Body + Soul: Give It A Whirl

I tested my body positivity and spirit trying pole dancing.

AS A WOMAN on her fitness journey, I am often on the hunt for new and fun ways to get healthier. Yet, for a long time, pole dancing didn’t enter my mind. Obviously, it has a connotation—one that didn’t line up with my self-consciousness and insecurity after a rough breakup. But after watching a video, I was intrigued enough to give it a shot at Nexxus Movement, a “pole fitness boutique” where I, too, could learn the “elegant and sensual art of pole dancing.” So I signed up for Specialty Bootcamp in Movement and Flexibility, listed as “suitable for all levels.”

I took dance as a teen, so I was pretty sure I could pick up that part of it. What I wasn’t sure of was whether I had the upper body strength to suspend myself in the air, à la J.Lo in Hustlers. I was told you need skin-to-pole contact to stay aloft, so upon arriving at my first session, I doffed my sweatpants to reveal the tiniest pair of athletic shorts I could find.

We began by warming up our hamstrings and hip flexors with lunges. I discovered muscles I didn’t know I had during the goddess pose (an extra deep, wide squat). My legs were shaking, but the comradery I felt with my classmates got me through. “It’s okay to stop if you need to,” our instructor assured us, but nobody did, not even while holding the superman pose, a core killer that earns its name. As I looked around and saw my classmates struggling like me, I was encouraged to stay with it After a few rounds of back warmups, I felt like Jell-O—but I was ready.

The actual dancing, thankfully, started off gently, with learning how to walk on the balls of our feet. Then R&B music started playing, and I trotted around my pole, making the choreography my own as I went. Then we advanced to jumping, and then finally to pirouetting around our poles. The hardest part was wrapping my leg around the pole for a spin. I didn’t need quite as much upper body power as I expected; you do use your arms to climb the pole, but your lower body is what holds you. My favorite move was a tilt that went into a leg wave—I didn’t know my body could move like that! Despite bruises on my inner thighs and a few days of soreness, I felt strong and proud that I had started to reclaim my sensuality. 1315 Shelby St., 317-533-8355