In her autobiography, Good Morning, I’m Joan Lunden, Joan writes, “4:30am comes around very early.” I couldn’t agree with her more.
I was up at the butt crack of dawn, for I was about to compete in my first Pole fitness event. Go big or get off the pole, I say.
I rode my bicycle to the theater, as a feint drizzle fell onto the city streets, and onto my flat ironed hair. I wondered if rain was good luck on competition days like it is on wedding days.
I started pole fitness at Body & Pole a year ago. Straddling a 45mm chrome pole agreed with me. The world outside, with its stresses and noise, disappeared and my focus was on squeezing the bejesus out of a pole without falling on my head.
My inner thighs were bruised, my knees looked like I’d been whacked by the mob, the tops of my feet were scratched and I was in love.
My romantic relationship had ended and I trotted out my ‘things I must do’ list, which included activities that I’d been meaning to explore but hadn’t. Why does it take a dramatical life shift before we visit that list? Why do we set aside the potential joy?
When I was learning how to climb, it was impossible for me. I’d get frustrated and I couldn’t wait for the class to end. I shrugged it off, murmuring, “I don’t need this.”
Often, such challenges had me quitting if things got too tough; a dance move, a sport, a math problem. I wanted the first draft to be the final draft and I wanted to climb to the top of the pole on my first try.
As a Pilates instructor, do I tell my clients struggling with a particular exercise that they suck and that they should quit and try Yoga? No. No, I don’t. Then why expect that from myself? It’s called work, and practice, and then more work and more practice.
When I learned that there was a pole competition that had an over 40 category, called Masters, I knew that this would be the perfect way to break some old habits.
While I waited in line to check in, I nervously watched women, wearing leg warmers, (and not much else) stretch, kick, bend and twist, as they warmed up. Am I really going to dance on a pole, half naked, on stage, in front of strangers?
I ran my routine, humming the music in my head, and when I finished, I went to the end of the line. I was growing increasingly nervous, and anxious. I wanted to bolt.
I told myself that it was okay if I didn’t run it a second time. Then, if I did poorly, I could tell myself that it was because I didn’t have enough practice time. What kind of crack ass lame logic was that? And who exactly would I be hurting?
But this was the year of doing the opposite of what I might have done in the past. I waited in line and took another spin. Why, oh, why, wouldn’t I do whatever it took to ensure the best possible performance? Hey Jung, you’re needed backstage.
I was putting too much pressure on myself. I had to remember that Pole wasn’t a career move, as sad and as disappointing as that was. Oh, sweet lost potential. Doing something for the pure joy of it had to be enough. I think it’s called a hobby.
This mental masturbation all happened before 8AM.
I looked at the pole and I took a deep breath. My only job was to have fun, and not fall.
I took the stage and danced my Masters ass off. My body switched to auto pilot and I couldn’t tell if I was in the moment or I’d blacked out.
When I finished, I skipped offstage, adrenalin pumping, my youthful grin grinning, and I heard the Stage Manager say, “Keep doing this.” Yes, I think I will.
Later, when I got home and changed clothes, I noticed that my shorts had been on backwards. I suppose the up side was that they weren’t inside out.
To my humble surprise, I placed second. It was the icing on a very informative and revelatory cake.
As evidenced by pole dancing in shorts worn backwards, I’ve opened my heart, my mind, and my legs, and will see where this hobby takes me.