Pole Problems, Pleasures, and the Company of Women
I’ve been doing pole for almost ten months now, and the photo shoot is fast approaching. While my progress often astounds me, I find, in true KD fashion, that I’m impatient to be better still and I’m never quite satisfied with where I am. What slows me down more than anything is the need for recovery time. At the moment I’m doing two and three classes a week. That’s in addition to gym time and walking like a crazy woman. While I don’t bruise as badly as I used to, there are always new move or combo that will add a whole new dimension to bruises, pole burn and muscle and joint aches.
I have never been good at moderation, and learning pole is no exception. That means in every class, I work flat out, and especially if I have a pole to myself. That means I don’t have the time to rest I would have on a shared pole. Of course when the endorphins kick in and I’m in the zone, I feel no pain. It’s only later when I’m back home and have scarfed my dinner that I realize I might have slightly overdone things … slightly. My body constantly reminds me that I’m not twenty. Hell I’m not even thirty or forty. And I’m constantly in dialogue with it trying to convince it that that eensy little fact doesn’t matter. Those dialogues often happen in a steamy epsom salts bath. I will not use my age as an excuse. But neither will I deny that it sometimes is a pain in my ass. Not
There’s no doubt that stamina and strength are finite. I have a pole at home now, which is extremely underused, not because I don’t want to practice, but because I’m too busy recovering from the practice I’ve already had. Every day I try to do a of the very basic moves, but sometimes it simply is a bridge too far.
Because I’m strong, I’m much better at pole moves that require strength. Now that I can get upside down on my own, I love the strength moves and I love the physics involved in holding a move that seems impossible to anyone looking on. However the moves that involve finesse and grace — the spins and combos — I struggle more with. In most cases it’s not because I can’t do them, it’s because when I do they look klunky and awkward.
Because I’m someone who has spent a good bit of my life yoyo-ing with my weight, I’m very conscious of what the scales say – even more so now that every extra pound is one more I have to drag up the pole and when the very sport itself is changing my body. I’ve kept the weight of for two years now and have developed strong, healthy eating habits. BUT I’m always hungry. Though anyone who has ever battled a weight problem will understand the struggle to decide if it is actual hunger or “head-hunger.” Some things don’t change just because my habits have changed.
Muscle does, however, weigh more than fat, and muscles tend to engorge after a workout. On average my weight is up maybe two pounds, and it’s almost always up that much the morning after a hard workout. The shape of my body is changing too. I have more muscle definition in my abs and especially in my shoulders and upper back. Bras and shirts are tighter across my back now and long sleeves that hug the upper arms just don’t work for me any more. They are either too short now or to tight in the bicep. Because of all the neuroses I associate with my weight and my body, I am cautious and I weigh every day so that I know my body’s cycles. That way there are no surprises.
As I see my improvements on pole and look at what I can do more critically, I have to appreciate all the positive changes the last ten months have brought about. I’m more flexible. I’m stronger – for the first time in my life I can do pull-ups unassisted. For me that’s huge. I feel more empowered, more confident in myself that I am learning something so hard and yet so beautiful and amazing. Seeing not only my own progress, but that of my pole sisters continues to be one of the best parts of the journey. Shared photos and encouragement, laughter and gossip and just spending quality time with other women — that is maybe the best part of these last ten months. The company of women is, something I think, many of us don’t get nearly enough of. And when we’re all striving toward being better, stronger, happier, and encouraging each other in the journey, how can it be anything but positive?