Embracing Adventure: My First Pole Dance Fitness Class

Author: Beth Flory, Co-Owner, Pole Kisses LLC

September 20, 2023

In 2014, while I attended graduate school and worked full time at S.A.F.E. House as the Children’s Advocate in the emergency shelter, my life became filled with demands. Balancing these responsibilities was challenging. At the same time, I attempted to maintain a workout routine at a traditional gym but struggled with consistent motivation. I also enrolled in yoga classes to help quiet my mind. Yoga is a wonderful form of exercise, and I hold a deep appreciation for it. Nevertheless, during class, managing my racing thoughts was a constant challenge. It wasn’t until I attended a friend’s birthday party that my perspective on exercise would be forever transformed. It was at this gathering that I had the pleasure of meeting Karley Cottrell, who was the owner of Polecats Aerial Fitness at the time.

Now technically this was not my first pole class.  I actually attended Stripper 101 at Planet Hollywood during my bachelorette party in 2010. There were numerous groups of excited bachelorettes and their friends in a giant room, with one instructor up front.  She was very charismatic and taught us several basic moves.  It was more of a show than a fitness class, but it was a lot of fun. I remember a friend remarking how quickly I picked up the fireman spin. I did get a few pole kisses (bruises) from the class. The instructor also put on a little show at the end of the session, which was incredible. I was so impressed, but also thought, “that could never be me.” So, a few years later, when Karley suggested I come try a pole fitness class, I thought, “Sure, why not. I had fun at Stripper 101.” 

I was so intimidated when I pulled up in front of the gym.  “I am going to look stupid.”  “I am so out of shape, I am not going to be able to do any moves.” “I am not graceful at all.” “I have never taken a dance class in my life.” “Am I going to be the only normie in a room full of beautiful sexy dancers?” My brain began ruminating over a multitude of negative thoughts. 

I did not mention to Karley that I was also suffering from a complete lack of body confidence. “I am not sexy at all, I am a total gomer. Why am I even here?” Though, that was also a major motivation for me to come to class. I was struggling and knew I needed to do something to feel more confident in my own skin. The big box gym workouts were not improving my self esteem, so why not try something totally radical? My then husband worked for Cirque du Soleil, so I knew several aerialists. They ooze confidence.  Though I suppose, why not, they all look like freaking gods and goddesses. I did manage to get out of the car and walk into the studio, after many deep breaths and encouraging self-talk. I may have been physically shaking with sweat on my brow, though. 

My first experience proved me wrong in every way. There were people of all different fitness levels, backgrounds, shapes, and sizes in my class, including a few other newbies. The instructor was very encouraging and patient, both demonstrating the movements and explaining the physics of various moves. When I accomplished a simple spin, my classmates clapped for me!  This was a very different experience than a typical gym, where folks put in their earbuds and slip into their own worlds. The 50 minute class flew by and I had a great time. I could not believe it was already over.  I felt uplifted and encouraged to try again…and again…and again. The best part is that I did not think about work, school, or my crippling self doubt during class.  When a negative thought creeped into my mind, I had to focus on not falling on my head, so it quickly melted away. 

Have you ever seen those workout shirts that say, “Everything hurts and I am dying?” That is how I felt the morning after my first pole class. The moment I woke up and tried to roll out of bed, I knew pole fitness was the perfect exercise for me. In the beginning, my body could only take two classes a week at most. The muscle pain in my upper back was excruciating, and my core screamed when I tried to sit up. My instructors continued to guide me, beyond class exercises; suggesting epsom salt baths, recovery exercises, stretches, and eating more protein.  Before I knew it, I was taking 4 classes a week, I lost a ton of weight, and my confidence bloomed. That sore upper back was well worth it, too, as my posture improved dramatically!

If you are thinking about trying pole fitness for the first time, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try your local studio.  Or, if you are visiting Las Vegas, come take a “First Kiss” class at Pole Kisses. You will find an encouraging environment of amazing individuals ready to join you on your new fitness adventure. Pole dance fitness is not just about strength and flexibility; it’s about discovering your inner strength and confidence. You’ll be amazed at what your body can achieve and the incredible progress you’ll make, both physically and mentally. So, don’t let doubts or hesitations hold you back. Give it a try; you won’t regret it!