Pirates and Pole Dancing

Okay, I lied… there aren’t any pirates in this story. That was a shameless (alliterative) ploy for an interesting title. But now that I have your attention…

No one has ever accused me of being graceful, I like to say. While decently athletic, my dance skills consist of pretty typical white girl club hip-shaking and one terrible Salsa attempt that shall not be spoken of. However, I have found myself in the past year completely captivated by barre classes.

Based on classic ballet movements, barre is one of the hardest and most rewarding workouts I have ever done. I was instantly addicted and happy to find that even a total non-dancer type can play along, even dabbling in some of the hip hop and other offerings. After doing classes about once a week for almost a year, I thought I had built up pretty good overall strength… until last Saturday.

A new studio had opened up down south with brand new dance options. My fitness-nuts friend couldn’t stop raving about a new class and wrangled me into joining. As I walked into the studio I saw bars but vertical, not the expected horizontal. This, dear blogosphere, was a pole dancing class.

But it was no sexy-time stripper training class. There was no shaking of rumps or bend and snaps (Legally Blonde reference anyone?)… no, this was a pole-FITNESS class. And good god, it was hard. It mostly went a bit like this:

“Okay, so first I put my hands here, then I whaaaaaat? LIFT MYSELF UP? OFF THE GROUND? Haha, you are funny. Wait, next latch on with my knees, then I grab the pole with the tops of my feet and totally remove… my… hands….uhhhhh….whaaa….no. I am pretty sure that all of this (gesture to body) is NOT capable of doing that (gesture at instructor).”

(I spent most of the class making this face)

There were spins and twirls. There was the “rope climb” that incited terrible elementary school gym flashbacks.  And there was the move we nicknamed the Dying Octopus, mostly because I looked like a flailing cephalopod on the brink of death. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t elegant. And it certainly wasn’t easy.  I am not even including the portion where we were upside down. UP. SIDE. DOWN. Seriously, it was like some sort of Circ Du Soleil training camp. And even though I felt I was hardly succeeding, three days later I am still sore. Muscles hurt where I thought there were only ribs. And my arms? My arms feel like pain. Lots of pain.

Is there a moral to this long, rambling tale of workout woe? Not really. Maybe a new-found respect for those capable of such seriously impressive gymnastics. Or maybe just a reminder to go to the gym more often. Either way, it was an incredibly humbling, surprisingly fun and physically exhausting experience. But one that I might just try again. Maybe. Once I regain movement in my arms.

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