The TEDWomen lecture by Luvvie Ajayi hit home with some truths about people and women in particular. One of the most difficult things to do is to create uncomfortable situations. You know that queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach. Everyone standing around, not willing to make eye contact. No one knows exactly how to respond to the uncomfortable comment without making people even more awkward. So, what do we do now? Nothing, right? Everyone acts as if nothing happened and we go on about our business.
How many of us are brave enough to create these situations? For example discussing pole dance or sensual movement in a group or for that matter with your friends. Right, not many. Let’s take a look at why we as women don’t want to speak up and speak out. How many times as a child are we told don’t say anything if you don’t have anything nice to say? Or it’s impolite to interrupt others? Women are taught it’s our role to make people feel comfortable and welcomed. We want people to like us. Our whole lives we’re conditioned to not to create unpleasant situations.
Breaking that mold can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Some people have confidence built in or they’ve been brought up in environments which promote expression. For those of us who don’t, we can start small. Find your voice in something you’re highly passionate about. You can begin in a less intimidating environment such as a blog or vlog, no direct human contact. Sometimes it’s even bigger baby steps like telling our kids, NO! Lol.
At our studio it is our endeavour to provide a safe place to try and begin our journey. Talking in an environment where people are more accepting will ease the pressure of learning to have uncomfortable conversations. Building our confidence to be comfortable in our own skin helps to fortify that little girl inside who’s afraid to speak her mind. Take a deep breath, be brave, and speak your truth.
Most fitness programs tout weight loss more loudly than any other benefit. Pole is a great way to lose weight too, and maybe that’s why you got into it to begin with. But a funny thing happens to many dedicated polers: whether they came into pole to lose weight or for some other reason, they can end up not really caring about dropping those extra pounds. In fact, there are several reasons polers with curves might want to keep them!
You get stronger by lifting more weight
Pole is a bodyweight exercise, which means that you only work with what you weigh. So that means that polers who weigh more are lifting more weight, and that sounds like a better workout to me! Unlike with some bodyweight exercises like air squats where you’re just using your bodyweight but not really lifting all of it, with pole you are actually literally lifting all that weight. Carrying it with your arms and your hands and your legs up the pole and moving it around in the air. When you start to think about doing that with ankle weights on, you start to realize what a big difference those extra pounds can make to your workout!
You need the extra surface area to grip the pole
When you’re holding onto the pole with your hands, there are only a few things that matter—the size of your hands, the size of the pole, and the grippiness of both. But when you’re holding on with your thighs, your armpits, or your elbows, it’s a whole other story. Extra meat on the thighs just means there’s more of you to hang onto the pole with when you go into your layback. Extra arm and boobage can save your Teddy or your Rocketman. If you’re just hard bones and muscle, those things aren’t great to grip the pole with because there’s not enough give. Some softer areas can really help you cling.
You have extra lusciousness for floor work
You know what’s funny about pole? It always hurts, even if you’re not on the pole. Floor work causes just as many pinches and bruises as the aerial aspects. And you don’t get a nice rubbery mat like in yoga. If you’re at the studio or performing in a competition, it’s just you and the floor. That can be painful, especially if your bones and joints are digging into the floor, which they invariably will be at some point. Having a little extra layer of you there can take the edge off. Be your own yoga mat.
Polers appreciate and love their bodies
What is it about pole fitness that makes us come to appreciate our bodies just the way they are? We used to say it had to do with the sensual empowerment aspects of pole—but we find this confidence and self-esteem even in purely athletic studios. Maybe it has to do with appreciating our bodies’ abilities instead of their appearances. Maybe we get so used to seeing ourselves and our friends in our Brazil Shorts that we realize how silly our insecurities are. Or maybe it’s just because pole is so damn flattering. Whatever the reason, polers seem to be happier with their bodies at whatever the weight.
Many people get into pole to lose weight, and many do lose weight, and many are still trying. If any of that is you, that’s great! But if you find yourself appreciating what those extra pounds can do for you in the studio, that’s great, too.
