I was in the middle of a series of hoop moves in Tuesday’s class, when I had a few flashbacks, followed by a moment of clarity. I knew right away that this was something I wanted to share with all of you. Allow me to take you down the rabbit hole….
I remember the feelings coursing through me on my very first day of pole class. The whole drive to Appleton was spent worrying. My heart was leaping out of my chest, and my palms were sweaty, and it only got worse the closer I got to the studio.  After I pulled in and parked, I sat in my car and seriously considered not going in. After a deep breath, I left my car and walked into the studio, my heart leaping 10 feet in front of me.  I recall the apprehension I felt as I approached the pole and vividly remember the moment of panic when I realized that the front of the studio was A WALL OF MIRRORS. I had come to the class in the baggiest shorts and tank top I could find because the last thing I wanted to see was myself. My ex’s words were still ringing in my head… “You’re ugly” “You’re worthless” “You’re fat.” My face was hot with embarrassment, and I made every effort not to look in the mirror.
I remember the first time I was asked to do a ShipsHead at the top of the pole, and the first time I actually did it. The first time, I climbed to the top and almost immediately slid back down.  When I reached the top of pole, I couldn’t get myself to let go. I couldn’t even convince my body to get into the right position. I could do a ShipsHead and I could climb the pole, but I was not about to do them in a combination. Weeks later, something, somehow, changed. The instructor asked us all to do it again. I took a look at the top of the pole, climbed up, and did a ShipsHead. It might sound like a simple endeavor, but it was one of the most profound moments of my pole journey.
I remember my first Sensual Workshop. The lights were dim, and everyone was casting glances at each other, giggling. I think it’s safe to say that we were all concerned about doing sensual moves within view of one another. During the workshop, Leah did a good job of keeping things light and encouraging us to try the moves . At the end, we were given the opportunity to free-dance, incorporating some of the moves we learned. It was hard to get started! Once I closed my eyes, and imagined that everyone was gone, it got easier. I could let the moves come as they may, and it felt so good. On my way home, I started crying. Even though I had been out of the relationship for a while, my ex’s insults were still ringing in my head. I was not crying from his insults; I was crying because I realized something: my body IS beautiful, IS sensual, and IS capable. He was wrong. I always knew that, but to feel it in my heart was something else.
In all of these moments, I was fighting fears. The fear of failure, the fear of heights, the fear of the unknown, and the fear of being true to myself.
That old foe Fear tried to squash me again as I attempted this combination of hoop moves– with a spotter, thankfully. There was a second, before I started, where I seriously considered not even trying. Don’t worry, I didn’t give in–I fought fear and won. I sounded ridiculous, but I kept squeaking out “Fear, fear, fear” as I turned and flipped into the moves. I wasn’t trying to amuse my fellow classmates–I was calling it out to banish it. In doing that, I found the strength, within myself, to flip into these frightening hoop moves.  It wasn’t pretty, but I did it. It felt AMAZING.
My ability to fight fear in the aerial arts has carried over into my everyday life and completely transformed it. Combating fear has helped me grow professionally, pushed me to try new things and take on new responsibilities. In relationships, I ask for what I need and leave if I’m not getting it. My aerial journey not only helps to heal me, but it pushes me to try in all avenues of my life, especially when I’m absolutely terrified.
I don’t think there are enough “thank-you’s” in this world to express how grateful I am for Aerial Dance. Without even trying, they’ve helped heal me and turn me into the confident woman I am today. The aerial arts are more than just a hobby or a way to get fit–they are a life-changing and healing journey. With each class and each move, I learn more about myself and what I’m capable of. I know that my classes aren’t just good for my body, they’re good for my soul.
I didn’t attempt to capture a picture of the move that had me saying “fear,” but I did get a picture of this one. If you had told me, years ago, that I would be doing something like this, I would have laughed at you. Now, I will gladly jump into the hoop and show it to you. Why? I refuse to be a slave to fear. You don’t have to be a slave to fear either–come out to the studio and let me show you how to fight it :).