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"But what if I’m not strong enough?"

Updated: Dec 31, 2019

Nearly everyone I talk to about pole fitness replies with the same refrain, “That sounds so cool, but I’m definitely not strong enough to try it!” Of course, there are variations – “Oh, but I don’t have any upper body strength” or, “I’m getting strong first, then I’ll try it.” But usually, the sentiment is the same – if you haven’t attended a pole class, you might feel like you need to have a certain level of fitness to join us. Hopefully, in this post, I will convince you that if you can walk through our doors, you are ready to take a class, and we’ll cheer you on at every step of your pole journey.

First, I’ll share a little bit of my story. When I started pole five years ago, I had no baseline fitness – growing up I had dance experience, but it had been four years since I had consistently taken up any activity. In my first classes, I remember feeling like all of the moves ranged from hard to impossible – holding a downward dog for more than a few seconds made my arms start to shake, never mind holding a plank! Climbing bruised my feet and legs and the top of the pole could have been the top of a mountain. Still, there were moments of sheer bliss. Spinning (or semi-gracefully letting gravity bring you to the floor) felt incredible, and getting upside down, if only for a second, in a pole assisted headstand was liberating. These tiny victories kept me coming back, and as I built strength and stamina, I found moves that suited my body and level of fitness. This, to me, is the beauty of pole fitness – every person begins with a certain level of fitness, personal goals, and individual traits that will make their pole journey entirely unique. Pole allows each of us to excel in our own ways and, as a community, to cheer each other on.

If you’re worried that you might not be strong enough to start taking classes, or that your classmates will be stronger than you, I want you to remember three things:

First, remember that everyone’s body is different. In pole, some moves will be easier for some students, but harder for others, based purely on your body type. Some dancers, for example, have long legs that make gorgeous lines in “splitty moves,” but are hard to lift in strength moves. Some of us may instead be very strong from weightlifting/climbing but struggle with moves that need a large range of motion. Personally, I have long arms that make it easy to reach around my legs in poses but make it difficult to get leverage to lift myself in strength moves like shoulder mounts and handsprings. This list could go on forever, but the point is that in pole, everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and those unique features are what will define your movement style and preferences. Whether you are just starting out or steadily progressing in your practice, it is important to celebrate your unique strengths while recognizing areas you can improve.

Second, remember that everyone in your class will be coming from a different background – some students are former gymnasts, some may be rock climbers, and some may have no fitness background. No matter your past fitness experience, everyone can achieve what they set out to in this sport – pole professionals have come from every background imaginable – even non-fitness ones! Your background will, however, likely determine how easy or difficult any given move is for you. Again, the key is to focus on what you are good at, while steadily making progress on more challenging moves. Over time, you will become stronger and develop the muscle memory you need to achieve your dream moves.

Finally, remember that everyone has different goals. Some students may want to become competitive pole dancers, others may just want to decompress, get stronger, and nail some spins and floor work. Your goals will determine how often you come to class, which classes you take, and which moves you perfect. If your goal is to feel more comfortable in your own skin, then celebrate a perfect body roll or fan kick, and we will be celebrating right beside you! If your goal is to slay at a pole competition, we will help you nitpick your micro bends and cheer you on when you nail your big pole pass.

In conclusion, at Fly Together Fitness our mission is to help you achieve your personal pole goals – whatever they may be and whatever your starting point or background is. I hope that if you have ever felt “not strong enough” to try a class, that you now feel confident that this sport is for you. If you are still not sure, then I’ll leave you with this sentiment from pole icon Delijah Franklin (that I first heard on her excellent podcast, Black Girl Fit Files) – Do you go to the salon with your hair already done? Do you show up to the nail salon with a fresh manicure? – to both of those, the answer is, “Of course not!” At Fly Together Fitness, we believe that wherever you are at today is good enough, and we hope to see you in class soon!

My very first upside down crucifix, after what felt like a lifetime of learning to invert. Of course, this was just the first step in a long pole journey of being comfortable upside down, but I still remember feeling like a million bucks on the day this photo was taken!

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