A year ago I didn’t even know that ‘pole fitness’ was a thing. I associated poles with pole dancing – something that I had never envisioned myself doing. Why would I become a pole dancer? Not only had I categorized pole dancing as a social taboo, but I had also heard it was hard and that many of the girls left practice rounds and nighttime gigs with bruises on their arms and legs from strenuous activities on the pole. It didn’t seem like something I was cut out for, and I failed to recognize the activity as a proper sport.

So, if you had told me that I’d soon be taking pole-dancing classes, I would have wondered what type of event struck my life and rendered me a nighttime performer. (Needless to say, there’s nothing wrong with stripping, but it’s not the career I had spent seven years collegiate academics studying for.)

But no tragedy struck. Instead, I accidentally became entranced with the sport through a street performance.

In Bermuda, we know a thing or two about parades and outdoor events, and we’re also home to incredible acrobats, athletes and aerialists. Within just one performance, I realized the strength, grace and sense of empowerment that flows through women (and men!) who are well acquainted with the pole. I was mesmerized, and, in the most positive sense of the word, envious of the dancers.

Having spent the majority of my pre-teen and teenage years as a gymnast, I longed for the strength, flexibility and power these performers displayed. Although my abilities as a gymnast had long since evaporated, pole fitness became a viable option to redeem them. I couldn’t help but wish that I had opened my mind and discovered it sooner.

I took my first class this past Saturday. It was part of an 8-week series offered by Lotus for pole-fitness beginners. We started the series by going around the room, introducing ourselves, and saying what made each of us what to try pole fitness. Most of the women said that they were there to try something new, develop arm strength, and have some fun on a Saturday afternoon. I was surprised by how quickly I felt comfortable with this group of women. We came in all shapes and sizes and there was no end to the energy each of us brought to the room. While I had expected (and received) a challenging workout, I didn’t expect to laugh so much.

So, what did I learn during my first pole fitness class? Beside from a few nifty pole tricks (and yes, you start learning tricks on DAY ONE), I learned that courage is not only synonymous with getting out of my comfort zone – it’s also synonymous with FUN. Believe me, I know how it feels to try something that’s new and slightly uncomfortable. But nothing is more fun than getting out of your comfort zone with a group of ladies that are equally uncomfortable. We spent the afternoon laughing, learning and becoming more confident versions of ourselves.

I am excited for what Week 2 has in store.

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