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6 Women on the Joy of Pole Dancing Workouts and Body Confidence

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6 Women on the Joy of Pole Dancing Workouts and Body Confidence

Zissy Lewin
6 Women on the Joy of Pole Dancing Workouts and Body Confidence

Pole Dancing may not be the first image that comes to mind when one thinks of   exercise or a sport, but it is a recognised sport that has been awarded GAISF Observer Status by the International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF). An award that not only legitimises pole dancing as a sport but sets it on a path towards the Olympics.

 

“Globally, over the past few years we’ve seen pole dance rise above just being trendy to a point where the benefits of the sport for fitness training are highly recognised. The power and agility needed to perform on a pole is no different to any other recognised athlete in their chosen sport. By having to control body movements, spins, turns and pivots; pole is one of the best ways to develop strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, and stamina. It requires great physical and mental exertion”, says Kathy Lee, Owner of The Pole Project studio in Cape Town.

 

Kathy is a former lawyer turned pole athlete and certified pole instructor. She opened the Pole Project studio to teach others the passion and spirit of pole dance as an exciting way to explore the art of dance, and as a form of exercise to improve fitness, tone, strength, and endurance. Kathy’s vision for the studio is an “aerial arts playground” where people from all walks of life can train in pole dance as an outlet for their strength, creativity, and agility.

 

Today there are 10 instructors and a full roster of classes, now offered online due to The Caronavirus.

 

Recently we asked Kathy if she along with 5 of her students would share how they got into pole workouts, how it has changed the way they view their bodies and what it’s given them. Their insights reveal a sport that goes beyond just getting you in shape. It is movement that demonstrates just how strong your body is, heals, and makes you view and celebrate your body for what it can do.

 

Kathy Lee, 37

5 Women on the Joy of Pole Dancing Workouts and Body Confidence

How long have you been doing pole dancing workouts for?

I picked up pole dancing as a hobby in 2011 and started teaching professionally in 2014.

 

What made you start?

I was still working as a lawyer in London in 2011 when my love affair with pole fitness began. One of my friends had been learning pole dancing through DVD tutorials but she was moving to Germany and wanted to get rid of her pole, which she had set up in her living room. She called me one day and said: “Hey Kathy, do you want to try out pole dancing? It’s this new craze and an amazing form of fitness.” We met in the lobby of her firm, both of us dressed in suits looking very professional, and she handed her pole over to me 🙂

Little did I know that this awkward exchange would leave an indelible mark on my life. I set up the pole at home and taught myself some basic moves before going in search for a pole dance studio for classes. I remember first arriving at the studio and I was completely blown away by the strength and grace of these women, and I knew I found something that was truly special.

 

How has pole dancing workouts changed the way you view and feel about your body?

I grew up in Singapore, in a culture where skinny was very much regarded as beautiful. Like most girls, I too experienced my share of eating disorders and body issues. Because pole dancing is such an incredible full body workout, it has transformed my body into a machine. More importantly it has helped shift my focus from what my body LOOKS LIKE to what it CAN DO. I think that with this shift in focus, pole dancing helps you overcome any conflicts you have with your body and become comfortable in your own skin. Body positivity means embracing every curve, every flaw, recognizing that we all come in different shapes and sizes, accepting that no one has the perfect body. That someone might have nicer legs, bigger boobs, a smaller waist… and that’s ok. Because no matter what form your body might take – with all its perfect imperfections. Pole dancing ultimately makes you feel like the truly unique, sexy, and powerful goddess that you are!

 

What has been the best thing about pole dancing workouts?

The combination of athletic skill and artistic expression makes it incomparable to any other form of dance or sport. The physical transformation is evident – I have never felt fitter or stronger in my life. But the best thing about pole dancing is the mental transformation and emotional growth. The reason why this discipline is so incredibly positive for so many people is because you are constantly challenging yourself and surprising yourself. You end up doing things with your body that you didn’t believe you were ever capable of, and this shift in thinking transfers to all aspects of life. You realise that pole dancing is not just a sport or an art form, it’s movement. Empowering movement that is so enriching for your body, mind and soul.

 

What has it taught you about yourself?

I am a powerful, badass woman who can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it.

 

It has helped shift my focus from what my body LOOKS LIKE to what it CAN DO.

