The Pole, Rheumatoid Arthritis And I

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The Pole, Rheumatoid Arthritis And I

“You will never be able to do anything like that, you are ill and that is the point.”

When it came to sports I have always been one of the lazy children in my surrounding. I have always been the last one picked on a team and after school I’ve never played volleyball or soccer with the other ones. Sports were not really what I called a passion.

But when I was 15 years old, my whole life changed and since then I would have been glad to just catch a ball or do a handstand. The doctors diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis, a disease which normally affects elderly people. The inflammations were everywhere! Inside the wrist, the knees, the ankles. Even inside my muscles! I was shocked, how should I carry on with all the aches inside my body?

Additional to the physical pain, there also was the mental pain. I was an outsider, I could not move the way I wanted to and I felt weak and was so ashamed. With the years I learned to live with the pain and how to control it, but I was afraid of trying sports again because the doctors told me it would be bad for my health – even though my biggest dream was now to do things like play volleyball again. That is the mean thing about diseases like rheumatoid arthritis – you can’t do it anymore but now you want it so badly. Maybe I should try swimming, which would be the healthiest sport for my articulations.

But I have never been interested in sports like that, something completely different caught my attention. It was the pole. The whole thing started when I watched the German “Supertalent” on TV three years ago. There was this absolutely beautiful young woman who dominated the pole like there was no gravity. I was totally gripped – how was it possible to move in such a beautiful and elegant way like it was the most normal thing on earth? I knew: If I started sports, it would be pole dancing. But there was no way I could try it. First of all, there was no course in Salzburg and secondly, even if there had been a course, I still was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

The years went by and the whole pole-thing was still stuck in my head. I was desperate and sad and the fact that a friend of mine recently started pole dancing made the whole thing even worse. So one day when I wallowed in self-pity again, I finally made a decision. I did not want to go on like that anymore! I wanted to try pole dancing! Even if that meant that I would suffer from pain and setbacks. So about two months ago I joined a pole dancing course.

Nobody said that it would be easy; there will be many hours of desperation and much pain, both physical and mental. But to be honest, I don’t care! I am alive again and I will overcome every obstacle to pursue my dream. I am even going to purchase a pole for my apartment so that I will be able to practise every time my disease does not prevent me from doing it.

And I will achieve my aim: I will dominate the pole!

Category: Health

About Julia Gefahrt

Hey there PoleFreaks!

My name is Julia Gefahrt and I am from Salzburg, Austria. I have been dedicated to the pole for a few years now, but just recently I really started pole dancing. For a long time I was too afraid of trying it because of my disease. I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis which is an illness that destroys your joints and sometimes even your muscles or organs.

But pole dancing helped me to feel better in my body and to stem the pain. It makes me happy and I am lucky that I tried it! In my blog I want to talk about pole dancing in the teeth of rheumatoid arthritis. I want to focus on the good sides, but sometimes it will also be necessary to concentrate on the dark sides of my hobby. I am hoping that maybe I will be able to inspire you guys and to point out that you don’t have to be 100% physically fit to have fun on the pole.

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5 Comments to “The Pole, Rheumatoid Arthritis And I”

  1. kayleigh says:

    I LOVE THIS!! Think it is great and that determination goes and helps both physically and mentally, i have been poling for about 6 months, previously I have had injuries to different bones in my body so my grip is weak and i’m in a lot of pain, pole helps and your right, makes you feel brilliant as well as acomplished!
    Ps your split grip in the picture is way better than what I can do 🙂 keep it up girl x

  2. Borniz says:

    Nice to read your post about RA and pole dancin. I have been suffering from JRA and RA since I was 11 and I know the feeling about being an outsider in team sports. My sister introduced me to pole dancing and in the beginning I was worried about how it will effect my joints. But I took a class and also started doing more with my sister. I think the important thing with RA is to accept the pain and once you are over that anything is possible. Who knows where are disease will take us in the future that doesn’t meen we should stop now.
    Keep up pole dancing!

  3. Raffaella says:

    I feel you. I have an auto immune condition as well (grave’s) and I know how practicing can be frustrating and painful. I am currently on a hiatus because of a ulnar inflammation which is most likely caused by the medicines I’m on. So I’m focusing on my legs and flexybility training. Keep it up, you are not alone!

  4. Yvonne says:

    Hi Julia,

    I am the same. I suffered from RA and Iritis since 18 (HLA-B27 positive) and at that time I was practicing martial arts and wasn’t easy at all. I gave up when I was 25 and stopped all sort of exercises for a few years. Started Pole dancing recently , for almost half a year now. I get depressed when I realized I can’t dance the same as others. My joints hurt so badly day and night and I am living on anti-inflammatory pills and panadol. I was quite flexible last month (no problem with the splits at all) and this month my body just given up on me. So stiffed and suffering in agony pain. I still go to studio 3 times a week pretending am all good. I knew I have to keep doing it, need to stay strong for my kids, on top of that I really love pole dancing.

    Keep up pole dancing and we can do it!


  5. Sydney says:


    I see this post is from a while ago, but I was also just diagnosed with RA, but love fitness and really want to try pole! any updates about your endeavour?

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