I’d always had an interest in giving pole dancing a try, but between heavy workloads and mama duty I never got around to trying it. And then fate intervened.

A few days after moving into our new home, I noticed a sign next door: ‘Nouveau Dance Studio’.
Nouveau is a well known dance studio in Durban, run by Bronwyn Waite, a highly accredited and qualified dance instructor with numerous awards and qualifications under her belt. Since her very first dance class, 24 years ago, she has lived and breathed dance. There are 3 studios in Durban, and they all teach a wide range of dance styles and workouts, including Zumba, burlesque, aerial yoga and, of course, pole dance.

I immediately arranged a try out class, convincing a work colleague to join me so that I wouldn’t be the only newbie.  I didn’t really know what to expect. Well, I had an idea in my head-the same idea that most people have of pole dancing. A group of gorgeous, lithe, scantily clad girls shaking their asses and swirling sexily and effortlessly around gleaming poles, with slinky and sultry tunes pumping in the background.

Having been a dancer in my younger years, as well as being graced with both flexibility and double jointedness (I can do some awesome party tricks...), I thought to myself: “I’m going to rock this!” Oh how terribly, terribly wrong I was.

The class started off with some stretches and head rolls and prepping. Easy enough. Then, out of nowhere, came the cardio. (Keep in mind that I HATE cardio!) Jumping jacks, pole squats, shoulder lifts. It suddenly dawned on me why this was called Pole ‘FITNESS’.  After the warm up, with much puffing and panting from my side, we finally got to hit the pole.

I was super eager and prepared myself to learn some sexy moves. I watched as the instructor gracefully, and with what seemed like no effort at all, slithered up the pole and somehow ended upside down, using only her arms as support, ending with her legs in a perfect split. I would later learn that this move was the ever popular ‘invert’. I suddenly felt more intimidated than eager.

To be completely honest, that very first lesson, I couldn’t even climb vertically up the pole. Not even close. My hands kept slipping (those poles are RIDICULOUSLY slippery!), my coordination was completely off, and I realised just how weak my puny little forearms were. Even the spin-you know the one-the stereotypical spin that you see in the movies, where the hot, naked stripper spins around the pole slowly and seductively in thousand inch stilettos, was impossible.

That pole left me battered, bruised and shaking. Add to that the notorious ‘pole burn’. Basically, you use your own skin to grip the pole. The result? Red, burning inner thighs, knees, feet and arms. I walked out of class, stumbled home and proceeded to sit slumped on my couch for the next three hours. My body was in agony for the next 4 days and I sported an enormous bruise on my hip for two weeks.

All of this is probably putting you well off ever trying pole dancing. But let me tell you why, even that first lesson of torture, I keep going back and look forward to every class. It is the best workout I’ve ever done. It works every single muscle in your body-even ones you never knew you had. Your coordination and flexibility will increase. You will feel stronger and more confident, and let’s not forget the happy hormones your body releases when you have a great workout.

So, if, like me, you like a challenge, then pole dancing is the sport for you. Yes-I said ‘sport’. The best part for me though, is that almost anyone can do it, regardless of age, size and even gender. It’s all about practice.

I still remember desperately asking Bronwyn after my first class: “Please tell me it gets easier?” Her response? “It doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger.” Brilliant. Finally, let’s not beat around the bush here. Once you get it right, bruises, calloused hands and pole burn aside, pole dancing looks sexy as hell.

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