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I'm a pole dancer, and I'm not afraid to say it

· Health and fitness

I remember the first pole dancing class I ever took part in. Simply climbing the pole or doing a basic spin felt completely alien. It wasn’t like anything I’d ever done before, even looking back on my gymnastics days when I was a kid. I almost didn’t go back… but I did. Two and half years later, through a couple of speed bumps and a few little breaks, I can honestly say that I’d struggle to be without it.

In those two years my strength, flexibility and co-ordination have all been tested as I’ve learned to move in ways I previously thought were impossible. I have been learned to actively think about make every move and combination look as graceful as possible, even when some of the positions I get into are far from comfortable.

There are an infinite number of tricks to master, with moves and transitions being created by different dancers all over the world every day. I could go on for a good while about the creativity, fearlessness and drive you need to be great at this sport, but that’s not the only point I want to get across in this post.

I expressed on Instagram not so long ago that until recently, I was afraid to tell anyone that this was my sport because I was scared of what they’d think. Hell, I just deleted “that I am a pole dancer” and replaced it with that last line for that reason exactly. I’ve been on the receiving end of some comments and had a few very awkward conversations which have made me feel really uncomfortable. And for what? Because society dictates that dancing around a pole could only make you one thing?

The first time I trained in a pair of 7 inch heels I felt a bit like Bambi on ice, but I felt amazing. It was something I had avoided for so long because again I was afraid that people would judge me, but when I let go of that and decided to give it a go I felt strong, sexy and so much more confident. Thank goodness for that because had I not gained that confidence, the negative comments that I received both on and offline would have really gotten to me. Don’t get me wrong, I was overwhelmed by the positivity and support I received from my friends and other amazing people on social media, but they weren’t all positive. The way I overcame the negativity was by thinking (or in some cases even saying) that anyone with anything negative to say wouldn’t be able to do any of the tricks I was doing in those heels in their bare feet, let alone with the shoes on.

We should be allowed to train the way we want to train and participate in any sport our heart desires without being judged by anyone we know or don’t know. I’m speaking for myself but I hope that I can speak for other athletes when I say that we’re not training for anyone else, we’re training for ourselves. Pole dancing has helped me shift from being focused on counting my abs to focusing on nailing each and every trick I learn in class, and that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I’m proud of how far I’ve come just like anyone should be when they get good at something they love doing, so why should I have to answer to derogatory comments?

What I’m trying to say is that we need to be more accepting of things that are slightly out of the ordinary and stop blindly accepting everything that society tells us to think, because it can be harmful. Even though working out in 7 inch heels isn’t exactly conventional, it’s still sport. If you still don’t believe me, why don’t you give it a go?

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