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Being A Single Pole Dancer In The Dating World

I think the title here describes it all. Being a single pole dancer in the dating world is not easy. At least, I haven’t found it to be easy. Now let me be clear: I am NOT saying every single person I have met is like this, but a good fair few. Also, I don’t mean just men, I mean men and women alike.

I feel like as soon as people hear or see the words pole dancer or instructor, they lose their brains with oversexualized thoughts. Some of that is out of their control from the stigma around pole fitness & how sexualized it is in society. But what they can control is how they speak to me and what they say. Do you know how rich I would be if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard some sort of horrible pick up line involving a pole? Believe me, they are not talking about any 45 mm chromes.

The dirtier the line, the more it is over the internet or dating apps. Yet, I have still had it said to my face as soon as they hear ‘pole fitness instructor’ -“So Can I get a private show?”…. First off, no. Second, where did I say I was a an exotic dancer? (No offence to my exotic dancer friends, So much respect for them but I didn’t say that’s what I do for a living.) Third, Why is this appropriate to say to someone’s face? I’ll let you in on a little secret.. ITS NOT.

Lets pretend I reversed the roles here. I’m meeting someone who does a different job than pole dancing. We get to chatting and we start talking about work. They say their a plumber. My first response is “Oh well I have some pipes you can clear”… DO YOU HEAR HOW ABSURD THAT SOUNDS. Its not sexy. Its not a turn on. Just stop. Please. We are tired of it. My job is as normal as plumbing, it really is. Its just not YOUR normal.  Just because it’s not your normal, it doesn’t give you the right to sexualize me or my job.

If I wanted to offer private shows, I would tell you. If I wanted to go out & hook up, I would tell you. If I wanted to rip off my clothes and give you a lap dance, I would tell you.

No lie, I love the sexy side of pole & how that makes me feel empowered. But as soon as you turn it into something that is done for someone else’s sexual benefit, I lose interest in you. Because you don’t ask first what I really do with pole, or recognize how much of a workout it is, how many YEARS I put into working on my skills, I don’t want to give you the time of day. I will literally walk away from you.

And let me say, I am not alone in these situations. Here are some short stories & comments from some of our students & instructors:

“I met this guy on Bumble and went on a few dates with him and things were going well; that was before I told him that I take pole dancing classes. One night, we were sitting on Whyte ave having dinner when I told him, and the cheeky grin on his face made me instantly regret my words. He made comments about getting a “private show” and instantly made the assumption this meant strip shows and lapdances were within his reach now… I stopped talking to this guy, until a week later when he texted me to apologize. This conversation ended with him offering never to talk about my “secret pole life” with me. This comment was met with me block button. Boiii byeeeee! “
-Neetu M.

“I’m not single anymore but when I was I constantly got “I have a pole you can dance on” to which my response was “yeah – it’s likely not big enough” Thank god my current partner never made that lame joke. “
-Amanda N

“I found I got 3 different response 1. Nothing, they’d ignore it and pretend I didn’t say I pole dance (??) 2. “Ohhh that’s hot, looking forward to a private show 😉 “ (creepy) 3. “Training for your next career I see” (…)
Needless to say I’m still single”
-Aerial K

So I beg of you non pole people who are single & dating, Stop going to that first sexual thought. Take the time to ask about what we do and why. Your eyes will be opened to a whole new world. A beautiful, talented, crazy hard and skilled world

Thanks for coming to my TedTalk.

  • Asher Moorji – Aradia Assistant/Instructor

Is pole dance your passion, your fitness, or your job?

Do you pole dance because it’s a passion of yours, do you do it because it’s a form of weekly physical activity for you, or is it your job (travelling pole star, pole fitness instructor, pole performer, etc).? Could it be all three? Yes absolutely! But let’s take a look at all three of these things and how different they can be for us as pole fitness athletes, while also overlapping.

