I've booked myself on a course to learn pole dancing. Me? Pole dancing? Pole dancing, Me? I try saying it out loud. Hmmn, no, definitely doesn’t go together! Now here's the thing, I've never been that girl who dances seductively or should I say attempts to, as they stumble across a pole in a club or possibly a random lamp post. I've never felt the urge and would watch rather disdainfully should anyone ever attempt it.
However I have been reading that it is fabulous exercise and will tone my arms and belly quickly. I picture myself long, lean and able to turn upside down and hang by the ankles. So I figure - what have I got to lose?
But…the thing is…much as I loath to admit it…I'm a bit of a prude when the words pole and dancing are mentioned. I have nothing against poles and nothing against dancing but the phrase conjurers up Demi Moore in Striptease or the sleazy lap dancing bar in my home town called the Honeypot (which rather horribly is also the name of a children's day care centre here in Liverpool - argh!) and I can't help but wince.
Why can't we call it something else? Why does it have to sound so seedy? I'm not going to be wiggling around in a thong while I do it. A quick flick through a thesaurus and the most popular synonyms for 'pole' are shaft, rod and mast which sound even worse once you put dancing on the end. Vertical Apparatus Exercise anyone? Foreign translations sound nicer, but then doesn't everything sound better in Italian anyway? 'Dancing del palo' sounds enchanting as does the Spanish 'baile del poste'.
Anyway on the eve of my first lesson I'm told I need to wear shorts as the more skin you have out the more you 'stick to the pole'. This is the first hurdle as I don't own any shorts. I don't even own anything vaguely short like so end up hacking off most of the leg part of my leggings. The other golden rule of pole dancing is, to stay away from the body lotion otherwise you will slide down the pole. You want to slide round, not down.
At the class I'm told to stretch out (which I do) and that we will start off with something easy. The teacher effortlessly takes two steps and hooks her ankles round the pole and goes round. Lovely, very nice I think. I can do that, can't I?
So, I take my two little steps (that part is fine) and then I grab the pole and fall on my bottom. Ah, maybe this isn't so simple so I ask her to show me again.
Now, what I hadn't realised was you’re not swinging round. You’re not gliding, grinding, writhing or any inging at all. You are doing a one armed pull up, with the other arm pushing away and up, and with your wrist in a strange twisted position - whilst spinning!
I immediately feel deflated and cross that I'm not instantly good at this. I’ve also made it harder for myself because although I’ve abstained from the body lotion I did moisturise my face. So I have cream on my hands and ...slip slip slip I go sliding down the pole. The rest of the hour is spent trying to hook my legs round, struggling not to slip off, whilst summoning the strength to hold myself up. My instructor patiently assures me, this will come with time. I've also decided that the pull up, push away arm movement is like working out the clutch when you’re learning to drive, and I hope it will suddenly click for me - like driving!
The next day I am so sore I can't lift my arms above my shoulders and sitting up by myself is almost impossible! I also have new found respect and admiration for pole dancers everywhere and am excited by the promise of a very strong core, sculpted arm muscles, and if I can just master the clutch - a new skill for the CV.