Once the S Factor classes were made available to me, I was eager to get started and jumped right into Super Pole I rather than wait for my introductory class. I realized right away this wasn’t going to be like any other pole dance class I’d been to. The music was loud. There were no mirrors. There was just enough light to see, but not enough to allow you to judge yourself or anyone else in this sacred space. And the warm-up alone felt amazing. This wasn’t a punishing workout. This was slow and sensuous. A gentle awakening of all the neglected parts of your body.
I was pleasantly surprised to find I didn’t feel too intimidated, as I so often do, although I did feel somewhat embarrassed at times. The class was going beautifully and I was feeling thrilled and grateful to be there. Once we started the S Walk things started getting a little rocky for me, but I was hanging in there. And then came the hip circles.
While making a clumsy attempt to S Walk across the room and wait for an available pole, my teacher instructed me to do some standing hip circles, and I froze. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes and suddenly felt overwhelmed with shame and embarrassment. Why was this so hard for me? The other women were joyously dancing all over the room, writhing around like goddesses, and I couldn’t do a standing hip circle. Fortunately for me class ended just about the time I was desperate to escape before anyone saw how upset I was.
Once again, I found myself crying on the drive home, but even though I hadn’t done as well as I’d hoped to, it wasn’t about punishing myself. It was a release. And a much needed one. I was even more determined to keep going.
My introductory class was so delicious I immediately started imagining becoming an instructor someday. After all, what could be more fulfilling than guiding other women through this journey and helping them feel more comfortable in their own skin?
I continued taking classes and enjoyed each one thoroughly, but I was so excited to start my Journey class. The first night was going beautifully. Sure, I felt uncomfortable at times, but within those walls you really begin to feel safe pushing past your own boundaries.
At the end of class the teachers did a beautiful demo of the routine we would be learning, and right away I knew it was going to be a huge struggle for me. From beginning to end it was nothing but the sort of movement that makes me stop cold and fall apart. Sometimes with pole I can focus on the technique and disconnect from the dance aspect which makes it easier for me to handle at times, but there’s no way to do that with a routine like this.
The next week I wasn’t sure how well I would handle it once we started learning that very scary routine, but I knew I wanted to keep trying to move forward. The warm-up was wonderful as usual. But, just as I feared, the moment we started the routine I hit a wall. I stood there in a panic, feeling horrified and embarrassed. And then I couldn’t hold the tears back, so I gathered my things and left.
One of my very kind teachers came out to check on me and encourage me to come back, but I was such a brokenhearted, sobbing mess I couldn’t even fathom going back inside. This time I cried all the way home for a different reason. I had failed. Miserably. Here I had this amazing opportunity to do just what I needed most for my own peace of mind and I blew it. It’s hard to find the words to describe how painful it feels when fear and shame have the loudest voices in your mind. It’s crushing. It’s crippling. And it leaves you feeling hopeless.
I tried to dust myself off and return the next week, although I have to admit I felt so thoroughly humiliated I wondered if I should even go, and while waiting for my class to start I suddenly started feeling ill. It was so sudden and so severe I suspect it was a result of the resistance I was feeling. But whatever the cause, I couldn’t go to class, so I turned around and went home.
The next week I planned to go back, but just hours before class I pulled a muscle and ended up bedridden for several days. I finally started to realize I was done. Every time I tried to fight that my body fought right back and won. And I figured since I had been pushing myself in other ways at the same time, most notably by performing in a burlesque show, I had to accept that was as far as I could go for the time being and try to forgive myself and move on.
A few months later one of my teachers was kind enough to invite me to a free Pure Dance class, which was sort of a review of that same routine that had caused me so much grief, and this time I did it. Maybe not comfortably. But I did it. And it felt really good. So good I found myself doing parts of it in the shower which is definitely a first for me. Even now I sometimes stop when I’m walking down a dark hallway in my house and do a wall frisk. And even though those moments are fleeting, I’m so thankful that I get to experience them at all.
I hope one day I’ll be able to go back to S Factor and finish the Journey class and hopefully continue beyond that, but either way, I’m so grateful for those wonderful teachers (and the other students I was fortunate enough to meet) who were all so kind and supportive as I struggled to get started on this journey.