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Nine years ago when I started pole fitness, due to there being no membership opportunities, and classes being mostly structured around a levelling system only, I attended class once per week. Keep in mind, I hated physical activity, so finally… I had found something that I enjoyed! Once per week was challenging, but everybody was in pretty much the same boat with only taking class once per week – in which we were all gradually learning skills and making improvements together. What took me 3 months to learn is now taking students mere weeks to learn – specifically because students are coming to class far more often than used to be available as an option! Which is fantastic that we have this opportunity, but also puts far more pressure on ourselves to attain achievements/tricks/flows in a quicker amount of time.


Seeing the pole worlds explode, and people dedicating hours within weeks at a time to the sport, I often see students on pole message boards saying things like “I just started my third class, and I still can’t invert!” Wait -what? Did they say third class? That took me WEEKS to learn, and WEEKS to build my strength. And let’s take a moment to talk about achieving goals.

1. When I used to achieve a pole goal, such as going upside down for the first time, I was absolutely THRILLED for that entire week until my next class! I would take a look at the photo snapped on my phone by the instructor in awe of my achievement. “When we get something we want – a promotion, an ice cream cone, or a kiss from a loved one – our brain releases dopamine. This chemical is often known as the “feel good” neurotransmitter because it does just that – it makes us feel good.” Now what happens when we’re in pole class almost every SINGLE day, but we’re not instantly gaining new tricks each day like we expect to? (Which, as you go up the levels, is incredibly difficult to do, due to the fact that the advanced tricks begin to require more flexibility and strength than the previous tricks learned in beginner and intermediate – these WILL take longer to learn). Well, what happens – is we leave class not feeling that dopamine being released, and we no longer have the “feel good” neurotransmitter being released after class because we didn’t attain a new trick. This is when students start thinking “wow, I suck. I should give up.”

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So how do we fix this if we do in fact want to continue pole fitness? One of the ways, mentioned by Psychology Today, is to “manipulate your dopamine levels by setting small goals, and then accomplishing them.” So why don’t you do this for yourself next time you’re in class? Set a small goal, such as holding your plank longer than the previous time, completing the warm up without giving up, climbing the pole one more time than you typically do. If you get the big trick, then GREAT – but if you nail that small achievement/goal, you’ll walk away feeling fantastic!

So why am I talking about all of this? Because I truly think it’s in the way our brains are wired as to why we feel we need to “give up” on a hobby, such as pole. I also think pole differs quite a lot in regard to other sports.

I am a cross-fitter, and I have been for years (minus a recent hiatus, but I’m back!). One thing I’ve noticed in crossfit is that the community, and the people that attend classes, are quite different in comparison to pole. While everyone faces challenges in crossfit, I actually haven’t come across many people saying that they want to give up because they can’t get a certain skill anymore. Same with cycling, barre, yoga – so it made me question… why is the pole community so different? I think a lot of that comes in to play with comparison – of our friends, the people on Instagram, our classmates, our instructors, etc.

So yes you’re passionate about pole, and that’s great! When that passion for pole fizzles because you’re not attaining the tricks as quickly as you used to – make FITNESS your pole goal. You’re there because you want to be physically active, and it’s a FUN way to be physically active. Be proud of yourself for getting to the studio, challenging yourself, breaking a sweat, and building muscle. Don’t be discouraged by not attaining new tricks every single week – this is next to impossible. (UNLESS, it is your job. We tend to forget that the pole stars we see on Instagram are able to devote endless hours into their sport. The rest of us, we do it for fitness – and there’s nothing wrong with that).

I’m off to my crossfit session – not because I want to be the next crossfit games athlete, and not because I NEED to get my muscle up or else I’ll quit. I’m doing it, because it’s a physical activity that I enjoy – just like pole fitness. It doesn’t need to be any more than that.

Don’t forget to ensure you’re not burning out your shoulders by taking too many aerial sports. I encourage you to practice Yoga or take up a dance class. Thankfully, Aradia offers so many other classes that you can do to cross-train, which will ultimately help with pole and aerials, while benefitting from physical activity. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to e-mail us at edmonton@aradiafitness.com.

