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5 Things I Learned in a Pole Dancing Workshop

MoveStudio's class makes for an excellent bridal shower activity—and a killer workout.

When my girlfriend rounded up a group of us to attend a pole dancing workshop for part two of her bridal shower (part one was a tame brunch at Ida Claire), I knew it would be memorable, though none of us had any clue what to expect. What we found upon arriving to MoveStudio in Addison last Saturday was a clean, dimly lit studio and a welcoming teacher, Rachel, donning yoga clothes and bright red platforms. We learned that our instructor was a middle school guidance counselor by day and that we could choose different playlists based on whether or not we preferred profanities. (We did.)

Here’s what else we learned.

1. You can bring your own champagne.

Any workout class where you’re allowed (and even encouraged) to drink a little will forever be fine by me.

2. Booty dips are a great way to start a workout class.

It was an entertaining and easy way to prep for some the bolder, spin-inclusive sequences we’d do throughout the class. But the best icebreaker by far was the private dance our teacher asked to perform before we got started. It was undeniably impressive, but it also helped me put my own inhibitions aside. If this stranger felt comfortable enough to  twerk in front of us, I could certainly put my heart into a booty dip.

But this wasn’t a workshop about how to appeal to men. … The intention was to feel carefree and confident about your body.

3. I have poor upper-body strength.

As I write this, my upper arms are still sore, and my legs have bruises on them. It takes a lot of core and arm strength to make those spins look so smooth.

4. There’s a good reason they suggest wearing shorts and high heels.

Say what you will about high heels, but they do make me feel sexier than I do with bare feet. And though leggings might seem like a more appropriate choice, there are a few moves (namely, climbing) where some skin-on-pole contact is extremely helpful.

5. Pole dancing can be powerfully feminist.

I have a theory about that Selena Gomez song “Good For You.” In my mind, the pop star’s hit offers a message about self-love and confidence instead of the primping-for-a-date interpretation that was deemed anti-feminist by so many. I have no idea if that was the intention, but that’s the joy of certain songs and lyrics: you can decipher them to fit your own needs.

I have a point. Pole dancing often elicits a similar bad rap. I actually avoided mentioning the class to my dad for fear he would associate it—as I initially did—with stripping. But this wasn’t a workshop about how to appeal to men. The combinations weren’t taught as a tool for attracting the opposite sex (though you certainly could use them that way if you wished). The intention was to feel carefree and confident about your body. The only person I seduced was myself. That night, I did my hair up “real, real nice” for no one’s benefit but my own.

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