 

Elizabeth de Vos, 39

5 Women on the Joy of Pole Dancing Workouts and Body Confidence How long have you been doing pole dancing workouts for?

I have been doing pole dance for five years.

 

What made you start?

I became bored with my exercise routine and I started looking for something more interesting to do. I always wanted to try pole dancing and I had a friend who owned a studio. She persuaded me to join.

 

How has the workouts changed the way you view and feel about your body?

In my first pole class I felt shy and literally wore the longest possible pants to class, after a month or so I ended up in pole shorts and a crop top. Pole dancing changes the way you view yourself, it gives you self-confidence and makes you feel comfortable in your own body. The pole environment is non-judgmental, motivational and safe. You can just be yourself and be proud of it.

 

What has been the best thing about pole dancing workouts?

I have to be honest and say that the feeling of having the ability to dance around a pole with confidence and having the strength to execute tricks and movements are definitely my highlights.

The friends I have made at pole has been incredible, and this has been so valuable to me. The people in your first pole class become your family. After five years some have left the studio and some have moved to other classes, but we are still friends and see each other on a regular basis.

 

What has it taught you about yourself?

I did not have any background in dancing, and I found that through pole I was able to learn to step and move. I never realized that I could be so determined and persistent to get something perfect. I have to work that much harder for a show or competition, because I don’t have a dance background. My coach also understands this and she never gives up on me, working with her and going through all the different experiences together has changed me as a person. It makes me feel that anything is possible.

 

Pole dancing changes the way you view yourself, it gives you self-confidence and makes you feel comfortable in your own body.

 

Amy Leibbrandt, 35

5 Women on the Joy of Pole Dancing Workouts and Body Confidence How long have you been doing pole dancing workouts for?

Since May 2019.

 

What made you start?

I was suffering with depression, anxiety and PTSD after a traumatic event and wanted to do something that would allow me to express myself and claim my body back. I wandered into The Pole Project and the rest is history…

 

How has the workouts changed the way you view and feel about your body?

I feel much more confident and empowered. Before pole I would never have imagined I would exercise in minimal clothing, but pole gives you so much confidence as well as being in such a supportive and empowering environment that you feel like superwoman.

 

What has been the best thing about pole dancing workouts?

Seeing the progress week-on-week and doing things you never imagined you would be able to do. Also creating friendships with the most incredible people – the pole community is so lovely and connected, you learn so much from the amazing women around you.

 

What has it taught you about yourself?

I am stronger than I think.

 

I wanted to do something that would allow me to express myself and claim my body back.

 

Lynn Bust, 25

5 Women on the Joy of Pole Dancing Workouts and Body Confidence How long have you been doing pole dancing workouts for?

Since the beginning of 2019, so just over 1.5 years.

 

What made you start?

I was going through a very difficult time before I started pole, I made the decision to change course completely halfway through my studies and I was battling with an eating disorder. With the help of some incredible women I was winning the fight against my eating disorder, but I still felt like there was something missing inside. I’d always stifled my creativity and sexuality, but I got to the point where I was ready and feeling brave enough to try something new. I didn’t know anyone who did pole, or anything much of what it entailed; but I was ready to try something that at that point seemed wildly daring and definitely a bit intimidating. That’s how I ended up walking into my first beginner pole class at The Pole Project.

 

How has the workouts changed the way you view and feel about your body?

Pole has literally TRANSFORMED the way I see my body. Dealing with an eating disorder, there were many times where I absolutely despised my body but slowly but surely, doing pole has helped me love every part of myself – including all the parts that we as women are taught shouldn’t be there, or look a certain way. In the practical sense, pole is an insane full-body workout and you build muscles in no time. But its way more than just a body workout because it teaches you to feel comfortable in your own skin. It’s empowered me to feel so happy with my body as it is, and that’s spilled over into all aspects of my life.

 

What has been the best thing about pole dancing workouts?

Honestly, it’s very tough to pick one thing but I think the best thing about the workouts is finding and becoming part of the pole community. It’s been such a safe space for me to explore all of my inner body-hating demons and to overcome them. That wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible, supportive instructors at The Pole Project as well as all the beautiful people I get to share the space with, in class. Sometimes, doing pole asks you to be vulnerable as you share parts of yourself you wouldn’t usually in society. Being a part of the safe, supportive space where we can all do that together has definitely forged some deep friendships for life for me.

