6 Rules To Help You On Your Pole Fitness Journey

My aerials journey began in 2020 when I joined a friend at a pole fitness class at an area studio (a different one from Royal City Aerials). We had unknowingly jumped right into a beginner-intermediate pole dance class.

The 1-hour class went by like a blur. I remember how I felt afterward: incredibly sore, winded, banged-up, bruised, and utterly humbled, but also exhilarated and all fired up to register for another class as soon as possible. I knew that if I had the resolve to come back and work very hard, I could progress and do well at this sport.

I joined Royal City Aerials in Guelph in Spring 2021 and my pole fitness journey really accelerated from there, in no small part due to the fabulous instructors and curriculum.

Below is a list of “rules” that I’ve tried to keep in mind over the past few years. They have really helped with my aerials journey, and I hope they work for yours as well.

1. Embrace humility.

This is much easier said than done and I still fail at it sometimes. When you’re having a good session, it’s easy to get puffed up. But if you’re in a pole class that poses just the right amount of challenge, you can expect to be humbled—often. A good old ego check is just what we all need sometimes anyway. It’s a lot easier (and more fun) to enjoy pole when you surrender to the fact that perfection is impossible. No matter how your skills evolve, pole fitness will forever be a journey, not a destination.

2. It’s great to be invested in your journey, but do not take yourself too seriously.

This is very closely tied with rule #1 and also one that takes ongoing mindfulness to overcome. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I do not get paid to go to class! When all is said and done, this is a sport, a hobby, something we pay to do in our free time, just for fun. It’s important to put in the work if you want to improve, but taking yourself too seriously saps all the happiness out of pole.

Even if you are training in hopes of being a professional paid pole dancer or aerial artist, you cannot express your full creativity if you aren’t willing to be vulnerable. No matter what part of your journey you’re currently in, the most important aspect is embracing your unique strengths and weaknesses, and retaining that feeling of joy and excitement—that feeling after your very first class that made you sign up for a second one.

3. Mind your own business.

When you take pole, you might encounter former/current dancers, gymnasts, rock climbers, runners, bionic amazon warriors, etcetera. You might also encounter folks who have chosen pole as their very first fitness endeavour (lucky them!). It is just amazing how many people from all walks of life will be in the room. Other people’s abilities will awe and inspire you, and that’s great. But once you begin comparing them to yourself, it can turn toxic quickly and you can end up “shoulding” all over yourself: I should be able to do this trick by now. I should be as strong as them. I should have more endurance than this.

We encourage and cheer on our classmates, but it is important to strike a balance and not pay too much attention to their journeys. Sometimes it is healthier to check yourself, put the blinders on, and stay laser-focused on the only person you are responsible for: yourself.

4. Give yourself some grace.

Not every class is going to be a momentous success. Your body will not always cooperate and skillfully replicate every trick with ease. You can have an amazing class one week and feel on top of the world, and then in the next class you can’t get a grip on any of the tricks and it feels like you’ve taken a major step backward. Those classes are not disasters; they are part of the up-and-down roller coaster of progress. See rules #1 and #2: when you leave the ego at the door and don’t take yourself too seriously, it’s a lot easier to shake off a frustrating class.

5. Your pole journey is yours alone.

You are in charge of choosing if/how you present it to others. Every pole student is different, and we can also have different comfort levels with sharing the details of our progress with others. Some people openly enthuse about their journey to everyone in their lives, showing progress videos to anyone who will pay attention—friends, coworkers, boss, grandma, total strangers—and that is wonderful! Others will choose to keep a certain degree of privacy around their pole journey. They might only let select people into their “inner circle” of discussing it and seeing their progress. That is equally valid (I personally fall within this camp). There is no “right” or “wrong” choice, and no one gets to decide but you!

6. Understand that other parts of your life are going to change.

When you start pole, you will likely experience changes not only to your body, but also to your mind and how you interact with the world around you. Since beginning aerials, I have gained a remarkable amount of confidence in all the other roles I play in my life. I’m better able to handle difficult situations and learn new things. I don’t dwell as often on things I can’t control. In my estimation, I’m a better girlfriend, friend, sister, daughter, employee. . .the list goes on.

There is something about pole that just puts everything in perspective. Maybe it’s because pole requires so much focus that we have no choice but to put down our baggage and be present in class. Or maybe it’s because we are constantly presented with challenges that seem impossible (the first time I saw a Jade split, I thought it was pure magic) and slowly but surely, our body figures it out and we overcome them. Maybe it’s because pole is that special thing in our lives that we do just for us.

Bonus tip: YES, invest in a home pole. YES, it is worth it!

By our student B.C.