The first time I tried pole, I didn’t want to go. My best friend bought us both a Groupon. I told her there was no way, I wasn’t a dancer, I had no idea how to be sexy, I didn’t have the upper body strength, and there was no way I would be caught dead in those shorts! But my best friend has known me since I was six. She coerced. I went. It was amazing.
The “studio” was just three poles in a little attic room above a…gym? Circus studio? It was near I-drive, I think. The instructor gave us wine. It was just the three of us. And still, I felt shy, exposed in the knee-length bicycling shorts and tank top I was wearing. We did hip swivels and a move called “hello kitty.” It wasn’t my style, but we also did a couple of basic spins. My feet left the ground, and I felt like I was flying. I was hooked.
Walking into any classroom environment for the first time can be one of the most intimidating experiences in the world, whether it’s a traditional school setting, yoga, or an aerial class. There is this sense that we are being sized up. We look at the other students and wonder who has been doing this the longest , whether people will notice how weak/out of shape/tubby we are. On top of the usual anxieties, aerial arts demand tight fitting or minimalistic clothes which can make us feel exposed and body-conscious.
Asatta Jones, one of our amazing instructors who teaches an intro class every Saturday, had the following advice: “Know that everyone feels nervous and vulnerable during their first class. As you begin to move and interact with other people in an intro class, you’ll see that everyone has something they are working on.” I love this advice, because the one thing I’ve always found helps me overcome new class jitters is to introduce myself to the three people nearest me. I have made so many friends this way. And the best thing is, you already have something in common: you do aerial!
Here are a few more quick tips for any new class:
- You won’t be starting with advanced moves! So many people tell me they can’t try classes because they’re not strong enough or flexible enough. You will start with less intensive moves and work your way up as your strength, flexibility, and fitness improve! The best way to get stronger is to just start doing it!
- You can wear what is comfortable for you! True, all aerial apparatuses require certain types of clothing. You don’t want loose fitting clothes getting twisted around a lyra (trust me on this one). But you don’t have to start your intro class in those bitsy bottoms some women wear either! Most people don’t know, but you can usually get away with wearing pants for your first several pole classes because you won’t be doing any leg grips at first. Or be like me and go for those knee length bike shorts! Your wardrobe will adapt naturally as your skill level and confidence get stronger.
- Aerial can be whatever you want it to be! Lyra can be sexy. Silks can be accro. Pole can be lyrical. Try your first class of any type with an open mind. Just because your friend invites you to a pole class does not mean they’re trying to train you up for amateur night at a strip club… or maybe they are! I don’t know your friends!
Even after six years as a pole dancer, I still get the jitters when I’m with a new group, or when I go to a workshop, or especially when I try to cross-train silks or lyra. (Respect to you guys, seriously!) But I just remind myself that I am there for a fun workout, and that’s what I always get! See you in the air!