01 October, 2015

"I can't because..." - The Top Excuses I Hear From Potential Students.

We all have hurdles to overcome when beginning a journey in to the world of pole. I tell new students that pole dancing is quite an extreme activity. It's unlike anything and yet contains elements from the world of strippers, the circus tent, every dance form in the world, comedy, martial arts, performance art, gymnastics. There isn't much I haven't seen. But it also means there is a space for EVERYONE. Even individuals with no previous background in dance or any of the above elements. In fact I was one of those people. I spent a good majority of my life pre-pole dancing sat behind a computer screen playing games and watching movies. I always skipped P.E at school - hiding wherever I could. Even walking to the shops seemed like effort. I was the least likely convert. But there is just something about pole that makes it so addictive!

However, from potential students I hear the same excuses over and over and over again. It makes me sad, so lets debunk some of them.

"I'm too old"

Ah um no. Unless you're literally unable to walk or care for yourself - you can do it. I have students ranging from children (with parental permission, we run a childs acro-pole class at our Trowbridge studio), up to 50+. In fact in the two and a half years of teaching I have had three mother and teenage daughter duos attend class together. Bad ass pole dancer Greta Ponteralli was 62 when she won her division at the World Pole Sports Championships.

Yes with age your flexibility may have gone, as may your strength. Maybe you never had either to begin with. In fact, many of my younger students have zero flexibility or strength when they first start. Regardless you can gain flexibility, strength and more just by attending class. Pole dancing constitutes resistance training which is absolutely amazing for fighting off osteoporosis! It absolutely will enhance your bone density. Brilliant for fighting off old age.

"I'm too fat/overweight, I'll pull the poles down"

There is no specific weight limit on the poles but when put up correctly they can handle a huge amount of weight - far exceeding even the biggest students we've had. Most weight bearing equipment (aerial equipment included) can handle many times the weight of the people expected to use it. There's a very good reason for that; safety.

Most of the students who come out with this excuse are often a UK size 10/12/14. I have experience working with women far outside of these realms! So do not fear. My classes are filled with women of all shapes and sizes. There is so much we can do on the pole that does not require lifting your own body weight and we have a program of safe effective strength training for every single student who enters the studio, regardless of their starting fitness level. Now, I'm not going to lie to you. Your journey may take longer, it may be slower, it may be harder. But you can achieve everything anyone else can with enough time and hard work. Just check out the amazing Emma Haslam on BGT.

"I'm not strong enough"

No, of course you're not. No one is to begin with. Do you spent any of your day to day life lifting your own body weight? No? Then of course you can't do it immediately. As I've said above, my classes are designed so that even someone with the absolute lowest level of strength and fitness can slowly and safely build up their strength. Pole dancing is not just all tricks, there are many dance moves and routines we can work on until you're ready to lift yourself!

"I'm not flexible enough!"

See above. Many of us spend our days sat at desks and naturally we stiffen up. Whilst some pole moves do require flexibility - there are many many many many times more that do not and every flexibility move out there also has a non-bendy option too! We do cool-down stretches in every class, which will to some extent improve your flexibility. We also have "drop week" once a month, where we drop our strength training and focus on other areas, flexibility is one such area.

It has taken me 3 years to go from barely being able to touch my toes to being able to do the splits sometimes, on a good day. A year of that time I spent nearly every day stretching. Again, it takes time and dedication but it is possible. It's also not necessary and a personal choice you can make.

"I'm not sexy"

You don't need to be!! Pole dancing comes in lots of different forms. Think of the pole as a piece of apparatus: it's up to you how you use it! The main forms of pole dancing are pole sport (think gymnastics), pole art (storytelling, mixing different dance forms with pole, theatrical, comedy), and classique/sexy/exotic pole (our roots, where we come from, stripper style pole). I have students who like to wiggle their bums and students who just want to drill tricks. Everyone is welcome. No one is forced to do something they don't want to. It's also about being appropriate, classique pole wouldn't be welcome in our childrens acro-pole class for example.

"I'm a guy"

We have many men in our industry, gay and straight. Many have backgrounds in martial arts or circus/aerial, break dancing or other dance forms. Many do not. I only have one male student currently but I am ALWAYS open to having more! Guys bring a whole new dimension to class, a new way to look at moves and usually bring a whole lot of strength with them. Check out Alex Shchukin, Kenneth Kao and Daniel Rosen as a starting point but there are too many insanely amazingly crazy male pole dancers out there. I'm rather fond of Bob Zamora (a man who pole dances blog). I won't offend or compliment him by trying to guess his age but he's a bad ass ice hockey playing, ballet dancing, happily married (they are so cute!!), stripper heel wearing, scientist and male pole dancer. You can't make that shit up.

"I can't afford it, a gym membership is the same price but I can go as often as I want, I could only attend your class for an hour a week for the same price."

A gym membership is not comparable with hands on specialist training in a pole studio. It is vaguely comparable with PT sessions or group fitness sessions - but even then what we do is highly specialist. This isn't your bog standard fitness class. There are dangers in a pole studio that you won't find elsewhere. We have different expenses in terms of equipment and training. It's just not the same thing. If you prefer to attend the gym every day then cool! We wish you well! But you could instead spend an hour learning some serious bad ass ninja shit instead ;) I know which I would choose....

"Pole isn't for me"

Okay, that's fine! No problem! If you change your mind you know where we are. Is there something else that is more you? Maybe we have a class, or know of a class, you might prefer!

"I have......"

Some students have genuine worries about their first class in relation to an illness, injury, mental health issues, disorder/disease. In many many cases we can accommodate you, either in a private session or in group classes. You just need to talk to us and let us know of your concerns. We can have a chat and make a plan of action. There are always ways around everything. I talk a little bit about this in a previous blog post, here.

Deb Roach is an amazing one armed pole dancer and circus performer who shows anything is possible and is leading the way for disabled performers.

We live in a world of fast results and now now now. And we all come to the expectation, from seeing amazing athletes online, on television and in real life, that they were "born" that way or that they are natural. Regardless everyone has to work hard, even if some people might have a slight natural ability or previous experience. Athletes, pole or otherwise, train day in day out, week in week out, for years to attain such a high level. Some are ex-dancers or gymnasts, but many are not. Many were normal people just like yourself who fell in love with our wonderful sport. You could be the next Greta Pontarelli, or the next Daniel Rosen, or the next Maddie Sparkle or even the next Bendy Kate. OR you might just be happy in your little studio taking one challenge at a time. You may never wish to perform or compete. Every pole dancers journey is different. Some even start pole businesses so they can be a part of the industry without having to compete or perform.

Pole isn't for everyone, but I truly believe that many people don't give themselves the chance to find out if that is the case or not. They give up before they've even begun. Come take a 4 week course with us at Wincanton Pole Dance and see if it's for you!

- Bex