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How Joining a Pole Studio Changed My Life (and It Can Change Yours, Too)

How Joining a Pole Studio Changed My Life (and It Can Change Yours, Too)
“Just go in.”
As it turns out, the voice inside me that won that day also happened to be the quietest. Under the delicate midday light of late November, I was sitting in my car outside the humble door of Aradia Fitness, nestled in a business park with children’s martial arts studios and music tutoring spaces, debating with myself whether I wanted to go through with an Introduction to Pole Fitness class.
One part of me was quite vocal about how I would certainly be facing skinny college-age women who would probably ridicule my physique, and how I would most likely make a fool of myself. Another part of me dwelled on the thousands of dollars I had already spent on dental implants as a result of a childhood injury of falling flat on my face—what if I fell and hurt or mangled myself again? These loud, obnoxious voices debated back and forth internally until a smaller voice cut through.
“Maybe you’ll have fun. Maybe this is what you need. Just go in.”
So I went in, and I was surrounded by an array of equally terrified-looking women, some of whom were indeed collegiate, but others who appeared to be my age and above. There were all sorts of bodies, some slender, some Rubenesque. We made nervous small talk until we were greeted by the studio owner, Neelam.
Perhaps it was something in the color of her eyes or the sound of her voice, but Neelam radiated amber and honey, as if she were sunlight personified. She told us a brief story about her own dance and fitness journey, and as she stood illuminated by the afternoon glow cutting through the deep red curtains, the whole place felt exotic yet inviting, a little ruby oasis in the middle of suburbia. While even the mere sight of poles felt intimidating at first, Neelam helped us relax. She has this unyielding quality of calming everyone around her, and putting fears to rest. Her hugs are an indescribable medicine. That day, I stumbled my way through a few spin attempts but had fun practicing some body waves and catlike moves on the floor.
In the first month, I didn’t quite feel sexy or empowered. But, I did feel challenged, as though I was a child learning a new language, trying to memorize a few basic words through repetition. More than anything, what brought me back to Aradia after that first class was the sensation in my shoulders the next morning. I was sore in muscles I had never activated before. I had spent my entire life involved in some kind of physical activity—volleyball, golf, basketball, running, various Beachbody home fitness DVD programs—but I had never felt soreness in that particular spot. I was also sobered by how weak I was in other areas, and felt determined to pursue the kind of core strength that pole dancers and aerial gymnasts display. I knew that this kind of movement would be stimulating and different, and it was introduced to me at a time when I needed change.
October 2017 found me in a new job role with a better commute but a distinct lack of social support and diversity. Other than my boss, my office only had one other woman in it. My best friend in the area had just delivered a baby that month, and so my life both inside and outside of work felt deprived of camaraderie and sisterhood. By November, I became desperate for something to keep me motivated, and so a quick Google search of places where I could learn a form of dance that had always intrigued me revealed the Aradia studio in Ashburn, which had numerous glowing reviews.
The second class I signed up for was one called Liquid Motion, because the description emphasized more floorwork. Knowing that I needed to build up my strength and coordination to keep going with actual pole training, I thought Liquid sounded like a nice supplement that would develop some skills without leaving the ground. That was when I met the instructor, Karen, who is the living dichotomy of sensual and maternal. She exudes a hard core rocker chick vibe, always looking like she stepped out of an epic music video. Ultimately, she is a badass who cares for her students deeply; I have seen more than one woman come to class and break down in tears over some personal trauma, and Karen responds with comfort and strength, taking time to guide them away from pain, loss, or anger. Then, when Karen performs, she is alluring and coy, an icon of feminine movement. When you see her dance, you understand the dedication, discipline, and hard work behind the architecture of her muscles. She has an eye for details, and in simple tweaks to the position of your head or leg, changes something from impossible to possible. Liquid Motion clicked with me because it was the class where I first felt like I could say something beautiful with my body, which I previously often regarded with disgust or shame. Even when my simple toe point became a little straighter, I felt proud and eager to train harder.
Then there is Jenna, who combines physics and philosophy in her artistic approach to pole. She emphasizes the concept of opposition, which applies not only to the actual dynamics of spinning, but to creating aesthetically pleasing shapes with one’s body. She demonstrates endless patience with me, and watches my face with concern when I try to do a few spins in front of her. “I don’t think you’re quite feeling the joy of flying yet,” she says to me, and she’s got a point: I have been so focused on trying to execute these movements that I am growing increasingly frustrated by my inability to get things right. Her solution? “I want you to go back to the very basics, and just play with the sensation of swinging around the pole, even if you’re only doing a dip, so that you can really do this with abandon.” Jenna has a knack for finding her students’ strengths and building upon them, and has managed to snap me out of creeping dismay or defeat on several occasions.
There are so many other teachers at Aradia who are just as compassionate and talented, and I can’t wait to work with them all as I (slowly) progress up the skill ladder.
When I look back on the last several months, what I recognize in myself is profound emotional growth in addition to the physical changes. That aspect, to me, is something I have never gained while running on a treadmill in a crowded gym. I have developed, little by little, a stronger sense of self-worth and expressiveness. I feel like smiling much more. I take pictures of myself. I hear songs on the radio while I’m walking the dog and suddenly find myself doing some kind of toe drag or hair flip because I feel inspired. I still worry about things in my life, but now I have a few hours a week where, surrounded by ruby curtains and twinkling lights, I can take a breath. I can feel elevated by my classmates, like Jeanine, a nurturer whose laughter is contagious, and Kay, whose strength and confidence I wish to someday achieve.
A question posed by one of our visiting instructors, Nia, resonates with me still: “who is she?”
I’m still finding out. I’m still creating her.
But for those who are still hesitant about embarking on such a journey, for anyone trying to muster the courage to put on some skimpy shorts and sky-high heels, my advice is this:
Just go in.
By Our Student Liz.
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Women are real architects of Society

