I don’t have the best relationship with my body. I’m not sure anyone really does. I struggle to be kind to myself but shine at sincerely complimenting others. It’s a thing. I know it’s a thing. I’ve been working on my attitude toward my inner and outer being for some time. On my best days, I’m like, “You are brilliant! You are gorgeous!” On most days, I’m like, “Geezus H., Templeton, get your shit together.”
All of this is to say that, hey, why not try a route outside of Oprah’s “Super Soul Sundays” and reading the “The Alchemist” to reaching self-actualization? Podcasts and books can only do so much. Sometimes to see new facets of yourself, you gotta get your ass outta the house and be active.
So, I took a pole dancing class at ReWild Pole Studio in Pagosa Springs with Sarah Wolf.
Holy shit, dudes, I’m not gonna lie. This was way out of my comfort zone. Outside of the fact that I do not equate sexiness with my boot-stomping self, I obsessively dislike failing in front of others. Taking classes is learning and learning is repeatedly failing (i.e., practicing) in front of others to get a thing right.
This is all very honest. Awkwardly honest. Thanks for sticking in there.
BACK TO! I took a pole dancing class. Sarah Wolf is phenomenal. She converted her garage into a bright, cozy dance studio with three poles and oh my gawd, if there was anyone you’d want to learn from, it’s Wolf. She is thoughtful, encouraging, and a classically trained dancer who has been pole dancing for four years. Wolf performs locally with the Bohemian Burlesque Society, nationally in pole dancing competitions, and she’s not going to allow you to psych yourself out.
“The top three reasons I hear that people don’t want to try a class like this are: ‘I need to lose weight first,’ ‘I am not strong enough,’ or ‘I don’t know how to be sexy,’” said Wolf. “Class is for everyone. If you want to get flexible, this class will help you get there, but you don’t have to be flexible, a certain size, or in high heels to do this. It is really just dancing but with a pole.”
When you sign up for class you get these tips: Don’t put on lotion near class time. It can grease the poles and make things slippery. Bring water. You may want knee pads (and Wolf has extra). Wear layers that can come off if you get too warm.
These tips, sent to me via email, led to fretting. Unnecessary panic included: “What the heck kind of comfortable clothes? Like a T-shirt? Tight stuff?” And, “Do I wear something sexy?” And, “I don’t own sexy things to work out in.” I asked my best friend, Nida, “WHAT DO I WEAR?” in a flustered Gchat. She told me to calm the F down, that a T-shirt worked, just be comfortable. I put on black leggings, black shorts over those leggings, a brown shirt with an image of a fox drinking coffee on it, and knee socks. Too much, kids. I wore too much. Whose got two thumbs and overthinks everything? This gal.
I got to class. The first 10-ish minutes were a warm-up. From “stripper push-ups” to minute finger-to-floor presses, Wolf knows exercises that make you go, “Yep, gonna feel that tomorrow.” You’ll be glad you stretched, though. Even a beginning pole class uses muscles that are idle for most folks.
What happened next was epic for me. I decided to tell myself, “Try,” instead of, “I can’t do that.”
Wolf introduced how to walk around the pole. Instead of me saying, “Oh my god, no. I can’t sexy-walk,” I strutted around the pole and thought, “You are awesome. GET IT!” I reflected on Wolf telling me about how she attended an early pole dancing class as a student. She said, “I remember thinking that, ‘They [classmates] don’t like their bodies, but I think they are beautiful. Maybe I am beautiful, too, and don’t see it either. That’s a possibility.’ That is where my love for pole began, in learning that we as women can really see each other and support each other and learn self-love.”
The class was about an hour long. In it – I am not gonna lie – I was not a complete warrior of I AM QUEEN HAWT OF SAUCYTOWN! But I did have fun. I laughed a lot. I got a helluva workout. I learned how to hook my leg around a pole and spin and, are you kidding me, you can go SO FAST and it is pretty dang exhilarating. There were pirouettes and “martini spins” where the pole is fastened between your knees and then you lift one leg all pin-up-elegant straight out. I learned how to do a “fireman spin.” I learned a whole lot of beginner tricks that Wolf repeated and repeated until I got the feel for each. I engaged with my body in ways that I had never experienced before. There was self-inflicted embarrassment and an inner critic that told me I was “doing it wrong,” but you can’t learn if you don’t go through the gawky flail part. I constantly reframed the situation to myself from “This is hard” or “I am not ----- enough to do this” to “This is fun. Just try!”
Sorry, folks. This wasn’t a sexy article. It was self-help. It was an epiphany that human bodies are exquisite, even my own.