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How Pole Dancing Taught Me to Lighten Up – by Jess Fenech

It’s around this time every year that I sit down and reflect on the year past and everything I’d like to achieve in the upcoming 12 months.

This time 2 years ago I decided to try as many new things as possible, so amongst other things it saw me jump out of a plane, play my first ever season of touch footy (with my first ever sporting injury- crazy, I know!!) and I gave pole dancing a try.

Pole dancing sounded like fun, I’ve always loved dancing and circus performers and the aerial artists had the type of strength and grace I’d only ever dreamed of. I was a little nervous about swinging myself around a pole in a room full of strangers in not much more than my underwear, but I had committed to an 8 week term so I took out my high heels, my shorter-than-short bike pants and my body insecurities and I walked into my first class.

Instantly I loved it. The warm up was a mixture of old school jazz dancing and yoga (two of my favourite things, really) and then we slowly started to learn tricks.

The classes couldn’t come fast enough and I was addicted. The moves were getting harder and more impressive and I started to feel like this was really becoming something.

10 months in and it was another performance week. This term was tough- we began going upside down and backwards! A friend of mine came to watch and as I was the only person in my class to show up, I was doing this routine solo. Nerves were already high but now I really wanted to look good, so I did all my moves bigger and stronger than ever. When it came to our peak move (flick upside down on the pole into a handstand) I was ready, it was my favourite move so far because I nailed it every week.

Not this week. My back arched, my legs over extended away from the pole and I landed on my head. Silence.

I rolled out from underneath myself and burst into laughter, what else can you do, I wasn’t hurt. It was a good lesson in not taking things so seriously. I tried so hard to be a proper pole dancer- whatever that is- but I’m a little bit goofy and cannot pull off that ‘sexy pole dancer vibe’, so this was exactly me. And that was totally OK.

The thing I noticed most about starting pole dancing was the support and community with the other women. When watching over videos of past performances, the stand out sound is of the other dancers watching and cheering the performers on as they execute a new move. Cheers because they understand the difficulty and hours it takes to make a move like that look easy. Even in situations like mine when I fell, there was no judgement just support for me to try again, and when I passed the spot where I fell, the cheers erupted and I knew I could carry on.

It had also helped me really appreciate my body and what I would normally look at as flaws. When you start swinging upside down and sideways, the less clothes the better as it helps you grip…and I assure you, you don’t want to be slipping when you’re hanging upside down by one leg 6 ft above the ground in 6 inch heels!! You just have to own it, jiggly bits and all.

I have a new appreciation for my body. I am stronger and it carries me in ways I never knew it could. It still has some jiggle but I am proud of everything we have achieved together and I have way too much fun wearing my glittery tops to worry.

Which brings me to one of my resolutions for 2014- don’t always take life too seriously, remember to laugh lots, and often at yourself.



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