I’ve been looking for a fun new exercise regime. Actually, I have been pretending to be looking, which means for about two years I thought about looking. Finally – yay, me! – I actually bothered to type “fun exercise class” and my city into Google and found an article about a couple of unusual local classes, like one that has a bunch of cowboy gates and all the exercises are somehow done on the gates, like maybe how cowboys climb over rodeo fences to hop onto those cows – wait, bulls? – that jump around and try to throw them off. (I mean, I guess that’s what it like. I don’t actually know. The article wasn’t too clear on that.)
The article also mentioned a studio that teaches pole, aerial and silks classes. Please bear with me if you’ve already heard about these. I’d never heard of aerial or silks, but on the website, there were pictures of women hanging from silk scarf-like things, spinning around and contorting and dangling like circus performers. And the aerial thing was like a big metal hoop with women dangling off and around them, too. I mean, how fun is that? Workouts that are done while hanging from the ceiling? I’m in.
Now, I had heard of “pole” workouts, which I thought were dance classes where you learn to dance like a stripper. I’d never been that interested. But again, on the website, the pictures showed women doing things that looked more like circus maneuvers or gymnastics than stripper poses. Anyway, I was more interested in silks and aerials. But it turns out that, before you take any of the classes, you have to take Intro to Pole.
So here I am, sitting on the couch early on a Sunday morning, wondering what I’m going to do today, idly looking through the class schedule, when I see that there’s an Intro to Pole class later today. On a whim, with an oh-heck-what-can-it-hurt attitude, I signed up for it.
Then I checked out the FAQ page and there’s a list of suggested attire. I read that I can “dance” in bare feet… or I can wear heels. HEELS? To an exercise class? This is not OK.
So here I am, 49 years old, kind of overweight, heading to a pole dancing class in a few hours. What was I thinking? Well, here’s my own list of FAQs for you:
Q: Jen, do you actually plan to go?
A: Um, maybe? I mean, probably. Definitely! I love a challenge. I mean, sort of. Oh, dear.
Q: Are you excited?
A: If by excited, you mean do I feel like I’m going to throw up, then, yes.
Q: Will you be wearing heels?
A: Absolutely not. At least, not today…
Q: Will you fill us in on the class afterwards?
A: Of course. Depending, obviously, on how humiliating it is…
Q: Do you really think it will be humiliating?
A: Yes. Well, no. Maybe?
Look, I’ve always jumped into athletic things completely unprepared, and am usually the least talented/fit person in any group. When I ran track in high school, I came in dead last in every race except one (that one, I came in second to last and boy, was I proud). When I took gymnastics classes, I struggled with back walkovers while everyone else was hand-springing about. But I loved it. I also played soccer in high school. I was a forward, I was fast, I had a million assists, I started every game, I never once scored a goal, and I loved it. Several years ago, I joined an adult women’s soccer league. I ran around barely able to breathe, and one of the younger women kept asking me if I wanted to play fullback so I wouldn’t get so winded. I scored a goal in my second game! And in my third game, I sprained my ankle so badly I was on crutches for a couple weeks and never went back. But until then, I loved it.
Then, of course, there was the “Dirty Girl Boot Camp” class I took to train for the Warrior Dash. I wasn’t the oldest or least fit in that class. In fact, throughout the year-and-a-half that I took the class, I lost about 40 pounds and was pretty rock solid. I was kicking ass! I was buff! I was a mad woman! A super star! And on the first obstacle of the race, I broke my ankle! But I finished the race! And I loved it!
When I recovered from that, I went back to class, smashed my shin doing box jumps, sighed, and haven’t been to an exercise class of any sort in more than two years. (Though I still paddle board and snow board, thank God.)
I bet a lot of you can relate: I’ve gone through phases where I’m super athletic and other phases where I’m a complete couch potato. Right now, I’m in a couch potato phase. And I don’t want to be. I want to get back on the horse, so to speak (huh, maybe I should take the cowboy class?). But I need a class that is super fun, unusual, and appeals to the goof inside me. So I’m going to try pole. But if the room is filled with tight 20-year-old asses, muscular thighs, red-high-heel wearing youngsters with swivelly hips and six-pack bellies, then yeah, I might feel a little humiliated, especially since I’ve never been known for being exactly graceful.
Also, I tend to see myself differently in my head than I really am. Like, I’ll probably get into it, feel all sexy and empowered, and then look in the mirror and see how ridiculous I look.
Q: Come on, Jen, do you really give a fuck?
Me: Okay, you got me. The answer is, not really. Have you noticed that one of the great joys of growing older is that you can say, “Oh, fuck it,” about so many more things? Dirty kitchen floor? Oh, fuck it, who needs clean floors. Kids not eating enough fruit? Oh, fuck it, they’re old enough to make their own nutrition choices. Someone pissed off about something you did or didn’t do? Oh, fuck it, I did my best. Slept until 10:30 when you meant to get up at 8:00 because you had so much to do last weekend? Oh, fuck it, sleep is AWESOME, cleaning the house is not.
I mean, right?
So, I’ll check out the class. I hope I will not feel too embarrassed. I hope it’s a blast. I hope I lose 40 pounds in a single class and learn to dance like a harlot and come home with a tramp stamp of a heart with an arrow through it and a stripper name like Jasmine Love. And if it sucks? Oh, fuck it. I’ll find another class. Maybe the cowboy one…
So stay tuned, my friends. More later!
Have fun until then.