Until the first week of August, I hadn’t made it to any pole classes since February.
Lockdown in the UK took effect in mid-March, and even though I’d scoped out a room to put a pole in, and made a plan back in 2019, I’d procrastinated in typical me fashion.
So I was definitely kicking myself when we went into lockdown.
Not that I would have had the energy to train, anyway. Even though I went back on medication in February, my depression was worse than normal for a good (bad?) three or four months before my work started picking back up.
But anyway, if you don’t follow my Instagram, I left my last pole studio for a lot of different reasons, primary of which being I realised that I hadn’t really learned anything in a year aside from perhaps two new spins. I kept going because classes were cheap, and I couldn’t afford the pricier options at the time.
The other reasons are a lot more difficult to talk about, and as my friend Carolina from Blogger on Pole will know, the very idea of being in legal trouble sends me into a panic attack.
(Thanks again, Carolina. I definitely owe you cocktails whenever we get chance to meet in person).
Thankfully, now I’m getting consistent work, I was able to explore what other classes were nearby.
And, as it turned out, Karrie Hammersley had just opened (well, was going to open) a new studio a short drive away from me.
After the bullshit that is our current government decided the reopening date they’d given pole studios originally was a suggestion and not a definite, and pushed opening things up back, I was able to get on a pole at Karrie’s Pole Fit in Ripley for the first time in six months.
And of course, it had to be absolutely roasting on my first day back, so my lack of grip strength was made even worse by the constant puddle of sweat.
So, what did I learn from my first post-lockdown pole lessons?
I’ve lost a lot of strength
To be honest I did expect this, particularly because the last studio I was at barely focused on conditioning anyway. Having not made it to pole classes for six months, plus not having the energy to do my regular strength workouts at home, has meant that my climb is very wobbly and I can’t hold myself in a lot of spins.
Hell, I was struggling to invert from the floor.
My grip points can feel things again
My god, I don’t think sits and layouts have ever pinched this much since I was a beginner. Even my shins were feeling the pain from working on climbing conditioning, and I’ve not had that since I started learning how to climb.
Don’t even get me started on knee grip. That was always an utter bastard. Now it’s even more fucky.
I don’t really know how to talk to people any more?
So I struggle a lot with social anxiety. In my last job, it took me over a year before I stopped being quiet, shy, and reserved. I’ve never really felt able to navigate social situations, particularly not with strangers or in new situations. It’s one of the driving forces behind how anxious I was at the start of the pandemic in the UK, particularly at the prospect of having to leave the house. I was terrified of being judged for doing the wrong thing.
Now I’m just terrified of people who think that masks don’t need to cover their nose. Or that masks are a government conspiracy.
Going back to pole classes made me realise how out of practice I am at talking with people that aren’t my significant other, family, or close friends. I know it’s something that will come back with time, and I’m probably feeling this way because I’m at a new studio with a whole new group of people. But it really was a surprising thing that I didn’t feel able to hold a conversation with strangers.
I need to revisit the fundamentals
This was perhaps the biggest shock for me, but in a way, it’s not a bad one.
I’m nearly three years into my pole adventure and I thought that I’d be able to jump back into mixed ability classes without a problem which, y’know, was definitely not the case.
After riding the struggle bus all the way through my first mixed ability class, I decided to start booking onto beginner level classes so I can learn everything from the ground up.
And it’s a good thing I did, too – I’ve been to a few beginners classes now, and it made me realise that I’ve neglected training the basics for too long. Of course, I have the typical pole dancer problem of only training one side, but I’ve also lost a lot of the basic spins and need to work on getting them back.
Also, it’s pushed me to use grip aid less. Not that I think training with grip is necessarily a bad thing, but I think I came to rely on it too much. In my new beginner’s classes, I’m using grip a lot less, and it’s really helping me to focus on my muscle engagement.
Not all of us are in the same boat, and that’s okay
I’ve whined a lot about not having my pole room ready for the pandemic, but my point is that I haven’t had chance to train pole-specific things for six months. In comparison, a lot of people on my Instagram do have their own pole, and I’ve made the fatal mistake of comparing my drop in strength with theirs.
I actually started getting really down on myself because of how much I was struggling with my strength and energy levels, but going back to classes – and in particular beginner-level classes – is teaching me that it’s okay to regress and work back up from a lower level than you were.
It made me realise that I still have ego issues that I need to work on. The kind of ego issues that sit at the back of my mind and whisper “hey, you’ve been doing pole for three years, why the fuck are you here?” and make me think “of course I can do the hardest option” until I can’t…and then I hate myself.
The world is a shitty place, and 2020 so far has been fucking WILD. While I’d normally ask if you could toss a coin to your blogger, here’s a list of organisations close to my heart that need your support now more than ever.