As someone who has never been particularly athletic, I was unsure of whether I would be able to pole dance. My first athletic experience was as a 4-year-old in soccer. My favorite position was goalie, though I often got in trouble for talking to my co-goalie too much. Since then, I have never shined in any sport, nor have I quite been drawn to any. I was interested in gymnastics, but due to my long-running fear of being upside-down in any fashion, that was quickly ruled out. I found I loved skiing, but I could only go once every year or two. When I started college, I became more interested in personal fitness – running, walking, and yoga. Still, it was largely a chore to perform any sort of intense physical exertion.

I was nervous going to my first pole class; I thought I would make a fool of myself with my lack of coordination or body awareness. Fortunately, I went with two friends, and there were only four people in the class, which made it a lot easier. Still, I was the only one who had virtually no athletic experience. The first few lessons felt awkward, but soon I felt as comfortable in the studio as I did anywhere else. I no longer worried about other students judging me, but instead how I could make that spin better next time. My mindset switched from worrying what others thought of me to wondering what I could prove to myself. My biggest moment of triumph thus far is managing to do a handstand, albeit with some assistance from the pole. I had been leading up to that with more spins, rolls, inverts, and poses than I ever thought I could do, but that was the first moment I felt my athletic potential.

Pole/aerial is not for people who are already strong or already flexible or already thin. Pole is for every body, not just some bodies. If you find yourself looking at another dancer thinking, “I could never do that,” you’re wrong. You can do that, you just need to unlock your potential.