Don’t Give Up: Climbing the “Beginner’s Mountain” of Pole

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Don’t Give Up: Climbing the “Beginner’s Mountain” of Pole

In addition to requiring an extreme level of strength, grace and flexibility, pole requires an absurd amount of bravery.

Naturally, you’re going to need a lot of “personal safety bravery”. You realize that your breadth of tricks is going to have to one day increase from the fireman to a bevy of spins, holds and inverted poses. You realize that you’re not always going to be on the ground or even having all points of contact covered. You attempt a superman, only to screech in agony, feeling as if your skin is being ripped from your thighs.

But “social bravery” is also required, especially when you’re first starting. Unlike most other exercise classes out there, you are forced to put a lot more of your “true self” out there, during a pole class. Your clothes are skimpy. Your instructor is finessing spins and transitions at lightning speed, expecting that you and your classmates will get them. Some people are getting them – perfectly, in fact.

When your instructor comes around to you, asking you to show her the move, there’s no hiding – only trying. Your instructor is most likely incredibly supportive, but it doesn’t change the fact that you haven’t gotten it yet. You wonder: Am I the worst person in the class? Does everyone else see me failing? Will I ever be as good as the other people in here?

As someone who has been poling for several months now, it’s easier for me to look back and say “you can do this!” But if you knew where I started, you’d realize that what I really mean is “If I can do it, you can do it.”

My Pole Beginnings

My best friend introduced me to pole in November of 2014. Elegant and effortless, I wanted to be as good as her one day. Fast forward to present day and I might almost be on her level – even she’s pretty impressed! If only she had seen my start.

You see, since my best friend and I live in different states and my other friends were too scared to try pole, I effectively started my pole training journey alone. Each class I walked into was full of either previously-paired up bestie newcomers, or lonesome experts who spent their hour intently focused on nailing a trick.

Then there was me: Friendless and new to pole. The first few classes were hard for this reason, but I distinctly remember the fifth or sixth class I was in as being the hardest.

The time came for us to do a chair spin. Everyone was getting it, even if it took a few attempts.

Everyone, of course, except for me.

All throughout class, I tried, tried, and tried some more until I found myself on the floor, my head in my knees, crying. By the end of class, even my teacher looked depressed, just looking at me. I left class unaccomplished.

During my first two months, I continued to hit walls. Not only could I not do a chair spin, but I couldn’t spin at all, and every move I made was choppy.

That day, I contemplated quitting pole. “Maybe this isn’t for me,” I thought.

“Or maybe it is, and I need to give this some more time.”

Everything Just Kind of Clicks One Day

Well, not at once. But it’s pretty funny how one day you feel utterly defeated and the next day you’re inverting. I’m serious: This is how it happens.

I continued going to class even if I would have rather eaten a sock than go that day. After going consistently for about a month and a half, I remember landing my first invert. I couldn’t believe what was happening, but after a few tries, it just kind of happened.

I didn’t think I could even get my first invert until many months into poling! How was this possible? I was elated. True, you won’t learn every single move with ease, but it’s amazing how you will start to do things you didn’t even know you could do.

You Never Stop Hitting Walls…

You just get better at climbing over them.

After hitting my first invert, things only got more challenging (though more from a strength-building/personal safety perspective). Except now, I’m ready for the challenge. Having been through the grueling beginner stage, I am on the other side of the mountain now.

You ask: Does it get any better? Yes, but only if you stick with it, and only if you tell yourself: No matter how hard this seems right now, no matter how long it takes, I’ve got this. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll eventually get over that mountain.

Category: Beginners, Discussion, Tips

About Haley O'Bryan

My name is Haley and I'm from Long Beach, California. I've been poling consistently since March 2015 and attended my very first pole class in November 2014. When I attended my first class, I was thoroughly amazed at the strength, grace, and flexibility required to do pole. I knew I wanted to become excellent at pole one day and eventually compete. I soon learned that this was far from easy, as evidenced by my inability to land even a chair spin until several classes in. Things are progressing much better now and even though I still come up on challenges, I haven't given up yet and will be participating in my first competition (the Pacific Pole Championships in LA) in March 2016!

In addition to pole, I am extremely passionate about writing and am currently writing my first novel. I also run a modern philosophy blog called Infinite Corners where I share my thoughts on socioeconomic issues and how to lead an examined life. I also love drawing, hiking, traveling to off-the-beaten-path places (Kyrgyzstan is coming up next!), and playing with any animal that comes my way. And when I say any animal, I mean any animal - snakes and tarantulas included!

Visit Haley's Website

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