This week I celebrate my second poliversary (yes Mari, you’ve put up with me for that long!). Here’s a little bit of me reflecting over the past two years (and probably going off of a tangent and missing some things)…
One thing to know about me is that I had no upper body strength before I started pole…absolutely zero, zilch, none. My dance teacher at school used to call me twiggy, so that pretty much sums me up! I also hate the gym as I just get bored of it very quickly, so pole fit is basically my entire fitness routine.
When I first started, I joined the Wellingborough class at Diana’s Health and Fitness. One of the first things I liked was how welcoming everyone was and Mari was helpful and supportive from the start. I never felt self-conscious about being a newbie.
What I really loved about my first class was finding out about the choreography section of the lesson. I used to do a lot of dance, so this gave me the opportunity to combine the two into a short routine. After the class, I immediately signed up for the remaining five weeks of the course and that’s where it all started. After spending a couple of courses building up some strength and understanding spin technique, I started on the tricks…now tricks look great but the first time you go upside down is scaryyyy!! Despite this, I loved doing and learning new tricks, I’d often just about do a trick (helped into by at least two other girls!) and then be ready to move onto the next as I was excited to learn as many new ones.
I found that pole class soon became one of my favourite nights of the week and so upped my sessions to join in the Northampton drop ins with the lovely Vicky. While I love learning lots of new tricks and spins, I started to focus more on nailing a move and getting into it without assistance (although we still always spot each other…y’know…just in case!). Vicky and I started to also focus on my dismounts, or lack of. I had a tendency to scare other people in the class and instead of getting myself out of a move properly, I would come down in a fall style, catching myself at the end (yes, Mari has actually caught me before…it can be easy to confuse which leg is holding on – left and rights go out the window sometimes!). This ‘style’ of dismount Mari dubbed the ‘Jaymi dismount’. It seems odd to be focusing on dismounts rather than a trick itself, but I’ve found that it’s helped me in so many aspects, particularly with strength and control. It can be sometimes harder to get the strength to pull yourself up and dismount compared to getting into the trick itself. The first time I managed a proper dismount rather than a Jaymi dismount, I was more excited than when I nailed the trick itself!
Initially I planned to go to drop ins once a fortnight, but that soon turned into a weekly occurrence because I honestly just can’t keep away from the studio. I’m part of the furniture. I then changed courses from Wellingborough to the Northampton studio when it first opened and it’s great to have higher ceilings (especially when those tall pole heels come out to play!)
My favourite tricks are generally ones where I’m upside down, whether that’s a crescent moon, a Russian layback, or a gemini variation. Some come easier than others, while others take months. It took me around 4-6 months to be able to achieve my static v, but if I don’t do it for a few weeks I can lose it very easily. I make sure I practice it once a week as I’m not going to lose it after all that work! Don’t get me wrong, I did almost give up on it because after months of still not hitting the move, it can really get difficult to motivate yourself. But that’s where Mari and Vicky come in to encourage you and tell you that you’re getting closer or what you need to do slightly differently to make it work better. As soon as you hit a move you’ve been working on, it’s like the whole class shares your excitement with cheers and claps for you…that’s an amazing feeling to have a whole room supporting you.
What I’m currently working on is my flexibility, mainly legs, as I want to make moves as good as possible. So, in an attempt, I announced to the Sugar Pole family that my new year’s resolution was to get into my splits, something I have never been able to do. I announced it to everyone, purely so they could encourage me, whether that’s positive encouragement or tough love…whichever is required! Thankfully, the lovely Vanessa then started up a stretch and flex class after Thursday drop ins. The difference is insane, even from the start of the class to the end I feel so much more flexible and I’m slowly getting there (and forcing myself to stretch at home too…when I remember…sometimes!). It’s so great because lots of us are in the same boat and we’re not the only ones who get excited after our own progress, Vanessa gets really excited and proud too. For once, I actually think this resolution will come true!
Two years seems like a long time, but I both feel like it’s been five minutes and forever as I can’t imagine a time now where I’m not doing pole fitness (I get withdrawals if I miss a week…it’s honestly a problem…maybe I need to seek help?!). The reason I keep coming back and always want to do more is simply because it’s so much fun and we all have such a laugh doing it. On a group note, we are a family – a loud and dysfunctional family - with our pole mamma Mari at the helm (cheesy, but true). We go out for dinners, nights out, after class drinks and we’re even doing a colour run in a few weeks…we’re a social bunch! On a personal level, I have found muscles I never knew existed, I’ve become stronger than I thought I’d be, I’m doing tricks, spins and combos that I could have only dreamed of doing and I feel more confident generally in myself. I may have had the worst day, but if there’s a pole class at the end of that day, as soon as I walk into that studio everything feels better and I love the positive feeling of achievement after class.
If I, twiggy, can do it…then anyone can do it!