I am a movement artist, an aerial dancer, an instructor, a performer… and, I am a woman.
One thing I see in men and women of the world is a tendency to honor our intelligence, attractiveness, kindness and creativity. We embrace our very HUMAN-ness, give warm smiles to others and tell people to be themselves, because who you are is BEAUTIFUL.
I love this way of thinking. I am so grateful that our society recognizes our strengths and flaws and journey. Yet there is still one piece of our human puzzle that is so commonly omitted in the world of public appearances. While the rest of our spirit is bathing in the sunlight, our sensuality and our human figure at its very basic level is often cast in the shadows and shrouded so that not a line or curve can be seen, at risk of offending or drawing in an unwanted gaze. It is our raw bodies and sexuality that we pretend does not exist, that it is not a part of our daily lives in so many ways.
Today, I challenge that body “modesty”. I challenge our society’s sexuality-shaming tendencies. I am human, I am woman, and I am a sexual being with curves, lines, boobs and an ass. Heck, I even have a vagina! *gasp* And while I won’t spill all of my sexual habits and interests casually to any passing stranger, I am not ashamed to have them. To deny that side of me is to deny who I am. I for one, refuse to do that.
Photo by RTP Photography. Model: Emma Reyn.
As a pole and movement instructor, there is a special opportunity I have to see so many wonderful humans come through our studio doors from where they are in life, in need of *something* which has brought them to me, and then to watch as they slowly transform and unfold into new, amazing, and magical creatures.
We all come to these classes for so many different reasons. But one thing I see so clearly when I walk into Aradia Fitness is women (and men) choosing to truly embrace their bodies, to share this little piece of their souls to our community, and to be truly open with each other (and let me tell you, there is no shame when it comes to our body talk!). Maybe this is the only place we feel comfortable with so much openness, or maybe the students that come in are already wild and free and can’t help but bring with them a shine that infects us all. Whatever the case, it fills my heart to see my pole family every night finding new ways to respect their bodies and express their souls, and for many to express that sensual side of themselves which is too often thrown under the rug of shame and guilt.
Never be ashamed of who you are. Life is an adventure.
When I started my personal journey at Aradia Fitness so many years ago, I was a speck of dust in a room full of diamonds. Shy, quiet, and extremely self-conscious. To wear even a bathing suit out in the world made me squirm endlessly, and to even think about sexuality of any sort turned my cheeks bright red like a tomato.
But I found my home that very first night at Aradia Fitness, and for me, it was the first step on my path to feeling like a woman, a lioness, and a magical unicorn.
Pole fitness is not only an awesome workout, but it’s also a great way to make friends that can encourage and inspire you daily.
It was the beginning of my journey to truly appreciating myself, finding my confidence, and shining my brilliance for the world to see. It didn’t matter where I came from or what I looked like, and every piece of encouragement from my newfound pole family challenged those voices in my head telling me that I was not worthwhile. Soon those voices became quiet whispers I could ignore while I conquered the world (and the pole) for a while.
Every hip circle, hair whip, and heel clack became my battle cry for sensuality. Every invert became my defiance to the doubts of my strength. Every turn on the pole was a new expression of myself discovered and actualized. And feeling that sense of self is what led me to teaching, in hopes that I might inspire that same sense of self for others.
My fellow humans, this is my challenge to you. Find that voice in your brain that is screaming negativity, fear, doubt, and shame. Turn your music up, and then turn those voices WAY down. Be yourself. Your whole self. Body and soul. Wherever you are today. At least for a few minutes, or maybe an hour while you’re in your safe space with your pole fam.
You have my permission. Not that you need it. <3
Emma Reyn is an instructor, performer, and figure art model. Come meet your sexy side in her Sultry Pole classes, work on those lines and curves in our FlexAbility class, or get moving with her in Pole and Lyra classes!
Article Written by Emma Reyn, Instructor at Aradia Fitness Cary in Cary, North Carolina