06 December, 2013

Please, love all your students.

First class. They're on their own and nervous. They fill out a form, pass me some money, vaguely introduce themselves and tell me they'll be terrible and not to laugh. They're with a group and they giggle. They fill out their forms, all look around at each other for assurance, pass me their money, wait. Girls and women of all kinds; old, young, large, small, fat, thin, short, tall, round at the tummy, big bums, tiny bums, big boobs, small boobs, short hair, long hair, dyed hair, shaved hair, fake nails, real nails, wrinkles, smiles, frowns, looks of contempt, tattoos, middle class, suburban, working class, flesh of all shades.

We warm up. Strength training; they're not expecting this, "wow this is harder than it looks". They watch as I demonstrate a spin, break it down and teach it to them. Awkwardly they put their hands on the pole and take their first attempt, "wow this is harder than it looks". They triumph or they take their time to do so. We stretch. Naturally strong or not strong at all - all leave having made some progress. All come back.

In weeks that pass they get to know each other, they get to know me and I get to know them. Types of women I would never in my life have met outside of this studio, outside of these four walls with its four poles and wall length mirror. Week on week they progress. Spins, combinations, climbing, inverting! Everyone likes different things, everyone progresses at different rates but all improve. All grow in confidence. All achieve something.

"Just one more try". Kat gets her handspring. Natasha gets closer to inverting. Lily gets her inverted crucifix every time. Faye climbs the pole easily on her third class. Everyone rises to the challenge of creating their own combination of moves. Everyone works their asses off. Just one more try. We all create a little community. Some only stay for a short while. Some never leave. But all I hope feel a part of it.

This is why it makes me angry to hear of instructors who treat their students badly. Two posts from tumblr recently became the prompts for this post:
- Being told by your teacher the reason you can't do something is because you aren't as 'slim and toned' as the other girls is so not the one. There goes my confidence and favourite new sport. Since when is size 8-10 not slim? Utterly ridiculous. Ah well, onwards and upwards! Tags: sports, pole fitness, pole dance, rant, personal, demotivational, confidence. (Author unknown).
- So as many of you know, I went to several pole dancing classes and fell in love. After having scheduling issues at the place I was at, I found a new place that had a Groupon for 10 classes. I jumped at the opportunity and bought 10 of course! About 3 months ago, I went to my first class at this new place and was absolutely mortified. The instructor was so rude to me and just generally made me feel like I wasn't welcome. The other girls in my class (note: BEGINNER POLE 1 CLASS) were doing inversions and advanced spins and here I was trying to get the hang of working with a spinny 50mm pole when I was used to working with a 45mm static. At one point she even told me that she "had to move on because she doesn't like to waste her time" and had me give up on what I was working on. Not only did the instructor make me self conscious, but add the the fact I was the only plus sized girl there, and you get an extremely uncomfortable me. I left and cried in the car on my way home and have yet to return. Well, here I am with 9 classes about to expire and I figure I might as well try and use them. I made sure to sign up for a class with a different instructor and am going in with a positive attitude. But I just can't help feel like the instructor is going to be judgmental and impatient with me just like the last. 3 months ago, I would have apologised for being weak and overweight, but fuck you because I tried my god damn hardest. If anything, I'm fatter and weaker now but this time, I'm not going to let it get me down. I'm not going to feel insecure because I'm not skinny or strong. I'm going to strut in there with fucking spandex shorts and unshaved legs and come home feeling like a million bucks. Tags: pole dancing, pole beginner, pole, pole fit, pole fitness. (Author: afittomorrow.tumblr.com)

If you favour the strong, skinny and skilled over all else then shame on you. There is beauty and strength in everyone and every single student. You only need to leave your judgments at the studio door to find it.

- Bex