One of the reasons I always put off Pole Dancing classes was that I thought the instructors would be intimidating…
It had nothing to do with them as people, but I’ll be honest, super fit people frighten me. One of my friends once dated a personal trainer, and the first question I asked her was not, "Is he a good human being?" But, “Does he judge you if you don’t go to the gym?” I think it just boils down to that common human anxiety of being afraid of something because it is new and different. For some bizarre reason, I always forget that Pole Dancing Instructors were not just, ‘born that way’. They worked hard to become one, and just like me, at some point had their first class and were probably terribly nervous. This week I got the opportunity to ask my Pole Dancing Instructor, Rose, a few questions about how she started pole dancing and what she loves about teaching beginners.
I liked Rose from my first class because she’s one of those people that laughs easily and freely. Someone laughing, in my opinion, always instantly relaxes a room, and that is needed when you have six anxious students who are afraid to touch a pole. Well, maybe not everyone was afraid to touch the pole – that could have just been me! Rose didn’t start pole dancing because she was a born athlete with oodles of confidence; she actually wanted to improve her body confidence that had suffered since she was diagnosed with diabetes. Rose found pole dancing the perfect activity to push herself out of her comfort zone week after week. To this day it’s something she does just for herself. I can completely relate to this. Pole dancing has become the one thing I have reserved every week just for me, as well as hiding in the stockroom at work and eating snacks.
Rose is also really encouraging. She quickly points out your strengths and if you do something well, or better than last time. Even if you still have not perfected a trick, Rose will point out that your leg was in a better position this time, or your grip was perfect. It is a lovely trait to have in an instructor because when I can’t do something, it is hard not to feel discouraged. Especially if I’ve been unable to perfect a trick after two weeks of trying, you wonder if you will ever improve. When Rose takes the time to point out that I have advanced it is really motivating. I think this also shows a certain level of emotional intelligence because I always feel her encouragement comes exactly when I really need a boost. I wish sales assistants at swimwear stores all had this same kind of emotional intelligence.
I always thought that if you were an instructor teaching a beginners class like Babydoll Pole, it would be frustrating because you have to go back to basics when you know everything. Rose, however, has a much different outlook. She enjoys teaching the beginner's classes because she feels that people improve most quickly on this level. This makes sense. You do go from never touching a pole in your life to being able to climb up one. I cannot climb up one just yet, but some people in my class can, and I have hope – although I did also hope that Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson were going to last. Rose also loves watching her student’s confidence skyrocket from week to week. Even as a student it is charming to watch your classmates nail a move and have a massive smile on their faces. I may not have scaled any heights just yet, but I do find myself feeling better and better about myself as I improve.
This week we went over our routine again and built on some technique we’d learned in the earlier lessons. I was having a harder time this week and feeling entirely discouraged by my lack of ability. I'm not one of those people that are great at being vulnerable and speaking up when I'm feeling defeated. But Rose seemed to notice because she was extra encouraging and also let me know she could see improvements, and that did make me feel a lot better.
The thing that Rose finds the most difficult about teaching beginners pole dancing is that people are hard on themselves, especially if they do not fly through each stage. I can relate to this because basically, I am a slow learner! I am often hard on myself for not nailing a move. It's easy to feel like a bit of a loser when others effortlessly achieve and you still struggle. But Rose has taught me that even if I can't yet nail a move, I am improving and learning. You may not effortlessly make the ‘Kate Moss’, move, but you might have learned better hand placement. I usually do my best ‘Kate Moss’ move to strut through the station with no money on my Opal card, and I have to sneak up behind someone and follow them through the gate.
Rose wishes she could just tell everyone to be kind to themselves. She informs me the best piece of advice she’s ever received about pole dancing is just to enjoy it. It sounds simplistic, but Rose is right, it is meant to be fun. Rose always makes classes fun as well, she puts on pop music, she’s quick to laugh at herself or make light of something, and she seems her happiest as an instructor if we are sharing a laugh over something or celebrating someone nailing a new move. She makes the class a happy place to be.
Rose tells me that the best piece of advice she could give her students is to not take yourself too seriously and she absolutely leads by example. I think Rose understands the importance of a 'vibe', and she creates a cheerful atmosphere in every class. I’m sure there are times when she’s tired from work or just physically exhausted, but she always makes you feel like this is the only place she wants to be, and she has all the energy in the world. The only time I have ever had all the energy in the world was when I was 19 and drinking vodka and Red Bulls. Now, I drink gin and tonics like the exhausted and tired woman I have become.
Every week I come to class, and I learn a lot from Rose. I now feel silly that I ever thought that she would be intimidating or unapproachable. Part of being an instructor is making yourself accessible to the students, and Rose does that effortlessly or at least makes it look effortless. I enrolled in Sky Sirens because I wanted to feel confident and healthy. I try to use my body in a way I hadn’t since high school P.E. When I discovered saying you had cramps meant you could avoid all that crazy running around. But when Rose first enrolled in pole dancing classes, she was also just looking for a way to feel better about herself. I think that’s what makes her a good teacher. Although everyone does pole dancing classes for their own reasons, I think it is a universal truth that we all just want to feel better about ourselves. Rose has the beautiful ability to make you feel better about yourself week after week.