June 29th, 2011

Verticality: Class 1 – Drop in and Pole Dance

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself lazy, but I’m not one of those people who enjoys running, treadmills, weight lifting, or any exercise that actually feels like exercise. For me it usually comes down to something that is more entertaining: kickboxing, karate, rock climbing, and the like. Since my birthday is about a month away I decided it was about time to find another workout routine and really get serious about getting in shape.

When my friend told me about the new Verticality Pole Fitness studio on Waugh I figured pole fitness was a perfect choice. It sounded fun and more importantly, had classes at times a career woman could actually attend. Extra bonus points for the studio being within walking distance of my home. What I didn’t expect was the physical and emotional intensity that would come with it.

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Class 1: Drop in and Pole Dance

I walk into the studio completely terrified and pretty close to turning around and running. What was I thinking…pole dancing? Me, who has no upper body strength? The second my hand touched that pole I started shaking. The instructor, Whitney, told us we had to trust gravity. Trust gravity? The last time I came up against gravity it ended with me splitting my chin open. Hmmm….good thing I have health insurance.

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We started with just walking around the pole, which actually requires more technique than just walking around. I felt like an idiot but managed to crack a small smile as I became a bit more comfortable. Then she announced that we would try the Fireman. Wait…that’s a spin. Now I understand the gravity trust business since it took everything I had to wrap my ankle around the pole and let go. This is the point where it became less about the actual workout and more about the emotional epiphany I had. The first spin I attempted was a success in that I didn’t come crashing down on the floor, but I was still nervous. The next one was a little easier. It was on that third spin that I realized that it was less about technique (the move is fairly easy) and more about my personal need to give up control. I’m not an outwardly controlling person in the least, but it wasn’t until spin three that I realized how much self control I had. And that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. It was a restraint that had nothing to do with sexuality – I’m pretty open in that respect. Instead it was this weird sensation of wanting to master the ability to push myself past my comfort level and let go of, for lack of a better word, life.

Throughout the rest of the hour long class my facial expression was a mix of determination and sheer terror, but it was probably the most entertaining workout class I ever experienced. Verticality does a great job of making the class fun and comfortable. Whitney was a great instructor who was cognizant of everyone’s comfort level and tailored the class to our abilities. And there’s nothing better than words of encouragement as we practiced the little routine she had choreographed.

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Never in a million years did I think that something as basic as a pole fitness class would lead to so much inward reflection. The simple desire to get in shape has now become a bigger personal journey. One of my friends made a crass stripper comment when I mentioned my new fitness plan and that was infuriating. This is not about spinning around a pole to make a buck. It’s not even just a unique workout decision. It’s an art; a sort of vertical ballet if you will. Even with the bruises starting to form and the soreness setting in, it’s been more rewarding than any kickboxing or karate class I’ve ever taken.

Next Tuesday I take my first Level 1 class, and I can’t wait. I’m excited to learn not only some new moves, but a little more about myself. Ladies, if I, who has no upper body strength, is fairly clumsy, and is not particularly adventurous when it comes to prancing around a pole in public can do this, so can you.

— Stacy

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