"Pole dancing? So you're becoming a stripper?" This was the reaction I got from my friends when I told them I signed up for a poll dancing class. Truth is, I would've probably had the same reaction if someone told me the same thing.
That's when I realized how closed-minded we are when it comes to anything related to sex. I posted my announcement on my Snapchat story, and I automatically received a bunch of private messages from friends saying things like, "Are you changing your day job?" and creepy guys writing, "Oh, that's so hot."
The problem is, we associate heels and provocative outfits with sex, even when they don't relate. Let me just make it very clear that stripping for money and dancing using a pole are two different activities. One is a job, and the other is a sport.
Here are eight things I learned from my personal experience of attending a pole dancing class:
1. It's harder than it looks.
I don't know why I pictured pole dancing as something that was easy to do. I thought you just swung around a pole and tried to look sexy while doing it.
It's really not like that. You need a lot of upper body strength to be able to pull yourself up, and you need just as much leg endurance in order to carry out the techniques.
2. It's not sexual.
People have this prejudice that pole dancing is associated to stripping. Newsflash: It's really not.
There were girls as young as 12 years old in my beginner's class, and they have been doing it for years. It's like gymnastics, except with a pole.
3. It makes you feel sexy.
I must admit, it felt empowering to handle the pole. Once I got the hang of it and was able to wrap my legs around it smoothly, I really felt like I owned it. Pole dancing studios have a wall of mirrors, so you can watch yourself doing all the techniques, which makes you feel confident, sexy and strong.
4. Pole burn is real.
After an hour of dancing around and flipping my body in ways I didn't even know it could, the burn starts to kick in. You don't realize while doing the class because you're so concentrated on getting the techniques right. But as soon as you're done, your body starts to hurt everywhere. They call this the "pole burn." Eventually, with more practice, it goes away.
5. You will sweat.
No joke, I came out of there sweating more profusely than I do when I attend a spinning class. If you're like me and you sweat a lot during a workout, you'll want to use "dry hands" applicator. You'll also be wiping your pole with disinfectant for half of the class. Your palms get very sweaty, which negatively effects your grip on the pole, so you need to wait for them to dry.
6. It relaxes your mind.
There hasn't been many times before where I did a fitness activity without having 100 things on my mind, but with pole dancing, my mind went on a complete mental break.
I'm the type of person who thinks of things to add to my to-do list in the shower. Even yoga doesn't get me in a zen state of mind. And yet, I was so concentrated on getting the moves right that, for once in my life, I wasn't thinking about anything else.
7. You'll wake up sore the next morning.
The second you wake up, it will feel as if you just walked out of the gym. You don't even realize how much you're burning during the class because you're concentrating on getting up on the pole and remembering the techniques.
According to Poleitical, an hour of pole dancing can burn up to 500 calories. Not only is it good cardio, but it also helps with muscle endurance, muscle strength and flexibility. I woke up the next morning hurting from every part of my body. I was sore for two days afterward.
8. You'll want to do it again.
The second I left the studio, I called my boyfriend and told him, "We need to get a pole in our apartment." Now that I had perfected these moves, I couldn't wait to show them off.
It's funny how something can have such a negative connotation until you go out and do it yourself. Months ago, if someone had told me they were taking a pole dancing class, I would've laughed. But now that I experienced it firsthand, I will most likely say, "I'm coming with you!"