Chantelle Beasley


Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-truisms-wellness/201610/the-science-accomplishing-your-goals

The Importance of Representation in the Pole Community

Aradia: How long have you been Pole Dancing for?
Pally: I have been pole dancing for about a few months shy of three years

Aradia: What interested you in starting pole dancing?
Pally: I had gained some weight due to a new medication that I was prescribed. The rapid weight gain was frustrating, and diet alone was not helping me shed the extra weight. I needed to get into a more active routine. I went to Zumba regularly, but it was a bit too high impact for my chronic shin splints. I saw an ad for the “Intro To Pole Dancing” groupon one day, and figured that it would be a great way to stay active without aggravating my shin splints.

Aradia: What stigmas or challenges have you faced since joining the pole world?
Pally: To begin with, I was never a seasoned athlete or dancer. I had no relevant skills that translated to pole fitness. I had to start from zero in strength, flexibility, and coordination. Strength was fairly easy to build, while flexibility is an ongoing struggle for me. Outside of the physical limitations, I still face a few challenges relating to race and religion.

Coming from a conservative community, I cannot be as open about my passion for pole fitness as I would like. In particular, I have to yet to tell my parents about my hobby, competing, and now instructing pole fitness. Having had a fairly strict Islamic upbringing, I was kept from participating in any activities that would not fit in with my parent’s conservative values. My pole attire in particular would get some disapproving sighs from my parents. Though to me, high waisted and a sports bra may seem fairly normal by our standards, they are far too revealing for most practicing muslims. Additionally, when I first started pole, I was either the only visible minority in class, or one of a small fraction of students of colour. Going into a class and being visibly different than your peers can be very intimidating. You feel like you don’t quite fit in, and that little voice in the back of your head always tends to chime in to tell you this sport is not “for your kind”. This problem is not exclusive to pole fitness, however, the small class sizes draw attention to the glaring disparity in the demographics in sports/fitness classes.

Aradia: You mentioned that you feel this sport isn’t as ethically diverse as it could be. Why do you think that is? What do you think we need to do to change it?
Pally: In the past 3 years, the number of POC students has increased dramatically. It brings a smile to my face when I walk into class and see the student distribution approaching the demographics of the real world. Despite the influx of POC students, I have yet to see higher level students, instructors, competitors, or performers that look like me. I cannot emphasize the importance of representation enough. I am not sure if every POC has the same experience, but growing up, I was discouraged from a lot of physical activities by my family and community. The go to line was “this is not for us” or “do you see other people from our community doing that?” It is difficult to aspire to be a high level athlete or competitor if none of them look like you. The current lack of representation reinforces that exclusionary messaging.

I also think that conservative values and lack of emphasis on sporting activities in POC communities further contribute to the racial disparity in pole. Most immigrant communities hold fairly conservative or religious values that don’t particularly jive with the sensual side of pole fitness. All while growing up in the south Asian community, women are discouraged from participating in physical fitness and sporting activities. Either sport is not feminine enough, requires too much skin exposure, and may result in a masculine physique or disfiguring injuries.

Aradia: What are you competing in?
Pally: This year I decided to compete in Exotic Level 1 in the Canadian Pole Fitness Association Western Canada Regionals

Aradia: What made you decide you want to compete in pole fitness?
Pally: I had previously competed in amateur, and did fairly well for my first time. I have always been a very competitive person. I wanted to try my hand at competing to see how far I could go and to give my pole fitness journey a tangible purpose.

Aradia: What is your end goal with this routine? What do you hope comes out of your competition (a part from placing)
Pally: My decision to enter Exotic was a no brainer. I am not a trained dancer, so I felt very out of place in the amateur division amongst seasoned dancers. My routine in 2018 was very athletic and dark. It was not exactly something that appealed to the judges. As much as I enjoyed putting together the routine, I did not feel at home in that division.

I have always been drawn to the Russian exotic style and decided that was a much better fit for this years’ competition. My goal with this years’ piece is to create a unique and memorable routine that unapologetically showcases my south Asian heritage. I am not the most coordinated, nor the most flexible dancer, but I am confident that I can convey a unique story on stage. My hope is to leave a lasting impression and hopefully encourage other POC competitors to step out onto that stage.

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