Thursday, May 16, 2013

Red Room Training: In Defense of Pole Fitness

So let me start off by saying that, while I could not retrieve any photographic evidence, I'm quite certain that Natalia Romanova has at some point performed a pole dance while operating under cover. And she probably did a damn good job. 

Insert a picture from your imagination here.

Every Thursday I leave work and go to Diva Fit Studios in Herndon. I change into a tank top and a pair of booty shorts that barely cover my goods and enter a room with twelve poles lined up in two rows in front of a wall-to-wall mirror. I choose mine. The music starts, and to the instructor's cues we start moving. Like many (I might argue all) good fitness classes, we begin with a warm-up before moving on to stretches then finally getting into the meat of our workout. We learn some new moves, go over the dance routine for this level, and finish with some extremely cruel conditioning exercises and some stretching. Here's what makes it so damn interesting (I mean besides the fact that I'm dancing on a pole):

Chest Up, Booty Up: Don't be afraid to look like a girl
Since high school gym class, one of my biggest enemies has always been the squat. In face, for years I thought I couldn't do them, and when I realized I could, I refused to. The problem is that I have a great big badonk, and it quite literally follows me wherever I go, and I quite literally am extremely self-conscious about it when I work out. Squats are awful. When I do them correctly it's basically an announcement to anyone within sight that my BUTT is in the room and it's DOING STUFF.  Don't even get me started on dead lifts and how my friends The Boobs On My Chest like to get involved. 
At pole, rather than feeling like I should hide my curves and maintain gender ambiguity, I'm encouraged to flaunt everything I've got. It took some getting used to, but I can look in the mirror and be proud of what I see, rather than panicking and trying to hide it all.

Dance, Magic Dance
After a warm-up and stretches I put on my shoes (oh do I love pole shoes (also right now I can't wear them because of my ankle injury QQ)) and get to work. Listening to songs like Crazy Bitch by BuckCherry while my instructor calls out moves, I march around the pole, dip, spin, flip upside down, and basically do everything you see on TV (because of course you've never been to a strip club). We even do a song each class with no instruction where we just creatively come up with our own moves. For me, dancing is actually a lot like LARPing. At a LARP, I get to fully immerse myself, body and mind, into a different character. At pole, I get to pretend to be this beautiful diva dancing up on a stage. I also like to pretend that, like Black Widow, I'm undercover and trying to identify the target and information on the environment while occasionally relaying information back to the rest of the Avengers. Ironman and Hawkeye are going to break through the door at any moment and it's going to be aaaaawesome. The point is, it's a lot of fun. It's also...

A Damn Good Workout
Yes, she's wearing underwear. Source
The difference between Black Widow and myself... Ok. ONE of the MANY differences between Black Widow and myself: she probably wouldn't get that winded while performing her undercover pole routine, but damn do I. "Body waves" of which we do like 100 per class, are not just for show. They require a cruel combination of tight, flexing core muscles, quads, glutes, pectorals and biceps. In a single sway of my body I'm engaging everything I need for a squat and then some. Oh sure, it's fun. But by the end I fucking want to cry and my quads are threatening to secede from the goddamn union. Inverts, climbs, spins, even lying on the floor kicking my legs in the air, it's all exhausting work on my muscles. I'm burning calories and building muscle and teaching my hamstrings that, "no, no, no, you really can stretch farther, I promise." That's why the class is built the way it is: warm-up, stretch, work out, learn a new move, work that move into a routine, work out more, agonize through conditioning, stretch and cool down. Most martial arts and dance classes are built much the same way because most are making similar demands on the body. 

I'm certainly not the most graceful girl in my class, and I never will be, but I'm more graceful than I was before I started. Pole has provided me with a way to work out and display my strength in a feminine way. It's a fun, challenging sport, and there are a lot of awards. Who knows, maybe one day I'll be able to do what that chick's doing. I'll probably wear a different outfit.

P.S. I tried to write this post so that it would be safe for my dad to read. Not sure if I succeeded or not...

1 comment:


    I'm dying.