STRENGTH & DETERMINATION OF WOMEN
Remember watching your mother juggle a million things and take care of a house full of people? What about our grandmothers who stood as the matriarch of our families? Those of us who had strong female role models were lucky in life. We had examples of what women could endure and manage with grace and love. Even if it wasn’t your mother or grandmother, think about the strong females in your life, community, or world. Are you like them? Do you have that inner fortitude to keep pushing forward?
Many would think this trait of strength and determination would be celebrated in women. It’s sad to see how many times it’s seen as a threat. Some might even try to stifle it before it comes to full power. You see this in home with domineering men, in the workforce, and many other relationships. Then, we get all up in arms and say, “How dare men try to silence us!” The truth is, much of the criticism comes from our fellow women. We’re taught to compete so much with one another, it scares us to be in the presence of other strong women.
We must learn to embrace the strength within one another, to harness all this greatness and fuel something amazing. The power of collective female strength can move mountains if we don’t expend energy tearing each other down. Instead of being afraid of the woman you think is smarter, stronger, prettier, or whatever, let’s rejoice, uplift, and praise each other.
The studio is our haven an escape from trials of daily grind.  We focus on celebrating how amazing we are as women. I challenge you to provide some positive feedback to the ladies in your life every day throughout Women’s History Month. Hi-five an amazing trick, compliment a new hair color, remind someone how smart they are. Let’s use our power of words to celebrate our greatness as women!

Women are the real architects of a society

Strength and Determination of women

Speak Your Truth

Imagine standing alone, in front of peering eyes, waiting for you to speak. To speak your truth. A truth no one else has spoken before. One that no one wants to hear. Are you bold and strong in your testament? Do your hands sweat and knees shake from the doubt in your heart? Not doubt about your message, but how it’ll be received. How you’ll be received. Do you stand strong or do you melt into the crowd and allow the fear to take your voice away?

In recent news about the #metoo movement, the question has been asked, “Why did they wait so long to come forward?” It may have even crossed our minds from time to time, especial if you’re the kind of women who are comfortable standing their ground and don’t fear confrontation. Understanding why someone would wait years, some decades, to tell their story seems illogical. If they couldn’t stand up for themselves then, why come out now? Whether you believe some, all, or none of the allegations, the answer is simply, there is strength in numbers. We are stronger as one.

When you stand alone, there is no one else to validate your truth. You’re the lone witness against what’s usually a stronger, more influential party. We ask ourselves questions like, “Who would believe me?” “What’s going to happen to me and those around me if they don’t believe me?” Many times, threats have been made and people in these situations have been in not only a physical but also a psychology battle with their alleged assailant. This makes us stop and quiet our voices. For some, it makes them completely silent as they try to disappear from the anguish.

That’s when life lines are important. That one strong person who says, “ENOUGH!” The brave soul who stands up for themselves and inspire others to follow suit. When we stand together, it’s a little less scary to speak our truth and tell our story because someone else has a similar tale to tell. We’re no longer standing alone to be judged. We can find strength in each other. Whether it’s from a movement like #metoo or our sisters in the studio, we as women can support one another when we need to fortify ourselves. Take the time to hear someone’s story. Sometimes all someone need is to be heard. Courage is easier in numbers. Maybe you can help someone’s truth be told.

 

Kesha Grammy Live Performance of Praying

https://youtu.be/buM8OErfvu0

 

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