things that they couldn’t do as a child, like handstands or climbing. This empowers women to believe in themselves and to adapt a growth mind-set that sees them taking this belief into everyday life.

Dancing is also part of the class. Dancing is innate, babies dance without being taught, all nations and cultures dance in their own unique way. Dancing is a way to express yourself without words, sad songs, happy songs, fast or slow will lift and heal the soul. It improves self-esteem as well as health and fitness.

Encouragement from the group is an integral part of the class.  In your world how many times a day does someone shout ‘great job! Well done! When was the last time someone cheered you on? For the women who come to pole class this happens every week!  Our culture is one of supporting and encouraging each other, we turn tears into laughter when it doesn’t go right and cheering and championing you on when its nearly there or completed!.

In my mind pole has only positives, it’s good for the body, mind and soul and doesn’t’ deserve the preconception of something sleazy.

I pose the question;

If it was a man in a pair of shorts without a top on dancing and performing pole tricks do you think you would have had the same thoughts as when a woman does it?

Sadly, I think not.

I hope this has dispelled many myths and preconceptions you may have and I hope from now on you can see pole in our light too.

 

Clare Bennett

Proprietor Pole 4 Fitness

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