 

What has it taught you about yourself?

Although I appreciate pole for how much physically stronger I’ve gotten, what I can really see the biggest change in is my mental image of myself. When I started pole, I used to criticise the videos and photos I’d take and sometimes feel like I wasn’t capable or couldn’t ever possibly do something.

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But along the way, I’ve grown so much and I truly believe that anything is possible now. Although I don’t think some of these demons will ever go away, I’m learning to deal with them in a much more constructive way. Pole teaches you patience, kindness, humility and most importantly, self-love. Because I can finally say I respect myself, during this time I’ve found love that I never thought I’d deserve, and I’ve entered into the most beautiful relationship. We have shared a lot of special moments through pole, and I am so grateful for that.

 

Doing pole has helped me love every part of myself – including all the parts that we as women are taught shouldn’t be there, or look a certain way.

 

Kelly Rossouw, 31

5 Women on the Joy of Pole Dancing Workouts and Body Confidence How long have you been doing pole dancing workouts for?

About 2 – 3 years.

 

What made you start?

A friend of mine dragged me to a class because she enjoyed it so much, it was a free trial and I had nothing to lose! Even though I was easily the biggest person there by a long shot, not once did I feel unwelcome – everyone was so kind, welcoming, and helpful! I was instantly hooked by the feeling of being able to do something I never thought I could do in a million years, the friendliness of each and every person in the class, and the fact that I was able to get one hell of a workout in.

 

How has the workouts changed the way you view and feel about your body?

I’ve really been able to accept the fact that even though I am larger and it may take me a bit longer, I am able to do incredible things. The best thing about pole is that there are always small victories along the way. With enough practise, I can achieve what I set my mind to, which really helps in other aspects of life.

 

What has been the best thing about pole dancing workouts?

Building strength. Being very strong and able to feel not only incredibly useful in other aspects of life, but also learning an exotic dancing style and embracing my femininity.

 

What has it taught you about yourself?

I am worthy and I can do whatever I want to do if I set my mind to it.

 

With enough practise, I can achieve what I set my mind to, which really helps in other aspects of life.

 

Leigh, 35

6 Women on the Joy of Pole Dancing Workouts and Body Confidence How long have you been doing pole dancing workouts for?

I have been pole dancing for five years.

 

What made you start?

It looked like a fun challenge and physical activity to try. Little did I know how hooked I would become!

 

How has the workouts changed the way you view and feel about your body?

Having been quite active most of my life, I have never experienced a workout like pole. It challenges all the physical limitations you think you have, but in such a positive and progressive way. With regular training, my physical transformation in strength, mobility and flexibility have been remarkable, which of course feels amazing! But even more importantly, my relationship with my body and self-image has shifted radically. Seeing what my body is capable of has given me a new level of respect and appreciation that goes far beyond physical appearance.

 

What has been the best thing about pole dancing workouts?

The feeling of accomplishment that comes with my personal progress and achievements. And the incredibly empowering environment, being surrounded by a tribe of strong, beautiful, and amazingly supportive women.

 

What has it taught you about yourself?

It has taught me to stop focusing on my limitations today and look towards what I am aiming to achieve in the future. It is absolutely possible!

 

Seeing what my body is capable of has given me a new level of respect and appreciation that goes far beyond physical appearance.

 

For more details on The Pole Project or to sign up for an online class visit http://thepoleproject.co.za/

View Comment (1)
  • I heard about pole dancing in passing from a friend and decided to give it a shot – this was maybe 11 years ago. I’ve been sporty all my life and I loved the strength, upper-body, balance, gymnastic, dance and creative elements of pole. I picked it up quickly, did an instructor course and ended up teaching at least twice a week for 4.5 years. I found teaching incredible rewarding, especially working with women in their 30s , 40s and up. My pole journey led to aerial circus discipline classes, which suited me well too.
    Pole is a very physical discipline that includes dance and choreography. Psychologically, it is also an empowering and liberating discipline – not as much for the sexiness (the level of which depends on who you are and what you do with the pole) but for the control of your body, the movements and accomplishment of moves. It makes you feel good – in a different way to running and biking.
    I still do a bunch of sports but haven’t touched a pole for a good few years now. I miss it and look forward to picking it up again when I move to a place with a decent ceiling!

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